Winter = Soup. Summer = Salad.
If there were ever two dishes that were clearly defined by the seasons, then these must be the top contenders.
And in case anyone starts shouting “what about winter salads and ‘slaws”, I’m a fan of winter salads (Check out my roasted kale and goat’s cheese salad if you’ve not seen it already!), BUT, nothing beats super fresh, flavoursome summer salads that have gone from plant to plate in the shortest time possible. They’re just magical.
And whilst we’re revelling in this joyous abundance of fresh produce in the summer, you’ll find the soup section in your local supermarket almost completely curls up and goes into hibernation.
But, it’s all very logical, because homemade soup is simply the best thing to have for your lunches during the winter. It’s easy to make, cheap and endlessly tweakable to add the flavours you enjoy. It’s like choosing which shots to have in your coffee, it’s up to you to add whatever you think might work.
So today’s recipe is a thick and hearty meal soup which has a ‘choose your own adventure’ style ending as I’m giving you two ways to finish this soup off. To start, we’ll just make the soup base, which is quite a plain veggie soup, then you can take whichever direction you want to add the final zing and lightness.
The first option adds more body with roasted tomatoes and vinegar, the second option is with lemon zest, juice and parsley to give a lighter zing. Which will you choose? The choice, as they say, is yours.
Ice, ice baby.The big bonus with making soup for lunches is the freeze-ability. I get a huge stock pot and make enough soup for up to a month at a time, and then freeze into daily portion bags. It’s easy to take one out in the morning, allow it to defrost at room temperature, then quickly re-heat when I want to eat.
Hearty roasted garlic and squash soup with kale
By Gavin Wren
Uses 1 pot
1 large butternut squash (1.3kg), peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bulb garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
250g chopped kale
1.25l vegetable stock – either from cubes or follow my ‘how to make vegetable stock’ recipe here.
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 large tomatoes, halved and roasted in the oven with the squash for 20 minutes
Large bunch of parsley
Place the squash in a baking tray, making sure the chunks aren’t piled up on top of each other, as they won’t cook if they are. Spread over two trays if necessary. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil and mix well.
Slice the very top off of a garlic bulb, so that you reveal the top corner of each clove, then place in the middle of a piece of kitchen foil, drizzle ½ tablespoon of oil over the top and wrap into a sealed package.
Place both the squash and the garlic in the oven and roast for 40 minutes.
After half an hour, heat half a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat in a large pan big enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until well softened. Add the vegetable stock, bring to boil, then add the kale and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat once cooked and leave the lid on.
When the squash and garlic is cooked, take them out of the oven, add the squash to the saucepan and open the garlic parcel up to allow it to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, squeeze the whole bulb from it’s base, so that the soft garlic squeezes out of the top of the bulb, straight into the saucepan.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE:
Now is the time to choose which direction to take. Which option will you take?
1) Add the tomatoes along with 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
2) Zest the lemon and add to soup. Chop a lot of parsley and add it along with the juice of the lemon.
Whizz the soup into a relatively smooth soup, retaining a bit of texture, using a stick blender.
Try both options served with crumbled feta.