English puree soups



For generous flavour, nourishment, good texture and simplicity of method, puree soups are beginner's delight. You will find the inviting smell and superb flavour of a home-made soup tremendously satisfying.

Creamy vegetable puree sops are amazingly quick to make, and really economical too. A soup tureen makes an excellent investment for the shoestring cook - guests will be lured to the dinning table by warm, inviting smells, and the delicious Taste of a simple soup is so utterly different from canned products, as well as being really wholesome and nourishing. Puree soups make a very satisfying start to a meal, and the simple addiction of swirls of cream or a garnish, such as crisply fried golden croutions, will turn a simple soup into real dinner party fare.

Vegetable puree soups

Basically, vegetable puree soups are made with Vegetables arid the liquid in which they were cooked. Ingredients are reduced to a puree by pushing through a vegetable mill, rubbing through a sieve or blending in a liquidizer. The resulting puree is usually substantial enough to serve as it is and needs no thickening agent in the form of a roux or eggs or cream. Flavor and texture, however, can be improved if a little fat is used to sweat the Vegetables before the liquid is added and to enrich them just before serving.
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The Vegetables

It is important to use fresh Vegetables but because the Vegetables are reduced to a pulp, puree soups offer an excellent and economic opportunity to use slightly overripe Vegetables or foods which might other wise go to waste, such as the outer leaves of lettuce, slightly tough end of season peas, watercress stalks or mushroom peel. You can make delicious soups using either a single vegetable or a judicious mixture of several Vegetables.

Tubers such as potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, root Vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and turnips, cauliflower and pulses (dried peas, beans and lentils) will all puree to a thick soup after cooking. Vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, celery, cucumbers, asparagus, spinach, lettuce and watercress do not have much substance in themselves. If used alone, very large quantities would be needed to create the right consistency for a puree soup. An additional vegetable (such as a potato) therefore is usually added to give the starchy ingredient which is necessary for, thickening.

The liquid

Stock is probably the most frequently used, liquid. Chicken or other white stocks are the most suitable because brown stocks can be too strong and might overpower the flavour overpower the vegetable. By all means use vegetable stock where suitable. For example, for pea soup makes stock from the pea pods (see the chapter on stocks). The liquid from canned peas also makes excellent stock.

Vegetable cooking water may be used as a liquid base. Taste it first to check that the flavour is not overpowering as this could ruin a delicate soup. The water, in which a cauliflower has been cooked, for instance, makes a valuable addition to parsnip soup.

Milk can be used, either on its own or with other liquids, but take care not to dilute it too much as this can cause curdling.

Fruit puree soups

Fruit puree soups are Scandinavian in origin and are very popular in those countries. Although it may sound strange at first to some tastes, in fact fruit puree soups have a deliciously delicate flavour and make a superbly refreshing beginning and, sometimes, end to a meal. Similar in method al1d resulting texture to vegetable puree soups, fruit puree soups are made from fresh, and sometimes from dried, fruit.

Fruit

For best results use fresh, fine fruit. apples, pears; cherries, apricots, plums, pumpkins, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, strawberries and melons can all be used. Of the dried fruit, apricots and prunes give best results; apples and pears can also be used. Making fruit soup rarely involves sweating the fruit because the soup is always served cold and the fat tends to rise to the top and spoil it, and most fruit don't need the extra softening.

The liquid

water, red or white wine, or a mixture of water and wine are the most commonly used liquids. Apple juice can be used in place of the white wine. Chicken stock or beef stock are sometimes used, usually with apple or pumpkin.

Thickening fruit soups

Fruit soups made with a single fruit which has a high water content (for example, cherries, plums and apricots) are thickened with corn-flour. This is done after the fruit has been cooked. For every 450 g [1Ib] fruit and 1.15L [2 pt] liquid you will need 30 ml [2 tablespoons] corn-flour.

Flavoring

If you are serving the soup as a first course it may be flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel or ginger and occasionally curry powder. Stir in fresh or sour cream or yogurt just before serving. If you are serving the soup as a pudding, stir in sweetened whipped cream and dust with nutmeg or cinnamon just before serving.
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