Why soups are your new best friends

Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupWhether you love supping a big bowl of wild mushroom broth or devouring a figure-friendly serving of lentil and tomato soup, both professionals and amateurs agree this is one dish that will never go out of fashion.

A wonderful winter warmer, there are very few evenings when homemade soup won’t hit the spot.

Cooking up a storm

Soup is a great way to make an impression in the kitchen, without making life too complicated for yourself. Cheap, healthy and ridiculously easy to make, you’ll prove to your family you’re a candidate for Masterchef without breaking a sweat. And as preparing a great soup gets to the heart of one-pot cooking, you’ll soon find yourself experimenting with casseroles and stews.

  • Top tip: While a basic, spiced lentil soup is usually a household winner (on cost and flavour), most people have their own personal favourites. Ask the family what flavours they love.

Stocking up

Basic soup recipes worth their salt should involve a fantastic, flavoursome stock. Experiment with vegetable, beef or chicken stock cubes and find out which ones give the greatest oomph to your ingredients. If you’re feeling especially inventive, or have plenty of leftovers in the fridge, consider making your own stock from scratch. Not only will this turn your soups into legendary meals, but the house will smell fantastic.

  • Top tip: To make chicken stock, once you’ve enjoyed your roast dinner, take the stripped bird, pop her in a saucepan, along with the skin, and cover with cold water. Add celery, carrots, onion, salt, pepper and parsley, and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for three to four hours, then strain the liquid and use it to boost your soup.

Cheap and cheerful

Nothing tastes as good as an inexpensive meal and the way to ensure your soups are lip-smackingly good, not to mention cheap as chips, is to keep the cupboards pulsing with possibilities.

  • Top tip: To make your soups stretch as far as possible, fill the shelves with lentils, split peas and bulgur wheat. Make sure herbs such as bay leaves, parsley and cumin feature regularly on your shopping list and always have fresh carrots, celery, garlic, onion and lemons in your fridge. With these grains, herbs and veggies at your disposal – plus some great stock – you can whip up a soup for lunch in just half an hour.

Healthy, happy family

Sometimes, the only way to get the family eating vegetables is to hide them. Think of soup as a wonderful vehicle for transporting vitamins and minerals into their bodies. Without even knowing it, family members will be slurping down their five-a-day in record time!

Top tip: Most kids love vegetable soup, especially if you include yummy macaroni pieces and cut up bread they can dip in their bowl.