Split pea soup made with the leftover ham bone from Easter dinner.
I make soups. I think it started when we used to have a wood stove in the kitchen and putting a pot on it to simmer throughout the day seemed like such a good thing to do. We no longer have a wood stove in the kitchen but the soup making tradition has never left and it would be a rare week when there is not a homemade soup for lunch.
When I began I used to follow recipes and can still remember one of the first soups I made and loved called Lentils Monastery Style from the iconic cookbook “Diet For a Small Planet.” It was thick with carrots and lentils and was the perfect meal on a cold winter day. I sometimes still use recipes and never regret it when I do. There is something to be said for cooks who take the time to make sure the ingredients are in the right proportions and seasoned perfectly. But these days, I am more than likely to make a soup from whatever is in the fridge.
My soups usually begin with a mirepoix: a mixture of diced carrot, onion and celery sautéed gently before adding stock and whatever other ingredients I feel like adding that day. I make my own stock if I have a chicken carcass or ham bone but most often I use a prepared organic stock. I am not a fan of dehydrated stocks in the traditional cubes. I find that they have usually been seasoned and I can always taste these seasoning in my soup. I prefer to be in charge of the seasoning.
If a vegetable soup is in the works I will often take the time to roast the vegetables in the oven before adding them to the soup pot. They develop so much flavour when cooked this way. Your soup will thank you for taking this extra step. I often end up pureeing my soups at the end or pureeing only part of it and leaving in some recognizable vegetable pieces. But this step depends on the type of soup I am making.
Seasoning the soup is done throughout but never skip the step of tasting the soup at the end and making final adjustments. It will often need more salt or pepper and sometimes some lemon to brighten the flavour. It can sometimes also need more of the original seasonings. It’s all a matter of taste and you will know when you have it right.
Developing a soup making habit was one of the best things I have ever done. It makes lunchtimes so easy: a pot of soup goes a long way. I don’t think there is much that is appreciated more by those we feed than a good bowl of soup. Yum…