Ribollita, laksa, chowder – the soups we most love, certainly over the past 15 years – are chunky, wholesome meals in bowls. Lunch at your desk no longer has to be a sandwich – cold from the chiller-cabinet – but a take-away tub of steaming warmth; a homely comfort in the middle of the working day.
These creations are true to soup’s origins. The basic dish evolved as soon as we discovered boiling as a cooking method. Cooking grains, vegetables and – eventually – meats in a pot of simmering water? It’s one of the most obvious meals you could make.
But there is another variety. A recent visit to a French restaurant reminded me how exquisite a small bowl of rich soup – made with intensely flavoured stock, vegetables sweated in butter, the whole thing puréed to a mouth-filling cream – can be.