Just when I thought it was safe to put away my soup tureen for a while, the weather has had second thoughts, and soup is back on the menu.
What with Siberian-style winds and freezing temperatures, this healthy warming soup has had a stay of execution. Even my Pizza Oven was covered with ice the other morning for goodness sake - eating al fresco will have to wait a week or two!
Nothing could be simpler than this vegetable soup, which to be honest, is good enough to make anytime of the year.
Essentially a combo of root vegetables, mixed with some Ras el Hanout spice and roasted in the oven, then briefly cooked in some stock and pureed, this could be the one of simplest yet tastiest soups you make.
Ras el Hanout is a North African spice blend that can consist of up to 20 different spices in varying amounts and is easily available in supermarkets and delis where you will find the herbs and spices.
The name translates to ‘top shelf’ in Arabic, and spice dealers would combine their best spices (from the top shelf) to create their own personal blend.
Some blends have rose petals or lavender in them but most blends usually consist of Cardamom, Cumin, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice Coriander, Cloves, Pepper. Other blends have Tumeric, Chilli etc added.
Whatever the combination, it is a delicious spice rubbed onto vegetables and used in stews. If you have a blend with rose petals included, it is fantastic as a rub for butterflied leg of lamb done on the barbecue.
Ingredients serves 4-6
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into wedges 2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 1 large red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (cut the veg into similar size chunks so they all cook at the same time) 2 garlic cloves, peeled 1 tbsp of ras el hanout spice 2 tbsp olive oil 1.5l vegetable stock Greek yoghurt and fresh mint to garnish (optional) Method
Heat your oven to 200℃/180℃ fan.
Put all the vegetable chunks and garlic in a large roasting tin and sprinkle over the ras el hanout.
Drizzle over the oil and stir everything well making sure the veg are coated with the spice and olive oil.
I roasted mine in the oven for about an hour, turning them a couple of times, but depending on the size of the chunks it may take more or less time. Just make sure the veg are nice and soft, and caramelising a little around the edges.
Put the roasted veg into a large saucepan and cover with the hot stock. If you have some stock left after covering the veg, just keep it as you may need it to loosen the soup later.
Simmer everything for about 10 minutes, leave to cool for a minute or two, then puree everything with a stick blender (or pour into a food processor or countertop blender), making sure there are no lumps left and the soup is velvety smooth.
If you find it is too thick, just loosen with the reserved stock, or a little freshly made stock. Taste for seasoning and serve with some chopped mint and a swirl of yoghurt if you fancy.
This is a soup I’ll be making again and again, and the weather can do what it wants!