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Simon’s Winter Warmer – Hearty Vegetable Soup:
A large hamper of Unilever Kitchen products arrived at my door, full of household names that I didn’t know were part of the Unilever family. The collection included many stalwarts of Britishness – PG Tips tea, Bovril, Coleman’s Mustard, Hellman’s etc., as well as a good mix of Knorr stocks and the upmarket French Maille Mustard. It is safe to say there was a mix of items I already used and some that I had not tried.
So the challenge was to use a few of the products in a recipe that benefited from them. With so much to choose it was hard to pinpoint any particular recipe, but being a very cold and frosty week, and looking at what was in my kitchen, I decided to make a healthy and tasty Winter Warmer Vegetable Soup. Just like the one my mum used to make every winter…well, nearly just like it. She would boil everything into submission. Instead, I’ve discovered that roasting the vegetables to soften them adds depth of flavour and shortens the length of time you need to boil for.
- 1 Medium Pumpkin
- 2 Large Onions
- 6 Large Tomatoes
- 2 Medium Courgette
- 2 Medium Aubergine
- 1 cup Peas
- 1 handful Fresh Parsley
- 3 handfuls Spinach
- 1 tin Canelloni Beans
- 1 Small Garlic
- 1 box Knorr Vegetable Stock
- 1 tube Colemans Mustard
- Cut the Pumpkin into small bite-size chunks, having cut away the skin and soft centre. The chunks are usually very firm so a sharp knife and a careful hand is required. Put onto a roasting tray.
- Chop up the aubergine and courgette into small button size pieces and add to the baking tray with a light covering of olive oil. Put the tomatoes on and then oven roast at 170c for about 30-45 minutes until they start to brown. The oven roasting softens the pumpkin and vegetables so that you don't need to boil them for hours in the soup.
- Tear the loose fresh parsley into a soup saucepan. Add the garlic and onions, chopped as fine as you like.
- Mix the Knorr Vegetable stock, which is in a jelly form that melts easily, into a pint of water and pour this into the saucepan. Slowly bring to simmer and stir well. The mix will look very bright and orange at this point.
- To give the soup a slight 'bite' i like to add a tablespoon of Colemans Tube mustard. This is sweeter than the course grain mustard, and cooler than the jars, and just adds a twist to the flavour that no one has ever guessed at yet..
- When the vegetables have been roasted as described, take them out of the oven and drop them into the soup saucepan. Stir in..
- Add the peas, spinach and cannelloni beans to the mix. Put a lid on the saucepan and heat to just under simmering for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
- After an hour and a half, the soup is ready. The colour will have changed from orange to a light teak brown. The longer you cook it for the darker it will get as it draws all the colours out from the aubergine.
The texture of the soup is much like a broth, and the aroma from the Knorr stock is full of the hearty meal soups seen in movies on stormy nights.
I was surprised at how well this soup came out; the Knorr Vegetable Stock clearly gave it much more of a broth feel than having made it without. And it tasted great, with enough for seconds which was good as even my daughter wanted some more. As a meat eater, I found the stock made the soup feel more filling, with more taste, and I didn’t notice at all that the meal had no meat.
I am sort of kicking myself that I haven’t used Knorr stocks before now.
Editor’s comment: We think this recipe is also something of a tribute to Simon’s vegan girlfriend…not that we don’t believe he made it himself, we just think she *might* have been the inspiration behind roasting the vegetables;)