Tomato and Mascarpone Soup

Mutti Passata low res

Serves 3

Soups are a Godsend for vegetarians because they offer such a range of different flavours, textures and colours and, usually, they are healthy too.

Tomato with mascarpone is a classic flavour combination. I add sun dried tomatoes to my recipe to make this soup quite luxurious.

2 tablespoons of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely diced
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
700g passata
2 tablespoons tomato puree
4 to 6 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
125g mascarpone

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano and give everything a good stir. Cover and sweat on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Stir in the passata, tomato puree, sun dried tomatoes and stock. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, approx. 20 to 30 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly then puree with a stick blender. If you want a very smooth soup you can pass it through a sieve it but I prefer not to as I like some texture in it. Gently reheat the soup and whisk in the mascarpone until it is completely melted in and incorporated. Check the seasoning and serve.

The cooked soup can be chilled and stored in the fridge until needed.

Indian Vegetable Soup

Indian Vegetable Soup lr

Serves 4 as a hearty lunch

This is a very satisfying and highly flavoured soup, another one for the slow cooker. What’s more, no pre-cooking is required so it is very quick and easy to prepare.

3 carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
3 large celery sticks, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 to 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
130g split red lentils, rinsed thoroughly under running water
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
1 ½ litres of chicken stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 165g jar of korma curry paste (I use Pataks)
4 bay leaves
Salt (optional)

Place all of the ingredients except for the salt into a slow cooker. Give them a good stir, then cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Taste to check the seasoning. Add a pinch of salt if it needs it. It may not, given that the tomatoes, stock cubes and curry paste already contain salt.

This soup likes to be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a day or two.

Celery and Stilton Soup

Celery

Serves 2 to 3

This classic vegetarian soup is strong and rich and – here’s a bonus – dead easy to prepare.

45g butter
5 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
45g flour
700ml vegetable stock
300ml milk
Salt (not too much as the butter, stock and stilton are all salty too)
Ground black pepper
200g to 250g stilton, crumbled

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and when it is foaming add the celery. Sauté until softening, approx. 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and slowly stir in the stock and milk. Return to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the celery is soft, approx. 15 minutes.

Once the celery is soft, take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for 10 minutes. Use a stick blender to blitz the soup to a smooth, creamy consistency.

Return the pan to a gentle heat and stir in the crumbled stilton. Keep stirring until all the stilton has melted and been incorporated into the soup. Check the seasoning.

At this stage the soup can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

Carrot and Cumin Soup

Carrot and Cumin Soup LR

Serves 6

This is a quick but delicious vegetarian soup that I like to have for lunch on its own or for dinner with lots of crusty bread and butter. There are some classic flavour combinations that have stood the test of time and carrot and cumin is one of them. If you haven’t tried it before, what are you waiting for?

3 tablespoons butter
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 to 4 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
6 to 8 carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
Salt
Pepper
2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 litre vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Cover and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat. Stir in the cumin and chillies and allow the spices to cook off for one minute. Add the stock, bring it to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

Leave the soup to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender. Bring it back to a simmer and you are ready to go.

This soup can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

Lamb and Vegetable Soup in a Slow Cooker

Lamb shanks lr

Serves 4 as a main course

This is a hearty and filling main course soup, and thanks to the spicing, works well in summer or winter. Lamb shanks are quite bulky so this is where my large 6.5 litre slow cooker comes into its own. If you have a smaller slow cooker you will need to reduce the portions.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks
3 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
Spice mix made with 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground black pepper and a pinch of salt
1 litre beef stock (I make it with 2 Oxo cubes)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
5 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
2 large sweet peppers, deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces
2 large red chillies, deseeded and finely diced
2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and finely sliced

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the lamb shanks all over, removing them to the bowl of your slow cooker once done. You will need to brown the shanks in two batches to avoid over-crowding the pan.

Add the onions to the pan and sauté until softened, approx. 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for another minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch.

Pour in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add all of the vegetables and return to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.

