Tips on cooking creamy soups.
WHO doesn’t love a mug of warming soup at this time of year? And yet few dishes are easier to make at home – so ditch the can opener and create your own bowl of steaming deliciousness.
Many of the vegetables that are coming into season are perfect for turning into a creamy soup. Some of these use the vegetable’s natural creaminess, while others achieve it with the addition of everything from cream, yoghurt or coconut milk to potatoes, eggs or even a flour-based roux.
CREAM OF BROCCOLI SOUP
Separate 2kg broccoli into florets and stems. Peel and trim any rough skin of the stems, chop and steam. When the broccoli stems soften, add the florets and steam them too.
When soft, blend with chicken stock and some of the green broccoliflavoured water under the steamer so you get the perfect soup consistency (or soup-sistency as I like to say). Stir in milk or cream, warm and season well. Serve topped with caramelised onions and crumbled blue cheese.
Or take a leaf from Bill Granger’s broccoli soup and just add grated gruyere cheese with the cream – broccoli loves a little saltiness.
CREAMY CELERY SOUP
Celery also makes a classic French soup. Sweat 750g destringed and diced celery in 60g butter. Puree and add 1.75L good quality chicken stock and 250g floury potatoes, that you’ve peeled and cut into equal-sized chunks.
Bring to the boil and then cook for 30 minutes. The potatoes will breakdown and their starch will make the soup creamy. Sieve, season and beat in 50g cold, diced butter before serving.
CREAMY LEEK SOUP
Just follow the same instructions for the celery soup (above), but use washed and trimmed slices of leek instead.
CREAM OF CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Cook four cups of grated cauliflower in milk until soft. Skim off any foaminess, sieve the cauliflower and reserve the cauli-flavoured milk.
Blitz the cooked cauliflower with equal parts of the milk and stock until you get the right thickness. Season. Blitz to aerate the soup just before serving as it makes it more velvety. This soup is great flavoured with blue cheese, parmesan or even curry powder and then topped with toasted coconut and grilled prawns.
CREAM OF CELERIAC SOUP
This is another naturally creamy vegetable that works well in a soup.
Peel, grate and cook it in milk like the cauliflower and then turn it into soup as above. Top with a swirl of melted butter, diced celery that you’ve cooked in that butter, and some drops of vinegary hot sauce like Tabasco.
CREAM OF SPINACH SOUP
In a large pan, sweat down 500g finely sliced shallots and two grated garlic cloves in some butter until soft. Remove them from the pan, leaving the butter.
Add to the pan 2kg washed spinach and a strip of lemon zest, and cook gently. To bulk up the soup, add a cup of chopped, cooked broccoli, cooked peas, grated zucchini or cooked rice (the starch will also increase the perception of creaminess). Puree the contents of the pan with enough stock to reach the required consistency and finish with cream, cream fraiche and a grating of nutmeg. Season, warm and serve.
CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
At its simplest, cream of mushroom soup is sauteed mushrooms blitzed with stock and/or milk. But I like to pump up the mushroom flavour.
So blitz a couple of packets of dried shiitake mushrooms (as they are cheaper than porcini). Throw the resulting powder in a pan to toast with diced red onion and finely chopped mushrooms. Deglaze with red wine (or sherry vinegar), puree with warm stock, season with soy sauce and stir in some cream. Garnish with roasted chestnuts, crispy, butter-fried mushroom dice and either thyme leaves or a little orange, mandarin or lemon zest.
CREAM OF TOMATO
For years I’d open a can when I wanted cream of tomato soup – OK, I still do when I want something to take to the footy. Still, Heston Blumenthal showed us how easy it is to make back in 2005.
Blitz 2kg ripe tomatoes and sprinkle over 2 tsp caster sugar and 1 tsp salt. Set this in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for a couple of hours.
When this time is coming to the end, fry 4 finely diced garlic cloves with half a diced onion and two sticks of celery cut into thumb-sized pieces. When the onions are soft, add the tomato pulp, the juice, a strip of lemon zest and 2 tsp tomato sauce. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently until reduced by twothirds. Remove celery and lemon zest.
Pass tomato mixture through a sieve. Add enough water or milk to bring it up to 500ml. Add 225ml cream, then return to the clean pan and warm. Serve with cream, thyme and black pepper.
Celeriac veloute with sage brown butter. Recipe at delicious.com.au