1. Thai roast squash and noodle soup
This is a vibrant Thai laksa-style version of a spicy soup from Southeast Asia. Butternut squash is rich in vitamins A and C.
Serves: 4–6 | Preparation: 25 minutes | Cooking: 35 minutes
- 1 small butternut squash (about 900g) peeled and roughly cut into 2cm chunks (keep the seeds to one side)
- 1½ tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
- 12 scallions, white part and green tops separated
- 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk, bashed, outer leaves discarded, tender core chopped
- 1 small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves separated
- 3 red chillies (deseeded if you don’t want it too spicy)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 10 kaffir lime leaves or 5 fresh bay leaves (optional)
- 1 400ml can coconut milk
- 2 limes, zest and juice of 1, the other cut into wedges
- 200g dried vermicelli rice noodles
1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Toss the squash on a baking tray with half a tablespoon of oil. Roast for 20–25 minutes, or until charred and tender when tested with a knife.
2. Meanwhile, make a paste by adding the white part of the scallions, the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, coriander stalks, two chillies, turmeric and the fish and soy sauces to your blender. Pulse a few times, scraping down the side of the blender bowl until it reaches a coarse texture.
3. Heat half a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add your spice paste and cook over a high heat, stirring often until fragrant, for about 2–3 minutes. Toss through the lime (or bay) leaves, half the roasted squash, and three-quarters of the coconut milk until coated. Add 500ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the lime zest and juice. Carefully remove and discard the lime (or bay) leaves.
4. Gently blend the mixture until smooth.. Return it to the hob and set it over a low heat to keep warm; add a splash more water to loosen, if needed.
5. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Once cooked, add them to the pan along with the remaining roasted squash and the rest of the coconut milk.
6. To garnish, scatter over the final sliced chilli, coriander leaves, roasted squash seeds (see cooking tip below) and green scallion tops.
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: How to make roasted squash seeds
Don’t throw your squash seeds away. Roast them and enjoy as a delicious snack or garnish for your soup.
1. Carefully pinch the squash seeds away from the excess flesh.
2. Soak in a bowl of warm water for five minutes.
3. Drain well, rubbing dry on kitchen paper.
4. Toss on a baking tray with half a tablespoon of oil, season and spread out.
5. Roast in the oven for 8–10 minutes until golden and crisp.
2. Super greens soup
This soup is packed with nutrients, including vitamins A and C. It combines seasonal greens with peppery, earthy flavours.
Serves: 2–3 | Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking: 15 minutes
- 2 celery stalks, handful of green inner leaves reserved
- 3 kale or cavolo nero stems, stalks finely chopped, leaves torn
- 1 small bunch of parsley, leaves and stalks separated, plus extra leaves to serve
- 1 large handful of mint leaves, plus extra to serve
- 1 handful of watercress, plus extra leaves to serve
- 1 handful of wild rocket, plus extra leaves to serve
- 1 large handful of spinach
- 1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 ripe avocado, chilled, flesh roughly chopped
- ½ lemon, zest and juice)
- 1–2 tsp honey, to taste
1. Add the chopped celery and kale (or cavolo nero) stalks to a small pan with 1.25 litres of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale (or cavolo nero) leaves and parsley stalks, boiling for another five minutes until softened.
2. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parsley, mint, watercress, rocket and spinach leaves. Season.
3. Blend your cooked greens along with the oil, avocado, lemon zest and juice, and a teaspoon of honey. Pulse until smooth, adding honey, more lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
4. Divide between bowls with some more parsley, mint, rocket leaves and watercress sprigs on top. Drizzle over a splash more oil if you like.
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.
3. Yellow split pea and ham hock soup
Split peas provide protein and fibre, helping you stay full and energised. You can easily make this soup vegetarian by replacing the ham hock with vegetable stock (ideally homemade).
Serves: 4–6 | Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking: 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
- 1 small bunch of parsley, leaves and stalks separated, and stalks tied together with kitchen string
- 1 litre of pork or chicken stock, bought or homemade (see tip below)
- 200g shredded ham hock, bought or homemade (see tip below)
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Gently cook over a medium heat for 10–12 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
2. Stir in the split peas, bay leaves, parsley stalks and the stock. Add 2.5 litres of cold water, season and bring to boil.
3. Simmer the pan and stir often until the split peas have broken down but still have some shape (about 80–90 minutes), skimming off any scum that comes to the surface. Remove and discard the herbs and then blend half the soup until you have a semi-smooth texture.
