Leek and butternut squash soup

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Adpated from Delia Smith’s Leek and Butternut Squash Soup

I eat a lot of soup.  Most days this is what I have for lunch and there a few reasons for this.  Firstly, if you make a big batch of soup it’ll last you 3 days (assuming you don’t mind eating the same thing several days in a row).  When you’re pressed for time there is great value in this, and if you vary the toppings and/or accompaniments (bread, breadsticks, cheese shavings, garlic croutons, chives, yogurt swirls, chilli oil, olive tapenade… the list is pretty much as endless as you want it to be), then you are almost eating a different soup every day.  Secondly, I’m feeding a pre-schooler and you can get all sorts of veggies in them via soup.  Not that C has a problem with vegetables in their original format, but there’s limits to how much she will eat and you know, every little helps.  Lastly, you can do a lot more damage to your calorie intake eating a cheese sandwich every day, so soup is often a more sensible option, especially if you also bake as much as I do.  This soup has a delicate flavour and the almond milk gives it a comforting texture akin to a cream of soup.

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Broccoli, cauliflower and leek soup

Broccoli, cauliflower and leek soup

Adapted from Frugal Feeding’s Broccoli, cauliflower and leek soup

It’s raining so it’s time for comforting soup!  I might have mentioned before I’ve got friends doing WeightWatchers and some seem to regularly eat zero point soup.  The basic concept being that most vegetables (though not all apparently) are worth zero points and therefore these can be included in the diet without having to count them against the day’s allocation of points.  This is within reason obviously – I’m sure if you ate a mountain of anything, including broccoli, you could still put on weight.  But anyway, the idea is to cook a soup without fat and plain starches, like potatoes, rice or pasta which incur points.  If you like broccoli soup, and normally sweat onions in butter or oil, then I still think you’re going to be surprised how good this tastes without them.  I was inspired by the beautiful soup made over on Frugal Feeding, and that did come with a caveat about the large chunk of butter included!  This soup still looks, tastes and feels creamy, which I think is the magic properties of cauliflower when cooked and blended.  You get a more vibrant colour if your broccoli is fresh and green, but this is an excellent way to use up anything that has got a bit bendy in the fridge.  I’ve included an optional sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a cheesy garnish if you are so inclined, what with all three vegetables having a natural affinity with cheese.  Still vegan then, still with no added fat, still zero WW ProPoints per serving and super quick to make as well!

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Creamy tomato soup

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Adapted from Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen’s Tomato and Coconut Soup

I’m sure I’d like you to all think that I’m 200 recipes ahead of my publishing schedule and I’m planning weeks of meals way in advance with a tightly controlled, recipe led, shopping list in hand.  It is true I’ve got a lot of draft posts in the bag, but I can’t publish things until I’m sure they’re going to work, and anyway I really am at the mercy of the weekly veg box for much of the time.  I know I could just ditch it and go completely with organisation and certainty, but I know I’d miss that vegetable lottery.  I genuinely revel in the challenge of planning meals around what turns up.  My life is that exciting!!  It’s like living in a game show based on constant rounds of Ready Steady Cook.  So, I found myself with some rapidly collapsing giant tomatoes and a heat wave.  I ate this soup chilled, but I tasted it hot and both ways it was lovely.  I’ve robbed the method directly from Poppy’s Patisserie and her Tomato and Coconut Soup, rather shamelessly!  But I wasn’t in the mood for coconut – I may have overdosed after making dairy-free ice cream last week (recipe to follow) – hard as that is to believe!  If you like a very smooth soup then you may want to sieve this after blending, but I liked the texture as it was.  Super tasty from roasting the ingredients.  It has no dairy in it, but it still tastes creamy – that’ll be the little bit of almond milk in there.  Delicious.

