Soups are another great versatile dish. You can make a soup out of virtually anything. Dried pulses (chick peas, lentils, peas etc) make fantastic and nourishing soups, vegetables, grains, meat, fish and even fruit. If gas bills are a problem I recommend faster cooking soups such as carrot soup. Chick peas, for instance, take at least 2 hours to cook after soaking.
Basic Vegetable Soups
Most vegetable soups are made by simmering the vegetables in fat for a while and then filling it up with either stock or water (to make your own stock). You can then decide whether you want to puree the soup or leave it chunky (or do a combination of both).
Here are two sample soups:
Mixed Vegetable Soup
Use any vegetables around with lots of garlic, e.g. onions, green beans, fennel, celery, carrots, potatoes…
Put chopped vegetables into a pan with oil and lots of chopped garlic. Simmer until vegetables are a bit tender. Cover with water until you have a tasty stock. Add salt, pepper and mixed herbs.
You can also add meat balls and/or pieces of poached scrambled egg.
Carrots, Onions, Butter, Water, Thyme, Orange Juice, Sour Cream/Yoghurt, Salt, Pepper.
Simmer carrots and onions in butter. Add a bit of water (or stock), orange juice and thyme after a while. When carrots are tender, puree the soup. Serve with sour cream or yoghurt.
The easiest soup is made by dissolving a stock cube and adding either some vermicelli, croutons (made from buttered old bread baked in the oven), a beaten egg, some sprouts or some finely chopped vegetables such as carrots, chives, leek, mushrooms etc. You can make it a bit sour if you want, a bit like a Chinese-style soup.
Here are some soups using pulses
Chick Pea Soup
This recipe borrows a bit from North African cuisine. It cannot be made from tinned chick peas, as they don’t ooze the stuff that makes the tasty stock!
Chick Peas (soaked overnight)
Optional: Tumeric (for colour mainly)
Cumin (lots of)
Drain chick peas, put them into a pot and cover them with fresh water. Put enough water in so that they won’t boil dry after more than 2 hours. Bring to the boil, skim the foam off and simmer with salt and lots of cumin (and tumeric, if using) for at least 2 hours until tender. Take off the hob and add crushed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil to taste.
Most lentil or pea soups work like this:
Soak lentil or dried split peas.
Fry some vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery and add the peas.
Add water, salt and spices and boil until tender. Eat chunky or ‘mushy’. Carnivores can add frankfurters or bacon bits.
My grandmother made fruit soups as a proper meal. For instance, elderberry and apple soup with semolina dumplings. You should be able to collect elderberries in certain places, but it’s a bit of a hassle when you don’t know where. A fruit soup is basically fresh or frozen fruit (in some cases even tinned fruit as an added ingredient) heated with water or juice, sugar and a bit of corn starch (dilute the cornstarch in a bit of water or juice before pouring it in). If you add more corn starch, you get compote or fruit pudding, which you can eat with cream, custard or ice cream.