An ode to the many joys and gloriounesses of soup
In between working, studying and doing all the rest of the stuff that you have to do to keep going - brushing your teeth, cleaning the windows, paying the bills - cooking has been a little sidelined of late.
But we've still got to eat, right? And what's the one thing you can make that's quick and easy, tastes good and has all the lovely nutrients you need?
Not these bad boys, but I've been living on those too! Who doesn't love a vegan croissant?
No, much as I would love croissants to have all the nutrition I need in them, it's actually soup that I've been cooking a lot. Fry some onions, add some veggies, stick in some stock and go away and read a book for a bit. When you've got to the end of the chapter, your dinner's all there for you - and there's not ever so much washing up. Brilliant!
My new go-to soup is my old go-to dish put through a blender: a mixture of collards (or the closest you can get over here, which is spring greens), onions, peppers and carrots with a little stock, blackstrap molasses and chipotle in adobo. Simmer, blend, feel faintly surprised something really tasty can be so little work.
And then there's lentil soup. Isn't lentil soup great? If lentil soup hadn't existed, someone would have had to have to invent it (and then heartily congratulate themselves for their clever work.)
I've made lentils soups since I was an omnivore (yeah, that long ago) and I've stuck with them since then. Normally, though, it's red lentils I use: in rich coconut curry soups, in sharp Thai ones or in herby dumpling-laden beasts.
The most recent version to bother my epiglottis is a thick lentil and plantain soup. It was from a cookbook my parents gave me at Christmas called Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home (it's not vegan or vegetarian - there's a fair bit of meat, fish and all the rest in there. "Just use tofu," was my parents' advice. Umm, yeah, I guess...)
My only mistake with this soup was following the recipe to the letter! I probably should have twigged that I was about to make a swimming pool sized batch of soup when the recipe called for 500g of puy lentils.
My brain must have taken a holiday and I plugged on regardless. I ended up with approximately one bath tub full of soup. Luckily, I like lentils, I like plantains, and I liked all the rest of this soup, including the obligatory Mexican wonderfulness of chipotle in adobo.
I was reminded to make it this week when I found a fair bit of cavolo nero and parsley that had seen better days and nothing but canned beans in the cupboard. I couldn't think of anything better to make then that big, hearty, tomato-ey soup.
There's a lovely recipe on the Demuths website for ribollita here. It's sort of like the uhr soup - the most soupy of all soups, made from the most typically soup ingredients - carrots, garlic, beans, tinned tomatoes, and herbs.
And like most soups, it's more than the sum of its parts. Get some bread, get that book, and enjoy.