It’s getting cold up here on Walton’s Mountain. I wake up to a grey view from the bedroom window, the fields shrouded in icy cold mist that takes till at least 9am to clear. I shuffle downstairs and make a warming cup of tea and sneak back to bed allowing myself the luxury of a couple of hours reading till 8am when chores beckon and my day proper begins.
Foodie thoughts are never far from my mind, early morning is time for planning the day’s meals, ‘what’s for dinner Mum?’ I must have words at the ready, the promise of comfort food to come.
Soup is always my fall-back favourite in these colder months. Nothing in the world comforts like a hot and hearty bowl of soup, hands warming around the bowl and oh the warming from the inside after the first tasty sip.
Very often my soup making forays are merely a matter of foraging in the fridge and larder for bits and pieces I can throw together and hope to achieve a pot of pleasure that ticks lots of veggie boxes and feel good ingredients too.
This chunky vegetable soup is typical of my kitchen hunting, it showcases the last singletons in the fridge; that solo carrot, the last stick of celery, the lonesome leek and a courgette that just has to be used today. I always have leafy greens like salad and kale lurking, so toss a couple of handfuls of kale in as well. A search under the sink produces a small onion and some garlic, one clove will be just fine. The larder gives the other ingredients like a tin of tomatoes and a couple of spoonfuls of puree, some paprika, balsamic vinegar, a stock cube and some olive oil to start things off. When all is done and cooked and created I will look to the windowsill and harvest the last of that basil plant and parsley to add that extra kick of flavour in the last few minutes of cooking. Then when ladled into a bowl and ready to eat I shall sprinkle on some parmesan shavings for my fridge is never without this flavoursome treat.
There is no delicacy in preparation or presentation with this simple chunky vegetable soup. It is rustic and hearty, full of goodness and character and does not require any sort of prettiness to sell itself as seriously good food. Like the very best of people its goodness comes from within.
When the day starts grey and cold this is the soup to make to welcome home your family at the end of the day with great taste, colour and sheer goodness, and if you are holed up in the house on your own this one really is one hell of a hug in a mug!
Chunky Vegetable Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 courgette chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 stick celery chopped
- 1 leek chopped white and green parts
- 600 ml/1 pt vegetable stock
- 400 g/14 oz can of tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 handfulls kale
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- parmesan shavings to serve
- salt and papper to taste
- Heat the oil gently in a large pan and add the chopped oinion.
- Cook for 3 minutes then add the garlic for another 2 minutes.
- Add the courgette, carrot, leek and celery and cook for 10 minutes more.
- Pour in the vegetable stock, tomatoes and puree and stir to mix and add the kale.
- Cover the pot and let it all simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the smoked paprika and balsamic vinegar and season to taste.
- Toss in the fresh herbas and cook for just 5 minutes more.
- Serve with shavings of parmesan cheese and a few extra herb leaves.