The Modern Preserver's Kylee Newton gives soup a new lease of life this winter with a range of pickled toppings
It's my first winter back in New Zealand after 21 years. And while I am well-versed in the layering of thermal underlays, thick socks, and woolly beanies, I am finding myself with an appetite for soup. Something to warm me on the inside as well as the outer now that the cooler months are here.
Soup is great for a quick and easy midweek evening supper. Make a big batch, freeze it, pull it out and defrost it. After a hard day, it's perfect to curl up with in front of a heater and watch that new series you've just started. But there does come a point where you crave more than a single texture in your evening meal.
I like to add a little extra - a crunch maybe, to elevate my soup ambrosial: a dollop of creme fraiche, a grating of parmesan or a drizzle of good-quality olive oil; chopped stale sourdough made into croutons or blitzed to a crumb; toasted seeds and nuts, such as pumpkin, sunflower, pine, or flaked almonds; chopped fresh herbs, like chives, coriander, or mint; chilli flakes or crushed spices, such as cumin, coriander, fennel. And always a crack of freshly ground black pepper. These are classics, all contenders in my soup topping repertoire; add any and you are off to a good start.
But for the more curious, there's nothing better to top off a seasonal winter warming soup than a pickle or a ferment. Here are some of my favourite matches.
- Carrot soup with creme fraiche topped quick red cabbage kraut and toasted pumpkin seeds
- Pea soup topped with wholegrain mustard mixed with sour cream, quick-pickled radishes and crumb
- Pumpkin soup topped with crumbled feta, quick-pickled red chillies and toasted hazelnuts
- Celeriac soup topped crumbled blue cheese, pickled red onion and lemon zest
With these combinations you may even find yourself exchanging those PJs and a cosy night in for guest-friendly attire. So, it's time to dish up, get your toppings on, and invite a few friends over for soup and cocktails.
Quick red cabbage kraut
Makes approx. 500ml jar
½ small red cabbage
1½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp juniper berries
1. Slice the red cabbage into fine ribbons about 1-2mm, or use a mandolin to get them extra fine. 2. Place in a bowl, add the salt and massage the cabbage for about 5 mins until it starts to sweat. Leave aside for an hour.
3. Mix through the spices and tightly pack into a large jar with a wide opening. Push down on to the cabbage, until enough liquid has released to cover it.
4. Seal and leave at room temperature for 5 days, opening the jar every day to release gases. Keep in the fridge after 5 days and eat straight from the jar. Keeps refrigerated for 2-3 months.
Quick-pickled radishes, fresh chilli or red onion
Makes approx. 350ml jar/200ml container
100ml white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp raw sugar
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp whole peppercorns
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
200g radishes, or 80g red or green chillies or 1 large red onion
1. Make your brine by mixing together the vinegar, water, sugar and spices in a saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer, dissolve the sugar and salt and remove to cool.
2. If making radishes, finely slice into discs, about 1-2mm thick, and place in a jar.
3. If making chillies, cut lengthways in half or quarters, depending on the size of your chillies and deseed if you don't like them too hot. Place in your Tupperware.
4. If making red onion, peel and finely slice, about 1mm thick semi-circles, and place in a jar.
5. Cover with the brine and seal. Keep in the fridge for 3-4 days before eating. Keeps refrigerated for 4-6 weeks.
Homemade wholegrain mustard
Makes approx. 250ml jar
40g yellow mustard seeds
40g brown mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
80ml cider vinegar
1 Tbsp mustard powder
30ml lager, or water
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp raw honey
1. Place the seeds in a bowl with the bay leaf and stir in the vinegar. Cover and leave overnight at room temperature.
2. The next day, blend three-quarters of the seeds with the beer, salt, and honey. Stir through the remaining whole seeds, jar, and seal. Keep in the fridge for 1 day before eating. Keeps refrigerated for 6-8 weeks.