Vegetable soup for me is one of those basic things that is really difficult to get wrong. But that’s probably because every pot of soup I make tastes different depending on what vegetables are at hand on that day. So I was surprised when I got requests for a soup recipe after posting a story on Instagram, to learn there are those who are intimidated at the thought of making soup.
I realised help was needed. So this is a basic recipe to help dispel the myth that soup making is difficult. It’s really easy if you have a few standard ingredients. I hope this gives anyone who hasn’t had the courage to do so, full confidence in forging ahead.
Meat and Veg Soup
1/4 cup dried sugar beans soaked overnight or 1/2 cup tinned (optional)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 turnips, peeled and diced, or you can use potato
small bunch of celery leaves chopped
1 onion chopped
500g lamb or beef stew meat and bones
2 small tomatoes chopped (optional)
1/3 cup of dried soup mix (this adds bulk, texture and is a combination of barley, split peas and lentils)
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp peppercorns
2 sticks cinnamon
2 tsp garlic & ginger paste
splash of lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground jeera (cumin)
Add about 2 Tbsp oil to a large pot on medium heat. Add whole spices and let them sizzle. Then add onion. Sauté and allow to soften. After that add meat and garlic & ginger paste with 1 tsp salt and cook the meat until it is browned. Add dried soaked sugar beans at this stage if using dried. But if you are using tinned beans they can be added later. Add enough boiling water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Turn down to a fast simmer and allow to cook till beans are almost soft. This can take an hour or longer.
Add all other veggies and about a litre of boiling water. Continue to boil till the veggies are soft. At this point add salt and milled black pepper to taste and then a few drops of lemon juice and the jeera. Top up water as needed. This can take another hour. Add the tinned beans if using at this stage. Give it a taste and if you find it too tart from the lemon juice or tomatoes, add a pinch or two of sugar.
The thickness of your soup is a personal preference. If you like it smooth you can take some out and liquidise, or remove the meat and bones and use a stick blender in your pot. I like lots of texture, so I squash the veggies against the side of the pot to break it up rather than making it too smooth.
Adjust flavour and seasonings as you go along. I’m always adding all kinds of extra flavours. Sometimes garlic flakes, paprika or celery salt. A hint of nutmeg, a splash of Worcestershire sauce or even aromat. A stock cube can add great flavour. Just reduce your salt if you’re going to use this. There are no rules with soup. Just make it up as you go along. If it tastes good to you, you got it right.
Pro-tip: A great way to speed things up is to buy a bag of pre-chopped soup veggies from your local and dump it all into the pot as needed. I find the soup veggie packs from Food Lovers Market to be great value.