There are few foods as warming and comforting as a big bowl of soup.
Before the light at the end of the Winter tunnel starts to appear I thought it would be timely to share my favourite simple, soul-satisfying family soups.
Steaming and ready in ten minutes, just the thing for a quick mid week dinner.
While each soup is a meal in itself, I know some people do struggle to see soup as a proper dinner. If you’re cooking for someone of that persuasion just be sure to have some hot toast or crusty bread and butter on hand.
All these soups can be easily doubled or tripled if you are cooking for a larger family. They are also great for making in bulk and freezing for another meal.
My Dad lives on his own and is not exactly into cooking. Whenever I visit I make up big pots of these soups and freeze them in individual serves so he always has a home cooked meal at the ready.
Pea and pasta soup with bacon (serves 4)
This is my take on the classic ham and pea soup.
Frozen peas are a life saver when you’re in the mood for something green and the larder is empty. Peas are one of those vegetables that start to loose their natural sweetness and flavour as soon as they are picked so unless you have access to peas straight from the plant, frozen will generally taste better.
I’ve used bacon instead and served it in chunks on top but you could skip the bacon and use vegetable stock if you wanted a vegetarian soup.
4 rashers bacon
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 packet frozen peas (250g or 1/2lb)
200g or 7oz macaroni or other small pasta
1/2 bunch chives, chopped, optional
- Cook bacon under a broiler or overhead grill until brown and crispy.
- Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Add peas and pasta and boil for about 8 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
- Stir through chives, if using. Taste and season.
- Serve soup topped with bacon pieces.
Gently spiced lentil soup (serves 4)
If you prefer not to use canned lentils. You could substitute in 1lb small green or brown lentils. They’ll take more than 10 minutes to cook.
Lentils love spices so feel free to play around. Some fresh or dried chilli would make a lovely addition but would take us over my 5 ingredient limit.
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cans lentils, drained (400g or 15oz each)
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup natural yoghurt
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan on a very high heat.
- Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds or until just starting to brown. Add cumin and stir for a few seconds then add the lentils and stock.
- Bring to the boil and cook for 5 – 6 minutes or until the lentils are just starting to break down. Taste and season.
- Serve with yoghurt.
Zucchini (courgette) soup (serves 3-4)
The fastest way to grate zucchini is using a food processor. If you don’t have one you could get some exercise and grate with a hand grater. Or just cut the zucchini into small chunks – they’ll take a little longer to cook.
The herbs add a some freshness at the end but the soup will be lovely without it.
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
4 medium zucchini, grated
2 cups tomato passata
1/2 bunch basil or flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
parmesan cheese, to serve
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan and cook garlic over a high heat for 30 seconds or until just starting to brown.
- Add zucchini and cook stirring for a couple of minutes.
- Add passata and 2 cups water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 7-8 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
- Taste and season and toss through herbs.
- Serve with cheese grated on the top.
Chicken and couscous soup (serves 4)
Couscous is brilliant in soup as it cooks quickly and adds a lovely hearty texture to make your soup more of a meal-in-a-bowl.
If you have access to kale or other hearty greens they may be substituted for the baby spinach for a more rustic soup.
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 chicken breasts, finely sliced into ribbons
1/2 cup couscous
2 bags baby spinach, washed
4-5 tablespoons lemon juice
- Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan.
- Add chicken and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until just cooked through. Scoop our the chicken and divide between 4 bowls. Keep warm.
- Meanwhile return the broth to the boil. Add couscous and return to the boil then stir through the spinach leaves until they are just wilted.
- Add lemon juice, season and taste. Add a little more lemon juice if you think it needs it.
- Divide couscous and spinach broth between the bowls and serve hot.
Hot prawn (shrimp) soup (serves 4)
If you can’t get your hands on fish or prawn stock, you can make your own using the heads and shells of the prawns. Just pop the heads and shells in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes then strain and you have a lovely fresh simple prawn stock. Alternately substitute in vegetable broth or dilute some chicken broth instead.
I prefer to use green prawns (shrimp) as I think they generally taste fresher and have a nicer texture but pre-cooked prawns would be fine. They won’t take as long to cook, so you’ll need to time adding them to the soup later.
This is another soup that would benefit from a little chilli for the hot heads.
6 cups fish or prawn stock
4 medium tomatoes, diced
12 – 16 large green prawns, peeled
1 bunch cilantro (coriander), leaves picked
- Bring stock and tomato to the boil in a large pot. Cook for 2 minutes then taste. Season well with salt or fish sauce.
- Add prawns and simmer until the prawns change colour and go opaque.
- Add the juice of three limes and one lime thinly sliced into rounds. Taste and add a little more lime juice if it isn’t sour enough.
- Divide between bowls and serve sprinkled with cilantro.
Editor’s note: Post written by Jules from stonesoup | minimalist home cooking.