Fast ‘Happy Soups’ you can cook in 30 minutes or less

  • Bob Townsend
  • For the AJC
12:00 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017 Food
Sausage, Spinach and Orzo soup. CONTRIBUTED BY STEVEN JOYCE

The platonic ideal of soup is the image of a big pot slowly simmering for hours on the stovetop — even if nowadays it’s more likely to be a slow cooker perched on the countertop.

But what if you could cook up a fresh, flavorful soup in 30 minutes or less?

As it turns out, it can be easily done.

The key is having homemade or store-bought broth on hand, and gathering the kinds of high-impact ingredients that can be prepped to come together quickly.

Just in time for chilly weather, “Leon Happy Soups” by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent (Conran Octopus, $19.99), offers 100 recipes for hearty, healthy soups that show you how to do just that, and super fast.

The cookbook, out on Nov. 7, is an offshoot of Leon, the beloved British “naturally fast food” restaurant chain whose dishes that aim to “taste good and do you good.”

Most of the “Happy Soups” recipes can be made in less than an hour, including prep time. And many have a cook time of 10-30 minutes.

What’s more, there are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan recipes, with a wealth of international flavors. And the eight chapters include takes on “naturally fast,” “comforting” and “posh” soups, along with recipes for broths, sides and toppings.

Tom Yum (Yum Yum) is a spicy Thai soup with shrimp and oyster mushrooms, brightly flavored with chili, lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaves.

Surprisingly, perhaps, it calls for boiling water rather than broth, and it cooks in just 12 minutes, deriving even more flavor and aroma from a final jolt of fish sauce, fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Perfect for a winter supper, Spinach, Sausage and Orzo Soup takes on the Italian flavors of tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan cheese in a hearty combo that recalls the textures of pasta and meatballs, and cooks in a quick 30 minutes.

Another 30-minute winner, classic Mushroom Soup, which can be made with either chicken or vegetable broth, is earthy, creamy and clearly belongs in the “posh” category — especially if you use the tip of serving it with truffle oil, a splash of sherry or brandy and some crusty buttered toast.

These super soups from the new “Leon Happy Soups” (Conran Octopus, $19.99) cookbook can be prepped in 15 minutes or less and cooked in 30 minutes or less.

For the AJC
Tom Yum (Yum Yum) soup. CONTRIBUTED BY STEVEN JOYCE

Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 12 minutes

This is an invigorating, spicy Thai soup made with shrimp and oyster mushrooms, and flavored with chili, lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves. It will clear your head (and your sinuses). Galangal is commonly available in Asian markets and many large grocery stores. The cooking process is very quick, so have everything ready to go before you start. Don’t be surprised that this version of tom yum is pale, not red. The color comes from using Thai roasted chili paste, nam phrik phao (see tip below), or ready-made tom yum paste.

For the AJC
Sausage, Spinach and Orzo soup. CONTRIBUTED BY STEVEN JOYCE
For the AJC
“Leon Happy Soups” Mushroom Soup is an earthy, creamy, posh classic. CONTRIBUTED BY STEVEN JOYCE

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes

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