We feel incredibly lucky to be able to have enough space to have a vegetable garden. Nothing goes to waste from our garden, at least we try our hardest to avoid it. Winter garden soup is a particularly good recipe for this.
You also don’t need a lot of any single vegetable to make a winter garden soup and it doesn’t need to be made from following an exact recipe. You can make something really satisfying, delicious and colourful just by making the most of what you have.
Having spent time planting and tending to our vegetables, I’m much more conscious that there’s almost always more of the plant to use compared to the supermarket bought alternative, especially when the supermarket may have cut off perfectly tasty parts. I’m determined to use plants that didn’t grow as well as I’d hoped too, sometimes it’s using the few bits that insects or birds didn’t eat – parts of damaged plants that are still edible. Often it can just be harvesting the small side shoots that have grown after I harvested the head of a plant, like broccoli. Occasionally, it’s the odd vegetable that I had missed when harvesting their companions. I like to think of these ‘salvage’ expeditions to the garden a lot like ‘clear the fridge’ occasions.
Start your winter garden soup with a classic mirepoix – a traditional flavour building base for many soups, risottos and stews. Add a selection of vegetables which can be varied to suit what’s available from your garden or fridge, it’s hard to go wrong. Think about the colours and textures, I add the softer green vegetables just before serving, this way they retain their colour and texture.
The mirepoix and soup base
The classic ratio for a mirepoix is 2:1:1 – onion, carrot and celery
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Optional extras – many vegetable stocks are quite sweet, the following ingredients can add more flavour
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp Marmite or mushroom ketchup
- 1/2 cup chopped leeks
- 2-3 litres vegetable stock of choice (remember it will reduce if you leave it on the stove)
Wash and peel vegetables.
Dice into uniformly sized pieces, this helps with even cooking.
Heat a heavy-based pot on a low/medium heat, add olive oil, swirl to coat the base of the pot then add the mirepoix.
Gently cook the mirepoix, stir occasionally, you want them to soften and become translucent, not browned, a pinch of salt helps the vegetables release their juices.
Add the tomato paste, leeks and, if you have it, Marmite to the mirepoix and cook while stirring until it starts to leeks soften, pour in vegetable stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
I tend to make a double or triple batch and freeze some for later.
Winter garden soup
There are no set ingredients for winter garden soup, I like a mixture of colours, shapes and textures, and a soup that’s full of vegetables. About a cup of vegetable for 2 cups of soup base.
As an example, for my soup I used:
- 2 Hakurei turnips and greens
- underperforming broccoletti
- a tiny leek
- teeny fennel side shoot
- handful of yams
- salvaged spinach from sparrow attacked plant
- broccoli side shoots which grow after the main head has been cut
- little cauliflower heads that did form properly and their small leaves
- 1/3 cup of peas from freezer to add to the few pods saved of a plant attacked by disease.
If you enjoy a thick and creamy soup, Leek and Potato is a classic winter warmer.