Soup, glorious soup! Come autumn or winter time, it’s the delightful kind of dish you can never go wrong with. And what better way to make amazing soup than to use fresh local produce?
Get your cooking on with these 6 easy soup recipes, with Maltese seasonal vegetables as their main ingredients!
Carrot and celery soup
A combination of warm and sweet, this light soup is a gorgeous starter dish and is especially popular in households with younger kids who might not be so keen on eating vegetable soup. Both carrots and celery are grown 365 days a year locally, so you can make this soup whenever you’re craving it.
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 2 peeled and thinly sliced small carrots, 2 thinly sliced celery ribs, 2 small minced onions, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1 cup of dry white wine.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat
- Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes until they are tender
- Slowly stir in the carrots, celery and tarragon, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes
- Stir in the vegetable broth and the wine, and bring to a boil
- Reduce to a simmer, and continue cooking for about 15 minutes before serving
Beautifully basic broccoli soup
Describing broccoli soup as ‘basic’ doesn’t really do it justice. But sometimes, especially when it comes to soup, basic does end up being the best option. You always know exactly what you’re going to get, and it’s very pleasant every single time. You can find fresh broccoli in the Maltese islands for this recipe mostly between October and June.
Ingredients (for 3 to 4 servings): 700g of fresh broccoli, 1 chopped large onion, 1 chopped carrot, 4 tablespoons of butter (room temperature), 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 4 cups of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of cream. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat
- Add the broccoli, onion, carrot, salt and pepper, and sauté everything for about 6 minutes
- Add the flour and cook for 1 more minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil
- Let the mix simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until the broccoli is tender
- Pour in the cream and then puree the soup with a blender
- Add the final tastes of salt and pepper, and then replace the lid back on the pot until it’s time to serve the soup
Magnificent mushroom soup
A bowl of rich caramelised mushroom soup is all you really need on a cold day this winter. Locally grown mushrooms are available all year round though, so you can enjoy it anytime no matter the season.
Ingredients (for 6 servings): 1kg of sliced fresh mushrooms, 1 diced onion, 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, 1.5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, 4 cups of chicken broth, 6 springs of fresh thyme, 1 pinch of salt, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of cream. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat
- Cook the mushrooms in the butter with 1 pinch of salt until the mushrooms give off their juices, and reduce the heat to low
- Cook the mix for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the juices evaporate and the mushrooms are golden brown
- Mix in the onion, and cook for about 5 more minutes until the onion is soft
- Stir the flour into the mix, and cook for 2 minutes stirring often
- Tie the thyme sprigs into a small bundle with kitchen twine and add them to the mix, and also add the garlic cloves
- Pour the chicken stock and water into the mix, bring it to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, and then remove the thyme
- Transfer the soup to a blender in small batches, and puree on high speed until the mix is smooth and thick
- Return the soup to a pot and stir in the cream
- Season with salt and black pepper before serving – you can also garnish with mushroom slices and a few thyme leaves
Stuffed pepper soup
Now this is a very different kind of soup. This delightful soup with a more meaty character is as unique as it is tasty. Its vegetable ingredients, mainly peppers and tomatoes, are available in Maltese and Gozitan markets all year round.
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 500g of ground beef, 1/2 can of tomato sauce, 1/2 can of undrained diced tomatoes, 1 cup of chopped green peppers, 3 cups of water, 1 cup of cooked long grain rice, 1/8 cup of packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of beef bouillon granules, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and chopped fresh parsley.
- Over medium heat, cook and stir the ground beef until it browns, then drain and put it back in the pot
- Stir in all the other ingredients (tomato sauce, tomatoes, green peppers, water, brown sugar, beef granules, salt and pepper), and bring to a boil
- Reduce the heat and let the mix simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until the peppers are tender
- Add the cooked rice, and again let the mix simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes
- Finish the soup off by sprinkling it with freshly chopped parsley before serving
Traditional widow’s soup
Here is where we get to the slightly more challenging, yet equally satisfying, recipes. Known to many as ‘soppa tal-armla’, this popular traditional dish has several variations. At its core lie vegetables that can be bought fresh during the colder months. And the cherry on the cake, or soup in this case, is the occasional addition of ricotta or gbejniet on top.
Ingredients (for 6 servings): 1 chopped onion, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 4 celery sticks, 3 chopped carrots, 1/2 shredded cabbage, 1/2 cauliflower chopped into florets (include leaves), 3 chopped potatoes, 1 chopped courgette, 150g of broad beans (can replace with peas), 2 chopped large tomatoes, 2 vegetable stock cubes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, warm boiled water, olive oil and 4 gbejniet (can replace with firm ricotta).
- Pour the olive oil into a large pot, and fry the garlic and onion for 5 minutes
- Add the celery and carrots, and fry for another 5 minutes
- Include the cabbage, cauliflower, broad beans, potatoes and courgette, and fry all the vegetables for 10 more minutes
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and crushed stock cubes, and gently stir the mix
- Pour in enough warm boiled water to fill up to 3/4 of the pot, and make sure the vegetables have been covered
- Bring the mix to a boil, and then let it simmer for 45 minutes
- Add the ricotta or gbejniet, and cook for a further 15 minutes before serving
Classic Maltese minestra
We cannot compile a list of locally perfect soups without including this timeless number. Most of us probably remember minestra being cooked at home during our childhood years, and most of us still love it as adults. It’s not the easiest soup to prepare, but it’s worth trying to make it yourself. Maybe have an experienced family member observe your cooking endeavours for this one!
Ingredients (for 6 servings): 2 finely diced onions, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 diced potato, 2 chopped celery sticks, 400g of chopped pumpkin, 1 diced turnip (can replace with kohlrabi), 1 chopped courgette (can replace with marrow), small bunch of chopped spinach, 2 handfuls of broad beans, 1/4 chopped cauliflower (include leaves), 1/4 chopped cabbage, 1 crushed vegetable stock cube, 100g of already cooked brown lentils, 150g of small pasta, boiled water (to fill the pot), olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Fry the onion in a large pot for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and tomato paste, frying everything for another 1 minute
- Add all the other vegetables, and the crushed stock cube, frying everything for another 5 minutes
- Fill the pot with boiled water, covering all the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper before bringing the mix to a boil
- Reduce the heat and let the mix simmer for 1.5 hours
- Add in the lentils and pasta, and cook everything for another 20 minutes
- Garnish with parsley and serve
If Jon Snow says that winter is coming, it’s time to prepare yourself by trying out any of these soups. If you’re still feeling the Maltese heat, but nonetheless want to stay healthy, have a look at our 5 healthy smoothie recipes, also using locally grown produce!
Support local farmers by purchasing your vegetable ingredients from any of the 176 Fruit & Vegetable Markets listed on Yellow, where you can also find the one nearest to your location wherever you are in Malta or Gozo.
Discover and support local – visit www.yellow.com.mt!