Soup recipes – comfort bowls and winter warmers

30 October 2015

Whether it’s chicken noodle or broccoli and stilton, nothing signals winter in the UK quite like a steaming bowl of soup. But if you’re not careful, over-the-counter or shop-bought versions can pile in the salt and sugar to your diet. Making your own is not only a great way to ensure there are no nasties, it can also help to boost your daily quota of vegetables and immune system-boosting herbs and spices at a time when colds and flu are lurking.


These five soup recipes can all be whizzed up in your Nutribullet or blender. The only thing you have to decide is whether to eat them all at once with family, or batch-cook, freeze and eat them throughout the week.

Homemade soups can be a good way of adding extra fibre and roughage into lunch meals – from ingredients such as lentils and chickpeas. Bringing lunch from home, a hearty homemade soup that can be kept hot in a thermos container, is a good way to ensure you know exactly what has gone into the dish you’re eating.

Thai laksa-style roast squash noodle soup1. Thai laksa-style roast squash noodle soup

Variations of this spicy noodle soup exist across south-east Asia, and this is a vibrant Thai-style version. Butternut squash is perfect for the dawn of cold season as it’s rich in vitamins A and C.

Serves 4-6
Prepare 25 minutes
Cook 35 minutes

1 small butternut squash (about 900g) peeled and cut into about 2cm pieces, seeds reserved (see tip)
1½ tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
12 salad onions, white part and green tops separated
50g fresh root ginger, unpeeled and roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed, outer leaves discarded, tender core chopped
small bunch coriander, stalks and leaves separated
3 red chilies (deseeded, if liked)
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
10 kaffir lime leaves or 5 fresh bay leaves (optional)
400ml can coconut milk
2 limes, zest and juice of 1, rest cut into wedges
200g dried vermicelli rice noodle nests

  1. Preheat the oven 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and toss the squash on baking tray with ½ tbsp oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until charred and tender when tested with a knife.
  2. Mix the white part of the salad onions, the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, coriander stalks, 2 chillies, turmeric and the fish and soy sauces in the small cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender). Pulse a few times, scraping down the side of the bowl until you have a coarse paste.
  3. Heat the remaining ½ tbsp oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the spice paste and cook out over a high heat, stirring often until fragrant, for about 2-3 minutes. Toss through the lime (or bay) leaves, half the squash, and three-quarters of the coconut milk until coated. Add 500ml water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir through the lime zest and juice.
  4. Carefully remove and discard the lime (or bay) leaves and then blend, in batches, in the tall cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) until smooth; don’t worry if it still has some texture. Return to a pan set over a low heat to keep warm; add a splash more water to loosen, if needed. Cook the noodles accordingly to packet instructions, then add to the pan with the remaining roasted squash. Splash in the remaining coconut milk and scatter over the final sliced chill, the coriander leaves, roasted squash seeds (if using) and green salad onion tops, finely sliced.

Per serving (based on 6 servings) 1404kJ / 334kcals / 13.8g fat / 10.5g saturated fat / 46g carbs / 9.9g sugars / 4.8g fibre / 7.1g protein / 1g salt

TIP: Roast pumpkin seeds
Carefully pinch the squash seeds away from the excess flesh and soak in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes. Drain well, rubbing dry on kitchen paper. Toss on a baking tray with ½ tbsp oil, season and spread out. Roast for 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

Super greens soup2. Super greens soup

Packed to the rafters with lots of vitamins and minerals (including vitamin C and A), peppery, earthy flavours, and refreshing aromatic herbs, this soup utilises the goodness of a bountiful selection of delicious seasonal greens.

Serves 2-3
Prepare 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes

2 celery stalks, handful green inner leaves reserved
3 kale or cavolo nero stems, stalks finely chopped, leaves torn
small bunch parsley, leaves and stalks separated, plus extra leaves to serve
large handful mint leaves, plus extra to serve
handful watercress, plus extra leaves to serve
handful wild rocket, plus extra leaves to serve
large handful spinach
1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve
1 ripe avocado, chilled, flesh roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest and ½ juice
1-2 tsp honey, to taste

  1. Add the chopped celery and kale (or cavolo nero) stalks to small pan with 1.25 litres of water. Bring to the boil and simmer briskly for 10 minutes. Add the kale (or cavolo nero) leaves and parsley stalks, boiling for another 5 minutes until softened. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the herb and salad leaves, along with the spinach; season.
  2. Add to the tall cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) with the oil, avocado, lemon zest and juice, and 1 tsp honey. Whizz, in batches, until smooth; blend in more honey, lemon juice and seasoning, to taste. Divide between bowls with some more parsley, mint, rocket leaves and watercress sprigs on top, drizzling over a splash more oil, if liked.

