Winter Warming Soups
Homemade soup made with nutrient dense foods improves your health and mood in the colder months, and it helps ward away colds. What I love about a homemade soup is that you can really get creative and blend flavours together to make something simple and delicious. It’s great to have a flask of soup ready in the fridge, to take to work with you or if you are a homeworker like me to have at midday – served with a slice of warm toast or a hunk of chunky bread in the winter to keep you nice, warm and healthy. Here are few few of my favourite winter soups, they will warm the cockles of your heart.
I was listening to the radio the other day and the presenter said that Pumpkin soup is horrible unless you mix all kinds of other things with it. I disagree with this – a simple pumpkin soup seasoned well with salt, pepper, fresh ginger and garlic makes a super lunch. In Kenya pumpkin is used to make soups or as a side dish. It can be chopped into chunks and cooked then added to lightly fried, seasoned onions and tomatoes or cooked along with its leaves (or Swiss chard), mashed and mixed with roasted, ground cashew nuts, salt, pepper and curry powder.
Here is a quick recipe for a soft and silky textured soup.
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1kg pumpkin, washed, peeled, coarsley chopped
1 fresh carrot, peeled and coarsley chopped1 potato, peeled and coarsly chopped.700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock5 garlic cloves, peeped and finely choppeda little fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped.1 tsp cumin1 tsp coriander1/2 tsp cinnamon1 tsp crushed cardamon seeds
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes. Add 1kg peeled, deseeded and chopped pumpkin with the potato and carrot to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
Now add the spices and salt and pepper.
Pour the vegetable stock into the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the vegetables are very soft. Allow the soup to boil and then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can now push the soup through a fine sieve into another pan. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.
As a topping you could add a handful of pumpkin seeds to a pan or roasting tray, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. They taste lovely with a sprinkling of salt or for an added kick try a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of sugar and some salt. Scatter these onto the soup before you serve it with a swirl of natural yogurt or creme fraiche.
If you are feeding a crowd you can’t go wrong with a Minestrone soup. Filled with hearty fresh vegetables, herbs and pasta and served with a sprinkling of cheese and a shot of chilli sauce it makes a delicious dinner! There are all kinds of variations of this soup and it can be tweaked according to what veggies you have in the house. The recipe below is from the BBC Good Food website, one of my favourite sites.
3 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil2 garlic clove, crushed
2 large potatoes, diced, cut into small dice
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 litres vegetable stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can cannellini beans
140g spaghetti, snapped into short lengths
crusty bread, to serve
- Chop the carrots, onion and celery into small pieces. Heat the oil in a pan, add the vegetables, garlic and potatoes, then cook over a high heat for 5 mins until softened.
- Stir in the tomato purée, stock and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 mins.
- Tip in the beans and pasta, then cook for a further 10 mins. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.
Leeks, onions and garlic are a members of the allium family. Leeks have a distinct flavour which is quite harsh when raw (only very young leeks are eaten this way). But when you cook them you get a very delicate, mildly sweet flavour.
Two of the world’s most famous soups, Scotland’s Cock-a-Leekie and France’s Crème Vichyssoise, are based on leeks.
Leek and Potato Soup
This is a friendly, hearty soup great to eat after a long walk. It’s super easy to make too. It has a thick, velvet quality to it – be sure to cook the leeks the Welsh way – that is – use all of the leek. Do not discard the green bits – trim off the ends and throw in the lot. To save time you can also use the potatoes with their peel on – just give them a good scrub!
1 or 2 large baking potatoes or 375g floury potatoes
2 large tbsp butter
450g trimmed leeks (about 3 medium)
1 litre light chicken or vegetable stock, or water
4 tbsp sour cream, to serve
4 tbsp chopped chives, to serve
Heat the oven to 200C (400F) fan. Prick the potato several times with a skewer, then bake for about an hour and a quarter until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat. Rinse the leeks, then roughly chop. Fry with a pinch of salt until soft and silky, then scoop out a couple of spoonfuls and set aside.
Cut the potato into cubes, skin and all. Add to the pan and saute for another couple of minutes, then add the stock or water. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, then puree. Season to taste, then stir in the reserved leeks. Divide between bowls and top with a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.
Beetroot – Superfood
Beetroot has always been around. Many of us are used to finding it in a jar soaked in vinegar. But now more and more people are using it raw, cooking or juicing it, even baking with it for its health benefits.
Beetroot is a powerful detoxifier and blood purifier. Coupled with this it is a cleanser especially for the liver, kidneys, intestines and gall bladder. Beetroot’s deep ruby red colour comes from beta-cyanin which has anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties. These protect the cells against free radical damage.
More benefits of beetroot are that it is a rich source of natural sugars and contains a high amount of fibre. This helps digestion, and aids the absorption of food. The slowing down of the absorption of digestible carbohydrates into the blood supplies the body with a steady stream of energy and stimulates the circulatory system.
Roasted Beetroot and Cannelini Bean Soup
400g raw beetroot
150g potato, cubed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
750 ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin Butterbeans
1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced plus zest
Black Pepper (to taste)
4-6 tablespoons coconut milk (to taste)
Place the beetroot and potato in separate oven trays and roast for around an hour at 180C.
Place onion and garlic into a pan and steam fry for around 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add the stock to the pan with the canellini beans and cook for around 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Take the cooled beetroots and peel the skin off, chop and place in a blender with the potatoes, bean and stock mix, lemon juice, orange juice plus zest, coconut milk, salt and black pepper to taste.
Blend until smooth.
At this point you can either place in a saucepan and heat through again and serve immediately with a yogurt garnish sprinkled with pumpkin seeds or roughly chopped Pistachio nuts for texture and bread of your choice.
You can place it into the fridge to consume within the next couple of days. This recipe will also freeze well for up to 2 months.
Roasted Beetroot and Potato soup
Another recipe using beetroot that I have found is for a Roasted Beetroot and Potato soup from Deliciously Ellas’ blog. It is definitely one to try! I absolutely love it. It is sweet and creamy with subtle hints of coconut and cumin, and a little hint of spice from the chilli. The colour is beautiful and when I made it my son (who to my knowledge has never eaten beetroot in his life) was so intrigued that he had some and loved it. So much so that there was not left much for me at all!
It has taken me a while to get to like butternut squash. But I am converted. It makes a lovely cake …. I have used it in Carrot and Butternut Squash Passion Cupcakes and Autumn Apple and Butternut Treat and it looks beautiful in a number of Vegetarian dishes especially in these Butternut squash, spinach and goat’s cheese tarts. It is very similar to pumpkin – I find the least labour intensive way to cook it is to chop it into pieces (skin and all) and roast it and then remove the skins. Butternut Squash is low in fat and high in vitamins. It is also very popular in the United States so I include this recipe for my American followers!
Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
3 tbsps butter
500g butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 apple, chopped
3 tbsps flour
1 tsp curry powder
pinch of nutmeg
750 ml chicken stock
400 mls milk
juice and rind of 1 orange
pinch of sugar
seasoning, cream and chopped parsley
- Soften the onions in the butter, add the squash and apple
- Remove from the heat and add the flour, curry powder and nutmeg. Add the stock, milk, orange juice and grated rind.
- Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Blend the soup, then add the sugar and seasoning.
- Serve with a swirl of cream and parsley.