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Tag Archives: vegetable soup

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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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?

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

Minty pea soup

Nicholas is going through another of his phases where he can be fussy about eating vegetables. If I serve him protein and vegetables on the same plate, he’ll devour the meat or fish first and then just pick at the vegetables. We’ve been known to resort to bribing him with meat, along the lines of ‘If you eat another two spoonfuls of broccoli, you can have some meat.’ It works, but I don’t like doing it.

I was starting to rethink his meals, thinking about getting him to start with vegetables first before having protein, but without having to dish up the various components separately. A vegetable soup starter was looking like a good option. Then I read Helene’s post over at French Food Baby explaining the typical four-course French meal and I was sold.

What Helene does is have a vegetable starter before the main course, the logic being that you fill up on the vegetables when you’re at your hungriest, most likely eating a smaller portion of protein for the main. This doesn’t just sound good for little ones!

Helene suggests having a vegetable soup or vegetable finger food (cooked or raw) for the first course. I like the idea of offering a vegetable tasting plate to give your child a feeling of independence as they decide what to eat, and, as Helene does, you can have a couple of days’ worth of vegetables prepared in the fridge ready to go. Now I just need to get my act together and do this!

Soup, on the other hand, I’ve tried and so far it’s worked. A small bowl of soup as a starter at dinner and then I don’t worry so much about how many other vegetables Nicholas is eating off his main course plate (and meal times are less stressful). And you can find lots of soup recipes that don’t take much time at all to prepare (in fact you don’t want to be cooking the vegetables very long that their nutrients boil away). Keep it in the fridge for a couple of days and then freeze any leftovers for days when you don’t have much time (or desire) to cook.

I’ve been mainly doing root vegetable and lentil combinations, like carrot and lentil, but then saw this soup recipe on the BBC Good Food site and could immediately taste the sweetness of the peas and the freshness of the mint. I made a simpler version using frozen peas, omitted the garlic, sugar, lemon juice and buttermilk, reduced the mint slightly and used shallots instead of spring onions. I liked the taste of the soup without adding any dairy to it (I think it would lose some of its freshness), but I did add some small dollops of yogurt for colour on top.

This soup would make a great starter for adults at a dinner party or other occasion when you’re having a few courses as it’s not heavy on your stomach. It would also work as a cold soup.

You can , of course, use stock made from a stock cube (use the low-salt kind if making it for little ones), but because of the limited ingredients, it will taste much better if you use a good quality stock.

MINTY PEA SOUP

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 4 adult servings
Freezable (without adding the yogurt)

3 shallots, roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
850ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g frozen peas
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper
Yogurt to serve

Put the shallots, potato and stock into a large pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 mins until the potato is cooked.

Add the frozen peas and simmer for another 5 mins.

Take off the heat and add the mint. Blend with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve hot or cold with a dollop of yogurt.

Variations:

  • use onion or spring onions instead of the shallots

What other ways do you use to get your munchkins to eat more vegetables?