Now it’s coming up to Christmas, I know some of you may get asked “what do you want for Christmas?”. In fact, a couple of years ago, I got asked that very question and was lucky enough to unwrap a soup maker and it’s been a favourite pal ever since. And on that note, I thought I would compile a list of favourites that I would make a the perfect Christmas hamper to help someone on their way to create their own delicious but healthy soups (yes, it can be done!)
Soups are my main go-to lunchtime bowls of delight and will you save so much time and money in the long run. If all you know are tinned soups, then kid you not, you will not look back once you’ve tried home made. And as long as you keep spicing up your varieties, you should never get bored.
Here’s my top 6 items that will be a step in the right direction.
- The Soup Maker
Soup makers have so many benefits and I seriously wouldn’t make as many if I never had one. They’re a great kitchen buddy that cuts down half the washing up while you make a batch ahead for a few day’s portions or to feed the rest of the family. I often leave my machine while I need to nip out to the Post Office, so there is no pot watching needed! Although I use the basic Morphy Richards model, there is a more expensive saute version now which you can fry off any veggies inside before adding the rest. This could be a great treat if you like to taste your soups as you go along and add any extra ingredients by removing the lid. My version doesn’t allow this and resets, but it’s never got in the way of my soup making and highly recommend if you’re on a tighter budget which can range from £35-£50.
- A Hand Blender
If you can’t warrant forking out too much for a soup maker, then my £5 hand blender will still do the job. I find it can be a smidgen time consuming but still find it useful from time to time if I’m making a soup that’s either too big for my machine or just experimenting with a new recipe and don’t know where I’m taking it.
- The Spice Rack
No soup would be brilliant without a good selection of spices at hand to use on a whim and there are many available out there. I have a revolving one that holds 16 from Robert Dyas which is a great offering, allowing the soup maker to put it to good use immediately and try new spices you would never have picked yourself. However, it needs to be said that you may not use all of them and will need to keep filling up an changing the labels on the bottles to accommodate something different. If you can afford to splash a little bit more cash, then a better option could be to go for a Schwartz spice rack as the spices are available in most stores to keep restocking with minimal effort. Or, if your gift receiver is more frugal like me and can donate some wall space, then a spice shelf is the perfect solution and can add any spices from any brand; I pick spices almost anywhere and I have one similar to this, although mine was a new charity shop find so do not know the brand. *Side Note: a selection of stock pots or cubes could also fit in to this category to build up a Christmas hamper.
- Selection of Frylights
While we’re on the topic of food-stuff to use instantly, then a low calorie oil cooking spray is a must for those who want to stay in good health. They can be bought in most main supermarkets and keep longer than a block of butter. I use frylight and there is a good selection of flavours, such as olive, sunflower, buttter, garlic and chilli. They key to a really good soup is to saute the veg to turn the starch in to natural sugar, enhancing the flavour with a less punchy aftertaste.
- Microwave Soup Mugs
If someone is wanting to make soup in batches, then microwavable soup storers are perfect for sealing, storing in the fridge or freezer to get their meals ready a few days in advance. I find these ideal if I want to cook some veg before they start to turn or just pop them in to microwave and eat straight out of it. There are two types: the mug and the porridge or noodle bowl, which I personally use both all the time, so a selection would be useful. But what is great is you can normally find similar designs in places such as B&M, Asda or pound shops for the obvious amount and get more for your money.
- Recipe Book(s) or Free Email Subscription to My Blog
If you’re going for the Soup Maker, then most recipe quantities can be adapted, but to help someone get on their way, then I know some people from my facebook recipe soup group have bought the Skinny Soup Maker Recipe Book to get started. Or (or and), without blowing my own trumpet, the recipient is always welcome to join my free email subscription (in the side bar) to hear about my new soup maker recipes which I make every week. If someone is less in to healthy eating, then there are more books available like this one, but I can’t say I’ve ever tried any of these books as I find tend to find the internet has all the inspiration I need.
Now all you’ll need is a basket or box and some pretty wrapping and you’re good to go!
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