Shooting Soup with Glorious Foods

What better way to challenge someone’s food photography skills than to set them the soup shooting challenge?

That’s what I thought.

I’m hosting a ‘Blogtography’ workshop with my lovely friend Aoife from Sweetpeas and Sours this week. I’m going to be sharing some food styling and photography tips, and Aoife is going to be wowing the crowds with her cocktail concoctions. If it doesn’t rain, it will be a good evening. (Even if it does rain, it will still be a good evening. I’m going equipped with five umbrellas so as to ward off the bad weather).

We are going to have a pot-luck picnic and we’ve got lots of props and goodies to make it extra special. I am hoping everyone will be inspired to keep working on their food photography, so I’m inviting them to take the shooting soup photography challenge. How exciting, hey?!

The good people at GLORIOUS! kindly offered their support and sent me some soup to shoot and share.

What started off as an innocent exercise in photography ended up being some kind of crazy flavourful adventure of sight and smell, and memory!

I find it quite special how a smell can suddenly evoke such vivid memories and take you, in a snap, to another place and time.

Sometimes there will be a waft of my grandmother’s pantry just hit me and take me back to being six years old and feeling most impressed that there were foil wrapped biscuits in the Tupperware tub that also housed the normal biscuits.

Imperial Leather soap makes me think of my grandparents bathroom. The cool air. The fluffy pink toilet seat cover. The pale pink painted chair.

Last year I ordered a sweet curry in a Brick Lane restaurant and as I lifted the lid from the dish I was hit by the smell of warm sweet spices and instantly transported to the kitchen of Sophie Behagg’s grandmothers house. I was shocked. I’d never known what the smell was, it just was. I used to love going there to play, dressing up and pretending to run our many important businesses from the conservatory.

The smell of popcorn at the cinema reminds me of our dear little cat Winnie-Pearl, her tiny paws smelt a lot like popcorn, and a little bit like old slippers!

And, the taste of olives reminds me of my childhood best-horse-friend, Rainbow. For years I thought olives tasted like horses, until one day it dawned on me – Rainbow smelt of olives! What a revelation that was. Poor old chap had olive oil in his feed to help his tired joints. He was a lovely creature.

Reading the descriptive labels of the GLORIOUS! soups made me inquisitive. Not only did I want to taste them, but I wanted to smell them! (Oh, and, of course, photograph them).

So, yes, the soup. That’s what we are here for!

New England in Autumn – A light and smooth butternut squash soup with a hint of warming cumin and strolling under a colourful tree canopy.

How can you resist that description? Unless you have an allergy to butternut squash of course (and then, I can tell you, you’ll still give it a little go!) Such a vibrant colour, with a thick potatoey body and a hint of nutmeg. Spicy, a definite autumn/winter warmer, and ideal for the summer we are having!

More Bangalore – A rich Toor Daal lentil and chickpea soup with garam masala, curry leaves, mango chutney and being head to toe in a carnival of vibrant colour.

Oh yes, that fantastic colour. It made me think of spice markets. You can taste the carrots and coriander, the blended chickpeas and lentils create a smooth creamy texture. A simple staple food with a slight sweet tang of mango chutney.

My brother lived in India for a while. The spicy warm scent made me think of our own visit to stay with him in Delhi. The bustling streets, the spices, the sweets, the colourful beads and vibrant fabrics, my brother’s ‘move like water’ theory that made it easier to move against the ebb and flow of the crowds, and monkeys riding pillion on motorcycles.

Another world full of delights. What a wonderful, wonderful place.

I had the best ever rice pudding in India. Ever, ever, EVER. Don’t doubt me! Up in the mountains at Neemrana Fort Palace, with the warm sun and gentle breeze on my face, I can close my eyes and be there. If only I could open my eyes to that magical rice pudding.

Sun-Kissed in Sicily – a rustic pomodoro tomato and balsamic soup with roast garlic, fennel and a splash of watching the surf crash on black volcanic beaches.

Tomato soup always reminds me of alphabetti-spaghetti and indigestion. I’m still not hugely convinced by tomato soups, but this one is herby and garlicy, and that gives it much redemption in my eyes.

I never used to like tomatoes, but now I love them. Just the other week I was enjoying the most delcious but simple tomato salad at Crafthouse, and before that I was at the Bellavita Awards tasting the freshest and best of Italian foods, including a marvellous velvety passata (and all the cheese!) Aoife gave me some tomato plants and I am still hoping those little green fruits will go red soon, and that the chickens won’t see them before I do.

When it comes down to it I really think it’s all in the colour and composition. Soup is pretty flat, so what are you going to do about it? All we have is colour and props. (A lot of fun can be had matching your cutlery to your soup!)

There’s not much diversity in form, or texture to offer you an idea of what the soup tastes like, most other foods evoke bigger memories and associations, so we have to try a bit harder to find ways to tell a visual story about the flavour and the experience.

To help me do that I have all sorts of random props floating around the place, I love cooking and styling food, and I also collect vintage recipe books which are great for inspiration (and comedy value – check out this teatime treat for your Valentine!)

It’s not easy shooting soup, but with the help of GLORIOUS! I proved pretty good at eating it.

I’m going to be challenging the blogtographers to shoot soup and join me on a glorious adventure – do you want to join us?

Thank you to GLORIOUS! Foods for supporting the blogtography workshop and inviting everyone to get involved and share their
It’s been souper! (I know, I’m not even funny, I’m sorry, I’ve ruined everything!)