Does the consumption of certain foods evoke a psychologically pleasurable state in some people or is the question of comfort food a myth?
I’m convinced that I feel 100% better after a bar of chocolate, but if I had to pick one thing to appease my emotional hunger I would probably choose a nice bowl of hot soup.
For most of us, soup represents nourishment, healing and comfort from the day’s when our mothers would bring us a steaming hot bowl when we were feeling poorly or trying to skive off school.
The great French Chef Auguste Escoffier said, “Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite”, while Beethoven claimed” Only the pure of heart can make good soup”.
One thing is for sure, freshly made soups rarely get the attention they deserve and are often inexplicably overlooked by most chefs these day’s.
That’s a real shame as soup can be extremely versatile and tasty, as well an endless source of nutrition.
For me, good soups are made from good stocks and good stocks are not made by throwing an assortment of kitchen scraps and trimmings into a pot and boiling them for a few hours.
Stocks need a little TLC and if you follow these basic rules, your care will be repaid with clear-looking, healthy broths with flavours that are true and clean.
Firstly, make sure all the ingredients for the stock are fresh and well cleaned.
Next cover them with hot water and skim the impurities and fat from the surface as they rise to the top before boiling.
When the stock has reached boiling point, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add a little cold water from time-to-time and continue to degrease and remove the impurities as they rise.
Lastly, do not overcook your stock as you will deaden the flavours. A fish and vegetable stock swill need no more than 30-40 minutes, while 4 hours are sufficient for chicken and veal stocks.
Remember if you make fresh stocks you can also freeze them down to use later.
Among my favourite soups are this Thai style sweet potato soup with the addition of a little coconut milk and coriander. It’s a popular dish on our Fosh Food at Home delivery service menu and it’s also a great time to make this typical Spanish mussel soup from the Catalan region that we often served at Misa Braseria. Happy cooking and stay safe.
CATALAN-STYLE MUSSEL SOUP
Another simple recipe from the Misa Braseria kitchen that we will feature soon on our delivery service, this soup is almost a meal in itself. Make sure you buy very fresh mussels and insure that they are all tightly closed.
- 1kl Fresh mussels
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
- 100ml anis liqueur or pernod
- 1tsp paprika
- 200ml fish stock
- ½tsp ground cinnamon
- A pinch of saffron
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2tbsp Fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 slices of stale bread
1 Clean the mussels, discarding any that are broken or slightly open.
2 Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat the chopped onions and garlic over a gentle flame until they start to soften.
3 Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked and the sauce has thickened.
4 Add the fish stock, mussels, saffron, paprika and cinnamon.
5 Cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes until all the mussels are open.
6 Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and remove them from their shells.
7 Return the mussels back to the saucepan.
8 Add the anis or pernod.
9 Season with salt and pepper, and add the lemon juice and chopped parsley.
10 Line the soup bowls with the sliced bread, pour over the hot soup and serve immediately.