Yay, Auckland is finally getting chilly. That summer seemed endless and while there’s so much to love about the hottest season, quite frankly I get fed up with salads and barbecues, slathering the kids in sunscreen, fanning my face like a menopausal woman and obsessing over ‘getting a breeze going’ in the house.
As winter creeps towards us, I’m normally well ready to wear pyjamas to bed, sleep under the duvet, rock out some scrummy casseroles, gather the firewood and watch the leaves turn pretty Autumnal shades.
Now you’re going to think I’m a saddo but I bloody love the cold weather setting in because it means we can have SOUP! I know, I know, get a life! But life is so much better with a hot bowl of soup and loads of gorgeous garlic bread for dipping. Actually, make that one piece of bread – I’m on a diet, keep forgetting.
Last week I got out the split peas and pearl barley and I chopped veges into little squares and brewed my first batch of soup. It was sadly missing the much-needed bacon hock, as my local butcher doesn’t sell them, but it was still oh so good. Seriously, what’s not to love about soup? It’s economical, simple to master, packed with vegetables and one pot is enough to feed the whole neighbourhood. Best of all, for busy parents, it heats up in a handy dandy minute or two.
Methinks it’s time for a Top Five list, just cause I bloody love Top Five lists. Here are the best soup recipes I’ve found so far in my soup-making years, which amount to only about three years if I’m honest.
ONE: When we were kids, winter meant Mum’s vegetable soup with a bacon hock in it and while I’ve never made it as good as hers, I’ve tried quite a bit. Here’s a similar recipe from the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. I like the addition of a bit of pesto and fresh parsley.
TWO: Since I discovered Thai Pumpkin Soup, plain ol’ pumpkin has never been the same. Love giving it a big kick of chilli and even though the coconut milk makes it not the healthiest option, it’s worth it. Thai Pumpkin Soup can be as simple as blending pumpkin, curry paste, coconut milk (or cream) and coriander, but I like the additions in Annabel Langbein’s recipe, especially with lemon zest when you don’t have lemongrass at hand – yum!
THREE: Full of veges, herbs and chickpeas, Jamie Oliver’s Minestrone Soup is the best tomato-based soup I’ve ever made. It is packed with so much flavour and is a fantastic way to use up loads of vegetables.
FOUR: I love Jamie Oliver’s Leek and Potato Soup too because it is so simple and yet turns out so bloomin’ delicious!
FIVE: I’ve never mastered seafood chowder but this Monteith’s recipe looks really good. This winter it’s my mission to convince my husband that seafood chowder is amazing. I succeeded with courgettes, but I think this is going to be a harder sell. Perhaps if I pair it with some Monteith’s Golden Ale, as suggested on their site, I’ll hook him.
And a bonus recipe for those not so worried about their waistlines – the best garlic butter! I found it on a forum and it’s pretty spesh, although I only use a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Spread it on some sliced ciabatta and grill and you are away laughing.
4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper