It’s time for hearty winter soups

The perfect lunch

My late Mother often joked….. “I didn’t marry for lunch…..!!”

We all agree it’s great going out to lunch but week-day lunches at home can become tedious affairs. After years in a Corporate position where lunch did not really feature in my life, now being semi-retired my husband often says, ‘What’s for lunch’ and Mom’s quote comes to mind! In summer salads are good and in winter soups become an easy, healthy lunchtime staple!

Chicken broth, on the lighter side

When we buy a deli barbequed chicken I always cook up the chicken carcass to make a delicious broth. Having a preference for Asian flavours I add them. The basic soup can be just as or with added corn and spring onions, for those who are not hooked on Asian flavours.

The addition of noodles is optional. The benefit is that it adds body to the meal, you can use rice or wheat based noodles. We enjoy the rice noodles. I simply add a ‘nest’ of dry noodles to the hot stock or soup and within about 4 minutes they are ready.

I dislike the addition of potatoes, and rather add pulses such as barley, split peas, beans or lentils, to soups. Pulses are an excellent source of good quality protein and fibre in the diet.

Recipe: Chicken Broth

When the cooler weather sets in I opt for a heartier soup.

My little decor shop is conveniently situated on Sweetwell Farm which is also well known for its excellent butchery, specialising in pork products, so I could not resist buying a ham hock (Eisbein) to make a hearty split pea and ham soup. As we have the family visiting and I know that 9 year old Simon loves ‘Granny’s Pea Soup’ I had good reason to make a huge batch!

Soups containing pulses do take more cooking time as the pulses require pre-soaking and if you add meat, long slow cooking is required. Having a pressure cooker makes it a doddle as the cooking time is reduced to 30 minutes! For a quick soup I often used tinned beans, chickpeas or lentils.

Recipe: Pea and Ham Soup 

Soups can be a food safety risk!

I sometimes cringe at food safety considerations going out of the window when it comes to soup making. Never use food that is not fresh especially meat or the chicken carcass. Despite the weather being cooler, bacteria thrive at room temperature, so as soon as the soup is cooked, unless you are about to serve it, refrigerate it until you need to heat it. When you re-heat the soup, make sure that it boils for at least 2 minutes. Respect the shelf-life. I limit my homemade soups to 3 days stored below 5°C. If you have cooked bulk soups, rather freeze portions, defrost them in the refrigerator or microwave and then heat them thoroughly before serving.