The weather is definitely getting colder now and it’s just the right time to start making some hearty, healthy, homemade soup. I have to confess I’m a bit of a comfort eater, and if I’m feeling down or just tired I always reach for the chocolate, wine – or both! I’m trying to rein it in a bit before I have to admit defeat and buy myself a bigger pair of jeans, and part of that is watching what I eat a bit more, limiting the trips to the biscuit tin, avoiding bread and sadly cutting back on the shiraz.
I have two favourite fall-back recipes for soup which my son absolutely loves. One is a sweet butternut squash and red pepper, which I sometimes give a bit of heat to with some dried chilli flakes. It’s so subtle, when it’s blended down it could pass for the kids as tomato soup and has a naturally sweet flavour.
The other is a tomato and lentil, taken from a very old Cranks recipe book which belonged to my husband Roger. Cranks, if you haven’t heard of them already, opened one of the first vegetarian restaurants in London in the 1960s and before long had a chain of outlets and a few recipes books on the go. I use this book quite often for veggie favourites, but this soup is an absolute winner. It also has a secret ingredient of marmite – stay with me on this one, it’s a perfect match!
You can’t fail to feel better after making your own soup, there is just something so nurturing about making it and it always tastes so good. I’m not pretending it always does the job of chocolate or a glass of something cold, but still, it’s comfort food without the guilt.
Butternut squash and red pepper
1 small onion
1 butternut squash
1 red pepper
700ml vegetable stock
Chop the onion, squash and red pepper and gently soften in a small amount of oil for about 5-10 minutes. I have started using grapeseed oil in cooking, or sometimes I just the Fry-Light spray which which is a bit of a Slimming World staple.
Once the vegetables are soft, add in the stock. I quite like the stock pots for a bit of extra flavour. Then season with salt and pepper and add a shake of dried chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat. Simmer it all for about 30 minutes, then blend with a hand or stick blender. Add a little more water if required.
Tomato and lentil
1 small onion
3-4 or about 225g salad tomatoes
900ml vegetable stock
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marmite
Chop the onion and tomatoes. Heat a little oil in a pan and cook the onion until it softens and starts to become transparent. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste and blend.
I hope you enjoy them,