Thursday, 7 October 2010

Enter the Soup Dragon!

In our family, we say that if you leave anything edible in the kitchen for long enough without it getting up and moving around on its own, Mum will make soup with it.

Leftover Christmas turkey scraps, the carcass from Sunday's roast chicken, bones from the beef hotpot the other day - none of them were saved from the soup pot. Add a few chopped veg, boil it into submission, blend to a smooth thick paste, pour into bowls and serve with hunks of fresh bread and wedges of delicious, grainy Farmhouse Cheddar. A perfect Saturday lunch or midweek supper.

So, it should come as no surprise that I'm a bit of Soupster myself. But sadly, it goes unappreciated - the Ovver Arf and Kidling Grand have grown up in Greece on Mediterranean fare and they tend to turn their noses up at the thick nourishing soups that made me the woman I am today. Their idea of soup is either a broth with a creamy egg & lemon sauce added or invalid's chicken soup (though I can occasionally tempt them with a serious Minestrone).

But the Soup Dragon lives on - especially on days when the boys demand meat on their plates and I have to come up with something quick, easy and cheap for the weirdo semi-veggy Brit bird who cooks and cleans (OK, I cook) for them.

I get a strange satisfaction from peeling and chopping veg for soups, usually whilst plugged into my iPod listening to podcasts of Radio 4 programmes (yes, I AM that old fogey - and yes, I DO listen to The Archers).

In go the veg, sweating gently in a slick of olive oil at the bottom of the pan - onions, celery, garlic, leeks, carrots, spuds, sweet potatoes, squash, peppers, broccoli.... take you pick according to what soup you're aiming for (or just make it up as you go along). Once it has all started to soften, throw in a good dose of stock (again, the stock you use depends on what you're aiming for), bring to the boil, let it seethe for a while, liquidise and enjoy (or freeze for future use).

This week, I treated myself to a quick and easy leek and potato soup - just right as the first chilly notes of autumn start to nip the air. I sweated thinly sliced leeks, added a couple of diced spuds, and sweated some more (both me and the veg). Then in went some vegetable stock (you can use chicken if you prefer) and I brought it all to the boil, throwing in a few sprigs of fresh sage. As it simmered, I added some salt, pepper and nutmeg, and when it was done, I zapped it in the blender and served with a little grated cheese sprinkled on top.... yum.

Tasty, and it's guilt-free too - virtually fat free and bereft of cholesterol.

I've got a few cheat's soups that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes too, and they're a great last-minute stand-by.

Summer tomato caprese soup:
chop 4-5 toms roughly, boil with a clove of garlic in a little vegetable stock - just enough to cover them - for about 5-10 minutes, add a little seasoning, then chuck it in the blender with a good glug of olive oil, some fresh basil and spoonful of mascapone or other soft white cheese to make it nice and creamy.
Pea and mint soup:
throw 4-5 handfuls of frozen (or even better, fresh) peas in a saucepan with a clove of garlic and a little vegetable stock, add a sprig or two of fresh mint, throw in salt & pepper, plus a smidge of sugar, and boil for about 5-10 minutes. Then throw it all into the blender with a glug of olive oil and some raw fresh mint leaves and eat.
It's ridiculously green - the Ovver Arf says it looks like toxic waste - but it tastes divine.

But don't take my word for it - awake your inner Soup Dragon and get chopping!
Apologies for all this excessive foodiness lately. It's all the fault of Becca and Cheffy Daddy who have launched their "Oui Chef!" project over at Check it out!


  1. I just chanced upon you 'soup dragon lady' whilst researching soup recipes to add to my repertoire! I can't believe for a moment it is as chilly in Greece as it is in the UK, saying that it's been glorious today, nicer than it was during summer. However now Autumn is well and truly advancing soups and wooly jumpers are making an appearence again( last night it was spicy lentil and tomato, delicious).I am really tempted to try your Pea and Mint recipe and as the forecast for the weekend is really good I might make it for Saturday lunch, could you possibly send over a bit of Grecian sunshine to serve with it please!

  2. Sadly, I cannot claim to be the original source of the quick and easy tomato and/or pea soups. For that I would have to point you to the lovely Tania at 'Backwards in High Heels' (book & blog - - both highly recommended).
    She's a big of a soup-a-holic, among other things, so check her out!

  3. My Grandma used to do this! Make soup out of everything left over. Lol - it always tasted great too. It's bizarre isn't it!

    Thanks for the post. You're going to be head chef material. I can tell x

  4. Thanks for the intro to 'Backwards in High Heels', another great blog by the looks of things. I didn't get as far as the soup recipes because I got distracted by pics of autumn leaves and cute dogs! Good enough for me. I'm fairly new to reading blogs and do find I ricochet around a bit at the moment but I'm really enjoying snapshots into people's lives esp. when they are quite different geographically from mine. x

  5. have reminded me that homemade soup is gorgeous..thanks for that! There is a girl at work (tiny tiny thing like a dolly) who only ever eats soup and carrot sticks...I am now resolved to get the flask out and make homemade soup but eat it with bread...who cares about being tiny!

  6. Ah you inspiration, you!

    Just made some nice courgette soup to take the chill off the Corfu day...and evening. (Last night we had homemade Chili!)

    I totally agree with you- I love soup, and could eat it every meal but for "others" (significant glare) who get bored without their "meat and veg" and such like... sssssss.

  7. Love soup too - which is one of the reasons I look forward to this time of year so much!

  8. Your soup sounds delish. My mother is the same way. I call her soup, 'garbage soup'. Whatever is left in the fridge goes into that pot, but it turns out so good each time! I'm slowly becoming the same way, but I just don't seem to have the soup knack yet.

  9. Hi! Please can you send your email address to so that I can forward your Oui Chef! badge.

    Many Thanks

  10. i love soups, i'm vegetarian and will often make myself one of my favourite soups for lunch, (leek and potato is one of them)

  11. Hey Vivienne,
    There's another thing we have in common!
    I don't eat meat but don't call myself a vegetarian as I occasionally eat fish and seafood. However, like you, I find that soups are a brilliant stand-by - especially when the rest of my family want their meat & two veg on the table.