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It’s so good to pull out the soup pot when those icy blasts announce there’s a change in the weather. Good carbs and good soup are joined at the hip and without the good carbs there’s no good soup, it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing like a hearty veg soup that’s a meal in a bowl. In the GI cookbooks we have published with Hachette Australia – The Low GI Family Cookbook and The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook – you’ll find numerous hearty soups. A favourite with GI News readers is Anneka Manning’s Chicken and Pumpkin Soup. However, Monday Morning Cooking Club’s Chicken and Barley Soup is hard to beat when you want a serious winter warmer.

Chicken and Barley Soup

Soups like these start with the magical mirepoix and its key ingredients: onion, carrot and celery. Carrots and celery are easy. But which onion? Here are Kate McGhie’s tips on which onion to use where.

Dry onions

The good pantry staples are brown onions. These have the longest storage life, the most pungent flavour and the longer you cook them the sweeter and milder they become.
Super-crisp white onions have a sharp strong taste making them ideal in chutney, stir-fries and spicy dishes.

  • Red onions are milder and sweeter than brown, which is why you can eat them raw. Often added for a splash of colour in salads, or gently sautéed as a base for soups or stews.
  • Pickling onions are the small brown onions that are ideal for dropping whole into stews or casseroles and of course for pickling.
  • Shallots are good raw for crunch, and gently cooked for mellow sweetness. Browning makes them bitter.

Fresh onions

  • Spring onions (scallions, or shallots, green onions or eschalots) are mild immature onions with long green hollow fleshy tops. They are most often used raw, but can be lightly cooked or pan-fried as a garnish.
  • Salad onions (sweet onions) with long fleshy green tops and a golf-ball sized white bulb are mature spring onions. They have a stronger flavour than the juvenile version and can be used raw or cooked