I had some vegetables I needed to use up before they went bad. Given that my energy level from day to day is unpredictable, I find it difficult to shop, never knowing if I will be able to manage fresh food that needs a lot of preparation, or if I should be stocking my fridge with cottage cheese. When I say "a lot of preparation" I basically mean washing and chopping which isn't really a lot of work for a more normal level of energy. But 'normal' isn't the way I live. There is no normal, there is only whatever is happening today. I don't have a lot of freezer space and must confess that I don't care for the taste of most vegetables when frozen. Peas, green beans and corn, I am used to, but any other vegetable tastes peculiar to me. So, when I find myself well supplied with vegetables I realise I will not be able to use I do one of three things, I either look the other way as it goes blue and mushy in my fridge, I give it away to my mum or my neighbour before it looks off-putting, or on a day when I have some energy for cooking I use up every vegetable I have making soup.
I love my vegetable soups pureed, and I love my pureed soups curried. I also find that if I make the soup thick I can use it as a sauce and then thin it down with water or broth if I want to eat it as soup.
This particular soup, since it contained all the vegetable contents of my fridge, was in danger of being much too brown to be appetizing, as is the inevitable result of mixing green vegetables and orange vegetables. I needed to get that brown much more orange to keep the soup appealing looking, although it already tasted quite delicious. The solution was more carrots, but in my rummaging for anything orange, I re-discovered a forgotten jar of small red lentils. They aren't really red, they are quite orange. I think I would add yet more carrots if I were serving this to company and I've made a mental note to use more carrots than I think I need the next time I mix my green and orange veggies.
The contents of my soup pot were roughly this:
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large orange flesh sweet potato, peeled and chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large broccoli stems, chopped
4 cups washed baby spinach
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
garlic, salt, pepper, tumeric, mustard, curry powder, all to taste
I like to add coconut milk to smaller batches of the soup and freeze portions without it. Yogurt can be stirred in or dolloped on top as well or instead of the coconut milk. This basic soup could be thinned and used as the broth for a chunky soup with more lentils and vegetables, chicken or seafood.
It would be vegan, obviously, if the stock used were vegetable stock.
I haven't yet taken up the art of food styling, so here is a very ordinary and plain bowl of soup just waiting for someone's creative touch. I thinned this down a little just with water when I heated up the portion I wanted to eat with my lunch.
Just for fun, here are three soup poems I grew up with:
The Story of Augustus Who Would Not Have Any Soup, from Struwwelpeter
Poem with Illustations here
Beautiful Soup, by Lewis Carroll
Chicken Soup With Rice, by Maurice Sendak is a full book with a poem for each month so I can only give a sample here. The illustrations still delight me as much as they did when I was a child.
Carole King put the whole poem to music. The lyrics, written by Sendak, can be found here