A Soup-er Solution

Article courtesy of Diabetes Magazine. (Diabetes.org.uk)

Unlike baking, where you need to follow a recipe, soup is very flexible. And It’s almost impossible to get it wrong. Here are the basics:

  • Stock
    If you don’t have any homemade, look for fresh or liquid versions, they’re usually tastier and less salty than stock cubes. Check the label for salt content and try and go for green traffic lightly as much as possible. If using shop-bought stock cubes, go for reduced or low-salt ones, or try diluting them.
  • The base
    This could be a chopped onion or a carrot and stick of celery. Chop and sauté in a little vegetable oil until soft.
  • The heart
    This could be one ingredient, like tomato, or complementary ingredients, such as pea and mint.
  • Flavouring
    Chilli, ginger and garlic will give an Asian flavour. Curry powder or paste and fresh coriander provide an Indian influence, a teaspoon of pesto gives an Italian twist, while a touch of harissa and a squeeze of lemon delivers Arabic essence.
  • Bulk and add protein
    Throw in a handful of red lentils with the stock to add fibre and thicken the soup. Or try tinned beans, chickpeas or lentils, or shredded leftover chicken. These ingredients are good for your health and won’t affect blood glucose levels too much.
  • Garnish
    Try a swirl of Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of toasted almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or freshly chopped chives or basil.

Roasted Parsnip, Garlic and Haricot Bean Soup with Sage

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Soup Broth Bread by Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Serves : 6

This is a supremely smooth and silky soup, topped with deliciously crisp fried sage leaves. The garlic cloves, when roasted in their skins, deliver a sweet but rounded depth of flavour. This is the perfect soup for a cold and blustery day.

Ingredients :

3 medium or 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
6 very large, whole unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 x 400g tin haricot beans
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped sage

To serve :

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Handful sage leaves

Method :

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC, 180oC fan, gas mark 6. Place the parsnip and onion chunks in a roasting tray with the whole unpeeled cloves of garlic. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss the vegetables, seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread them out to cover the base of the roasting tray and place in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and a little golden around the edges.
  2. Drain the tin of beans and tip all but a generous tablespoon of beans into the vegetables. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more.
  3. Take the tray out of the oven and tip the beans and vegetables and any juices into a saucepan with the hot stock. Add the chopped sage and blend until smooth. Season to taste.
  4. To serve, pour the hot soup into warm bowls. Put the olive oil into a small frying pan and allow to get hot. Add the sage leaves and fry for 10-15 seconds, until they turn a couple of shades darker and become fragrant. Spoon the sage-flavoured oil and the crispy sage leaves over the soup with the reserved beans, and enjoy.

Cauliflower, Cashew and Coriander Soup

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Soup Broth Bread by Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Soul food – A humble bowl of soup is always a comfort, whether nursing a cold or a broken heart.

Serves : 6

This smooth and creamy golden bowl of goodness gets its silky texture from cashew nuts and its soothing anti-inflammatory qualities from the yellow turmeric. Serve on its own, or with toasted cashews scattered over the top.

Ingredients :

1 cauliflower head
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
100g cashews
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A few good pinches salt
1.1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp chopped coriander (leaves and fine stalks)

To serve :

20g cashews

Method :

  1. First, prepare the cauliflower. Remove and discard the outer green leaves, reserving any smaller ones close to the cauliflower, and cut off and discard the base of the stem. Cut the cauliflower into slices, then chop it all: florets, stalks and any remaining leaves.
  2. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the cauliflower, the chopped onion and garlic, the cashews and the turmeric. Season with the pepper and a few good pinches of salt (this soup needs careful seasoning, otherwise it can be bland).
  3. Cover the vegetables with the saucepan lid, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring from time to time, for 15-20 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, toast the cashews. Place them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toss them regularly for about 4 minutes, until golden. Roughly chop and set aside.
  5. Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to the boil, then blend well. Add the lemon juice, chopped coriander and more salt and pepper, if necessary. The soup should be smooth like velvet.
  6. Serve straight away or reheat, and scatter the toasted cashews on top.

