Tag Archives: soup

Mama’s Minestrone

Minestrone1Minestrone is such a wonderful soup.  It’s low calorie yet jam-packed with flavour and vitamin goodness and is so easy to make.  Below is my recipe – not authentic but utterly delicious.  The use of Spanish chorizo gives a delicious, rich smokey undertone that I personally love.  (This would make a good vegetarian supper – just leave out the chorizo – the beans, of course, providing a good source of protein).  That’s the beauty of this soup – make it your own with your own combination of favourite Summertime herbs and vegetables and don’t get too strung out on amounts.  If you over enthusiastically end up with a little too much veg in the pot, just add more stock to compensate.

One word of advice before we begin – try to chop the veg consistently quite small (cm cubes should do it).  It’s not a deal breaker but the finished product will look so much prettier.

Ingredients (serves 6 – 8 )

50g Spanish chorizo, cubed

2-3 tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 medium carrots (about 170g or 6 oz), chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

4 new potatoes (about 170g or 6 oz), chopped

85g / 3 oz  petit pois (baby peas)

85g / 3 oz French green beans, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 x 400g tin (14 oz) chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin (14 oz) cannellini or white haricot beans

1 tsp fresh thyme

1.5 litres (6 cups) good vegetable stock

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve (optional): fresh, grated Parmesan cheese and maybe a drizzle of olive oil


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and toss in the chorizo and then the onion.  Allow to fry gently for 2-3 minutes and then add the carrots, potatoes, celery, peas and beans.  Stir and continue to fry gently for another 2-3 mins, just to let the vegetables begin to ‘sweat’.  Add the chopped tomatoes, beans, thyme, vegetable stock and black pepper.  (I would only add extra salt, if needed, at the end of cooking because most commercially prepared stocks already contain a lot of salt).  Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down, partially cover the pan and allow the soup to simmer gently for 30 minutes.  At the end of this time check how the hardest vegetables are doing – they should be yielding but not mushy – and taste to check the seasoning.  If needed, leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.

To serve, you can sprinkle this soup with a little fresh, grated parmesan cheese and/or a drizzle of extra virgin olive  oil.  This soup is very nice served with warm, crusty French bread.


Filed under Cookery

South Beach Black Bean Soup

Marge is dubiousHaving done a ham cooked in coke on Saturday, I retained the cooking liquid and this afternoon followed Nigella Lawson’s advice, using it to make her South Beach Black Bean Soup.  Not to blow my own trumpet here but it’s very rare for me to cook up a doosie of a meal but I think, with Nigella’s help, I may just have managed it.

My errors/deviations:  The recipe calls for cumin and I didn’t have any.  As we’re currently being blasted by winds straight off the icy Russian steppes, I didn’t fancy heading out just for one spice.  Instead, I did what I usually do and I improvised.  I used an equally small quantity of garam masala.  I reasoned that cumin is a main constituent of garam masala and as it also features in curry powder the effect we’re looking to get here is curry ~ish / hot ~ish. (Don’t snicker … surely you see my reasoning)?!  I also used ready-cooked black beans, as opposed to the dried variety which I seriously doubt the shops here in The-Land-Beyond-Beyond will sell.

Nigella’s errors: Well apart from small errors like the mention of chicken stock in the text but none in the ingredients list, basically I think it’s a duff recipe.

Verdict: We haven’t had it yet but I’ve had a taster while it has cooked and, oh dear, it’s sweet.  This is logical, as it contains what remains of the 2 litre bottle of coke I used to cook the ham.  I just honestly thought that this sweetness would have partly dissipated during the ham cookout and then be balanced by the other ingredients in the soup-part of the recipe.  I actually should have thought about this more because I know from doing some of Nigella’s other recipes that she has an incredibly sweet tooth, sometimes way too sweet for my liking.

I’ve looked up other Black Bean Soup recipes and it seems to me that the crucial element of the heat of chillis is sorely missing from Nigella’s version.  Unless I can do something truly amazing to this soup between now and serving time I can honestly say that I won’t be doing it again.


Final prognosis: Avoid it. I’m afraid I just don’t think it’s worth even the minimal effort that it takes to make, and I’m not bothering to save the leftovers for my lunch tomorrow. Despite all efforts to improve the flavour, the overall effect is unpleasantly sweet – let’s face it, nothing is going to get around that 2 ltr bottle of ‘full fat’ coke. 


BTW, If I’m not writing here each day, I can usually be found over at Gentle Voice






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Filed under Cookery

Slow cooked root vegetable soup

This is honestly one of the tastiest soups I have ever eaten with the added bonus that it is low in fat. The slow cooking of the vegetables intensifies their flavour and fills the kitchen with the most wonderful aroma.  Soup in all its varieties is a good and cheap way of getting the family to take in more health-giving vegetables and I defy anyone not to like this one.  Make a meal of it on a cold Winter’s night with some crusty bread and some cheese.

This is from the doyenne of home cooking here in the U.K. – Delia Smith.

Slow cooked root vegetable soup

Serves 6

Vegetable quantities are prepared weights

8oz (225g) peeled carrots, cut into 2 inch (5cm) lengths

8oz (225g) peeled celeriac (celery root), cut into 2 inch (5cm) pieces

8 oz (225g) trimmed and washed leeks, halved and cut into 2 inch / 5 cm lengths

8 oz (225g) peeled swede (rutabaga / yellow turnip), cut into 2 inch (5cm) lengths

1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2-1/2 pints (1.5 litres) stock, made with Marigold Swiss Bouillon vegetable powder

3 bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

To serve (optional): 6 teaspoons of fat free Greek yogurt and a few fresh chives

You will also need a large, lidded flame-proof casserole (capacity of 6 pints or 3.5 litres)


Pre-heat the oven to 275F / 140C / gas mark 1 

This is such a simple soup to make once you have all your ingredients peeled, cut and prepared. All you do is place everything in the casserole and bring it up to a gentle simmer, then put the lid on.  Transfer the casserole to the lowest part of the oven and leave it there for 3 hours, by which time the vegetables will be meltingly tender and sweet and the aroma emanating from your kitchen just divine!

Remove the bay leaves and process or liquidise the soup in several batches to a puree.  (I find a hand blender is brilliant for things like this).

Gently re-heat and serve in soup bowls with a teaspoon of Greek yogurt swirled into each and garnished with fresh chopped chives.

(This recipe can be found on-line at deliaonline.com and is also printed in her book ‘How to Cook, Book Two, The Delia Collection’, Delia Smith, ISBN  056338431X)


Filed under General Health, What's Cooking?