Soups

Soups

By
Tony Chiodo
Contains
11 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740668873
Photographer
Chris Chen

Soups can be smooth and silky, hot and spicy, thick and wholesome – they can soothe the soul and heal the body.

Miso-style soups are simmered clear stocks fortified with miso paste – a fermented soy and grain paste combined with unrefined sea salt. When simmered as part of a soup, miso develops layers of flavour and depth.

Deliciously creamy soups emerge when seasonal, sweet and colourful vegetables are simmered with onion or leek to create a natural dessert in a bowl. They can be puréed and seasoned with sea salt or miso, then drizzled with ginger juice or topped with citrus zest for some additional excitement.

For that all-embracing soup sensation, try a grain- or bean-based soup, or a blend of both. Remember to soak beans and grains overnight, or cover them with boiling water for at least two hours before cooking.

A soup can have a mind of its own and can change its identity midstream. So, following are a few tips to keep the process simple:

Sauté or ‘sweat’ your onion, leek, garlic and sea salt to increase sweetness and enhance flavour. A little effort in the beginning will reward you at the end.

Lid on or off? Keeping a lid on aids the sweating process, helping to create a sweeter, richer flavoured soup. So, for a creamy vegetable soup, I tend keep the lid on. When cooking a grain- or bean-style soup I prefer the lid off, which allows the gas to escape from the beans.

A great vegetable stock can be the backbone to a really good tasting soup. If you haven’t time to make your own then purchase a good-quality low-salt, organic vegetable stock. Don’t use kitchen scraps for making stocks – choose sweet-tasting produce.

I use miso as my everyday flavouring as much as possible. It’s the base to my soups when I don’t want to use vegetable stock. Miso is such a versatile ingredient – it can be delicate in Asian-style soups or robust and bold in Mediterranean-style soups. Whenever possible I purchase organic, unpasteurised miso and always have at least two varieties to hand: a white (shiro) miso, which has a mellow, sweet flavour and a creamy consistency; and a barley (mugi) miso, which is tan in colour, slightly salty and robust. If you can find an aged miso then you’ve got a prized flavouring at hand. If you purchase miso in plastic, transfer it to a glass jar and refrigerate – it will last for years. When adding miso to a soup, first spoon the miso into a bowl and dissolve it with a few tablespoons of the soup liquid before pouring it back into the pan.

I’ve included sea vegetables such as wakame and kombu in many of my soups. These are natural flavour enhancers that have a thickening quality and add minerals to a dish. If you’re not used to the flavour of sea vegetables, start with small amounts and increase as you begin to enjoy them.

Don’t be afraid to add handfuls of fresh herbs to your soups. Like other produce, herbs have their seasons. I separate them into two categories: soft, spring/summer herbs, such as chervil, coriander, parsley, chives and basil, which are delicate and aromatic and are best added at the end of the cooking process; and the more robust autumn/winter range, such as thyme, rosemary and sage, which are hardy and can be added at the beginning of the cooking process.

Finally, if you have a gas cooker, a flame diffuser is vital. Flame diffusers are metal plates shaped like a table tennis bat, designed to disperse and slow a gas flame. They allow thick, grain- or bean-based soups to linger longer on the stove without burning the base. They’re also perfect for casseroles.

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