How to get the best out of your vegitable soup

Soup is a winter staple that can easily go from being enjoyed as a side to a warm, hearty main.

Everyone has their own soup for the soul recipe, many are passed down from generation to generation.

Making a pot of soup doesn't have to include hours of chopping, slicing and grating vegetables.

Most retailers now sell pre-packed vegetables that’s already peeled and sliced.

But if you prefer to make your vegetable soup from scratch
, then get the best out of your veggie soup with these tips by cookbook author, Shanaaz Parker.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut vegetables. A small vegetable knife is the one for slicing and paring and a large kitchen knife is the one for chopping.
  • Most vegetables have a better flavour, appearance and texture when cooked until just tender. Do not overcook the vegetables.
  • Use as little water as possible to cook vegetables. Usually only about 2,5cm boiling water in the saucepan is enough. Add vegetables and cook over moderate heat covered with a pan lid to hold in steam.
  • Vegetables, especially green ones, produce a lot of water and need only a little water to start them cooking.
  • Some of the nutrients are removed when vegetables are peeled, so cook vegetables in skins whenever possible, especially potatoes.
  • Some vegetables have a natural sweetness, particularly root vegetables like carrots, onions and turnips. Emphasise their natural sweetness by adding a little sugar to the cooking water – it will make all the difference in the flavour.
  • Many cooked vegetables are delicious served cold or at room temperature. Add seasoning of salt and pepper, some herbs, lemon juice or vinegar and oil to the vegetables while warm and they will absorb the flavour as they cool.
  • If you plan to serve green vegetables such as broccoli, French beans and asparagus cold, then immerse them in cold water for a few minutes as soon as they are cooked to retain their colour.
  • Tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, onion, marrow and green peppers all make decorative and delicious vegetable cases for stuffing.
  • With few exceptions, stuffing is made by using tender meats or cooked vegetable flavours with herbs and spices that require short cooking times.
  • Serve vegetables immediately after cooking. Don’t let them stand for long periods, though in some exceptions they reheat well, red cabbage for example.