one of the great fallbacks of the time-constrained chef is soup. what's not to love about something that can be made by throwing the contents of your kitchen into your blender? ok, i exaggerate. there are things that need to be done and you probably shouldn't throw everything into your blender. keep a ladle and a pot safe, at least.
the great thing about soup is that once you've mastered one, you've basically mastered a whole category of soups. they all kind of work the same way. and they're all incredibly forgiving about making substitutions and even the order in which you do certain things.
for instance, i made a big batch of carrot soup with ginger recently. the way this would normally be done is to sauté garlic and shallots [or onions, or nothing if you don't like those sorts of things] and the vegetables [carrots, in this case, but you could use turnip or squash or... well, you get the idea] and the spices [ginger... or simple pepper, or hot pepper, or paprika, or cinnamon...], after which you would add your liquid [broth or water, perhaps mixed with wine or cream...] and let everything cook until it was nice and soft, whereupon you could add some fresh herbs. then you'd puree everything together and voila!- soup.
you have a lot of control over how complicated you can get. what i made was a very simple version involving very few ingredients:
organic vegetable broth
that's it. once again, i bought minced ginger, because chopping ginger is infuriating to me. but i'm sure fresh cut ginger is 1000% better. yeah, really. i'm absolutely sure.
i also used store bought broth. that is a bit of an embarrassment to me, because i happen to be the daughter of the king of broth. when i was growing up, my father's freezer was constantly stuffed with repurposed ice cream containers labeled "broth". i didn't really know what it was used for, although i knew it was used a lot. and i have to admit, it made for a few disappointing ice cream-eating experiences. but sadly, i never developed the patience and skill to make really great broth [which his was, i now understand]. apparently broth preparation is not genetic.
i didn't squeeze the oranges myself, either. these are the conveniences we turn to.
but when you're pressed for time, it sometimes helps to have an eager sous-chef. so while i was at work, dom cooked up the carrots to ready them for their big night.
wait, what? that can't happen!!
well sure it can. instead of following the usual process, i started by pureeing. i had to go in batches, since my blender could not accommodate five pounds of carrots, two litres of broth and juice and assorted seasonings in one go [i wish]. so i seasoned the batches one at a time, tasting the "master batch" to make sure that the overall was coming out right. then i heated the whole thing up on the stove. and you know what?
it tasted every bit as good as when i do it the "right" way. such is the wonder of soup. it's a great way to practice cooking because it's actually fairly difficult to screw it up completely. [i know, it can be done.] furthermore, you can make it in quantities large enough so that you can have it for days for lunches or light dinners or brunch or... well, the rules of when you can eat soup are as vague as the rules that govern how it's made.