If there’s one meal that’s guaranteed to take care of nutritional needs, it’s that perennial favourite soup.
And it couldn’t be more simple to turn freshly home-cooked soup of the day into soup every day.
Neil Jones, head of catering at Fareham College, says there’s no reason why even the most time-stretched diners shouldn’t make their own.
But there are many who still opt for the contents of supermarket cans.
‘The freshly-made soups seem to be popular too, but why pay for all that packaging?’ says Neil.
‘It is just so simple to do and very cheap. And most people can find all the ingredients in their cupboards anyway. It’s a great way of using things up.’
Neil says for the most simple soup, a stock cube and a few vegetables is all it takes.
‘Potato, leek and stock and there you have your soup. Chop up the potatoes and leeks, cook them very lightly in a bit of olive oil, add to that the stock and when the potato breaks down put it in the liquidiser.’
This type of soup thickens itself and more stock can be added if necessary to thin it down, Lentils and peas are also good ingredients for this type of blend.
Neil, of course, makes his own stock but he says soups can be fine with a cube if cooks are pushed for time. But he has some ideas for those who want to do it properly.
‘I would say avoid a poultry stock because it takes a long time. But to make a vegetable stock all you need is an onion, carrot, celery, bit of leek. bayleaf and clove, and maybe a couple of peppercorns.’
He suggests bringing the veg to the boil and then simmering for 20 to 25 minutes, draining and using the stock.
He says lentils and bacon or peas and ham make great combinations, sweated and then added to the stock to simmer.
But he warns: ‘If you are going to use a stock cube, be careful about seasoning.
‘They often have a lot of salt, although you can buy low salt versions.’
Tom Aikens’ brilliant broccoli and blue Stilton soup
Serves 4 as a starter
400g broccoli florets and stalks cut into small pieces
500ml white chicken stock or water simmering
1 onion thinly sliced
6 spring onions thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
100g blue Stilton
100ml double cream
12 turns of freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Extra Stilton for the garnish
Place a medium pan on to a low to medium heat, then add the onion and garlic, salt, nutmeg and pepper with the butter. Cover with a lid and cook slowly so they sweat in the steam until they soften.
This will take approximately 5 minutes, then add the pieces of broccoli and spring onions, cover with a lid again and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Then pour over the hot stock.
Cover with a lid and bring to the simmer, then remove the lid. Add the cream and cook for five minutes until the broccoli is tender. Add the Stilton and then place into a blender and puree coarsely. Serve straight away, placing some extra pieces of cheese into the soup.
· Recipe taken from the Long Clawson Dairy’s Cooking Creatively with Cheese, produced in collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens.