PreparingTomato and Basil Soup
Allow vegetables to ‘sweat’ gently to draw out their natural flavours and juices.

Ways to thicken soups
The thickening and binding agents are known as liaisons.

Starch
Flour, cornflour/cornstarch, arrowroot, pearl barley, semolina or potato can be added.

If using flour or cornflour/cornstarch, mix it first to a smooth, thin cream with a little of the soup liquid, milk or water. Stir into the soup in the pan and gently cook for at least 5 minutes while stirring.

Fat and flour
Equal quantities are heated gently together and mixed to a very thick, smooth paste (a roux). Then a little soup liquid, milk or water is added until the mixture has become a smooth thin cream. It is stirred into the soup and gently cooked for 5 minutes.

Double cream
Usually added to smooth, rich or white soups.

Colouring soups
Onion concentrate will enrich the colour and taste of a brown soup or broth. Peel and slice an onion, dust it with flour and fry it in a little butter until it is well browned. Rub through a sieve and then add to the soup, a little at a time, until the desired flavour and colour is reached.

Tomato purée will also add colour.

Seasoning
Always add the salt and pepper just before serving.

Reheating
Once the soup is made it must be reheated gently and never boiled briskly. Just let it reach simmering point and stir often.

Garnishes
A tablespoon of croutons. Take a slice of bread, remove the crusts and cut into cubes. Fry in butter or oil until very crisp and add to the soup just before serving.

Finely chopped parsley, chives or celery leaves.

A tablespoon of cream swirled over the soup in the bowl and sprinkled with a pinch of Cayenne pepper or paprika.

Thinly sliced French bread, toasted, covered with grated cheese and browned under the grill/broiler. Then cut into small pieces and placed on top of the soup just before serving.