Remember that book, Three Good Things, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? It’s a recipe book, released several years ago, based on the concept that less is more, that a good dish can often be made with three simple but wholesome and tasty ingredients (plus a few store-cupboard items).
Lately, I’ve been applying that concept to my latest faze: soup making.
Life is busy and I really only have one quiet day at home with my daughter: the rest of the time is go-go-go, balancing the pressures of work and family. On that day, I like to slow right down and try to do things that will nourish both my daughter and me, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Often, it starts with a trip to the supermarket where, as well as getting the usual bits and pieces, I might also treat us to posh raspberry and apple juice, fresh fruit or a couple of croissants. Later, it might be a walk, or playing in the garden. Often, we’ll sit quiet and potter in the house.
And it’s on this weekly day off that I’ve taken to making some soup for myself and my husband, taking my time to chop, simmer and flavour it. It’s never anything fancy, just a case of using what we have.
It’s surprising what therapy can be found in the simple art of soup making. For one thing, even when there is next to nothing in the house, there is always something to be found that will make a good soup, whether it’s half a bag of frozen peas, a bit of leftover squash or some neglected carrots. So it nurtures gratitude. And then there’s something in the slowness of it that feels good and right. That act of taking time to chop and simmer instead of just tipping out a tin feels like a statement: my body and health are important, my nourishment is important – taking care of myself is important.
The concept of Three Good Things is an excellent way to approach soup making. I always use a base of vegetable stock and a little black pepper and onion, and then each of the soups I’ve made so far has happened to have just three simple ingredients that work really well together. Here are some of my favourites:
Pea, mint and spring onion
I just simmer frozen peas, chopped spring onion and handfuls of fresh mint in a vegetable stock with plenty of black pepper and then blend them.
Butternut squash, potato and chilli
I used about half a squash, one potato and a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes and it made enough for several generous portions. Again, I cooked the vegetables in stock with black pepper and softened onions and then blended it.
Carrot, coriander and orange
I softened an onion, then cooked the carrot and coriander ( I just used ground coriander as that is what I had to hand) in the stock. I wanted to add just a hint of orange and in the absence of actual oranges or juice I added the tiniest bit of orange squash – and it worked!