Golden vegetable soup and Cheese Straws

Hi there,

All week I have been waiting for the weekend just so I can practice my food photography without feeling that I should be doing something else. My preparations began really well because I came across some place mats that I bought for Christmas that would be the perfect background to my shoot today. On using these mats it all began to make sense. I realised that the colour, texture and contrast to the mat in relation to the food either made the picture look great or terrible. The soup I made today had a beautiful golden colour so the tone of grey from the mat contrasted perfectly. Thankfully today I also had good light. Light, light, light that seems to be what makes or breaks my photography and as I haven’t got any light boxes or filters yet I rely on a piece of white sheet and my Mum holding it up in the window. Professional hey!!

I thought it might be useful, particularly if you are starting out photography like me to show you some of my different shots, with different setups and light.

This is the first photo I took of my soup and cheese straws. It’s actually not bad (but I’m no expert), and I think it shows good colour balance and contrast. The background that I chose works beautifully with the colour of the soup. Critics/professional photographers may argue the light isn’t quite right, but hey ho I’m a beginner! I definitely think as a beginner doing over head shots just works beautifully. I took this photograph with my ipad 2. That’s it. No changing of ISO, f.stops, shutter speed. I simply pointed my ipad and pressed the button.

Golden vegetable soup

So, for  the next photograph I made a few changes. I felt the soup looked too flat and bare so I added some oil, a sprinkle of cheese and a couple of basil leaves. Plus introduced the spoon!! After all what use is soup without a spoon. I like the way the rear plate isn’t completely in the shot either.

Golden vegetable soup

So, my final image was edited in Instagram, which is not actually the right way to do it but I think it slightly improved what I had to start with. I am part of a Food Photography Club and I was told that my white balance was wrong. My plate looked blue. So, although my composition has improved, I need to look at my post production. In some ways when you are an amateur you don’t actually know what you are missing, or what you should be looking for. Here it is anyway, and my recipe for the soup and cheese straws.

Golden vegetable soup and cheese straws

Golden Vegetable Soup

This is a one pan wonder and is packed with no less than 5 vegetables, plus red lentils.

You will need –

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

2 sticks of celery, washed and chopped

1 small sweet potato (or half if they are super big!), peeled  and diced

Butternut squash, around 100-150g, peeled and diced

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

150g red lentils, rinsed

700ml water

Plenty of ground black pepper and salt to taste

Chopped vegetables

Warm a tablespoon of oil (of your choice) in a large saucepan. Add all the chopped vegetables, including the garlic plus around 100ml cold water and seasoning. Let the vegetables saute in the water and oil for around 15 mins until they are soft. Then add the rinsed lentils, the 700ml of water and bring to a gentle simmer. The lentils need hardly any cooking so 20 mins on a low simmer will be fine. The beauty of this soup is that if you don’t have all the ingredients, such as no sweet potato then it will still work.

Once all the vegetables and lentils are cooked through blend with a stick blender, serve piping hot with my delicious cheese straws. This is a great standby snack, using ingredients you may have in your fridge or freezer.

What you will need –

1 pack of ready roll puff pastry (much quicker if you have this but a unrolled pack is fine)

Grated cheese (anything you like will work, or even a mix. They would be nice with grated parmesan)

1 beaten egg

Sprinkle of chill powder if you like things hot!

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees celcius and line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

Lay out the puff pastry, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle generously with your cheese. Like this –

Cheese straws ready for the oven

Next cut your pastry into thin strips, about 1-2cm depending on how many you want or how big you want them to be. I made mine quite wide –

Cheese straws ready for the oven

Then pop them into the hot oven for 12 mins, but keep an eye on them as they will easily burn. Then voila, tasty cheese straws. They couldn’t be easier, could they? Serve them with your soup, or just have them as a snack. All 16 of mine have gone already!!!

Cheese straws

Happy cooking, see you all soon.

Laura xx

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