I love cooking, and this afternoon I’m making soup, the same way I’ve always made it – the way I learned from my grandmother.
First, I boil up old bones to make stock. Today, it’s a couple of meat-stripped chicken carcasses and a ham bone – I keep them together in the freezer in a big re-sealable bag until I’m ready to use them, then I boil them all up in water with bay leaves and black pepper. While the bones are boiling, releasing all their goodness and flavour, I chop my vegetables – usually just whatever is available. Today I’ve got onion, garlic, chilli, carrot, turnip and parsnip, so it seems we’ll be having a full-bodied and piquant vegetable soup tonight.
Once the stock is ready, I’ll strain the liquid and discard the bones, then add the chopped vegetables, herbs and seasoning to taste – a touch of tarragon is always lovely with chicken stock, and I’ll add a little thyme too, I think, and thicken it with a little oatmeal before letting the soup simmer until ready. The base stock may vary from time to time, as will the particular vegetables used – leek and potato works well with chicken stock, and lentil and sweet potato is lovely with a strong smoky ham stock – but the underlying process remains basically the same as it always has been.
I grew up in a poor rural farming community on the North East coast of Scotland, where a bowl of thick belly-filling soup and a hunk of bread was a staple menu choice for many, and wherever I may go in life, and however old I may get, hopefully I’ll always enjoy the comforting echoes of generations past conjured up every time I go through the thoroughly satisfying process of planning and preparing a flavoursome pot of heart-warming soup to feed my family and friends… 🙂