I CALL it the carrot and coriander soup conspiracy. You might as well serve it with a sign that reads, “Sorry, we ran out of ideas.” I understand the attraction. Carrots are cheap and sweet, so although they tick the healthy eating box, they still cater for our national sugar dependency.

Sweat them off with onion, add stock cubes or powder and water, blitz with sprigs of limp coriander. A few tasteless flecks of green creates the herby illusion.

But for me, carrot and coriander is beyond boring, overrated, like so many liquidised soups that might as well be baby food.

Ditto similar treatments of squash and sweet potatoes. I’m a devotee of soup with bits in it, tangible ingredients with contrasting textures and flavours, floating in a savoury stock. As autumn deepens into winter, especially this year, this is the sort of soup I crave. From now until spring, I’ll always have a pot on the go.

Traditional Scotch broth, Moroccan harira, Iberian fabada (bean) soups, minestrone, Chinese hot and sour, pea and ham, Turkish lentil and mint mercimek, cock-a-leekie – there’s a world of classic soups.

But while I might follow the spirit of a recipe, I’ll rarely follow the detail. My soup begins with what I have to hand, what odds and ends of vegetables I have, what needs used up, what’s left over.

I don’t feel the need to use stock cubes or powders. I can build up flavour without them. For a basic vegetable stock, I save up all my vegetable trimmings – potato skins, hairy heads of leek, fibrous fennel and celery tops, woody broccoli, cabbage, asparagus and cauliflower stems, overripe tomatoes, pea pods, limp courgettes, droopy carrots, ropey green beans, and more – and put them in a bag in the freezer.

When the bag is full, I simmer them up with water and any herbs that I have to hand: bay leaves are a favourite, as are parsley stems. What would have been kitchen waste becomes a surprisingly aromatic stock.

I never throw out water when I’ve cooked asparagus in it. Remarkably fragrant, it goes into the freezer en route to the stockpot. I hold on to every Parmesan rind that comes my way. Its deep umami savour is the vegetarian equivalent of a tasty bone. An all-veg, tomato-based soup has an X factor in the presence of Parmesan rind.

This leftovers principal applies equally to meat. Boil up the carcass of your roast chicken, pick off the surprisingly large amount of meat left on it, and it becomes a hearty soup with the addition of leek, parsley, and a thickening grain, such as rice, spelt, barley.

The remains of last night’s freekeh or cracked wheat can add heft too. It only takes two or three bacon rinds or some neglected lardons at the back of the fridge to flavour up a pot of leguminous soup. A few slices of smoky chorizo creates enough meaty richness to enliven tomato or potato soups.

Meat bones – lamb, beef, chicken (roasted off briefly to enhance the flavour), make the deepest flavoured stocks and soups. It’s astonishing just how much aroma and savour one marrow bone gives.

Other favourites are breast of lamb, boiling beef, ham hock, pork ribs, the latter simmered with root ginger and spring onions. Meat stock soups perform that miracle of improving the days go on. A traditional broth always tastes better on Day Two than on Day One.

Unlike blended soups, I’m unlikely to sweat the veg in oil or butter first; they all just go into the pot with the stock. Tomatoes are the exception: it helps them break down and surrender their colour to the stock.

Varied colours and textures are what makes broths so much more interesting to eat than the blended equivalent. Each mouthful is different. I favour a combination of chopping or grating in the food processor the hard vegetables, and later adding hand-chopped or thinly sliced softer ones, such as cavalo nero, pumpkin or marrow.

Last-minute additions, such as finely-chopped celery or parsley leaves, freshen things up. A drizzle of glossy olive oil enriches it. The beauty of broth is that you can use your instincts to transform whatever you have to hand into something nurturing and nutritious that feeds the stomach and the soul.

As a restorative and comforting prescription for dark nights, that’s hard to beat.