Per serving (based on 3 servings) 769kJ/184kcals/15.4g fat/2.5g saturated fat/6.5g carbs/5.4g sugars/6.4g fibre/4.7g protein/0.23g salt

Yellow split pea and ham hock3. Yellow split pea and ham hock

A comforting and moreish soup made using brilliantly bright yellow peas, perfect for chill winter evenings. You can easily make it veggie, leaving out the ham hock and using good-quality fresh, preferably homemade, vegetable stock. Split peas are a good source of both protein and dietary fibre, meaning this soup should help keep you full, and full of energy, long after lunchtime.

Serves 4-6
Prepare 20 minutes
Cook 1 hour 30 minutes

1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2 medium large onions, cut into 1cm chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into 1cm chunks
4 celery stalks, cut into 1cm chunks
300g yellow split peas, thoroughly rinsed
6 fresh bay leaves
small bunch parsley, leaves and stalks separated
1 litre fresh pork or chicken stock, bought or homemade (see tip)
200g shredded ham hock, bought or homemade (see tip)

  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole or heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, carrot and celery, cook over a gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to soften. Stir through the rinsed yellow split peas, bay leaves, parsley stalks (tied with kitchen string) the stock and 2.5 litres cold water. Season and gently bring to boil, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.
  2. Simmer the yellow split peas briskly, stirring often until they’ve have broken down but still have some shape, about 80-90 minutes. Remove and discard the herbs and then blend half the soup, in batches if needed, in the tall cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) until you have a semi-smooth texture.
  3. Return to the rest of the lentils along with most of the shredded ham hock. Bring back to a simmer and stir in most of the parsley leaves. Divide between bowls and top with the remaining ham hock and parsley.

Per serving (based on 6 servings) 1158kJ / 277kcals / 4.4g fat / 0.7g saturated fat / 39g carbs / 8.4g sugars / 4.3g fibre / 17.1g protein / 1.5g salt

TIP – Make your own shredded ham hock and stock
Put 1 whole ham hock (about 1kg) in a large saucepan with 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery stalks, handful bay leaves, 1 tsp black peppercorns and 1 tsp salt. Pour enough cold water to cover and gently bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Leave to cool, then remove the ham hock and shred the flesh (discard the bone and any skin or sinew). Strain the stock and chill, covered, alongside the shredded ham hock for up to 5 days. Freeze both separately in sealable containers; up to 6 months for the stock and 1 month for the ham hock.

Tarka dal soup4. Tarka dal soup

Protein and fibre-packed red lentils are a wonderful store cupboard hero that deserve to be celebrated. In Indian, ‘dal’ simply refers to any split pulse (lentil, peas, beans etc.) and so you can quite easily swap in other pulses, though you’ll need to adjust the cooking times and amount of liquid accordingly.

Serves 2-3
Prepare 20 minutes
Cook 45 minutes

2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
40g piece fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 small shallots, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 red chillies, finely sliced (deseeded, if desired)
150g red split lentils, thoroughly rinsed
1 tsp turmeric
1 lemon, zest and ½ juice, rest cut into wedges, to serve
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
small bunch coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves torn and leaves

  1. Heat ½ tbsp coconut oil or butter in a saucepan set over a medium heat and add ¾ of the ginger, 2 sliced shallots, 2 garlic cloves and 1 red chilli. Season with a pinch of salt and cook for 5-6 minutes until just golden and softening.
  2. Stir the rinsed lentils with 1 litre fresh water and bring to a gentle boil; skim off any scum that rise to the surface. Add the turmeric and simmer briskly, stirring often, until the lentils have completely broken down, about 30-35 minutes. Add the lemon zest, and the juice, to taste; season. Blend, in batches, in the tall cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) until silky smooth. Return to a pan set over a low heat to keep warm; add a splash more water to loosen, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile for the tarka, heat the remaining 1½ tbsp coconut oil or butter in small frying pan set over a high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, and as soon as they start to pop, star in in the coriander stalks and remaining shallot, garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for 3-4 minutes until just crisp and browning; season with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Divide the soup between bowl, spoon over the tarka and scatter with coriander leaves, before serving.

