After a long walk through the city or the woods on a cold winter’s day, there is no better feeling than to sit by the fire and savor the seasonal flavors of homemade soup. I personally love to use the leftovers from some of my other meals, to contribute to my own recipes. This may be extra vegetables that I have or one of the many spices I have in my cupboard. Utilize what you have in your kitchen to not only avoid wasting food but to also experiment with different flavors and cook up your own creations. Having said that, if you do need some inspiration on where to start, here I have some of my own personal favorite recipes.
A classic vegetable, with a twist
To begin with, take a look in your cupboards to see if you have any kinds of vegetables at hand. Any carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers (to add a touch of crisp sweetness), and fresh greens. Here we have the advantage of selecting our much-loved vegetables and creating our own tasteful delicacy. Not to mention that this dish is suitable for vegetarians also.
The first thing to remember is to fry your onion until softened. I would usually recommend frying for around 5 minutes. After that, add a kick of flavor by adding some chili and cumin and fry for a little while longer. Second, add your vegetables to the pan along with 1 liter of boiling water. Continue to stir the mixture whilst it simmers for approximately 30 minutes. Once the vegetables are tender, transfer the mixture to a food blender or processor and blend until smooth. If required, you can always add a little milk or water to improve the texture. I always like to add a scoop of greek yogurt on top to balance with the spice. Did you know that you can also make a facemask from your leftover yogurt?
Moroccan Harira soup
Although traditionally prepared as the first meal to devour after the fasting period, this tomato-based soup is a delicious & wholesome option to enjoy during the winter months. The key here is with regards to the spices that you use. Whereas harira soup is often made with lamb, chicken, or beef, I have opted for a vegetarian version. Here, we follow the same instructions as earlier with small differences with regards to time & the amount of spice we add.
This time, fry the onion with the carrots & celery for between 5-10 minutes until they turn brown. Next, add your spices, the most important being ½ a teaspoon of both cumin & turmeric. In addition, add a full teaspoon of salt, 1 bunch each of parsley & cilantro, 1 can of chopped tomatoes, along with 3 cups of water or vegetable stock, if preferred. Then we watch as all of the flavors blend together. Simmer the pot for 25 minutes. Next, add 1 cup of lentils and continue to simmer until they are cooked through. As this mixture is supposed to be thick, we will not require a food processor. Instead, add a tablespoon of flour at a time and water until it is of creamy consistency.
French onion soup
Again, we will need vegetable stock. So, if you do have some stock cubes leftover from the Harira soup, this will be the perfect opportunity to use them and I promise you won’t be disappointed. The stock is the first vital ingredient of this soup. Second to that is of course, the onions. However, this time, we will not be frying the onions. Instead, you will need to slice 1 onion finely. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a pot and cook on medium heat until soft. Once you have reached this stage, cook the onions for a further 20 minutes more until they turn brown. Then sprinkle with sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring regularly.
Next, we combine all the ingredients together with our caramelized onions. Add 8 cups of the vegetable stock with 1 tablespoon of thyme, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and you have your soup prepared! Albeit, this is not quite the finished product. French onion soup is typically served with toasted French baguette slices topped with cheese. Ladle into a bowl and dip your warm baguette into this delectable specialty. This soup is a great option to prepare days ahead and keep in the refrigerator for the week ahead as it deepens in flavor over time.
I hope that you will enjoy trying out all of the recipes above. What I love the most about preparing soups is that you really can experiment. Have a go, and share your own creations with others. For more tasty recipes, check out Love & Lemons 30 Best Soup Recipes.