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Hmmmm. Soup. :)

Mmmm. Soup. 🙂

On Thursday evening @darkmatterfanzine expressed an interest in my posting the roughish sort of recipe that led to this bubbling away on my stove.

Bear in mind that I’m an informal sort of cook, and don’t actually measure out a lot of things precisely. So some experimentation and adjustments to taste will be required.

You Will Need

  • Onion
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Carrot
  • Other vegetables to taste. Depending on availability and taste I usually* use:
    • Capsicum
    • Broccoli
    • Baby spinach leaves
    • Mushrooms
    • A flavour liquid – I’ve used wine, soy, Worcester sauce, but some care is needed here (see below)
    • Spices. I use:
      • Chilli flakes
      • Diced garlic from a jar
      • Sweet paprika
      • Smoky paprika
      • Basil
      • Thyme
      • Oregano
      • Bay leaves
      • Stock (again see below)
      • Tomato paste
      • A tin of diced tomatoes
      • Tins of various beans to taste
      • Optionally pasta

*Today the selection was capsicum, mushrooms, butternut pumpkin, and baby spinach leaves.

Vegan Options

I’ve discovered that one of the joys of cooking is being able to share the food I cook with friends. A good number of my friends in Canberra are vegan, so I’ve started paying attention to what I need to do to meet that standard.

Most of what I’ve listed above is fine; the traps lie in the stock and the flavouring liquid. The things to watch out for are:

  • The most common recipes for Worcester sauce contain anchovies. I have found a vegan alternative that is also gluten free.
  • Some wines have precipitates filtered out using egg or fish products. This will usually be listed on the labels in Australia but it’s something to watch out for.
  • I use a powdered vegetable stock that my friends have cleared as safe. Check the ingredients before proceeding if this is an issue.

Preparation

I try to do all of my preparation in advance so that I can simply tip stuff into the pot as needed.

Note that most tins of beans (red kidney, lentils, butter, chick peas etc) are preserved in salt (and occasionally sugar) so rinsing these thoroughly before use is recommended. I’ll do this in advance as well.

Similarly I’ll lay out the spices and the necessary serving spoons etc ahead of time so that everything is right to hand when I need it.

I usually dice (more or less) the vegetables and group them on plates in the order that I’ll need them. The order is based on cooking time so the groupings are:

  • Onions
  • Hard vegetables: Zucchini, eggplant, carrot, broccoli stems, pumpkin (if I’m using it)
  • Soft vegetables: Capsicum, mushrooms, broccoli heads
  • Leafy greens: Baby spinach leave, occasionally baby bok choy if I have any left over from something else

Getting Started

Note that I’m pretty much stirring continuously in this phase.

I start by putting a little oil into the pot and heating up the chilli flakes, this is quickly followed by the onions and the minced garlic.

Once the onions start to brown a little, I had the hard vegetables. The thing I look for during this bit is for the zucchini to start going a little translucent, and also for the oil to have disappeared.

At that point I’ll add the base flavouring liquid, a small amount of smoky paprika, and rather more sweet paprika. I’ll let this run for a little bit, so that the flavours can be absorbed.

Bulking it Out

This is when I’ll start adding the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, some water (usually by filling the diced tomatoes can to make sure I get it all), and the other spices (basil, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, usually in fairly generous quantities).

This establishes the base for the soup, and then it’s simply a matter of adding the rest in whatever order suits.

I think this time I went with the small tin of mixed beans, a tin of corn, the soft vegetables, then the vegetable stock mixed into cups of water. Last would have been the baby spinach leaves. I use about 5 teaspoons of stock and 5 mugs of water. Roughly.

Waiting for it to be done

At much it is mostly a matter of bringing it to a simmer for about 20 minutes. After that is when I’ll add pasta and then simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

Serve when ready, refrigerate the left overs for reheating later in a microwave

Feeds me for about a week, or me for four days and a couple of friends for one night. 🙂

Conclusion

This is a fairly basic one pot meal. If I remove the stock/water this essentially produces a pasta sauce. I will also do stir fries occasionally, and I will sometimes add mince to a pasta sauce variant.

The results of eating this sort of food instead of takeaways/frozen meals are pretty clear. I’ve lost about 15kgs since June, and I’m pretty happy with that result.

I even managed to go to CanCon today and not eat junk food (and will be having some of this batch of soup for dinner shortly).