I don’t know about you but for me, soups are absolutely the way to go in during Autumn and Winter. As a child, we would come in late from school, darkness having already settled on our suburban street, to a steaming pot of delicious vegetable soup. ‘Bowls of health’ my dad called them. This was just the thing to hush our grumbling tummies long enough for him to get on with dinner in relative peace. A few years down the line and I do the same for my kids and my love for soup has not waned in the slightest. I firmly believe that you cannot beat a mug of soup and half a sandwich for lunch. Or a bowl of soup and a whole sandwich for dinner!
The basis of any truly great soup is definitely the stock. This, after all, is the first building block of flavour in the process and even though it may take longer than simply using a stock cube (and there are some brilliant ones out there to speed up your soup-making), the process of batch making some stock is easy and perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons. The fact that it fills the house with the lovely scent of home cooking is an added bonus!
For all of the recipes below you can use any type of stock you wish but here are recipes for a vegetable and a chicken stock that both work great in most dishes.
4 x sticks of celery
Half a swede
1 x large onion (skin on)
2 x whole leeks
2 x carrots
2 x garlic cloves
1 x bouquet garni consisting of parsley, thyme and bayleaf
4-6 black peppercorns
- Cut all the vegetables into large chunks.
- Throw everything into a large stock pot and cover with about 2 litres of water. Season sparingly with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Strain the vegetables out and store in the fridge or the freezer to use when needed.
Another great herby all-rounder that will add depth to your cooking. It can be batch made and frozen in bags or ice cube trays to be easily grabbed out of the freezer whenever required. Make it by adding 1kg of chicken carcass or chicken wings to the veggie stock recipe above. You will need to skim it occasionally throughout cooking to keep the final product nice and clear.
You’re now ready to go forth and conquer the world of soup. Here are some of our favourite soup and sandwich combinations to keep you warm and fed on cold autumn days.
(All the recipes will feed about 4 adults)
Root vegetable soup with seeded BLT
½ a head of celeriac root
3 x large potatoes
1 x leek
2 x cloves of garlic
2L vegetable stock
Parsley to garnish
Salt and pepper to season
8 x rashers of pancetta
Head of baby gem lettuce
2-3 salad tomatoes
- Finely dice all the vegetables and fry in a little olive oil under tender. Cover with the stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Season with the smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
- Wait for the soup to cool then blend until smooth and creamy.
- Serve with a simple pancetta BLT in a crusty seeded roll.
Squash with a chicken club
This lovely vibrant soup is super easy and makes a great weekday dinner, the leftovers of which are sure to brighten up even the dreariest of lunchtimes. We’ve used butternut in this version but any seasonal squash will work- whatever you can get your hands on! The chicken club sandwich tastes lovely with any chicken you may have left from a roast and, in my experience, is a hit with the whole family.
1 x butternut squash
1 x head of garlic
1 x onion
1 x red chilli
2-3 tbsp creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
Cold cooked chicken breast
- Deseed and peel the squash. Cut into large chunks and place in a roasting tray with the head of garlic and some thyme sprigs. Toss is the coconut oil and season.
- Roast in a medium oven until the squash is lovely and soft.
- Finely dice the onion and fry in a saucepan until soft and translucent then add the chopped chilli.
- Add in the roast squash and a few cloves of the roast garlic. The rest can be used to make a delicious garlic butter which stores perfectly in the freezer and is great with a steak or chicken.
- Add in the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste then cool and blend.
- Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and thyme leaves.
- Assemble the sandwich by lightly toasting your sourdough and spreading some avocado on it. Top with roast chicken and swiss cheese. Add some of the parsley leaves and season.