I used to be scared of soup. I thought making it from scratch was somehow this scientific, precise endeavor involving complex chemistry and perhaps a team of people in white coats holding up test tubes to the light. I figured it would be all too easy to slip up and end up with a watered-down impression, or alternately to add one ingredient too many and have the whole thing seize into a sludge. People would chuckle at me, telling me “soup is easy” but I thought for sure they must be lying.
I am happy to report that I have learned how wrong I was. Soup is not only nourishing, but forgiving too! Ingredients can easily be swapped out, added, removed, and tweaked. You can fiddle with the thickness or change up the spices. You can even raid the fridge for leftovers and use what you find to concoct something new and delicious. I am now on a major soup kick around here, and am experiencing great joy at my newfound confidence.
I still feel most secure when I have a recipe to reference as both a jumping off point and a guide. The two recipes I worked with lately were for Fresh Tomato, Lentil and Onion Soup from Linda Fraser’s book Vegetarian-the Best Ever Recipe Collection and a Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe I found on Instructables.com.
I made some little changes with both recipes. For the Tomato, Lentil and Onion soup, I had only half of the amount of onion she called for. But I had some orange bell pepper on hand so I diced that up instead to fill in the gap. I also used butter to cook the diced veggies in, not having sunflower oil, and I used my blender to puree the soup since my food processor is pretty small. Being able to work with what I already have is a good feeling. There is nothing I hate more, when it comes to recipes, than one that requires you to own expensive equipment or use 20 rare ingredients.
When I was making the Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe, I noticed that the amount was coming up short for this hungry family of three. So I added an extra cup of the vegetable stock that was called for and it yielded a much better amount. If I ever work from this recipe again I will most definitely double it, since we had no leftovers at all, and that is one of the best things about making a big pot of soup: lunch the next day!
October’s chill has set in. We are turning on the heat, wearing sweaters and jackets, and switching to hot tea and coffee instead of iced. Eating a steaming bowl of soup with a chunk of hearty bread is the best dinner I can imagine to soothe us and nourish us this time of year and into the winter. It is food for the comfort of the soul as well as the body.