Please, please don’t let the name put you off! I could have changed it, in order for it to be a lot little more appealing. However, I couldn’t bear to alter it, when this soup has played such an important role in my ‘food life’. It would be blasphemy in a way, betrayal at the least. Strangely I actually don’t know how the name originated, but it does add to the mystery. What is not so mysterious is the contents of the soup. Pretty much anything, that’s what. My dad was brought up on a farm in rural Western Australia. Having moved from South Africa in the late 1950’s, my grandparents were starting a new life in a foreign land, with foreign people. Needless to say, things were tough for a start, and not just economically. This soup epitomises the meaning of ‘taste without waste’ in the most literal sense. Use what you have. And use it in a way that produces an appetising end product.
I often feel that we take good food for granted – it is so easily accessible, and not just the essentials but high quality products too. The thing is, it is often possible to make do with the most absolute basics and transform them into something that tastes just as good, if not better, but carries some meaning too.
Granny’s soup proves that. There are a few staple ingredients that constitute the base of the soup. But from there on, it really is a case of utilising what you have. Turn items that are on the verge of being ‘suspicious’ into scrumptious. It is one of the meals that defined my childhood. I have fond memories of being so excited to spend a wintery (and hopefully rainy) day at Granny’s, with the knowledge that there would be a Peter Rabbit bowls filled with this soup for lunch. Actually, the cracked Peter Rabbit bowl (they had been used so often that one was super glued down the middle) was almost more important than the soup. There were two of them with different scenes painted on the bottom and my sister and I used to argue whilst eating the soup about who would have which bowl. The soup and those bowls never failed to bring some joy, and humour, to the day. It is also one of the first meals that I was allowed to help with – washing and peeling the potatoes and carrots. And for that reason it will always hold a special place in my heart.
The one real change that I made was to use parsnip instead of turnip. It’s sweet, peppery flavour brings so much more to the dish than a boring old turnip. Perhaps I’m just prejudiced.
In order to make it a complete meal with protein you could easily add some red lentils, butter beans, cannellini beans or the like. If using beans, just pop a tin in when you add the macaroni.
I find it very difficult to explain the taste of this soup – to me it is just ‘Granny’s soup’. Wholesome, warming and hearty. End of. If you decide to give it a whirl, let me know if you are able to better define it!
Granny’s Clean out the Fridge Soup
Serves 4 – 6.
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion
1 large carrot
3 stalks celery
1 large potato
800g can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 – 3 cups of other vegetables of choice. I used 1 cup pumpkin, ¼ cauliflower, ½ zucchini
About 1 cup small pasta of choice – shells, macaroni, risoni etc.
Sea salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
Chop vegetables into rough 2cm dice and the cauliflower into small florets.
In a large saucepan heat oil and butter. Sauté onion, carrot and celery for 10 minutes.
Add all other vegetables and sweat a further 10 minutes.
Add stock, tomatoes and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer, covered for approximately 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add more stock/water if necessary.
Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool (about 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta. Drain.
Place soup back in pot, season to taste and add more liquid to reach desired consistency. Add pasta and heat through.
Serve with buttered toast or fresh bread if you are feeling extra hungry!
Source: Granny Brampton