As far as soup goes signs of success are everyone loves it and eats every bit. This is success to me. If it is packed full of vegies then you are filling the family up with so many vegetables that it is wonderful. It has to be thick or it is more broth and I think then you will have less fans of your soup.
I have a basic cheats recipe that I use all the time. The key is you need a flavour base. Now if you are a good cook and know how to make delicious soups don't hold this against me. I know the girls ate more than their 5 serves of vegies everyday all their lives and soup helped me do it.
A flavour base could be stock, stock cubes, a homemade blend that equates to a packet of soup mix (Helen makes these, you can google for recipes), a packet of or a tin of soup .
Basically I make what ever is on a big special. This recipe has worked with celery, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato, zucchini, broccoli or a mix.
My basic recipe is roughly to every kilo of your vegies add one or two onions, water to 1/4 way up the pan or crockpot and 1 or 2 portions of your flavour base. I use a tin of cream of chicken soup and a packet of chicken noodle soup, usually. You can match your soup mix to your soup ie cream of celery in celery soup etc. You can use stock cubes or stock... but this is what I do. It just turns out delicious, it is easy and I get the low sodium soup when on special so I keep a supply. Now I know this is cheating and someone is bound to tell me but for me it makes it so good and everyone LOVES it and eats it up so good result. And when I make soup I usually make a full crockpot of it as I like to have a cook up.
Pumpkin is a favourite. When the girls were in England in winter it was cold and they were somewhat miserable and they apparently sat around talking about Mum's pumpkin soup longing for it. Good sign! Well I always make it about half pumpkin and half sweet potato and I might add a carrot or two and always a few big onions. The sweet potato makes it richer somehow. I make it thick. I only ever add minimal water as you can add later but its harder to reduce it. To serve I add cheese, fresh herbs and a drizzle or milk of cream.
After it is blended I save a cup or two of this and make it into pumpkin scones. These are unbelievable. Yep the whole soup is in them. As savoury scones and cheese they are lovely. A tray full of these gives me even more food very cheaply. Serve warm and they cause a stampede.
With cauliflower I will add more cheese.
I send this in a thermo and did even to school. Used as after school snack.
Used before main course your meat will go further as main can be smaller. This was a trick our Nans used all the time. Or a meal on it's own if you serve corn bread or rolls, croutons, cheese or whatever. How about a big plate of garlic bread? A very inexpensive meal. So warming and good.
Now many of us will have a man or someone who says they don't like soup. Most times they have had lousy soup and decided this. But if this is a sticking point them we are back to the old "a rose by any other name" situation. Make a super thick meaty soup with chicken or lamb shanks and call it stew. Serve with crusty bread.
My Dad has giant cook ups in winter for men. Usually they are all starving and as they approach the stove he says "would you like stew or soup?" (this is true) If they say soup he ladles them a serve from the top of his giant pot. If they say stew they get it from the bottom. Done. Well they all love this and are happy. Men hey, love the simplicity. Well, I love the simplicity too!
The other day zucchini were a wonderful price so decision made! It was so good. I the freeze individual portions as I find in winter if I eat soup for lunch it is good for me, I love it and I don't gain weight!
Oh the cheesy one was going to Chloe, I don't add cheese etc to freeze.
Now other tricks are if you have someone who loves pasta but says they don't love soup then fill it with pasta. Call it pasta. Pumpkin works well with this. At the end just fill the bowl with pasta,soup, top with cheese. Call it pasta. Hello they are still eating all those vegies. In the same way if you have a chid mad on rice fill it with rice and stir and call it Risotto. Unless they are watching Masterchef they won't catch on for some time!
I will do a post of how to make "kill any germ chicken soup" and make it so easily. It is wonderful and sooo delicious. And a minestrone type soup that you can add lamb shanks to that is a more man style soup if you need that.
The best thing in the world is using your crockpot (slow cooker). I will get my vegies ready the evening before and pop it on in the morning if I will be away from home for the day. Pop it on and when you get home you walk into a house that smells of home cooking and dinner is done. I use a stick blender and just blitz it there in the crockpot. (carefully as it is hot!)
Whatever method works for you, soup will stretch your budget and fill everyone up with vegies. What a wonderful thing.