Minestrone Soup

Recipe published in Psychologies Magazine (Spring 2021) and taken from The Shortcut Cook by Rosie Reynolds.

An Italian-inspired soup full of comforting goodness that can be made with whichever pasta you fancy. Broken-up spaghetti works a treat, with a generous glug of olive oil, Parmesan and garlic-rubbed toasts.

Serves : 4

Ingredients :

1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
100g smoked bacon, lardons or pancetta cubes
2 carrots
1 onion, peeled
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
400g tin good-quality chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp red or white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
100g kale, chopped
75g orzo pasta or small soup pasta
75g Parmesan or Cheddar, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat the olive oil and the bacon or lardons together in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Holding a box grater over the top of the pan, use the coarse side to grate in the carrots, onion and celery, then turn the grater and finely grate in the garlic. Increase the heat to high and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft.
  • Throw in the bay leaves, oregano and tinned tomatoes. Use the tomato tin to measure out 2 1/2 tinfuls of water and add to the soup, along with the vinegar. Stir in the kale and orzo, pushing them down with a spatula to submerge them in the liquid.
  • Bring to a simmer, then partially cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add a quarter of the grated Parmesan and stir in until melted – the soup should turn a creamy red colour and thicken slightly.
  • Season well with salt and pepper and leave to stand for a few minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve drizzled with olive oil and plenty of the remaining Parmesan.

Make ahead : You can cook this up to the point of stirring in the cheese and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

The shortcut : Grating instead of dicing will save you time. Stirring in the Parmesan thickens, and adds a slow-cooked taste and feel without the time deficit.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (August 2016)

Serves : 4

Tomato SoupIngredients :
1 tblsp ghee or coconut oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 tblsp tomato puree
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes or 800g fresh tomatoes chopped
1 x 400g tin of cannellini or butter beans, drained and rinsed
400ml bone broth or water
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper

To serve (optional) :
1 large handful fresh basil leaves, chopped, or pesto
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Method :

Bullet logo Melt the ghee in a large saucepan, add the onion and fry on a medium heat for 8 minutes, until softened.

Bullet logo Add garlic, carrots, tomato puree and a big pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for a further minutes.

Bullet logo Tip in the tomatoes and the drained beans, followed by the broth or water.  Turn up the heat, cover with a lid and cook at a medium simmer for 10 minutes until the carrots are tender.

Bullet logo Puree the soup until smooth in the pan using a hand-held stick blender, or in batches in a food processor, and then taste for seasoning, adding maple syrup (if using).  You can also add more broth to get the consistency you want.

Bullet logo Ladle into bowls.  Stir through the basil and drizzle the oil.

Cauliflower Soup with Curry-fried Apple

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (November 2018) and taken from 30-Minute Vegetarian: 100 Green Recipes to Prep in 30 Minutes or Less by Ylva Bergqvist

Cauliflower soupServes : 4

Ingredients :
Olive oil, for frying and to serve
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
800g cauliflower
200g cooked butter beans
500ml cashew or almond milk, unsweetened
300ml water
1 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Curry-fried apple
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
Olive oil, for frying
2 tsp curry powder
100g pumpkin seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Step One : Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat for around 5 minutes, until soft.

Step Two : Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower, cut them into smaller pieces and reserve them.  Cut the rest of the cauliflower into small pieces.

Step Three : Place the cauliflower, beans and nut milk in the saucepan.  Add water to cover the contents, put on the lid and cook for around 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely soft.

Step Four : To cook the apple, put the apple and reserved cauliflower leaves in a frying pan with a little olive oil, sprinkle over the curry powder and fry until soft.  Add the pumpkin seeds and ensure everything is warmed through.  Season with salt and pepper.

Step Five : Drain a little of the milk from the saucepan into a bowl.  Blend the soup until it is smooth.  Reintroduce the milk and/or water and dilute to your preferred consistency.  Season with the lemon juice and salt.

Step Six : Top the cauliflower soup with the fried apple and a drizzle of olive oil, to serve.

Thai-style Chicken Noodle Soup


Recipe courtesy of Easy Living.

