June 3 - 9, 2018: Issue 362

Baby it’s cold outside: Hot Soups from in Season Vegetables will Warm You Up

Still life with leeks by Carl Schuch, 1888. (National Museum in Warsaw)
If it’s not snowing somewhere near us already then it’s certainly giving us the chills. Now is the time to dig out all your favourite soup recipes and dig in to that rib-sticking hot liquid filled with all the good things that give us energy to burn during the coldest season of the year.

With some great fresh vegetable crops now coming in at almost farm gate prices, such as cauliflower, potatoes and pumpkin, instead of buying a can for one loaded with preservatives and other things you don’t want in your body, dragging out the stockpot and making up some of your own is going to save you dollars and it makes good sense to make the best of the Australian produce now available.

There’s nothing like coming indoors on a cold afternoon to a cup or bowl of hot soup. Some of our basic and classic recipes to warm the cockles of your heart during these coming weeks.

Cream of Cauliflower soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 large head (1.5kg) white cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets
4 cups Massel chicken style liquid stock or vegetable liquid stock
1/2 cup pouring cream
Extra pouring cream, to serve
Chopped chives, to serve

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until onion is soft. Stir in cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add cauliflower and stock to pan. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Process soup, in batches, until smooth. Return soup to pan over low heat. Stir in cream. Cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with extra cream. Top with chives and season with cracked black pepper. Eat!

Pea and Ham soup
You saved that ham bone from Christmas, now it’s time to thaw it out and buy some split peas and make something delicious!

1 1/3 cups green split peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 sticks celery, trimmed, chopped
1 brown onion, halved, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
700g ham or bacon hocks
6 cups cold water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Bread, to serve

Rinse split peas under cold running water until water runs clear. Drain.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion softens.
Add split peas, ham hocks and water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until ham hocks are tender and the meat is falling away from the bones. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Remove ham hocks from pan. Remove the meat from bones. Coarsely chop meat and set aside.
Place one-quarter of the pea mixture in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Return to pan with ham. Repeat with remaining pea mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until hot.
Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately with hot crusty bread.

Pumpkin soup with an Asian twist
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1.2 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1L (4 cups) vegetable liquid stock
Dollop of natural yoghurt
1 garlic clove
Turkish bread, to serve
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle on bread
1 teaspoon dukkah, to sprinkle

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for 5 minutes or until golden. Add cumin and cook, stirring for 1 minute or until aromatic.

Add pumpkin and stir to coat. Add stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Set aside to cool slightly then blend until smooth.

Cut Turkish bread in half and cook until golden. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and rub with the cut side of a garlic clove. Ladle soup among serving bowls. Top with a dollop of natural yoghurt. Sprinkle with dukkah. Serve!

Pumpkin & Chickpea soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, halved lengthways, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons Mexican chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1L (4 cups) Massel vegetable liquid stock
1kg Butternut pumpkin, peeled, chopped
400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained (or soak 1 cup dried chick peas and cook until tender)
2 cinnamon sticks
40g (1/2 cup) coarsely grated cheddar or Mexican-style cheese
Sour cream, to serve
Chopped fresh coriander, to serve

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the leek, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, oregano, chilli powder and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic.
Add the stock, pumpkin, chickpeas and cinnamon. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Remove and discard cinnamon.
Blend the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Top with cheese and sour cream and sprinkle with coriander.

Potato and leek soup
60ml olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 medium (about 700g) desiree potatoes, or pontiac potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
2 leeks, pale section only, washed, dried, thinly sliced
5 cups vegetable liquid stock
125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream - optional
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the onion softens. Add the potato and leek and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until leek softens. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until potato is soft. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Transfer one-third of the potato mixture to the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a clean saucepan. Repeat in 2 more batches with the remaining potato mixture. Alternatively, use a stick blender to blend in the saucepan.
Place the soup over medium heat. Add the cream and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until hot. Taste and season with salt.
Ladle the soup among serving bowls. Serve immediately.
The Potato Harvest by Jean-François Millet, 1855 (Walters Art Museum)