You can have a stock-making evening when you have cooked a chicken, and take the carcass, a large onion, whole or quartered, a large carrot peeled and halved of quartered, a celery stick or two snapped in half- keep any leaves on the stalk too for added flavour, a bay leaf, 12 black peppercorns and a teaspoon or two of dried mixed herbs. Cover all the ingredients with water, bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top, then reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover the pan. Cook the stock for about an hour and a half, allow it to cool and then freeze it for future use. You don’t have to stand over it while it cooks, leave it, relax and simply remember to turn it off at the appropriate time.
Making a vegetable stock is even easier, as you can use vegetable parings and even onion skins which will darken the colour of the liquid. You need carrots and an onion or two and celery and any other vegetable which you have in the kitchen, although the ones I have named will make a good stock on their own. This need about an hour of cooking time only and again all you have to do is turn it off after an hour.
With this hearty vegetable soup you can add oatmeal or pearl barley to thicken it and give it an interesting texture, and you can puree the finished soup if you want a creamier texture. Red lentils can be added too, which will give the soup added protein.
Hearty Winter Vegetable Soup
- 2 lbs of mixed root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, swede, salsify
- 3 or 4 potatoes peeled and cubed
- 2 leeks, washed thoroughly and sliced
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped (optional)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsps dried
- 6 sage leaves or 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 handful of fresh parley, chopped or 1 tbsp dried
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 litres chicken stock
- olive oil for frying
- Fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes in the heated oil. Remove from the heat and transfer them to the saucepan you will cook the soup in.
- Put all the other ingredients in the pan, stir to mix and bring the liquid to the boil.
- Turn the heat down so that the soup is simmering, partially cover the pan with a lid and cook for 20 minutes to half an hour until the vegetables are tender.
- Serve while piping hot.