Ethical Soup-er Store Challenge – Day 3

Spicy Winter Vegetable Soup

Spicy Winter Vegetable Soup

So, day three of the EthicalSoup-erStore Soup Challenge, and the task falls to me to prepare the lunchtime broth. Now, I’ve made soup before, but I like soups to be thick and chunky, and I have a feeling that some of my classic family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation may be slightly too eccentric for some of the palates here…

Some of the family favourites include leek and potato, Grandad Soup (not made with the bones of ancient relatives, but a particular type of Scottish broth made by my Grandad) or rice soup, but all involve quite extensive preparation, or ingredients that need soaking. As one of the criteria was for the soup to be relatively easy to prepare, I thought I’d go for a winter vegetable soup based on a Tuscan Vegetable Soup (but minus the tomatoes as I didn’t have any).

Ingredients

For the soffritto:
A large splash of extra virgin olive oil
4 organic celery sticks, finely chopped
100g British shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chilli pepper
ginger, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:
200g/7oz organic carrots, chopped
200g/7oz organic potatoes, chopped
200g/7oz organic parsnips chopped
1 litre/2 pints vegetable stock
Croutons
100ml double cream

Oil goes into the pan, followed by the shallots, celery, garlic, chilli, and the ginger. Gently fry all the ingredients for about 10 minutes. I made my stock with Kallo vegetable stock cubes, then added the stock to the pan, and added all the carrots, potatoes and the parsnips. Then, the lid went onto the pressure cooker and i left it for about 20 minutes. Once the soup had cooled down I seasoned to taste with freshly ground Steenbergs Fairtrade & Organic black pepper and Algarve sea salt.

The soup was left overnight in the pressure cooker (soup always tastes better the next day) and then transported to work the following morning.

I chose to serve the soup with croutons and double cream. Croutons because I wanted to give my soup a bit of extra texture and the cream just because I like cream. Because Valentine’s day is just around the corner, and because we’re all about love here at Ethical Superstore, I added a nice little Valentine’s heart by pouring the cream as an extra bonus-point-hunting flourish.

Was I happy with my soup? Yes, although I won’t know the final verdict until all the scores are in on Friday. The flavours really developed over night. The chilli, garlic and ginger gave the soup a distinct little kick without killing off the delicate aromas of the celery and the parsnips. Ethically, the soup was mainly organic and all of the veg were UK grown (apart from the celery, which was grown in Spain but that was organic) so it was almost all seasonal veg. No meat was used in the production of the soup, and vegans could quite happily omit the cream. So, could’ve done better, but I was trying to balance ethics with flavour and value for money (and what I had in the cupboard/fridge). My spicy winter veg soup worked out at about 79p per serving, and that included the wholemeal loaf, croutons and cream.

Serving up the soup is quite a tense occasion – would the crowd approve? Well, there were a couple of extra helpings that disappeared, and the pan was empty at the end of the day. Result!

All in all, I have really rather enjoyed this week’s Soupfest. It’s been great to actually get a half hour away from my desk, and an added bonus has been that I’ve not spent any money on lunch this week apart from the £5 or so for the ingredients. Hopefully we can continue the soup club and include some different cooks. Perhaps it could be a bit like Masterchef, with the winning soup maker going on to face a new set of chefs the following week. Check out the photos on our Flickr page if you want to see more.

Twanna takes over the stove on Thursday, and then it’s Dan on Friday. Soup-er!

Ben

Ben is our resident marketing monkey, and spends an unhealthy amount of time obsessing about keywords, ranking and other marketing voodoo.

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  • Marty

    I was a particular FAN of the presentation of the table 🙂
    Looking forward to the results show early next week!
    Bring On The Soup!