It’s getting colder in Melbourne as winter draws closer, and the tummy of the average domesticated Werewolf begins to crave his Mothers soup, which is a standard in our family.
It’s a cheap and filling meal and wonderful for anyone who may be on a tight budget.
The other great thing is that everything you add to it, is to taste, that is, you can add or leave out whatever you like and the recipe shouldn’t go wrong… although I have a story about that.
Firstly, find the largest pot you have, I have a pressure cooker pot… the ring broke on the lid so I can’t pressure cook it (it takes a lot less time if you can) but I can simmer it just the same.
Add a combination of water and stock, probably less stock than water, and some salt… no more than a flat teaspoon. (If you don’t have stock then you can just use water, it’s all we used for years and the soup was fine… the reason I use stock is that I tend to leave an ingredient out)
(about 4 litres of liquid)
And you’ll need soup mix, this is a basic requirement for this soup, you must have this, You use about half a pack (a pack which fits nicely in two hands)
Please don’t panic about me not mentioning how much *exactly* should be used, as none of that matters, you will get used to how much you need and vary the ingredients yourself.
Put the heat on and simmer it, when it’s bubbling it should be a lazy sort of bubbling, not too fast! just barely bubbling, ok?
Now choose about three of the following, at least, or the lot… play with it, experiment, you can’t really go wrong… kind of… 😉 about a cup of each should do.
Potato, Carrot, Parsnip, Onion, Peas, Green Beans, Corn, Celery, Parsley, Leek, Bok Choy…
Pasta is ok too.
Now Mum always used a lamb shank, and what we always did was ate the soup, and the family dog would get the shank (Although Dad often had his eyes on it), But I tend to feel that sometimes a shank has hardly any taste, and it adds fat too the soup, so why bother adding it? Therefore I have taken to using stock, which I buy in a packet from the supermarket… I also don’t like Onion much, and find that there’s enough flavour in the stock to skip the onion too.
I have taken to using broccolini too, which is something Mum never used (she hated corn too) but be careful when using broccoli from the garden, all I wish to say is inspect it, carefully… and wash it like mad.
Put a lid on (make sure the pot cannot be grabbed by a toddler) and let it bubble for two hours or so, at least until the soup mix is tender.
If it’s going well then the soup should develop a thickened look to the liquid.
On a cold night it’s fine to keep the soup on the stove overnight, and re-heat the next day for lunch or tea… You may find that it has turned to jelly overnight, it might spook some of you soup virgins, but all that it means is that everything has gone perfectly right… when you heat it, it will turn back into liquid.
If you still have some soup left, you can put it in the fridge, but don’t keep it much more than two days. or you could decide to freeze it, and microwave portions of it over the next week or so.
Or you may find that you eat it all in two nights, a family of three can do that fairly easily.
Now I did say that you can’t ruin the soup, However here’s My Sisters unfortunate story.
My Sister, Janice (Jan-eece), Could never make the soup taste like Mums, and she never understood why. While hers was perfectly edible, it always had a strange taste which was ok, but wasn’t “right”.
One day, many years ago, (70’s/80’s) She stood next to Mum and made the soup and it still turned out wrong.
Now the sad part.
I was talking to Jan on the phone one day, she had cancer, this was just a few years ago, and she didn’t have long to live.
And we were discussing Mums soup.
“I do everything Mum does and I still can’t get it right” She said (I’d heard this many times over the years) and then I mentioned that I make the soup. “I bet you can’t make it like Mum does” She said… “I do, it’s exactly like Mums”.
“It can’t be” She replied
“Well it is” I said.
“Well what do you add?…. Peas?” “Yes”
and the list went on, “Salt and Pepper?”…. “Salt” I said.
“Mum always used salt and pepper” She said.
“No Jan, Mum only ever used salt, and so do I”
It had become apparent what had happened, Jan had thought that salt and pepper simply went together and Mum hadn’t observed the error, or thought that a bit of pepper couldn’t hurt.
We were both stumped, after all those years we had found the tiny error which caused such a huge difference in flavour.
So remember… no pepper, unless of course you find that you like the flavour.
And one final thing, when you serve the soup, shake a little worcestershire sauce into it, it just adds a bit of kick.
* Give the dog a bowl of (cooled) soup, it will feed them too.
* If you use a shank, remove it *before* allowing the soup to cool, and wrap it up and put it into the fridge or give it to the dog, don’t allow the soup to cool with the shank in it.
* If you’ve used a shank, fat will form on the top as the soup goes cold, and you can easily lift this off, which I would advise.
A warming winter soup.