Soups to warm your soul

Resident food blogger Janine Kennedy continues in her quest to promote local, homegrown produce!

Every second person you meet at this time of year is on a diet. New year new you and all that. But just because you are on a diet you don't need to cut on taste and you certainly don't need to cut on nutrition.

Soups are a great way to get lots of tasty vegetables into your diet in winter. They are the ideal comfort food as they are warm, taste great and the calorie count won't make you feel bad for eating really good food.

You can make soup from just about anything and if you want to make a soup extra special you can add in a little cream but if you are trying to be healthy then leave it out. It is also a great alternative to a sandwich for your lunch at work.

Butternut squash soup


m 1 butternut squash

m 2 tbsp olive oil

m 1 onion, chopped

m butter, to taste

m 600ml/20fl oz vegetable stock, plus additional stock to loosen soup if desired

m 1 heaped tsp hot smoked paprika

m salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Peel the butternut squash and reserve the long strips of skin if making butternut crisps (see below).

2. Discard the butternut squash pulp and chop the remaining butternut squash into chunks.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole, add the onion and butternut squash and plenty of butter (to taste) and cook until brown and caramelised.

4. Pour over the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool slightly and then blend using a food processor or hand-blender to the desired consistency.

5. Add hot smoked paprika and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To make this soup extra special you can make butternut squash crisps to serve on the side making it a delicious starter.

Ingredients for the crisps: reserved butternut squash peelings; drizzle olive oil; few drops sherry vinegar; 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary.

To make the crisps, preheat the oven to 140C/275F/ Gas 1. Place the reserved butternut peelings in a roasting tray and top with the olive oil, sherry vinegar, chopped rosemary and put in the oven to cook for 20 minutes on a low heat to crisp up. Remove the crisps from the oven and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Serve the soup with the skin crisps.

Tomato & red pepper soup


m ½ onion, chopped

m 2 cloves garlic, chopped

m 2 tins tomatoes

m 1 jar red peppers

m 250ml/9fl oz chicken or vegetable stock

m sea salt and black pepper

m handful fresh parsley, chopped

m double cream (optional)


1. Firstly, sauté the onion and garlic and then add the tinned tomatoes and red peppers. You can use fresh tomatoes and peppers if you like but this is a quick recipe so tinned tomatoes and jar of peppers work best.

2. Bring to a simmer and add the stock. Bring to the boil and then gently simmer for four to five minutes, before placing in the blender.

3. Blend to a smooth soup. Season with salt and pepper. Return to the pan to warm through and serve immediately scattered with the parsley and a swirl of double cream, if using.

Chicken Soup


m 55g/2oz butter

m 2 onions, sliced

m 2 sticks celery, finely chopped

m 2 carrots, finely diced

m 25g/2oz plain flour

m 1.2 litres/2 pints chicken stock

m 450g/1lb cooked chicken, skinned and shredded

m 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

m salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and gently fry the onions, celery and carrots until they start to soften.

2. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring as you do so. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

3. Add the cooked chicken and cook until heated through. Adjust the seasoning, stir in the parsley and serve.