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Creamy Butternut, Cauliflower, and Lentil Soup

This is an easy budget soup, making four main-meal-sized portions. Don’t let the inclusion of the notoriously difficult to peel squash put you off; there are two options below to make your job much, much easier. As always, use this recipe as a roadmap: try it with the addition of coconut milk and either Thai or Indian spices; add a can of tomato sauce and some Italian herbs. A good base soup can be varied in so many different ways.

Ingredients:

1 red onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash
200g split red lentils
1 small cauliflower, in florets (approx. 500g)
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced (or 1 tsp, dried, rubbed between fingers)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tbsp yellow miso

Directions:
1. Carefully make several slits in skin of the squash with a small sharp knife, and microwave for about 3-5 minutes to loosen the peel from the flesh slightly. Alternatively, slit and then boil the squash whole in a large stock pot for about 5 minutes, until softened. Wait until it’s cool enough to handle, and then peel, deseed, and chop into bite-sized dice.
2. In a stock pot over a very low heat, sweat the onion and garlic, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow them to take on any colour; if they start to stick, the heat is too high. Lower it, and add a little broth to loosen.
3. Add the cauliflower, stock, butternut squash, chilli flakes, and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
4. While the soup is cooking, rinse and drain the lentils, picking them over to ensure there are no small stones or pieces of grit among them. Add them to a saucepan with about 400g water, bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until softened. Drain and rinse.
5. Add the lentils back to the pot with the butternut squash (cooking them separately ensures that the lentils don’t add any foam to your soup), and mix well to combine. Spoon between a third and half of the soup into a blender jug with the miso paste and blend until creamy. Alternatively, remove the same quantity of soup and use an immersion blender to blend it to smooth.
6. Stir the blended soup back to the pot, warm, and serve in warmed bowls with some parsley, additional chilli flakes, and nutritional yeast if desired.

Hot and Sour Soup

With a different combination of flavours in every mouthful, and taking under 15 minutes to prepare, this soup is bound to be a winner. It makes 4 large servings.

If you can’t find the types of mushrooms listed in the ingredients, use 350g sliced mushrooms of your choice, and if you can’t find the vinegars, use apple cider vinegar.

Ingredients

250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
20g dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted (save the soaking water) and sliced
20g dried Chinese black (wood ear) mushrooms, reconstituted (save the soaking water) and sliced
1 can bamboo shoots (120g drained weight)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 inch ginger, grated
1-2 red chilli peppers, deseeded and finely sliced
1.5 l vegetable broth
110g mung bean sprouts
200g extra-firm tofu, cubed
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
Pinch white pepper
2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

Directions

1. Heat a large stock pot over a medium-low heat, and when hot add the mushrooms and bamboo. Lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, adding just a splash of water if the mushrooms start to stick.
2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilli, and stir for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the broth, mushroom soaking water, bean sprouts, tofu, soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, and white pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve topped with the green onions.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

This speedy Creamy Broccoli Soup takes under 20 minutes, is oil-free, and serves 2 (generous portions) and is great for those on a tighter budget. The spices create an interesting flavour profile with just a tiny bit of heat.

Ingredients

1 onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 large head broccoli, roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp suitable-for-vegans yellow or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
pinch white pepper

Directions

1. Heat a soup pan or large pot over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, adding a splash or two of water if the vegetables start to stick.
2. Mix the flour with 1/4 cup vegetable broth from the 4 cups. Add to the vegetables and cook stirring, for 1 minute more.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
4. Blend the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in a jug blender. Season to taste, and adjust the seasoning if desired.

Tomato, Butterbean, and Kale Soup

This thick and rich soup is full of interesting textures from the kale and the beans. It serves 4.

Ingredients
1 large onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup suitable-for-vegans vegetable broth, stock, or water
500 ml tomato juice
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
2 tsp suitable-for-vegans sugar
1 tbsp Italian herbs
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups kale, tightly packed
1 can butterbeans, drained and rinsed

Directions

1. Heat a large stainless steel soup pot over a medium-low heat. Add the onions and dry sauté, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes until nicely caramelised. Add the garlic and sauté for a further 30 seconds.
2. Deglaze the pan with the broth or water.
3. Add everything else but the kale and butterbeans, bring to a boil, and turn off the heat.
4. Blend the soup until smooth.
5. Add the kale and beans, bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Season with cracked black pepper, sea salt, and some chopped basil or parsley.

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

With only a few ingredients, this budget recipe is relatively fuss-free, and produces batch of flavoursome and healthy soup that will serve 6.