When the time is up remove the lamb shanks and strip the meat from the bones, shredding it with two forks and removing any fat or gristle. Return the meat to the slow cooker. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Cook for another hour on low then, before serving, skim any excess oil that has risen to the surface.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup with Ginger, Garlic and Chilli

root-veggies

Serves 4 to 6

This is a hearty soup that you can enjoy year round. The root vegetables are warming in winter and the spices cooling in summer. Have friends around for lunch and share the soup with lots of crusty bread.

This soup is vegetarian.

1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons of tomato puree, slackened in a little water
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Ground black pepper
2 further tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
3 dried chillies
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
400ml whole milk

Place the vegetables in a large roasting tin and stir in the tomato puree, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and coloured. This will take about 30 minutes or so.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add the minced garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds then tip the roasted vegetables into the pan and stir well. Add the stock, chillies and vinegar, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are completely soft.

Allow the soup to cool slightly then blitz with a stick blender until you have a fairly smooth puree. Pour in the milk and stir in some additional hot water if the mixture looks too thick. Bring to a good simmer, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Home-style Tomato Soup

tomatoes

Serves 2 for a main course/lunch or 4 as a starter

Simple to prepare and soft to eat, this is great for anyone who loves tomato soup. Doesn’t everyone?

You’ll see there is a lot of black pepper in this recipe. I think tomato soup and black pepper is a match made in heaven but ease back on the pepper if you’re not such a fan.

For a vegetarian version, just replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 large celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
500g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons sugar
500ml chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
500ml milk

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and sauté for 5 minutes until the vegetables are softening and starting to colour. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, stock, thyme, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently until everything is very soft, approx. 30 minutes.

Let the mixture cool slightly then blend until smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor. Press through a sieve to remove the tomato skins and pips. Wipe out the saucepan and return the sieved soup to it. Stir in the milk and bring to the gentlest of simmers. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Corn Chowder

Corn chowder lr

Serves 2

This soup depends on you using a great stock. I make it using my own home-made vegetable stock which is packed full of rich flavour. The result is a soup that is full of natural sweetness.

This soup is vegetarian. If you replace the butter with oil, it will be vegan too.

1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small dice
1 tablespoon flour
750 ml home-made vegetable stock, heated
280g tinned sweetcorn, drained (or use frozen sweetcorn)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground black pepper
A large pinch dried chilli flakes
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes have taken on some colour and started to soften, approx. 5 more minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir fry for 1 minute.

Gradually add the hot stock, stirring well. Add all of the other ingredients, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Check the seasoning and serve.

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock lr

This recipe will give you a rich and naturally sweet vegetable stock that adds stacks of flavour to sauces, soups and casseroles. It is vegetarian and vegan.

You can cook this stock on the hob or in a slow cooker. I prefer to make it in a slow cooker. Vegetables tend to break down less in a slow cooker than when simmered on a hob, so using a slow cooker gives a clearer stock without compromising on flavour.

I use a 6.5 litre slow cooker. If you are using a different sized cooker, simply adjust the proportions of the recipe.

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 large celery sticks (with tops), roughly chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 largish tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
A pinch of salt
A small pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 ½ litres water

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Once the cooking time is up, sieve the stock into a clean pan and discard the solids. Boil the stock rapidly until it is reduced to 750 ml. The stock can be used immediately or stored in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Vegetable Soup with Puy Lentils and Paprika

Sweet peppers

Serves 4 as a lunch or main course

This soup is quite rich with warming spices of paprika, smoked paprika and chilli. It is packed full of goodness and makes a perfect lunch or dinner main course.

It is vegetarian and vegan, as long as the stock is vegan.

250g Puy lentils, washed and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery sticks, diced
4 sweet peppers, various colours, deseeded and diced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 rounded tablespoons paprika
1 rounded tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
1 ½ litres vegetable stock
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Bring a large pan of unsalted water to a boil, add the lentils and simmer for 35 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Cook the onion gently for 5 minutes then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, celery and peppers and season generously with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down low, cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes.

Stir in the paprika, smoked paprika, thyme and chilli flakes, then add the tomatoes, stock and vinegar. Add the cooked lentils. Stir well, bring to a gentle simmer and cook covered for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning and serve piping hot.