Per serving (based on 3 servings) 1125kJ / 268kcals / 9.8g fat / 5.6g saturated fat / 33.5g carbs / 4g sugars / 3.7g fibre / 14g protein / 0.4g salt

Chickpea and garlic soup5. Chickpea and garlic soup with parsley dressing

A sophisticated soup that will elevate winter weeknight meals to new heights. Chickpeas are a great and versatile health food staple, rich in iron, fibre, and protein, helping you stay fit and healthy without compromising on flavour.

Serves 2-3
Prepare 15 minutes
Cook 40 minutes

2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle to serve
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 salad onions, white part finely sliced, green tops reserved
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
small bunch parsley (about 10g), leaves and stalks separated
4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
1 lemon, zest and 1 tbsp juice
about 2 tbsp greek yogurt, to serve

  1. Heat ½ tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the chickpeas, salad onions and garlic, cooking over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes until golden and crispy; take care not to burn the garlic. Season and set 2 tbsp of the chickpea mixture aside, to serve.
  2. Tie the parsley stalks with kitchen string and add to the pan with the milk and 750ml water. Season and bring to a gentle simmer, cooking for 25-30 minutes, until the chickpeas are really soft and tender.
  3. Meanwhile, blend most of the parsley leaves in the small cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) with the remaining 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp cold water. Season, add the lemon zest and juice, blending until smooth. Set aside until ready to serve.
  4. Season the soup and then blend, in batches, in the tall cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) until silky smooth. Return to a pan set over a low heat to keep warm; add a splash more water to loosen, if needed. Divide between bowls and topping each with the reserved fried chickpea mix, 1 tbsp yogurt, the parsley dressing and a few extra leaves.

Per serving (based on 3 servings) 1372kJ / 328kcals / 17.4g fat / 3.4g saturated fat / 28.1g carbs / 3.5g sugars / 8.1g fibre / 14.7g protein / 0.9g salt

Parsnip, chestnut and sage6. Parsnip, chestnut and sage soup

Earthy, sweet parsnips are classically matched with more punchy flavours – think curried parsnips soup – though the simplicity of heady, crisp sage and creamy chestnuts work just as beautifully. Plus they are ingredients usually left over from a seasonal roast dinner. Waste not want not…

Serves 4
Prepare 15 minutes
Cook 55 minutes

30g unsalted butter
2 medium leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
3 medium parsnips (about 400g), peeled and cut into small chunks
4 sage sprigs, leaves picked, stalks reserved
150g whole cooked and peeled chestnuts (tinned or home-roasted, see tip)
500ml whole milk

  1. Heat 10g butter in a large heavy casserole or heavy-based saucepan. Add the leeks and parsnips, season and cover, cooking over a gentle heat for 5 minutes until just softened. Uncover and cook for another 5-10 minutes until starting to brown.
  2. Tie the sage spring with kitchen string and add to the pan with 100g chestnuts, the milk and 2 litres of water; season again. Gently bring to boil and then reduce the heat, simmering briskly and stirring often for about 30-35 minutes, until all the vegetables are really tender. Remove and discard the sage sprigs and then blend the soup, in batches, in the tall cup of your Nutribullet (or other upright blender) until silky smooth. Season and return to a pan set over a low heat to keep warm; add a splash more water to loosen, if needed.
  3. Heat the remaining 20g butter in a small frying pan until foaming. Finely slice the final 50g chestnuts and add to the pan with the sage, frying over a medium-high heat until crisp and golden, about 3-4 minutes. Season and then serve over the soups, divided between bowls.

Per serving 1267kJ / 303kcals / 13.9g fat / 7.7g saturated fat / 36g carbs / 16.3g sugars / 8.8g fibre / 8.5g protein / 0.2g salt

TIP - Chestnuts – roast your own
Soak 200g whole shell-on chestnuts in water for 20 minutes, to soften. Using a very sharp, small knife, carefully cut a small cross into the rounded side of each nut. Dry well and then roast in a 200C/400F/gas mark 6 oven for 20-25 minutes, until the skin peels back slightly. Wrap the roasted nuts in a tea towel and peel away the outer shell and pithy inner covering; leave for a few minutes and take care as they will be hot.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.

Dietitian at Bupa UK

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