Ingredients

2 onions, chopped
1.5 litres vegetable broth
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Dry sauté the onions over a medium-low heat until caramelised, adding a splash of water if they start to stick.
2. Add about 1/4 cup vegetable broth to deglaze the pot.
3. Once the bottom of the pot looks clean, add the butternut squash, carrots, and the rest of the broth.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork-tender.
5. If you have a blender, you might like to try the soup smooth. If not, it will be just as delicious with the vegetables in chunks. Season to taste.

Smoky Black Bean Soup

The smoky flavours of this soup pair perfectly with the black beans and sweetcorn in the recipe, and the miso adds umami notes that bring it all together. This is a budget recipe that serves 4, and it takes under 15 minutes to make

Ingredients

1 red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1l vegetable broth
2 x 200g cans or 4 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tsp smoked paprika, or 2 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp tomato purée
pinch cayenne pepper
200g frozen sweetcorn
1 tbsp yellow miso

Optional toppings: more sweetcorn, thawed; bell pepper; avocado; squeeze lime juice, etc.

Method

1. Sauté the onion over a medium heat for 3 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic for another 30 seconds.
2. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth. Add the rest of the broth, the beans, the paprika (and liquid smoke, if using), coriander, cumin, tomato purée, cayenne pepper.
3. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sweetcorn and continue for two minutes more.
4. If desired, transfer half of the soup to a blender with the miso and blend to smooth. Transfer back to the rest of the soup and reheat. Do not allow to boil. If not blending, remove from the heat, add the miso and mix well.
5. Serve, if desired, with a squeeze of lime, chopped bell pepper, sweetcorn, and avocado.

Leek, Potato, and Cabbage Soup

A budget recipe that serves 6. This soup is filling, hearty, and very simple to make.

Ingredients

2 leeks, halved lengthways, sliced, and then washed
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, chopped
1.5 litres vegetable broth
Sprig or 1 tsp each thyme and rosemary
2 bay leaves
Salt and white pepper

Method

1. In a large soup pan over a medium-low heat, sauté the leeks and cabbage for about 7 minutes until softened. Add a splash of water or broth to prevent sticking, if necessary.
2. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
3. Add the potatoes, broth, and herbs. To prevent the herbs getting lost in the pot, you can put them in tea infuser hooked onto the side of the pot, but if you don’t have one, you can retrieve them with a spoon when the soup is cooked.
4. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked. At this point, if you want a thicker soup, you can transfer up to half of the mixture to the blender and blend until smooth.
5. Season to taste, and serve.

Smoky Potato Sweetcorn Soup

Flavoursome and with a hint of smokiness, this budget soup takes about 10 minutes to prepare. If you don’t have access to a blender, it’s equally delicious unblended. Serves 2-3.

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped or sliced, as desired
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, unpeeled and diced
800ml vegetable broth
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Sauté the onion, mushrooms, and bell peppers over a medium-heat until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the garlic and sauté for a further 30 seconds.
2. Add the potato, broth, and smoked paprika. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for about 7 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
3. Serve as is, seasoned with salt and pepper as desired, or remove about a third of the soup to blend it before returning it to the pot to reheat.

Tomato, Spinach, and Bean Soup

This speedy, budget soup is chunky and nutritious. It serves 8 and is ready in under 15 minutes.

Ingredients

1 onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cans chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp suitable-for-vegans sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp vinegar of choice (balsamic is preferable, but apple cider, white wine, red wine, etc. will also work)
2 large handfuls spinach, chopped
1 x 400g can beans of choice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 generous bunch basil
More freshly ground black pepper, to serve

Method

1. Sauté the onion over a medium low heat in a large soup pot until lightly coloured (2-3 minutes). Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of the stock and stir to deglaze the pot.
2. Add the rest of the stock, tomatoes, purée, sweetener, vinegar (if using), spinach, beans, and the 1/2 tsp black pepper.
3. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped basil and season with black pepper to taste.

Loaded Minestrone

A real treat for those who love their vegetables, this soup is packed with all kinds of delicious textures and flavours. If you can’t find the packaged quick-cook minestrone mix, feel free to add your own mix of whole grains, pasta, and split peas or lentils, or just small pasta shapes, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. Serves 8.

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, medium dice
250g green beans, chopped
250g mushrooms, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
500g passata
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can cannellini beans, or any beans of choice
250g quick-cook minestrone mix
1.5 l vegetable stock
1tsp each dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, dried parsley
Fresh parsley to serve (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Large handful of spinach per serving

Method

1. In a large, preheated soup pot over a medium-low heat, add the onion, celery and carrots, and sauté 3 minutes, adding a little water if the vegetables start to stick. Add the mushrooms and green beans, and sauté for 3 minutes more. Add the garlic for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper, fresh parsley, and spinach. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. To serve, place a large handful of spinach into the bottom of each bowl and top with the soup. Garnish with fresh parsley, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and a bit of salt if required.