Updated: Jul 5
What are your go to winter warmer soups?
I’ve always found soups a bit boring or more of an entrée than a main meal.
The last couple of years though I’ve found myself craving soup as soon as the weather starts to chill off. Maybe I can finally call myself a grown up??
I’ve also realised every soup needs something a bit luxurious to elevate it to that main meal status – and it’s not always bread!
A shaving of parmesan on top, a dollop of crème fraiche, crispy croutons, toasted pepitas or chickpeas or the classic crunchy piece of bread slathered in butter.
But I haven’t been in the game long! So I’m calling all you soupies out there to share your favourite winter warmers with me. I’ll share a recipe (ish) that I’ve been hammering lately to get the ball rolling.
It’s in no way unique or ground breaking…. But it is tried and tested.
I’ll be sharing a classic Italian soup that I never understood what all the fuss was about - MINESTRONE!
I’ve had some baaaad minestrones in my time and the words watery and flavourless come to mind. But when you get a good one… oh boy!
My version of minestrone was inspired by my good friend Izzy – so thanks Izz for changing my mind on the soup with the bad rep (surely there’s a gaggle of people who were with me in my disdain for it?)!
I love this one because it’s so flexible, it’s SO cheap and no two batches I cook are the same. I am usually a recipe kinda gal but with this one it’s more of a chuck in whatever veg I’ve got and eyeball my herbs and spices until I’m happy with the taste kind of deal.
And as someone who does usually follow a recipe – it feels damn good to make something really tasty just by feel and using up old veg that would otherwise go to waste.
So this recipe won’t have quantities – I encourage you to play around with your own tastes and cook with presence and a bit of intuition. If you feel it needs more liquid – go for it! If there’s a particular herb you’re wanting to add, give it a try.
Here is the version I cooked most recently – but as I said – it changes slightly every time:
To start with, I pick some fresh herbs – roughly a small handful - and fry these off in some oil and diced fennel (if I were able to eat onion and garlic I would use those instead). At the moment my herb garden is quite limited due to space, but I do have fresh sage, thyme and parsley on hand. I also like to add in some dried oregano.
Once my fennel (or onion) has softened I add some diced firm veg. The classics are carrot and celery but I love throwing in some pumpkin, potato, parsnip – whatever I have in the fridge that needs using up.
If you like your spicy foods this is a great time to add some chilli. I love adding a chopped up dried chilli but chilli flakes or fresh chilli is good too.
After frying these up for roughly 5 minutes I add some tinned tomatoes and stock. Do play around with the stock you use! I used a bit of homemade chicken bone broth last time (only because I had some) and then topped up with veggie stock.
Season your soup with some salt and pepper but don’t go bananas – you can always adjust the seasoning at the end.
Next is the pasta – any short, chunky pasta works great but I do love a macaroni!
You will need quite a bit of liquid at this stage as the pasta soaks up a huge amount. So if your soup is looking a bit dry, just add more stock or another can of tommies. Cook for a further 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and your veg is soft.
A few minutes before your pasta is cooked is a good time to add a can of beans if you’re into that! Red kidney beans are pretty standard but I only had white cannellini beans in the cupboard last time (can confirm they were delicious) so experiment with what you’ve got.
Take your soup off the heat and stir in some fresh spinach or any other green you like. The heat in the soup will wilt the spinach beautifully.
Now taste! What does it need? This is the point where I season the soup even more. I add more salt and pepper and sometimes add nutritional yeast or more powdered stock to add extra flavour.
Grate some parmesan over the top and you are good to go!
To summarise the order of ingredients:
Herbs, oil, fennel (or garlic and onion)
Chilli, salt and pepper
Tinned tomatoes and stock
Spinach or other greens
Any extra seasonings
Let me know how you go if you decide to give it a burl. And of course, please share your go to soups!
A short description is totally fine too. Let’s share the winter love people.
Stay cosy, Lou xx