Tag Archives: soup

Leek and butter bean soup with crispy kale and bacon.

This is a lovely soup. What I also love about it is that you can leave the bacon off and it instantly becomes veggie/vegan. It’s stuffed full of probiotic-friendly leeks. It’s from the BBC Good Food magazine.

You need

4 tsp olive oil

500g leeks sliced

4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

2 x 400g cans butter beans

500ml vegetable stock (or chicken if you like)

2 tsp wholegrain mustard

half a small packet of flat leaf parsley

3 rashers of streaky bacon

40g chopped kale, stems removed

25g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

You do

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan, add the leeks, thyme and seasoning and  cover and cook over a low heat for 15 mins until soft, adding a splash of water if need be – don’t let the leeks stick.

Add the butter beans with the liquid from the cans, the stock and mustard. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 mins until hot. Blend with a stick blender in the pan (or put in a blender). Stir through parsley, check seasoning.

Put bacon in a large frying pan, medium heat. Cook until crispy, set aside to cool. Add the remaining 1 tsp oil to the pan and tip in the kale and hazelnuts. Cook for a few minutes, stirring under the kale is wilted and crisping at the edge and the nuts toasted. Cut the bacon into small pieces and stir into the kale/nuts.

Reheat the soup, adding a bit of water if too thick (or have both operations going on at once) and sprinkle the bacon/nuts/kale on top.

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Chorizo and red lentil soup, just what you need for a cold winter’s day

Beautiful, delicious, simple.

This soup recipe is adapted from one in the excellent Donna Hay’s Fresh, Fast, Simple. It doesn’t look like much and the first time I made it I thought “oh dear” when I saw it but then I tasted it and belies its meagre ingredients. I eat it with a poached egg in it, which I poach separately and pop into the soup just before serving, just for a little extra protein sustenance.

  1. 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  2. One finely chopped onion
  3. Some chorizo, up to you how much, I use about so much (6″ of a small circumference chorizo) and I slice it and then half the slices so you end up with half moons.
  4. A few sprigs of thyme leaves
  5. 150g red lentils
  6. 1.25L of chicken of vegetable stock, stock cubes are fine. I use Kallo Organic
  7. Sea salt and pepper

Heat  the oil in the saucepan and add the onion and chorizo. Fry gently until the onion is soft. Now add the thyme (I add the whole stalk and the leaves come off and then I fish out the stalks at the end, do pick off the leaves if you want to), lentils and stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

That’s it. The lentils should have started to break down. Taste it and see if it needs salt and pepper, it may do depending on how salty your stock was.

This serves about four people.

With poached egg in. It sounds weird but I promise it works. Unless of course you don’t like eggs.

Minestrone

Minestrone with broken up spaghetti and small bits of ‘pastina’

It’s mid June as I write this. In Italy, where my mother is from, it’s nearly 30C. Here, in Suffolk, it’s 12C.

And everybody’s complaining about it.

So today, I decided to make some minestrone. Minestrone is peasant food. You’d make it out of the bits ‘n’ bobs of vegetables you had left over. As such, there are many different versions. This is the beauty of it really, which is that you can add more or less whatever veg you have. Use bits of broken pasta that you can’t use for anything else, etc.

My mother makes an amazing minestrone, but she makes it using frozen veg. Which is quite inspired really when you consider that she lives in central London now, not on the edge of a vegetable patch. And the frozen veg is really fresh and delicious. I used to hate her minestrone (sorry Mamma, although the likelihood of you reading this is as high as the Vatican ever admitting it is wrong about anything) and the one and only time I was sent to bed without my dinner was when I, one evening, refused to eat it. I thought – and still think – this was quite harsh considering that I used to eat almost everything else. Including chickens’ feet and chickens’ stomach and tripe and brains. I mean, come on! Give me a break.

Anyway, I love it now and this is how I make it. I’d love to say this is a recipe passed down from my Nonna, but nope, I got it from Waitrose.

2tbsp olive oil
140g pancetta, cut up; or cut up bits of bacon (entirely optional, but makes it nice)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, you guessed it, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced or chopped, go crazy
1 medium potato, peeled and guess what? diced
2 medium courgettes, diced
400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 large sprig of basil
Parmesan rind (save them for this)
salt and pepper (but not salt if you use the parmesan rind)
410g borlotti beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
50g your chosen pasta, nothing too thick, I love broken up spaghetti

You can prepare each veg as you go along.

Put the oil in a large saucepan and then add the pancetta/bacon. Once it’s beginning to colour, add the onion and cook gently until soft. Fry until soft.

Add the carrot, then the celery, then the garlic, then the potato, then the courgette. At each stage add the veg and let it cook for a minute or two.

Give the courgettes a couple of minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes. Fill the now empty tin with water, twice, and add to the minestrone. Now add the basil (if you don’t have it, don’t stress). Add parmesan rind and some pepper. If you don’t have the parmesan rind then add salt too.

Bring to boil, lower to simmer. With lid off, simmer very gently for two hours. You can eat it after one hour but it’s so much nicer after two hours. Twenty mins before the end, add the beans if you want to use them (I’m not a mad fan of the beans, and prefer it without).

If you’re planning on eating the whole lot in one go, also put the pasta in now, otherwise you get a better result cooking the pasta separately and adding it when you eat the minestrone.

That’s it. I find this really therapeutic to make and deliciously wholesome to eat.