Winter Soup 101: How to make a winter veggie soup of any flavour

Published on 21 July 2017

As winter settles in, the thought of dunking a hot, crusty, butter-slathered roll into a batch of homemade hearty winter soup becomes all the more appealing. But there are so many tempting flavour combinations out there it can be difficult to know where to start – especially if you’ve never made soup at home before. 

But guess what? It’s not hard! Chef Anna Jones has literally made the soup making process as easy it can possibly be with One Soup: 1000 Variations. In fact, if you stick to a few simple rules, you’ll find that making an enormous range of delicious winter vegetable soups can be easy, fun, healthy and cheap.

Get the base right 

First things first: you need to create a base layer that’s going to provide a strong (but not overpowering) backbone for whatever you decide to eventually add to your soup. Jones suggests taking a leek or an onion, two celery sticks and two carrots. Chop them up and get them nice and sweaty on a medium heat in a big, deep pan with a good glug of olive oil. 

The herb is the word 

Once your base layer is nice and softened, pick your herb. You can add basil stalks, oregano, coriander stalks, sage, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme or any other of your favourite flavours. Add to the base layer until the flavours ooze into the pan and become fragrant.

Spice it up

Fancy an Indian-flavoured soup? Ramp up the cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric or fenugreek. Mexican more your thing? Reach for the smoked paprika, chipotle, ancho, cacao powder, cumin and coriander. Use spices that will work with the herbs you’ve added and you can’t go too far wrong. Don’t be afraid to get experimental either: try adding desiccated coconut, crushed nuts, grated ginger or anything else you can dream up. And of course, you can always keep it simple with a bit of good old-fashioned salt and pepper.

Pick a body, any body

The main event: the body of your soup that’ll form a big chunk of the texture and flavour of the final dish. Some good options here include potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, parsnips, tomatoes, carrots and broccoli. But really, you’re only limited by your imagination. Whatever your decision, Jones suggests chopping and peeling where necessary and adding a handful per person. Cover with hot stock and simmer for around 40 minutes (feel free to add more water if it’s looking too thick). At this stage, you can also add different liquids to achieve different results. For example, some tinned tomatoes if you’re looking for a richer, tomato base, or some light coconut milk if you’re going for a Thai or Vietnamese-themed soup.

To carb or not to carb? 

If you want to make your soup more substantial, you can add cooked quinoa, wild rice or pasta towards the end of the cooking. Beans and chickpeas also make a good addition to most soups. Why not throw some black beans in your Mexican-inspired broth, some chickpeas in your Moroccan masterpiece or some cannellini beans in your Italian concoction? You can’t go too far wrong. 

What’s next?

As long as you’ve been stirring consistently, your ingredients should’ve started breaking down and blending together, leading to a chunky, stew-like soup. If you’d prefer a smoother finish, just take an immersion blender, or Bamix, to your vat of deliciousness. To serve, add in a chunk of butter, a drizzle of olive oil, some yoghurt or fresh cream. Sprinkle over chopped nuts, sesame seeds, dukkah, extra spice or anything else that’s going to work with your chosen flavours. Soup-erb.

Get some inspiration for your next pot of hot soup by heading to Northwest Growers.