Autumn Vegetables

This is a recipe for the vegetable soup which we ate on Bonfire Night last year, with my sister and the family.  It’s thick, comforting and very tasty.  It’s great for a hearty meal, with crusty bread and some cheese.  It’s very nutritious.  And it will serve many – or freeze portions if desired.  Further discussion is below.

In the pot for Hearty Vegetable Soup(serves many!)

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

1 large leek, peeled, thoroughly washed and sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

1 medium swede, peeled and diced

1 large potato, peeled and diced

Chicken or vegetable stock – approx 500ml

Dried herbs – parsley, sage, thyme; or mixed herbs

Freshly ground black pepper

1 can chopped tomatoes

Optional – 1 can beans e.g. butter beans, haricot beans – drained and rinsed

Add the prepared vegetables to the pot, from the onion through to the potato.  Pour over sufficient stock to come level with the vegetables in the pot(this is usually approx 500ml).  Add plenty of fresh ground black pepper, and dried herbs to taste.  If using mixed herbs, use 1 teaspoon.  If using a mix use 1/2 teaspoon parsley, 1/4 teaspoon each of sage and thyme.  Mix through and bring the pot to the boil over a high heat, then reduce to a rapid simmer for approx 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft, and remove from the heat.

Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and whizz using a hand-blender, to achieve the desired consistency.  Add the rinsed beans and return to the heat – heat for 2-3 minutes over a moderate heat to allow the beans to heat.  Serve and enjoy!

I used several carrots which came from Dad’s garden – thanks Dad!  And small onions rather than one large.  The beauty of this soup is that any veg can be added – it would have been good with the addition of parsnip, peeled and sliced.  And veg can be omitted – especially for those with particular dislikes.  The potato adds thickness to the soup; and the canned tomatoes add a tanginess, and extra nutritional value.

As with most soups an extra flavour boost can be provided by sauteing the onions in a small amount of butter/oil before adding the rest of the veg to boil, etc.  It’s not essential to do this, and I didn’t on this occasion, but I think it provides a greater depth of flavour.

Use herbs which you like – dried mixed herbs are great for a balanced flavour but I had run out on this occasion, so used the mix I described.

I didn’t add the beans to this batch, but adding the beans increases the nutritional value of the soup, with protein and the extra vitamins and minerals found in beans.  The soup also becomes more substantial, and will satisfy for longer.  Beans add texture; and extra texture can be had by removing some of the veg before blending, and then  adding to the soup afterwards for chunkiness.

A good grinding of fresh black pepper is great on this soup, as it is full of warm flavours and the black pepper adds to that.

A bowl of the soup alone can be quite sufficient; but it can be extra special with a slice of cheese on toast, or cheesy French stick croutons on top; or simple fresh French stick with butter, and/or served with a strong Cheddar.

We’ve been making this soup for years in our family – it’s the one soup that my niece & nephew will eat.  That’s a great way to get veg into children!

Steaming hot soup for a cold Autumn day…

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