Tuesday 5th Glamuary - Wholesome Fridge Soup with Parmesan Croutons

One of the things I love most about winter cooking is the endless possibilities of making homemade soup!

My Mother has always been a wonderful home cook as was my grandmother Patsy and my great aunt Kathleen (Coty) before her. Coming from a large Irish family, mealtimes were a celebrated ritual within the household. One of my Nana’s famous quotes was 'Food is Love' and she truly believed that. If she was cooking warm and nourishing meals for the family, she was lavishing them with her love. As my great aunt Coty never married, she lived with my mother’s family all her life, which meant that the household had two cooks getting up to all sorts of delicious mischief in the kitchen on a daily basis. Coty had a little saying and she would reel it off every time we praised her for a meal she had cooked for us, “The quality is high the prices are low. You can’t beat Coty’s wherever you go.”

My mother is one of 5 (my grandmother one of 10) and as a child my grandparents’ house always seemed like Piccadilly Circus as it was always abuzz with numerous people. The door was always open to anyone, and whoever crossed its threshold would be suitably fed and watered, whether they were expecting to be or not. Something which filtered through to my parents’ home (my father is also from a large Irish family with the same approach to life and living. He is a fabulous party host!) and it has now become the same in my own home. The door is always open, and you will always receive a good Irish welcome.

One thing that was always on the stove in both my grandparents’ and my parents’ home during the autumn and winter months, was a pan of soup. This was wonderful because at any time of the day there was always a hot treat available that could be enjoyed with some toasted soda bread topped with Kerrygold Irish butter. My mouth is watering as I write just thinking about it. Both soup and soda bread are the simplest things in the world to make, anyone can make them, and they provide your family with a nourishing and inexpensive meal for lunch or dinner.

I am so grateful for my family for so many reasons in life, but especially because of the legacy of family importance and togetherness that has been embedded in our way of life. Breaking bread together each day is a huge part of that. It’s good for the soul.

So, to my Fridge Soup. You may be thinking I’m going to serve you a chilled creation at this point, but it’s the complete opposite, I called it my fridge soup because it was made recently for the first time with everything that was left in my fridge! I have an extensive repertoire of homemade soups in my portfolio, but this was a let’s just chuck whatever we’ve got left into the pan and see what happens kind of soup. I imagine you all have your own recipes like that to. As it happens it turned out to be rather tasty so here is the recipe and method for you to try at home if you wish.

My Fridge Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of celery
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 6 large carrots
  • 1 large leek or 3 smaller trimmed leeks
  • 3 large red peppers
  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • 1 large orange pepper
  • 8 mini piccerella peppers – 4 red, 2 yellow, 2 orange
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 veg stock pot
  • 1 sundried tomato & paprika stock pot
  • ½ teaspoon ground paprika or sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1500ml boiling water

Utensils:

  • 1 Large Pan - I use my amazing 'Stellar' square roaster pan with lid. it measures 34cm x 34cm, it's non-stick and It its wonderful for everything from soup, to chilli, curry, casseroles, the list is endless. it'a about a decade old and it's always my go-to pan of choice.
  • A blender or a food processor
  • A 2ltr & a 1ltr Kilner Jar

  Method:

  • Roughly chop all vegetables – large rough pieces are fine
  • Place your two stock pots in the boiling water and stir with a balloon wish until all is dissolved
  • Add all vegetables to the pan, pour over the stock, add the extra paprika to taste
  • Turn on the heat and bring all ingredients to the boil
  • Then drop heat to a simmer and simmer until all vegetables have nicely softened but not lost their lovely vivid colours. You will know when.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Once cool, blend or food process to desired consistency and pour into your Kilner jars and store in the fridge.
  • I ladle as much as I need into a pan for each serving and leave the rest in the fridge. It will keep for a week or more in the fridge. If it lasts that long.
  • I serve with my homemade parmesan croutons. Recipe below.

 

Parmesan Croutons:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180° (fan assisted)
  • Take a large slice of bread cut away the very edge of the crusts so you don’t lose too much bread.
  • Cut the slice into approximately 12-16 squares (number of squares will depend on the size of the piece of bread).
  • Dip each side in extra virgin olive oil and place on a baking tray lined with grease proof baking paper.
  • Take some roughly grated parmesan cheese (grated in cheddar cheese size strands rather than finely grated) and add some to the top of each crouton. Don’t worry if there is cheese all over the tray, as these crispy little bits will also be lovely sprinkled on your soup.
  • Place in your pre-heated oven and cook for 10 mins. Check at this point and see how they are getting along and then check at 5 min intervals until they are starting to look caramelised and bubbly. The length of time depends on personal taste, whether you prefer a softer chewy crouton or a crispier well-done crouton.
  • These little lovelies will keep in an airtight container for days and still taste perfect, that’s if they last that long! Nothing ever does in our house. 
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