article-1131711-033BAEF3000005DC-819_468x286This is a perfect soup for midweek when you are in need of something comforting, satisfying and full of goodness. The recipe makes plenty, so stick the leftovers in the freezer, divided into individual portions, then defrost on the day you know you’ll need an instant meal.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6-8


2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

200g/7oz smoked bacon, cut into thin strips

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

1 courgette, finely diced

Quarter of a savoy cabbage, finely sliced

400g/14oz tin borlotti, cannellini or mixed beans, drained

400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 litre/35floz/4 ¾ cups chicken stock

100g/3½oz small pasta shapes

6 tbsp good quality green pesto

Parmesan shavings to serve


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion, bacon, garlic, carrot and celery for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not coloured.


Add the courgette, cabbage, tinned beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken stock and pasta.  Bring to the simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then season with salt and pepper.
Serve into bowls and finish by adding a spoonful of pesto in the centre of each one, and shave over some parmesan cheese and serve.



For a vegetarian version of this soup – the smoked bacon can be left out all together and vegetable stock used instead of chicken stock. You could add a pinch of smoked paprika when cooking the soup to give the smokiness the bacon was providing.

photography: Gareth Morgans 



I’ve literally just made this very tasty soup and wanted to share the recipe with you. Today is one of those frantic ones where I am working from home during the day, so pretty calm, but the second I collect the kids from school it all goes mad with one thing and another leaving no time at all to prepare any food for dinner. So – I have just made this really easy soup. I roasted the veg while clearing up the breakfast pots. When I stopped work for a coffee, I whizzed up the soup and at lunchtime heated some up and tucked into a small bowl while clearing up. The kids can have a bowlful with in minutes of getting home, scattered with cheese and crushed breadsticks (a new favourite of theirs), and it will do a great job as a light evening meal, with some warm seeded bread and the remains of the cheeseboard from the weekend for my other half and I when we finally get a chance to sit down!


1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled

8 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 carrots, peeled

2 onions, peeled

olive oil, for drizzling

approx. 1.3 litres vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp crushed dried chilli

1 ½ tsp nigella seeds

1 ½ tsp fennel seeds


Heat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/gas 6. Cut the squash, carrots and onion into chunky wedges. Put in a large roasting tray with the garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Turn to coat everything in oil and roast in the oven for about 50 minutes, turning a couple of times, until cooked through and just becoming golden.

Once cooked, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin, into a liquidiser and blend with the rest of the roasted vegetables and stock until smooth. This will need to be done in batches, so tip any blended soup into a large saucepan as you go. Add any extra stock or water until you reach the consistency you prefer.

Gently heat the soup and season with salt to taste.

Crush the chilli, nigella and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle the seeds over the top, serving any extra separately.


The soup will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezes really well in individual portions.

If making this for children,  you can sprinkle theirs with parmesan cheese or crushed breadsticks will even go down a treat.

Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil Soup


Spicy up your halloween pumpkin by making this delicious soup…

Serves 4

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp olive oil

650g pumpkin flesh, cut into small pieces

1 celery stick, finely sliced

150g split red lentils

1 litre hot vegetable stock

200ml coconut milk

4 tbsp plain or Greek yoghurt

small handful of coriander leaves

warm naan bread, to serve

Heat a large saucepan and then add the chilli flakes and cumin seeds. Dry fry for a minute or so until they release their aroma and pop around in the pan. Remove half of the seeds and set aside.

Add the oil to the pan, and once it is hot, stir in the pumpkin and celery. Stir around for a couple of minutes, and the add the lentils, stock and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, covered with a lid, until the lentils are tender.

Blitz the soup until as smooth, and season with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon into bowls, add a spoon of yoghurt on top, scatter with the reserved spices, and add a few coriander leaves, Serve with warm naan bread.


This soup freezes really well, so it is well worth making more than you need, so you have plenty for another day.

Photography Gareth Morgans.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Ham and Tomato Twists


This can all be made in advance and kept in the fridge, or even frozen, providing you with a wholesome quick lunch or a ready-made supper after work.

Serves 6

For the soup:

50g butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets (you need about 800g florets)

1 baking potato, peeled and chopped

500ml milk

700–900ml vegetable stock

1 tsp English mustard

200g extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated

For the Ham and Tomato Twists:

150g ready rolled puff pastry

2 tbsp sundried tomato paste

50g wafer thin ham

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk (egg wash)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until it is softened but not coloured. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, cauliflower and potato. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the vegetables don’t brown and if they are sticking, then add a splash of water to the pan.

Remove the lid and pour in the milk and 700ml of the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower and potato are tender and beginning to break up.

While the soup is cooking, you can prepare the Ham and Tomato Twists. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan ovens/gas 5.

Spread the tomato paste on top of the pastry then lay the ham, in a single layer on top.

Cut the pastry into approximately 24 x 1cm thick strips. Gently twist each strip and lay onto a couple of non-stick baking sheets, keeping them just slightly apart. Brush with beaten egg wash and scatter over a little sea salt and a twist of black pepper.

Place in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until they are light golden brown.

Remove the soup from the heat and take out the bay leaf. Cool slightly, and then blitz in a food processor or blender until totally smooth. You’ll probably have to do this in two batches. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the mustard and Cheddar until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. The remaining 200ml of stock can be added if the soup seems particularly thick.

Serve the soup hot with the Ham and Tomato Twists on the side.


The Ham and Tomato twists can easily be prepared ahead, frozen and cooked when needed.



A delicious bowl of comfort, for cold wintry lunchtimes, and especially good if you are trying to be healthy and save a few pennies at the same time.

Makes 4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic

pinch of chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 courgette, diced

1 tin chopped tomatoes

600ml chicken or vegetable stock

75g apricots, chopped

400g tin of chickpeas, drained

Small bunch of coriander, chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until it is softened but not coloured. Stir in the chilli, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon and courgette. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes, stock, apricots, chickpeas and seasoning.

Bring to the simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped coriander and lemon juice. Serve hot.


This soup freezes really well. Make a large batch and freeze in individual portions. Stir the chopped coriander and lemon juice in once re-heated.

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