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Parsnip Soup

While my friends and family in Australia are trying to cope with heat rising above 40C, we’re snuggling together under blankets to keep warm.

We’re also trying to be healthier after the usual Christmas/New Year over-indulging, and soup continues to be an easy way to get Nicholas to eat a variety of vegetables (even if sometimes he HAS to drink it through a straw!).

Parsnip SoupPARSNIP SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, parsnips and carrots cook for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Add the garam masala and a little salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the parsnips and carrots are soft.

Take off the heat, toss in the parsley and purée until smooth (either in a food processor or using a hand blender). Check if you need to add any seasoning.

If the soup is too thick after puréeing, stir through some milk (or coconut milk).

Variations:

  • For a curried parsnip soup, replace the garam masala with curry powder
  • Add some grated ginger with the garlic for a little more zing

What dishes to you and your family eat to feel warm?

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Carrot and coriander soup

You can’t beat carrot and coriander soup. It’s simple, yummy, filling and cheap. My recipe isn’t very different to most you can find, but this is one recipe not worth experimenting with!

carrot and coriander soup

CARROT AND CORIANDER SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
500g carrots, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots, and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.

Add the ground coriander, some salt and pepper and cook for another minute.

Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are soft.

Take off the heat, add the fresh coriander and purée until smooth. Check if you need to add any seasoning.

Roasted carrot soup for the whole family

Happy International Carrot Day! Bet you didn’t know that even though this year marks a decade of celebrating the root vegetable. I certainly didn’t!

After our Easter indulgences, I though it was time to return to my mission of getting as many vegetables into Nicholas as possible (and soup’s the least stressful way). I’m sure the exhausted Easter bunny would also happily relax with a large bowlful.

This is a super simple soup (try to say that quickly as many times as you can!) the whole family can enjoy from weaning babies (omit the seasoning) to adults. It freezes well and can also be used as a pasta sauce for a quick healthy lunch.

roasted carrot soupRoasting the carrots and onion, before adding them to the stock, creates an extra depth of flavour. Ordinary carrot soup becomes something more interesting to the palette. While roasting the vegetables means the cooking time is longer, you can always roast them earlier in the day (if you’re at home) or even the day before.

Like most soups, don’t be too worried about exact measurements; slightly less or slightly more carrots won’t make much difference to the end result. If you don’t have enough carrots, add some other root vegetables like parsnip, turnip or potato.

If you’re not serving this to a baby, you can add some warming spice like coriander (you could sprinkle some ground coriander over the vegetables before roasting).

ROASTED CARROT SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Makes 4 adult servings
Freezable

750g carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Lay the chopped carrots and onion in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle over the oil, and season with salt and pepper (if using). Roast for 3o minutes or until the vegetables start to turn golden.

Heat the stock in a medium to large pot until lightly boiling. Turn the heat down to low, add the vegetables and thyme, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a little if you have the time. Purée until smooth. Check if you need to add any more seasoning.

Variations:

  • use a mixture of carrots and parsnips
  • sprinkle the vegetables with ground coriander before roasting (you can also add fresh coriander later)

Other Uses:

  • Mix through some cooked pasta (or rice) for a quick lunch

Broccoli, asparagus and pea soup

Until I started thinking about St Patrick’s Day, and what healthy green recipe I could come up with for you, I didn’t realise that most of the soups I’ve posted here are green! So I thought I’d make a super green soup, the greenest of green soups for this St Paddy’s Day.

broccoli, asparagus and pea soup

BROCCOLI, ASPARAGUS AND PEA SOUP

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 6 adult servings
Freezable

1 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
300g broccoli, stalks and heads roughly chopped
300g asparagus, roughly chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes without letting the vegetables brown (turn down the heat if they do start to brown).

Add the broccoli stalks and about 750ml of stock to the pot. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli heads, asparagus, peas and thyme, cover and cook for another 5 minutes until the broccoli stalks and asparagus are tender.

Take off the heat and purée until smooth. Check if you need to add any seasoning.

Variations:

  • For older palettes, add a pinch of warming cayenne pepper as you sauté the onion and celery.

Are you eating (or drinking) anything special for St Patrick’s Day tomorrow?

Broccoli soup

Nicholas’ second birthday is quickly approaching (where did that last year go? Hang on, where did those two years go?), hence most of my time in the kitchen is party food planning and preparation. I’m trying very hard to reign my wild ideas in to something more easily achieveable!

But I am continuing my soup crusade and I’m loving the fact that Nicholas is often asking for soup, especially at dinner time. This really has been a successful way to get more veg into him.

Nicholas eating broccoli - look at those chubby fingers!

