There is something about winter being just around the corner that makes me long for a generous bowl of steamy soup. You know, the kind that warms, fills and nourishes and needs little more than a slice of crusty bread drizzled in olive oil? I’m a big fan of soup. One of my favorite cookbooks is the Soup Kitchen, which gets used all year long as it’s filled with all kinds of yummy soup recipes. Having said that, when I want something simple and familiar (or I have vegetables in the fridge that need to be used), I reach for ingredients to make my “go-to” soup.
My Irish mother-in-law gave me the base recipe many years ago. When I asked her if she minded me sharing the recipe, she laughed, saying of course she didn’t and that it was my recipe now anyway. I guess she’s probably right given that when I went looking for the paper I wrote it on all those years ago (to “fact check” it before writing this post), I couldn’t find it in my recipe box. Truthfully, I make it often enough to remember it and so she is right. I even wonder if I ever wrote it down, but it doesn’t really matter because the basic recipe is pretty easy, flexible and the best part? My kids usually love it (disclaimer: note I say usually because for some reason they don’t love all vegetables equally). In any case, the base recipe makes enough to feed the four of us (two adults royally and two little people amply) and is exactly the kind of thick comforting soup that we crave as the days here in Amsterdam are at their shortest.
Irish Farmhouse Soup base recipe:
Makes about 1.5 liters of soup (the recipe can easily be doubled)
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 liter of vegetable stock
- 1 cup chopped potatoes (about 1 large or 2 medium)
- 3 cups chopped vegetable(s) of choice (we use one small roasted pumpkin as the kids like it)
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of flour
- Bay leaf
- Herbs of choice (for pumpkin soup, I add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano and about 1” of fresh diced ginger)
- Heat oil into a heavy-bottomed pot, add fresh herbs, bay leaf, onions and garlic, cooking until onions and garlic are soft.
- Add a pinch of flour and stir until onions and garlic are coated.
- Add stock and chopped vegetables and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and boil for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove herb branches and bay leaf.
- Remove from heat and blend for a creamy and thick soup. If it’s thicker than you like, just add a bit of water or stock to thin it.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Tip: If you’re in a rush, just chop the vegetables finely (dice) and they’ll cook much faster.
Another tip: My favorite way to roast pumpkin: Cut the pumpkin in half, scooping out seeds and slicing it into pumpkin “smiles”. Put them on a baking tray, coat thinly with olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 200C/400F for about 20-25 minutes or until tender (test with a fork). Remove from the oven, let them cool and peel (skin should come off easily).