One of the best things about winter is soup. Nothing screams nurture and nourishment more than a big pot of simmering goodness on the stove.
Years ago, I’d take some of those packet soups to work for lunch. Never liked them, but figured I was too busy to make something. They used to intrigue me a bit in that I wondered how the manufacturers managed to turn the vegetables into a dry packet mix. Or even more mind boggling, chicken??? I could see the noodles, but where was the chicken?
What you can find easily enough, on the side of the packet, are the additives.
These days I have a go-to quick vegie soup recipe for when I’m busy or don’t have something else prepared. It takes minutes to prep, and I keep it in the saucepan in the fridge and just reheat it each day until it’s all gone. The sweet veg, like pumpkin, continues to soften and mellow, making the soup sweeter and thicker as the days go on.
If I don’t have any homemade chicken stock in the freezer, I’ll use a sachet of dashi stock. Dashi is a Japanese stock, based on sea vegetables or mushrooms, depending on the version you buy. I pick up some sachets at the health food store – a kombu and shitake mushroom base – and use that as my quick fix. It’s not as good as a homemade stock, but there are very few ingredients in it, all of which I can recognise by name which makes it a good alternative in my books. It smells a bit sea-ish the first time you use it, but as the vegetables in your soup break down, so does the smell.
I also add in some seaweed to the soup – dulse strips or flakes – to add extra nutrients and flavour. I’ve used torn up nori sheets too when that’s all I’ve had.
The great thing about soups like this one is that there are no rules. You can add whatever vegies you have or like, and whatever spices you like. It’s super quick, so you can make it the night before and take it to work.
My basic, go to recipe is:
- A sachet of dashi stock
- About 2-3 cups of water
- Diced onion (or sliced shallots)
- 1-2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 cup of diced pumpkin
- Chopped carrot, zucchini
- A handful or so of frozen peas
- A handful of dulse
- Pepper to taste
I simply throw it all in the saucepan, bring to boil and then simmer for a few minutes, until the vegies are cooked.
Make a bigger batch and pop the saucepan in the fridge so you can just pop it back on the stove the following day to reheat and eat.