Ethical Soup-er Store Finale!
With the pressure firmly on, it was my turn to step up to the (hot)plate and deliver a bowl of super soup. Although I fancy myself as a bit of a budding Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, I have only ever made two big pans of soup before; one was the test run for this dish, and the other was the dish itself.
The competition this week has been fierce; John Torode and Gregg Wallace (by the way, what exactly is an ‘ingredient expert’? Isn’t he just a freeloading greengrocer?) would have been salivating like Bloodhounds at the earlier offerings. I couldn’t let the week simply dissipate with an uninspired offering, and the bar had been set extremely high. A touch of the jitters had set in at this point.
So to the soup. I decided to whip up a Spicy Tomato concoction – but with a twist. Now, this isn’t the kind of twist that was popularized in the Christmas special of The Royal Family where Dave and Denise lumped a knob of Stork into mashed carrots, it was a touch more adventurous than that.
First I got the carrots, onions, red peppers and garlic and chopped them finely. I lashed them into a pan of hot olive oil, where they were left to soften. Next I had to don a pair of gloves used only by employees at Sellafield, as the chills were brought out and finely diced and added to the pot. Seasoning was added at this stage, a pinch of salt & pepper and some organic spices (basil and thyme).
Whilst the pot continued to simmer, I knocked up 2 pints of vegetable stock, which was then introduced to the pan, along with two tins of chopped tomatoes. The whole pot was then left to simmer for about 20 minutes. About 5 minutes before removing it from the heat, I introduced a large handful of fresh basil to infuse with the soup.
When I felt it was ready, I removed the soup and blended it all together with a hand mixer. I also introduced some boiled potatoes to the mix, to thicken the soup and give it some body. I left it to cool then for a day, during which time it matured in taste to become sweeter and stronger.
A while back I was watching UKFood+1 (God knows why) but I saw a chef say that when serving soup, one should garnish the dish with a little bit of what is in it so the person eating (is it eat or drink with soup, I don’t know) it knows what’s in it. Bearing this sagely knowledge in mind, I put a thin slice of chilli, a leaf of basil and drizzled a teeny weeny bit of cream over the surface of the soup. A note to vegans, this isn’t actually in the main soup, it’s for decoration only so you can leave it out.
All in all, Soup Week has been terrific, and we have sampled some sensationally sublime soups. It doesn’t matter if I win or not, I have really enjoyed it and it’ll get me cooking soup more often. This soup, including Ciabatta bread, works out at about 40p per serving – which is damned near tremendous given the fact that even a sorry egg and cress sarnie in our local supermarket is about a pound.
Which one would you rather have on a miserable day in the winter?
See the pictures from today’s Soup Challenge and the rest of the week’s over on our Flickr Page.