4. Add three-quarters of the shredded ham hock and bring back to a simmer along with most of the parsley leaves. Divide between bowls and garnish 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: How to make your own shredded ham hock and stock
1. Put a whole ham hock (about 1kg) in a large saucepan with a chopped carrot, a chopped onion, two chopped celery stalks, a handful of bay leaves, a teaspoon of black peppercorns and a teaspoon of salt.
2. Pour just enough cold water over to cover the ham. Gently bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer for about two hours, or until the meat is tender.
3. Once cooled, remove the ham hock and shred the flesh (discarding any bone, skin or sinew). Strain the stock and chill, covered, alongside the shredded ham hock for up to five days. You can freeze both separately in sealable containers – up to six months for the stock and one month for the ham hock.
Tarka dal soup
Red lentils are packed with protein and fibre. ‘Dal’ means any split pulse – including lentils, peas and beans – so you can use any type in this recipe. Just remember to adjust the cooking times and the amount of water you use.
Serves: 2–3 | Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking: 45 minutes
- 2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
- 1 40g piece of 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 you don’t want it too spicy)
- 150g red split lentils, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ lemon, zest and juice)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 small bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves torn
1. Heat half a tablespoon of coconut oil or butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add three-quarters of the ginger, two sliced shallots, two garlic cloves and one red chilli. Season with a pinch of salt and cook for 5–6 minutes until just golden and softening.
2. In a separate pan, stir the lentils with a litre of fresh water and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the turmeric and simmer, stirring often, until the lentils have completely broken down (about 30–35 minutes). Add the lemon zest and juice, and seasoning to taste. Blend until silky smooth. Return the pan to a low heat to keep warm, adding a splash more water to loosen, if needed.
3. Meanwhile, for the tarka, heat the remaining one and a half tablespoons of coconut oil or butter over a high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, stir in the coriander stalks and remaining shallots, garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for 3–4 minutes until just crisp and starting to brown. Season with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
4. Divide the soup between 2–3 bowls, 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.
5. Chickpea and garlic soup with parsley dressing
Chickpeas are versatile, as well as being rich in iron, fibre and protein.
Serves: 2–3 | Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking: 40 minutes
- 2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 6 scallions, white part finely sliced, green tops reserved
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 small bunch of parsley , leaves and stalks separated, and stalks tied together with kitchen string
- 4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
- ½ lemon, zest and juice 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt, to serve
1. Heat half a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chickpeas, scallions and garlic. Cook for 5–7 minutes until golden and crispy, taking care not to burn the garlic. Season and set two tablespoons of the chickpea mixture aside to use as a garnish later.
2. Add the parsley stalks, milk and 750ml water to the pan. 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 with two tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of cold water. Season and add the lemon zest and juice, blending until smooth. Set aside until ready to serve.
4. Season the soup and then blend until silky smooth. Return to a pan set over a low heat to keep warm, adding a splash more water to loosen, if needed.
5. Divide between bowls and top each with the reserved fried chickpea mix, yoghurt, 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.
6. Parsnip, chestnut and sage soup
Earthy, sweet parsnips go beautifully with crisp sage and creamy chestnuts. This recipe is also a great way to make use of leftover ingredients from a Sunday roast.
Serves: 4 | Preparation: 15 minutes | Cooking: 55 minutes
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
- 3 medium parsnips (about 400g), peeled and cut into small chunks
- 4 sage sprigs, tied together with kitchen string
- 150g whole cooked and peeled chestnuts (tinned or home-roasted, see tip below)
- 500ml whole milk
1. Heat 10g of butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and parsnips. Season and cover, cooking over a gentle heat for five minutes until just softened. Uncover and cook for another 5–10 minutes until they start to brown.
2. Add the sage sprigs to the pan with 100g of chestnuts, the milk and two litres of water. Season again. Gently bring to boil and then reduce the heat, simmering gently 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 until silky smooth. Season and return the pan to a low heat to keep warm, adding a splash more water to loosen, if needed.
3. Heat the remaining 20g of butter in a small frying pan until foaming. Finely slice the final 50g of chestnuts. Add them to the pan along with the sage and fry 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: How to roast your own chestnuts
1. Soak 200g of whole shell-on chestnuts in water for 20 minutes, to soften.
2. Using a very sharp, small knife, carefully cut a small cross into the rounded side of each nut.
3. Dry well and then roast in a 200C/400F/gas mark 6 oven for 20–25 minutes, until the skin peels back slightly.
4. Wrap the roasted nuts in a tea towel and leave to cool for a few minutes. Gently peel away the outer shell and inner covering. Be careful not to burn your fingers as they will still be hot.