Serves : 4

Preparation time : 10 mins

Cooking time : 20 mins

Chicken noodle soup

Ingredients :
175ml (24 fl oz) chicken stock
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 stalk lemon grass, thinly sliced
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
1 tblsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Grated zest of 1/2 a lime
3 skinless chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced
400g tin of coconut milk
2 tblsp Thai fish sauce
2 tblsp lime juice
1 tsp brown sugar
120g (4oz) fresh rice noodles
Coriander leaves, to serve

Step One : Combine the chicken stock, shallots, lemon grass, chillies, ginger, garlic and lime zest in a large saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Step Two : Add the chicken, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step Three : Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Step Four : Place the noodles in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water.  Separate the noodles, then drain.  Divide them between four deep bowls.

Step Five : Ladle soup over noodles and top with the coriander.  Serve with quartered limes, if desired.

Tip :  Add extra lime juice, sugar, Thai fish sauce or chilli according to your taste; it should have a good balance of sweet, sour and spice.









Comforting Tomato Soup

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (December 2015) and taken from At Home with Umami by Laura Santtini.

soupsServes : 4-6

Ingredients :
190g butter
1 medium white onion, diced
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1.5 litres tomato juice
2 tblsp sugar, to taste
2 chicken stock cubes
freshly ground black pepper
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped

Step One : Melt the butter in a large pot over a medium heat.  Once melted, add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato juice and sugar.  Stir to combine.

Step Two : Add the chicken stock cubes and some freshly ground black pepper and stir well.  Allow the soup to boil for 20-30 minutes.

Step Three : Turn off the heat and using a stick blender, blend the soup until it is completely smooth.  Stir in fresh herbs and serve.

Ginger Miso Sunshine Soup

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (December 2018) and taken from “Eat Happy” by Melissa Hemsley.

This bright soup spiked with ginger, turmeric, miso and lemon came about because Melissa had some carrots and half a squash to hand, but feel free to use one or the other.  Serve chunky or blended smooth.  The chive topping is also delicious on grilled fish or chicken and roasted veg.

Ginger Miso soupServes : 6

Ingredients :
1 tblsp coconut oil or ghee
2 large onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5cm piece of ginger, chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 large carrots, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into 2cm cubes
1.5 litres stock or water
2 tblsp miso (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper

Chive Topping :
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tblsp chives, chopped
4 tblsp sunflower seeds
4 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt

Step One : Melt the oil in a large, wide saucepan, add the onions and cook over a medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook for a further minute.

Step Two : Add the carrots and squash, followed by the stock.  Bring to a medium simmer, cover with lid and cook for 15-18 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Step Three : Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl.  Add the miso and lemon juice to another bowl with a few tablespoons of the hot liquid from the pan, and stir or whisk into a smooth paste.

Step Four : Remove the soup from the heat and stir through the miso paste.  Using a blender, or hand-held blender, blend the soup in batches, or leave chunky, if you prefer, and taste for seasoning – you can always add a little more miso, salt, pepper or lemon juice, if necessary.  Serve with the chive topping.

Hearty Italian Soup

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (December 2015) and taken from At Home with Umami by Laura Santtini.

soupsServes : 4-6

Ingredients :
75g pancetta, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 bay leaves
200g each fresh shiitake and chestnut mushrooms
small handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 250ml hot water
200g puy lentils
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 large glass (175ml) red wine
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 can chopped tomatoes, plus 1 can of water
2 chicken stock cubes dissolved in 1 litre of water
100g cavolo nero, shredded

Step One : Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, brown the pancetta, remove and set aside.  Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves, then cook over a low heat until the onion is soft and glassy, but not coloured.  Add the fresh mushrooms and stir well until they begin to soften.

Step Two : Remove the porcini and chop, reserving the soaking juice.  Return porcini to the pan with lentils; stir.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add pancetta, tomato puree, wine and soy sauce.

Step Three : Turn up the heat and, once the red wine has almost evaporated, pour in the reserved porcini mushroom liquid, taking care not to let the gritty bits fall into the pot.  Add the stock.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked but not too soft.  Stir in the cavolo nero, five minutes before the end of cooking.  Stir well, ladle into bowls and scatter over parsley and grated Pecorino cheese.