As the southern hemisphere heads into winter, our thoughts turn to foods that bring warmth and comfort: casseroles, roasts, curries, pies and of course, soup. Of all these winter favourites, soup seems to pose the greatest challenge for home cooks – hence the ready made soup market is booming! However, armed with the right ingredients and some simple techniques, it’s easy to produce a flavoursome homemade soup that is not only nourishing, but devoid of the artificial yet omnipresent additives we’ve come to accept as the norm.
Whilst there are probably dozens of ways to add flavour to your soup, here are some of my personal favourites – not only because they work, but because they’re readily available and common to many home kitchens.
Goes well with: tomato, chicken, bacon
Whether you stick with traditional basil, sun dried tomato or something more unusual, pesto is a great way to boost flavour. Just be sure to choose one that has a high percentage of the main ingredient, as some brands contain a lot of fillers (like potato flakes) and use cheaper, less flavoursome oils like sunflower instead of olive oil.
Give your next pot of chicken soup extra zing by adding a dollop of chilli pesto during cooking, then serve topped with a cheeky dash of sour cream and some crispy pancetta.
2. Pizza sauce
Goes well with: beef, chicken, legumes
Instead of using plain tomato paste and maybe some dried herbs, try using a ready made pizza sauce – since many are already infused with garlic, onion and herbs, this produces a more mature flavour. However, be mindful of sodium and sugar content as some lower quality pizza sauces contain your recommended daily intake in one serve! If in doubt, or you have a specific dietary concern, use a tin of seasoned, peeled tomatoes.
Why not model your next minestrone on the flavours of traditional Italian pizza? Season the stock with pizza sauce, then serve topped with torn fresh basil leaves, thinly shredded salami, and shaved fresh parmesan.
3. Curry paste
Goes well with: chicken, seafood, pumpkin
Whether you choose to make your own paste or use a store bought variety, there are loads of flavour options when it comes to curry paste. Even if the soup you’re making is not traditionally seasoned with curry paste, many ingredients are compatible, so experiment and find out what you like.
Next time you whip up some pumpkin soup, take inspiration from the flavours of Asia, and saute some brown onion and garlic with fresh red curry paste in your soup pot, before adding the vegetables and stock. To serve, top with fresh coriander leaves, crispy fried shallots and finely sliced red chilli.
Do you have a suggestion for adding instant flavour to homemade soup? Leave us a note in the comments below.