Preparing the vegetables for a puree soup should be quick and easy. Clean all vegetables and, if necessary, peel them. There is no need to spend a lot of time peeling vegetables that are to be sieved because the skins will be caught in the bowl of the sieve. Roughly slice or chop the vegetables; it doesn't matter how small you chop them up as any goodness that escapes during cooking is captured in the soup. Using small pieces of food speeds up cooking time and saves fuel costs.
SweatingOnce you have prepared the vegetables, the next and very important step when making a hot vegetable puree soup is to sweat the vegetables as this will make them really tender and tasty.
To sweat vegetables, melt a little butter about 25g [1oz] to 450g [1Ib] vegetables - in a heavy-based saucepan. Oil can be used if preferred; vegetable sunflower oil are best - olive oil would probably give too distinctive a flavour. Dripping, especially bacon dripping, can be used to advantage when you are making, say, a pea soup because the flavors are complementary. Margarine can be substituted for butter but it has nothing like the good, rich flavour of butter. Add the vegetables to the melted fat and shake the pan or stir to coat the vegetables all over. Cover and cook gently over low heat for 5-10 minutes to soften the vegetables and allow them to absorb the fat without burning.
Never be tempted to try to speed up this process by increasing the heat. Fast cooking would fry the vegetables and give them a hard outer skin which would stop the fat from being absorbed. Frying would also spoil the color of the soup.
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 and resulting texture to vegetable puree soups, fruit puree soups are made from fresh, and sometimes from dried, fruit.
Fruit puree soups
FruitFor best results use fresh, ripe 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.
Step-by-step Vegetable puree
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1. Melt butter in a pan. Add prepared vegetables, cover and sweat gently over low heat for 5-10 minutes.
2. After sweating, season and add liquid. Cover the pan and simmer for 15-25minutes until tender.
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3. To puree vegetables using a vegetable mill, hold over another saucepan and turn the handle.
4. To puree vegetables using a sieve, pour contents of pan into sieve, and press vegetables through.
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5. To puree vegetables using a liquidizer, pour contents of pan into the goblet and blend.
6. Reheat soup gently over low heat. Adjust Seasoning and enrich if desired. Do not allow to boil.
Puree how to...
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