Making Your Own Soups

There are many varieties of soup, both thick and thin, ranging from consommes and broths to iced soups, bisques (fish soups) and fruit soups. All soups are simple and enjoyable to make at home. You can make good use of chicken carcasses and uncooked bones and, if there is a glut of tomatoes in your garden, fresh soup is just one excellent way of making use of them.

Consomme Clarified brown stock enriched with lean beef, or chicken stock enriched with chicken. A first course soup, completely clear and with a robust flavour. Broth A thin soup made from fresh bones and vegetables cooked in water very slowly and for a long time. The meat and vegetables are served in the soup. Similar soups can be made using stock as a basis. These soups make hearty meals with the simple accompaniment of fresh bread.

Puréed soup Made from fresh vegetables cooked in stock and then puréed, or from fruit poached in with water and then puréed. No further thickening is generally required.

Cream soup Rich and thick, made from pureed vegetables (or fish or poultry), enriched with cream and butter. Egg yolks can also be used. A béchamel sauce often forms the basis of the soup and the main ingredients are cooked in this before being pureed.

Minestrone A meal in itself. First make a brown or chicken stock, allowing 1.1 litres (2 pt) for four servings. Pour a little oil into a heavy-based pan and add chopped onion, carrots, celery and leeks. Cook gently for a few minutes and add chopped bacon, a crushed garlic clove and tomato purée or canned tomatoes. Pour on the strained stock, add two bay leaves and basil, oregano or marjoram. Add dried haricot beans which have been soaked, and simmer gently for about one hour. Test for seasoning. At this stage you can add extra vegetables in season and some pasta shapes. A little red wine can also go in. Cook until the pasta is tender, another 15-20 minutes, and serve in warm bowls, topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Soups, thick and thin, are easy and very satisfying to make at home. With a good stock, some vegetables and meaty bones you can make a meal in a bowl and serve simply with fresh bread.

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