For me, as the weather becomes cooler and moves into autumn, my appetite makes a parallel shift towards warm, comforting food like soup. As soon as the evenings begin to draw in the soup pan comes out and all manner of soupy delights are concocted in our kitchen.
The first soup recipe I really fell for was a delightfully simple Minestrone by Antonio Carluccio. It is the kind of straightforward, one-pot dish that people have cooked for generations. It is easy peasy to make and reaches levels of sublime deliciousness which are absolutely disproportionate to the effort involved in its preparation. It is this recipe that still forms the basis of most forays into soup creation that occur in my house.
Firstly, many recipes suggest the addition of pasta or beans to the pot but I would generally choose barley in preference to either of these, especially if I am going to be heating up the leftovers the next day. Barley is ridiculously cheap and gloriously filling and wholesome. It also holds together brilliantly if you are planning to eat your soup over a couple of meals.
Secondly, I would invest in some good quality bay leaves. Their addition will be the making of any soup. The ones I am currently using were picked for me by my friends Java and Jon from the banks of a river in the South of France. Unsurprisingly they smell and taste divine!