There is nothing better than a hearty bowl of soup to warm the cockles. Although I admit to enjoying the occasional simple can of tomato soup, there really is nothing better than a bowl of something homemade.
Just about every food culture has its own variety of soup, which makes it probably the most versatile food on the planet. You can literally go anywhere in the world with it, from indulgent French onion (or English onion, in Jamie’s case) to a fragrant Indian-inspired dahl.
At the end of the week, when my veggies are on the turn or when I need to get inventive with my leftovers, I make soup – enough for a meal with leftovers to freeze. It’s so satisfying taking a pot of something hearty from the freezer on a hectic weeknight and warming it through in minutes. In these situations when you’re serving soup as a main, however, there are a few easy tricks for making it a seriously satisfying meal.
Bulking out soups
Bulking out soup with basic ingredients from your dry store, like rice, pasta, noodles and grains, is a trick every chef should have up their sleave. Bean, lentils and pulses are also a great bet, as they’re nutritious and filling sources of protein. If you’re making a broth, pulses are delicious left whole, but you can also blend them through soups to thicken. Potatoes can be used in the same way- either chopped into cubes or blended, give sweet potatoes a go as they’re better for you and really delicious in soups.
As long as your choice of filler is wholegrain, it’ll be a healthy, as well as delicious, addition to a good soup. Just add them straight into your soup to cook through. They will suck up moisture so don’t add too much – about 20g per person should be perfect.
In Italy stale bread is used to thicken hearty broths and soups- papa al pomodoro – a soup made simply from garlic, canned plum tomatoes, basil, stock, stale bread and olive oil – is one of my favourites. It’s so easy and almost literally tastes of sunshine.
Terrific soup toppings
You can also top with your soup with a host of delicious tastes and textures. A little grated cheese is one of the best and easiest. You could also try making a pangrattato (blitzed breadcrumbs, garlic and herbs of your choice). This will give the most fantastic crispy topping packed full of flavour. Crunchy seeds or roasted chickpeas are also tasty and healthy options.
My top tip for making the most out of your soup is to make sure the filler or topper reflects the initial ingredients of the dish. For example, a Morroccan-inspired spiced tomato soup will be delicious with harissa-roasted chickpea on top, but not so great with noodles running through it.
Read Jennifer’s guide to great soup fillers for inspiration, and get creative – we’d love to hear your winning soup combinations!