Lois & Sophie’s Soup Nights

Here’s a great Guest Blog from the lovely Lois Ackerley 3rd year Marketing, Sales & Communication student at Leeds Met (and our fabulous oncampus video presenter!) all about SOUP!

‘Who knew that healthy food could be so quick, easy and cheap to make!?

I think I’ve gone a bit soup crazy! It all started on Bonfire Night last year, my friend Sophie had invited a group of friends around her place to hang out, eat some food and have some drinks. I’m not really sure what I was expecting her to cook but it certainly wasn’t soup!

Sophie had gone all out, making pumpkin soup from scratch and had even cooked the skins and roasted the seeds for sides. Everyone loved the soup – it was amazing. It turns out Sophie had been making her own soups on a regular basis for a while; she told me how much money she’d saved and how much healthier she was eating. As delicious as the soup she made that evening was, I still thought, home cooking equals time and hard work…but how very wrong I was.

From that evening, ‘Soup Nights’ (as we now like to call them) at Sophie’s have now become a regular occurrence. Making soup, she can feed five or six of us for around a quid each! Bargain! One night she’d cook a potato and onion soup, another it would be a red pepper and tomato and another she’d mix it up a bit with a carrot, squash and sweet potato soup. The more I tried, the more I thought, ‘I’m going to have to start making my own homemade soups,’ so I began to enquire as to how exactly she made them all taste so yummy!

GET SOUPING!

First things first, to make your own homemade soups you’ll need the following four items:
1. A knife to chop and peal your vegetables
2. A chopping board
3. A pan to boil your vegetables
4. A blender

Now don’t be letting number four put you off. I was so surprised at how cheap blenders can be and if you think about how often you may use it, its well worth the investment. For your basic hand blender you’re looking at as little as 12 quid and if there is say four of you living together, you could all put in 3 quid each and there you have it, your own communal blender. Lovely.

So, blender bought, you’ll need to peal and chop up all your vegetables and pop them in a some boiling water and put them on to boil until they are cooked – don’t worry if some things are softer than others, its all going to be blended together in the end.

When the veg is cooked, drain off some of the water, leaving a little in the pan to help make a nice soup texture when the vegetables are blended. At this point you can add salt, pepper, and any herbs or spices, its really entirely up to you what flavours you wish to add, I like to crumble in half a vegetable stock and if I’m in the mood I’ll sprinkle in some chilly flakes to make a soup that’s sexy, hot and spicy!

Flavours added, its time to get blending. Take the pan off the head and place on a heatproof breadboard. Before blending, make sure that the arm is locked in and if you’re blender is one that plugs into the wall, make sure that the wires are out the way – we don’t want any accidents!

If you wish to give your soup a more creamy texture, you may also like to add some double cream to the mixture.

Once you’ve blended the mixture, check to see if you need to add more salt or pepper etc, and if you’re happy, then its ready to serve! I like to grate a little cheese on top – it’s the little things that can make all the difference!

A crusty bread bun or two will help to ensure you scoop up every last drop, because trust me you’ll want to!

So there you go, its as easy as A,B,C – chop, boil and blend! Try it yourself and see what soups you come up with.

SOPHIE’S JUICY RED PEPPER, TOMATO & ONION SOUP

If you’re up for cooking something a little more special then here is one of my favourites that Sophie made the other week, it was blooming fantastic! A heartwarming tomato soup that’s simple to prepare :)

Serves: 4
Prep time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 1 hr 20 mins
Total time: 2 hr

Ingredients:
• 4 large red peppers
• 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
• 1tsp dried oregano
• 4tbsp olive oil
• 1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
• 6 large tomatoes, peeled
• 850ml (1½ pt) vegetable stock
• 1tsp sugar
• Half a packet fresh basil leaves
• 2 small ciabatta loaves, baked according to packet instructions

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Place the peppers and garlic on a baking tray, sprinkle with oregano and 1tbsp olive oil. Roast for 30-35 mins until the pepper skins are blistered. Place the hot peppers in a plastic bag. When cold, peel and chop the flesh, discarding the seeds.
2. Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion for 10 mins until softened. Chop the tomatoes, discarding the seeds and add to the pan with the peppers, stock, sugar and a few basil leaves. Squeeze the soft cooked garlic from the cloves and add to the pan. Simmer for 30 mins.
3. Slice the ciabatta into four and brush with the remaining olive oil. Chop the basil (keeping a few leaves for garnish) and sprinkle over the bread. Season and lightly grill. Whizz the soup in a food processor then reheat. Garnish with basil leaves and black pepper and serve with the toasts.

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