Initially Nicholas loved broccoli, and happily munched it as one of his first finger foods. That didn’t last long. The only way he eats it now is if he can’t pick it out of whatever new thing I’ve tried to ‘hide’ it in. He can’t get enough of smooth broccoli soup!

You can make a simple broccoli soup with broccoli, onion and potato, but when I came across a different take on the standard version which has white beans and ginger I knew I had to try it.  Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley’s broccoli, ginger and white bean soup uses the whole head of broccoli, fresh ginger for a healthy zing and white beans to boost the nutritional value even more. The two sisters are the founders of Hemsley & Hemsley, promoting healthy food.

I decreased the zing in the soup (for younger taste buds) by using ground ginger instead of fresh and omitting the lime juice,  but I did leave in the pinch of cayenne pepper and all 5 cloves of garlic (use your knowledge of your family’s tastebuds to decide, but I’d err on the side of caution initially with little ones). I also reduced the salt by leaving out the Tamari soy sauce. Next time I’ll try using fresh ginger, but a smaller piece than the original recipe. I love the extra thickness you get using some white beans (I think they’ll often be added to my soups from now on!).

This makes a large quantity of soup; perfect for freezing the leftovers for another week.

broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 18-20 mins
Makes 6 adult servings
Freezable

600g broccoli
2 onions, roughly chopped
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil (the original recipe uses coconut oil)
1 tsp ground ginger
a small pinch of cayenne peper
1 litre of good quality vegetable or water
1 400g can of white beans (I used butter beans but you could use cannellini or haricot beans), rinsed and drained
salt and pepper

In a large pot, gently fry the onion, garlic, ground ginger and cayenne pepper in the oil over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the heads from the broccoli and roughly chop, then roughly chop the stems.

Add the broccoli stalks and about 750ml of the stock to the pot. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Add the broccoli heads and white beans, cover and cook for another 5 mins until the broccoli stalks are tender.

Take off the heat and puree until smooth. Check if you need to add any seasoning.

Variations:

  • For older eaters, serve with a sprinking of toasted pine nuts or seeds.
  • Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
  • Take out some of the broccoli heads before pureeing, then add for a chunkier soup.
  • Serve with a small piece of soft spreadable cheese swirled through.

Courgette (zucchini) soup

Yes, another soup recipe! Since returning to the cold weather of the UK I’ve been making soup at least once a week. It really is (for me anyway) an easy way of getting more vegetables into Nicholas’ diet. We’ve even sometimes been having a small mug of soup for an afternoon snack (often with a straw just for fun!).

Making soup is generally quick, only requiring a bit of chopping, a bit of stirring, usually followed by some blending. Then it’s ready and waiting in the fridge for the next few days. Any leftovers go in the freezer for another day.

As with all cooking, the fresher your ingredients the better the end taste will be. And with soup, although stock made from a stock cube (preferably low-salt if cooking for little ones) is absolutely fine, if you use a better quality stock (either bought or homemade) you will taste the difference.

You don’t need great knife skills when making blended soups. However, the smaller you chop the vegetables (especially the potatoes), the quicker they’ll take to cook.

courgette (zucchini) soup

COURGETTE (ZUCCHINI) SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings
Freezable

2 large or 3 medium-sized courgettes (zucchini), diced
1 onion, diced
1 medium-sized potato, diced
1 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
500ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over a medium heat. Add the courgettes, onion and potato, and sauté for 5 minutes without letting the vegetables brown (turn the heat down if they do start to brown).

Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then turn the heat down to low and simmer until the vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes if you’ve diced them into small pieces).

Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Add salt and pepper if needed.

To make it more special, serve with a dollop of yoghurt or cream and a sprinkling of chives.

Sweet potato and lentil soup

Being away from home for a month meant I needed to be much more relaxed about Nicholas’ diet. Predictably he happily ate lots of meat (including kangaroo and a taste of crocodile), but very few vegetables.

Now, at home, we’re back to having a bowl of vegetable soup at the start of dinner before our meat course (I sometimes use the soup as a quick pasta sauce at lunchtime too). And a steaming bowl of thick soup is a great winter warmer for the whole family.

sweet potato and lentil soup

SWEET POTATO AND LENTIL SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp olive oil (or a knob of butter)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
2 medium sweet potatoes (approx. 900g), peeled and cubed
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
100g red lentils
200ml milk
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil (or butter) in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, sweet potato and a little salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 mins.

Add the hot stock, lentils and milk. Bring almost to the boil then drop the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the lentils and sweet potato are cooked.

Puree the soup until smooth and check if you need to add more seasoning.
sweet potato and lentil soup

Variations:

  • substitute one sweet potato with a white potato
  • for some extra spicy warmth, add a teaspoon or two of curry powder when sautéing the vegetables
  • add a dollop of yoghurt to each bowl