Great Homemade Soups: A Cook’s Collection

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday Jan 18, 2014

It is often said that a cook's reputation hinges on the quality of his or her soup. Perhaps that is why many of us steer clear of making our own. But winter is upon us and it's time to get back in the kitchen and master the art of the soup.

In Great Homemade Soups (Jacqui Small, October 2013, $40), Chef Paul Gayler (Executive Chef at London's prestigious hotel, The Lanesborough) proves that making your own soup is easy and the results are nutritious and satisfying. Add to that the fact that soups are also an economical way to eat, whether you are using easy-to-source seasonal produce or expensive ingredients, which will go much further when made into a soup.

The hardcover edition includes 100 recipes, ranging from the tried-and-tested classics to soups from faraway including Vegetable Pho (Vietnam), Chickpea and Fennel Soup (Sardinia) and Ajiaco (Colombia).

There are broths and consommés, smooth and creamy soups, hearty and wholesome soups, traditional favorites, wild and exotic soups, and chilled soups. In addition to this comprehensive collection of recipes, the book is sprinkled with Chef Gayler's "Soups Master Class" lessons, which explain key techniques using clear step-by-step photographs. Also included are contributions from some of his favorite world-class chefs, who have added their best-loved soup recipes to this tasty collection.

Farmhouse Soup

The combination of the pearl barley, spelt and lentils gives this soup a lovely real wintry feel. The smoked cheese adds an interesting smoky flavour that blends beautifully with the other ingredients.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300g (10oz) stewing beef (such as chuck or skirt), cut into 2cm (¾in) cubes 1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small bayleaf
2 sprigs of thyme
75g (2½oz/1/3 cup) pearl barley
75g (2½oz/ 1/3 cup) spelt
75g (2½oz/generous 1/3 cup) Puy lentils
150g (5½oz) marrow or courgettes, cut into 2cm (¾in) cubes
1 carrot, cut into 2cm (¾in) cubes
100g (3½oz) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm (¾in) cubes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm (¾in) cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
crusty bread, to serve

To garnish
2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
75g (2½oz/½ cup) finely grated smoked provolone cheese

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the beef and fry, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened.

Return the beef to the pan and add the bayleaf, thyme, barley, spelt and lentils. Add 1.5 litres (2¾ pints/1.3 quarts) water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the beef and grains are cooked through and tender. Skim off any impurities that float to the surface. Add the marrow or courgettes, carrot, squash and potatoes. Cook for 20 minutes more.

Season the soup to taste and divide between 4 individual soup bowls. Sprinkle over the parsley, top with the grated cheese and serve with plenty of crusty bread.

Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta e Fagioli

1kg (2 ¼ lb) fresh borlotti beans or 2 x 400g (14oz) cans of borlotti or cannellini beans or 250g (9oz/ 1 ½ cups) dried borlotti beans
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
115g (4oz) prosciutto (Parma ham) trimmings, chopped into small cubes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 fresh red chilli, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped or 1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes in juice
1 litre (1 ¾ pints/4 cups) white chicken stock (see below)
115g (4oz) tubettini or other small pasta
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper

If you are using dried beans, prepare them the day before by leaving them to soak in water overnight. The next day, drain, then boil the beans in unsalted water for 2-3 hours, or until tender. Drain.

If using fresh beans, boil in unsalted water for 30-40 minutes, or until cooked, then drain. If using canned beans, simply drain, rinse and drain again.

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the celery and prosciutto and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and chilli, stirring well to prevent the ham from browning. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more.

Add two-thirds of the drained beans. Mash the remainder and set aside.

Pour the stock or water over the mixture in the pan and bring to the boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat and cook for 8 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Add the basil and the mashed beans and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, add a drizzle of olive oil to each bowl. This will enhance the flavour amazingly.

White Chicken Stock
2kg (4 ½ lb) raw chicken carcasses or a mixture of chicken legs and wings
5 litres (8 pints/4.4 quarts) cold water
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
1 leek, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bayleaf
1 bouquet garni

makes 3 litres / 5¼ pints / 2.6 quarts

Put the chicken in a large saucepan, add the cold water to cover and slowly bring to the boil. Skim occasionally to remove any impurities that float to the surface.

Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 4 hours.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Leave to cool then refrigerate until required.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


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