When the weather turns there is nothing like a hearty soup, the sort you can almost stand your spoon up in, to help the world to settle firmly on its axis. Here we've turned any notion of soup only being a starter or light meal on its head – these bowls are a meal in themselves.
Rustic seafood soup with chorizo jam
Make the chorizo jam ahead of time and use leftovers on eggs, steak or smashed avo toast.
2 chorizo sausages (about 200g), casing removed, meat roughly chopped
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
4-6 new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1½ tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ fennel bulb, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
1 celery stalk, washed, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tbsp ras el hanout
3 small roma tomatoes, quartered
10 saffron threads
4 slices of preserved lemon, finely chopped
1½ cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
2 cups mixed seafood (such as raw prawns, scallops and white fish – you may need to vary cooking times depending on the seafood chosen)
For the chorizo jam add the chorizo and onion to a small frypan over low-medium heat and cook for 15 minutes or until the meat is cooked and the onion has softened. Add the brown sugar and red wine vinegar and cook for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, place in a blender and briefly pulse until blended but still chunky. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the soup add the potatoes, olive oil, shallots, garlic, fennel and celery to a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 15 minutes or until the onions are softened and the mixture is fragrant.
Add the ras el hanout spice and cook for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the tomatoes release their juices, then add the saffron, preserved lemon, stock and white wine. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the cream and simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until the soup has reduced slightly and thickened.
Add the seafood and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until just cooked through, before adding soup to serving bowls. Top with dollops of chorizo jam and serve immediately.
Minestrone with cheese-stuffed meatball. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Mozzarella meatball and minestrone soup
This is one for the non-believers; those who feel (for reasons unknown) that soup could never be a meal. This cheese-oozing meatball centrepiece has a way of quickly swaying those opinions to the back bench.
⅓ cup semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
500g beef mince
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
60g fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 zucchini, finely sliced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely sliced
800g tomato passata or finely pulped tomatoes
250ml (1 cup) white wine
750ml (3 cups) chicken stock
1 cup macaroni, cooked for two minutes less than packet instructions suggest
1 cup tinned chickpeas, rinsed thoroughly
1 cup tinned white beans, rinsed thoroughly
1 cup shredded silverbeet
oregano, chervil, flat-leaf parsley leaves to scatter
Preheat oven to 180C.
To make the meatballs add all the ingredients except for the cheese and oil to a large bowl, and using your hands, massage to combine. Divide mixture into six, and form into flat oval shapes. Place a piece of mozzarella in the centre of each oval, fold to enclose and roll to seal and form a ball just smaller than a tennis ball. Place the six meatballs on a tray lined with baking paper, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the meatballs are resting, start the soup. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, zucchini and celery to a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes or until the onion and garlic is soft. Add the tomato passata, wine and stock, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, cook the meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof frying pan over medium-high heat, add the meatballs and brown all over (4 to 5 minutes). Place the frying pan in the preheated oven until the meatballs are cooked through (15 minutes).
Just before serving, add the cooked pasta, chickpeas, white beans and silverbeet to the soup to warm through (about five minutes). Ladle the soup into bowls and top each bowl with a meatball. Scatter with herbs and chilli flakes and serve.
Toasted seeds and pomegranate add crunch. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Sweet potato, carrot and cumin soup with pomegranate and toasted seeds
The roasted carrot and crunchy seed topping marries perfectly with the smoky flavours of toasted cumin in this soup.
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5cm knob ginger, peeled and grated
1kg sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped into 5cm chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2½ tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock (plus extra if you prefer a thinner soup)
100g Persian-style feta
roasted heirloom carrots (optional)
1-2 tbsp per serve of seed mix (such as pepitas and sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds)
1 tbsp freeze-dried or fresh pomegranate arils per serve
Place the olive oil, onions, garlic, ginger, sweet potato and carrots in a large saucepan and over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft and translucent. Add the crushed cumin and cook for another 30 seconds to one minute or until fragrant.
Add the maple syrup and stock, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until sweet potato and carrot is very tender. Add the feta and blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Season generously to taste.
Pour soup into bowls, top with a dollop of yoghurt, coriander leaves and other toppings of your choice and serve.
Leek, potato and bacon soup with crispy caramelised prosciutto. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Roasted leek, potato and bacon soup
Yes. OK. The world hardly needs another potato soup recipe but the double-down of bacon and prosciutto with hint of white wine is definitely worth adding to your soup-making rotation.
4 leeks, white part only, washed and halved lengthways
1½ tbsp olive oil
200g smoked bacon, roughly chopped
800g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into 5cm chunks
500ml chicken stock
1 cup white wine
12 slices prosciutto
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Preheat the oven to 185C. Place the leeks and olive oil in a roasting tray and toss to coat. Roast the leeks until they are soft and lightly charred at the edges (about 30 to 45 minutes).
While the leeks are roasting, fry off the bacon in a small frying pan until crisp. Set aside to cool.
Allow the roasted leek halves to cool before adding to a saucepan with the potatoes, bacon and chicken stock. Season to taste, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until potato breaks down and soup thickens (about 20 to 25 minutes).
While the soup is simmering, add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Place the prosciutto slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper and drizzle over the balsamic mixture. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until crisp, and the balsamic mixture has caramelised.
Once the soup has thickened, add the white wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir through the cream.
Blend the soup using a hand-held blender (or in a food processor in batches) until mostly smooth – some texture of the bacon should remain. Season generously to taste.
Pour soup into bowls, and top each with a few slices of crisp prosciutto and a pinch of sliced spring onion and serve.