Soups and stews: Utilising vegetable off cuts by creating warming soups

I’m sorry to say it, but summer is well and truly over; although I’ll be sad to see the sunshine go, we should all take solace in the fact that a whole heap of incredible British produce is ready to take centre stage!

Autumn and winter are undoubtedly the time of year for soup, and with such a great selection of fresh produce to choose from, we’re set to be spoilt for choice when deciding which bowl of steaming hot goodness to enjoy.

We’re all guilty of occasionally forgetting a few sticks of celery and the odd carrot at the back of the fridge, but before you think of binning them, try giving them a new lease on life in the form of a heart-warming soup.

All good broths begin with a strong base and that starts with a full flavoured stock. Nothing beats the real thing so if at all possible, I love to use the bones from a left over roast or the rich, sticky leftover juices of a roasting pan; liquid gold as I like to call it! If it’s a vegetable stock you’re after, simply place your chosen veg (I usually go for a base of sautéed onions, garlic, carrots and celery with a few sprigs of thyme) in a pan of water and bring to a boil before reducing the temperature and simmering for an hour. For a more intense taste, you can roast your veg with a little oil before-hand to really draw out the flavours.

Once you’ve got your stock ready, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to go into your soup. Watery broths, such as minestrone or chicken noodle have the right consistency without anything extra but if you’re going for something a little more robust like a cream of chicken, you will want to add in a little cream and a few knobs of butter to thicken it up. For dishes like stew or chowder that require a really thick base, make a roux by mixing flour into a fat, usually butter, and cooking before adding a splash of cream. A great tip for really intensifying the flavour of your roux is using bacon or pork drippings as the fat. This will offer a smoky and salty taste that works really well with meaty soups.

The beauty of the soup is in its sustainability. Often made from leftovers and off cuts, soup reduces waste and champions the cuts that usually get left behind; celery leaves, beet greens and potato peels all work well and can offer nearly half the necessary nutrients of the entire product. As if that wasn’t enough, soup can also be frozen for up to 3 months, meaning one big batch can be used to keep you warm all winter long.

Written by Tom Gore
Heavily influenced by his global culinary experiences, from working in kitchens all over the world, Tom’s ethos is to keep the basis of his dishes simple and use classic flavours, to create recipes with unusual combinations to a fine-dining standard.Bringing his vitality and passion to the kitchen, Tom has pushed the boundaries of clients’ expectations for conferences and events, and working with his brigade of chefs, cater for all in-house events from private parties to award ceremonies and conferences for up to 1,000

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