Soups

Soups are always a great way to eat more healthily, they are mostly low in fat and calories and usually contain plenty of vegetables helping you to reach your 5-a-day target.

Winter veg and kelp soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

5-6 inch peice of kelp
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
1 bay leaves
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large knob butter
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
2 handfuls seasonal greens, washed and shredded
200 g spinach
Juice from half a lemon

Method:

To begin with, prepare the kelp by rinsing and checking for tiny shells. Place in a small pan, cover with water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and cut the kelp into small pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on a low heat. Add the garlic, shallots and chopped parsley stalks and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the stock and then add the seasonal greens and kelp cook for a further 10 minutes, adding the spinach for the last minute. Squeeze in the lemon juice, adjust the seasoning if necessary and sprinkle on the parsley leaves.

Gazpacho

Add a flavour of the Mediterranean to your diet with this fanatisically simple, yet tasty chilled soup. This Gazpacho is low in fat and calories, and bursting with vitamin C, which will boost your immune system and help to ward off any summer colds. Don’t worry about using tinned tomatoes instead of fresh, tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant known as lycopene which is better absorbed by the body when tomatoes are processed (because it releases more of the lycopene from the tough cell structures). In trials, lycopene has been found to be particularly effective in helping to combat prostate cancer.

Serves 4
Per portion: 104 kcal, 3g protein, 5g fat, 10g carbohydrate
Ingredients:

  1. 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
  2. cucumber, cut into chunks
  3. 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  4. 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  7. Handful of fresh basil, leaves only
  8. 12 ice cubes

Tip the contents of the tins into a blender and add the cucumber, garlic, red pepper, olive oil, vinegar and most of the basil. Whiz together until smooth, then pour into bowls. Shred the remaining basil leaves. Add a few ice cubes, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of basil leaves to each bowl.

Pea and ginger soup

This tasty pea soup is enhanced by the coriander and the ginger gives it a kick. Peas are a great source of vitamin C (fresh or frozen) as well as folate, needed for healthy blood and potassium, needed to regulate blood pressure.

Serves 6
Per portion: 154 kcal, 6g fat, 10g protein, 20g carbohydrate
Ingredients:

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  3. 125g potato, washed and chopped
  4. ½ tsp. ground cumin
  5. 1 tsp. ground ginger
  6. 80g pack fresh coriander
  7. 900g fresh or frozen peas
  8. 1 litre chicken stock
  9. juice 1 lemon, to taste
  10. Freshly ground pepper

Method:
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan. Add the onion and potato and stir, then add the cumin and ginger and stir for a minute or so to release their aroma. Chop the stems off the coriander (reserving the leaves) and add them to the pan. Add a splash of water, stir and cover. Let the vegetables sweat over a low heat for about 20 minutes, adding a splash of water and stirring every so often to prevent the ingredients from catching on the bottom of the pan. Add the peas, stock and coriander leaves to the pan, season with black pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 minutes then allow the soup to cool. Once cool, purée and add lemon juice to taste. When ready to eat reheat the soup and serve with crusty rolls.

Savoy cabbage and lentil soup

On a crisp winter day, come home to this hearty warming soup that’s a meal-in-one and full of goodness. It’s low in calories and fat but full of fibre which helps to fill you up and stave off hunger as well as being good for your gut.

Serves 4
Per portion: 191 kcal, 5g fat, 13g protein, 26g carbohydrate
Ingredients:

  1. 1 tbsp. olive oil
  2. 2 leeks, trimmed, halved and sliced
  3. 2 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced
  4. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  5. 1 litre chicken stock
  6. 410g can lentils, drained and rinsed
  7. ½ Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
  8. Parmesan, to serve

Method:
In a large pan, heat the oil then add the leeks, carrots and rosemary sprigs cook for 5 minutes so the vegetables start to soften. Pour in the stock then bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Stir in the lentils and cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes until the cabbage is tender. Season, remove the rosemary sprigs, then ladle into warm bowls. Grate over some Parmesan and serve with warmed crusty brown rolls.

Ham and broad bean soup

Broad beans are nutritious, filling and inexpensive and can be a useful low fat, high fibre component of any healthy balanced diet. They also provide protein, vitamins A, C and E and even some iron. Try tempting the family with this soup, the beans have a wonderful vibrant green colour and the ham provides a rich meaty flavour.

Serves 4
Per portion: 319 kcal, 10g fat, 32g protein, 25g carbohydrate
Ingredients

  1. 1 tbsp. olive oil
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. Few sprigs of lemon thyme, leaves, only
  4. 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 600g uncooked ham, diced
  7. 1.5 litre vegetable stock
  8. 1kg frozen baby broad beans
  9. Lemon zest
  10. Freshly ground pepper

Method
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, thyme, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the stock and ham to the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans to the pan and return to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ham and a few tablespoons of the beans and set aside. Blitz the contents of the pan with a handheld blender until smooth. Season with the black pepper. Remove the outer skins of the reserved broad beans and cut the ham into thin strips. Mix together with the lemon zest. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and pile some of the ham and bean mixture into the middle of each bowl. Serve with crusty bread.