My Dad is a wonderful cook. He’s no gourmet genius but as we grew up he always knew how to serve food that was full of sustenance, lots of vegetables in any given dish and flavour galore. He is rather heavy-handed with the salt so you’re guaranteed tastiness in every meal! I used to give him a hard time about how much salt he would add to his own plate once it reached the table, but then he’d remind me of his mother in law (my Nonni) who is a salt fiend, and she just turned 95! Case closed.
I mentioned in my post yesterday that my parents separated when I was five, and from the age of 7 until I was 11, my siblings and I lived “week about” – one week with Mum, the next with Dad and so on. I hear people talk these days about how unsettling that kind of arrangement is for kids and it’s certainly not something I’d like my own children to ever experience but honestly, I remember it as nothing but fun. Especially Dad’s place. Being self employed, and a pretty great boss who had Friday night drinks every week at our place, he’d shop regularly at Rattray’s in Christchurch which was the equivalent of Gilmours in Auckland – a wholesale food & beverage supplier. There was always a box of Whittaker’s Sante Bars in the freezer and other such treats purchased in bulk. When I was around 10, Michael Jackson Bubble Gum cards were huge and I was the coolest kid ever because I had a whole box at my house – none of this waiting to visit the dairy to buy another packet business! Around that same time, one of my favourite things that my Dad cooked for dinner was Chip Omelette. From memory it was basically potatoes cut into chip shapes, mixed with eggs and milk, seasoned heavily with paprika and cooked in a big glass bowl in the microwave. I might see if he can recreate that one!
This soup is one that has been a long time favourite – he’s been making this for at least 30 years (that I can remember) and after visiting his place a couple of weeks ago on a stormy Winters day where he served this for lunch, I decided it was time for me to make it myself and start carrying on the tradition. I made it on Monday for dinner and have had it every day for lunch since. I find it so comforting to have a big pot of soup on hand to eat during the cold months. It helps ensure I’m eating healthy when it is otherwise so easy to reach for a simple Marmite sandwich, plus it’s hearty, warming and great for guaranteeing a good dose of nutrition to my baby while breastfeeding.
It’s a total ‘whatever you like’ kind of soup – use whatever root vegetables you like and omit the ones you don’t. Add whatever takes your fancy. See, I used the word ‘whatever’ a lot!
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- ANY OF THE FOLLOWING VEGETABLES OF YOUR CHOICE, CHOPPED INTO 1CM CUBES
- 3 beetroot, washed
- 4-5 potatoes, any variety, but not floury
- 1 large purple kumara
- 1 large orange kumara
- 2 parsnip, peeled
- 3 carrots, peeled
- 300 grams pumpkin
- 1 swede, peeled
- 1 x 400 gram tin of concentrated Tomato Soup (I think I used Campbells)
- Vegetable or chicken stock powder or cubes (I like Massel's)
- 3-4 T soy sauce (to taste)
- 2 T Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- Begin by prepping all of your vegetables. Chop as few or as many and in whatever combination takes your fancy of the root vegetables I have listed. I peel them all, or wash them and chop into 1 cm cubes.
- Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large pot (stock pot size is perfect!). Add all vegetables and allow them to brown a little, stirring regularly. Approximately 5-10 minutes.
- Cover the vegetables with cold water and add a couple of teaspoons of stock powder. Mix together.
- Cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are cooked, but not disintegrating. It's important to keep the temperature at a simmer so as not to break the vegetables down. They are best when they remain chunky and intact.
- Add the tomato soup concentrate, soy and Worcestershire sauces. Taste.
- Season to taste.
- Serve with crusty homemade bread or cheese on toasts.
- My kids like their soups blended, so I just take out a portion for them and whizz with a stick blender. Easy!