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Homemade soups are nutritious, cheap and easy to make. There are no added colourings, preservatives or chemical flavour enhancers as found in most shop bought soups, just real food. Like my approach to making jams & jellies, soups are a wonderful way to use up any small quantities of odds and ends and turn them into something unique, delicious and full of nourishment. It’s a great way to introduce infants and young children to vegetables! Young children should not have added salt, so remove their portion before adding stock cubes and seasoning, and liquidise or mash to the desired consistency.

Some recipes include specific herbs & spices but do take the opportunity to include anything you fancy anyway. Thyme and Winter Savory are particularly useful as they’re available fresh right through the winter. Parsley can be kept in the freezer simply by chopping it coarsely and bagging it. And then there’s my favourite, Lovage leaves, (which can also be frozen like Parsley). It’s delicious, adds an extra bit of ‘umami’ to any soup, and brings out the flavour of everything else.

A good hearty soup can make a full meal in itself when accompanied by a nice thick doorstep of fresh crusty bread – or use up some of the day-before-yesterday’s bread in the form of toast.

Anyway, at the time of writing it’s a cold November day, so I’m off to make some soup!

Carol Church

Leek & Potato Soup

This one is one of our favourites, and such a good winter standby, as leeks are so easy to grow and will sit there waiting to be used from September to March.

3 medium leeks

4-5 medium potatoes (I like King Edwards)

1 onion

Water

Sunflower oil and butter

Salt, pepper (1 vegetable stock cube if preferred)

Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Peel and finely chop the onion. Prepare the leeks – strip off the outer leaves and remove the top growth an inch or two above the main stem. Run a knife through lengthways from the root to the green top. Half turn the leek and repeat. Run under cold water to get rid of any soil trapped between the layers of the leek. Shake off excess water. Chop crossways into small pieces.

In a large saucepan, heat approx 1 tablespoon sunflower oil and a knob of unsalted butter. Add the onion and potato and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, stirring to prevent the vegetables sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the leeks and continue to cook gently for a further few minutes until soft. Add approx 1½ pints (850ml) water, (and a stock cube if you’re using one). Stir, bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 25-30 mins. Add salt and pepper as desired.  Serve.

Can be eaten either as a chunky soup, or liquidised (in a food processor, or using a hand blender) to a smooth creamy soup.

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