Tips for great tasting homemade soup


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With winter setting in it's time indulge with some quality home made soup.

Lean beef, mutton or chicken form the basis of great soup, so try and get good quality fresh meat from your local butcher.

Few will argue that beef makes the best stock. If the meat is boiled solely to make stock, it’s best to cut it up first into the smallest possible pieces. You can also boil a large joint in a stock-pot for two to three days for a full-flavoured stock.

For a quality savory soup you’ll want to get hold of several ingredients.

Various herbs and vegetables are required which could include, barley, lentils, oatmeal, beans, leek, sweet potato, mushroom, bread-raspings, parsnips, carrots, beetroot, turnips, garlic, shallots and onions. Begin by selecting your preferred ingredients and try to select a balanced portion of each so no single ingredient overpowers the other. To get started, add two or three carrots, two turnips, one parsnip and a bunch of leeks and celery tied together.

Beef and mutton will require hours of boiling to tenderise so start with the meat first and prepare your vegetables for adding later. Chicken boils much faster and requires a lot less effort. Start with boiling the vegetables first and then add the chicken to the pot.

You can boil your vegetables separately and integrate to the meat when it is well cooked. Soup is best simmered from between three to six hours and it’s generally better to prepare the day before.

To enhance the texture and flavour, you can add parsley, thyme, sage, mint and basil. There are many herbs and spices available so don’t be afraid to try them out. Stock cubes or sliced onions fried with butter and flour are excellent for adding colour and additional flavour to soups and sauces. For seasoning you can try adding bay-leaves, tarragon, chervil, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, black and white pepper and lemon-peel.

Clear soups are usually transparent, and thickened soups should be about the consistency of cream.

When the soup appears to be too thin or too weak you can remove the lid and boil of some of the water. Alternatively, you can thicken the soup by adding add lentils, arrow-root, flour and butter, barley or oatmeal.

For a vegetarian option, just leave out the meat and replace with vegetarian stock cubes to enhance the taste.

Whatever you decide, you'll have accomplished a deliciously tasting soup to help keep you and your family nourished in the cold winter months.

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