I LOVE SOUP!
One of the benefits of this cold weather is that it means we can now tuck into one of my favourite meals - Soup!
Soups are great because it's easy to drink if you are on the go, you can cram in loads of veggies, vitamins and minerals, it warms you up and soup is delicious!
The other great thing about soup is that it's so versatile. Just about anything can go into a soup, and with a bit of tinkering with the right herbs & spices, you can make a cracking concoction.
Soup can also be made in huge batches and frozen, so if, like me you struggle with time then it's a great meal to have tucked away in the freezer for when you need something but don't have the time to get the chopping board out.
Soup makers are relatively inexpensive, however you don't need one. Essentially all you need is a sharp knife, and chopping board and
Spiced lentil & butternut squash soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ tsp hot chilli powder
1 tbsp ras el hanout
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
100g red lentils
1l hot vegetable stock
1 small bunch coriander, leaves chopped, plus extra to serve
dukkah (see tip) and natural yogurt, to serve
Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or saucepan over a medium-high heat. Fry the onions with a pinch of salt for 7 mins, or until softened and just caramelised. Add the garlic, chilli and ras el hanout, and cook for 1 min more.
Stir in the squash and lentils. Pour over the stock and season to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 mins or until the squash is soft. Blitz the soup with a stick blender until smooth, then season to taste. To freeze, leave to cool completely and transfer to large freezerproof bags.
Stir in the coriander leaves and ladle the soup into bowls. Serve topped with the dukkah, yogurt and extra coriander leaves.
Mushroom & potato soup
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
20g dried porcini mushrooms
3 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
300g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
300g potato, finely diced
2 tsp fresh thyme
4 carrots, finely diced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
8 tbsp bio yogurt
55g walnut pieces
Heat the oil in a large pan. Tip in the onions and fry for 10 mins until golden. Meanwhile, pour 1.2 litres boiling water over the dried mushrooms and stir in the bouillon.
Add the fresh mushrooms and garlic to the pan with the potatoes, thyme and carrots, and continue to fry until the mushrooms soften and start to brown.
Pour in the dried mushrooms and stock, cover the pan and leave to simmer for 20 mins. Stir in the parsley and plenty of pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve each portion topped with 2 tbsp yogurt and a quarter of the walnuts. The rest can be chilled and reheated the next day.
Herby broccoli & pea soup
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
400g broccoli, chopped into small florets
300g frozen peas
200g chard, chopped
1l low-salt veg stock
½ small bunch of basil, chopped
small bunch of dill, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry for 8 mins until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Tip in the broccoli, peas and chard, then pour over the stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 mins.
Stir through the herbs, lemon zest and juice, then blitz the soup with a stick blender until completely smooth. Ladle into bowls and serve with the toasted pumpkin seeds scattered over the top.
Curried lentil, parsnip & apple soup
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp medium curry paste
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
500g parsnips (around 5 medium parsnips), peeled and cut into chunks
140g dried red lentils
2 Bramley apples(about 400g), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1½ l vegetable or chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
natural yogurt, to serve (optional)
chopped coriander, to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the curry paste and onions together over a medium heat for 3 mins, stirring. Add the parsnips, lentils and apple pieces. Pour over the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat slightly and cook for 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are very soft and the lentils mushy.
Remove from the heat and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. (Or leave to cool for a few minutes, then blend in a food processor.) Adjust the seasoning to taste. Heat through gently, then ladle into deep bowls. Serve with natural yogurt and garnish with fresh coriander, if you like