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Roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup

Roasted pepper and sweet potato soup

For the record, I’d just like to make absolutely clear, this soup is red, ok?  It is not orange.  it is red.  And I’m sticking to that story.  Of course, it is yet another soup recipe and that’s because although it is nearly June it has still been raining and cold here in good old England.  I’m not surprised because I’ve lived here all my life.  I am just resigned to it.  However, this soup is as lovely chilled as it is warm so take that weather!  I don’t care what you do, this soup will conquer all.  I’m actually in a little bit of a flap because this weekend it is the annual street party in our road.  We started having them for the last royal wedding, then last year it was the Queen’s Jubilee and this year, well, there is just another one.  Bunting at the ready!  Of course this year I won’t eat anyone else’s food, because this year is the first year of being gluten-free.  We are supposed to bring one savoury and one sweet dish but I might do more, just to give myself some variety.  I don’t feel up to quizzing the neighbours about what’s in their offerings.  I foresee a lot of pasta salad, sausage rolls and cake!

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Jerusalem artichoke and carrot soup

Jerusalem artichoke and carrot soup

Jerusalem artichokes are an ugly beast.  That is the joy of getting a veg box.  One week you get dirty sticks (salsify), then aliens (kholrabi), and now possibly the trickiest vegetable to peel known to man.  Anyway, they really are very good for you, with lots of vitamins and minerals.  Lots of iron, which is very good for me as I’ll take any iron I can get, and also a prebiotic called inulin.  This promotes bacteria production, obviously as a prebiotic, and is why this vegetable is renowned for its effect on the human body.  The best description I ever saw??  Fartichokes.  Genius.  But then I have a nearly 3-year-old and all bodily functions are hilarious in this house.  I’m hoping that because I got a girl this will wear off, but I do like a puerile joke even now, so perhaps this is an unrealistic dream.  The soup itself is deliciously sweet with fresh flavours.  The artichokes make it seem creamy by adding a velvet texture without the need for dairy or potato.  Although sophisticated enough to serve to guests, you’d have to pick them carefully.  The very young and the very old (who don’t care or find it hysterical) would be fine.  Your best friend the first time you meet her new boyfriend, perhaps not.  Since I sleep alone I’ve got no one to offend, so if you’re in the same position I’d recommend a cold night when the extra warm air keeping your duvet nice and toasty would be welcome. 😉  By the way, this was going to be artichoke and mushroom soup (equally fabulous) but life got in the way, the mushrooms went in some pasta, and the carrots went bendy until all they were good for was soup.  Isn’t that just the way it goes sometimes?

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White asparagus and black salsify soup

White asparagus and black salsify soup

She makes a soup that’s not orange!  This week my veg box contained white asparagus and black salsify.  Fancy right?  White asparagus perhaps tastes a little more delicate than the usual green and is produced by restricting the light the plant gets.  Poor little thing.  Black salsify is a root vegetable, but you don’t eat the skin and although it starts off all gnarly, dirty and black, once you’ve peeled it off then the flesh underneath is as white as, um… asparagus??  The two have been compared in flavour, but although they’re similar they are different and complementary.  I bet you’re thinking, “if I had something like white asparagus I’d gently pan-fry it and serve it by itself.”  Normally I would agree to a pared down no-nonsense approach, but I didn’t get delicate little fingers of asparagus, I got giant fat thumbs of the stuff.  And I’m no magician!  So choppity-chop and in the soup they go.  Salsify is supposed to taste like oysters, but that doesn’t mean it tastes fishy.  Oysters don’t taste particularly fishy to me either – rather they taste fresh and slightly metallic (in my opinion).  This soup ends up delicate but earthy.  It’s lovely with hot buttered toast.  Very comforting on a day when winter seems to have returned here.  We were forecast snow flurries last night despite having already had the paddling pool out in the garden just a couple of weeks ago.  I just have no idea what’s going on with this weather!

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Fennel, carrot and butternut squash soup

Fennel, carrot and butternut squash soup

I realise you will all start to think I only make orange coloured soups!  I do make them quite often as I always seem to have some bendy carrots in the fridge.  Normally I would roast a butternut squash for soup because it adds so much to the flavour of the finished dish.  However, when I don’t have time for such things I cheat and use Worcester Sauce.  The ‘real’ stuff (by which I mean Lea & Perrins) contains both gluten (in the UK) and anchovies – instantly making your vegetable soup meaty as well.  So for years I used Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup – no fish in there!  But that has barley malt extract in it so I won’t use it now.  There is a bit of a debate on how little gluten there might be in sauces like this, how little one might use to flavour something, and whether this falls below the gluten codex level for safety.  My rule of thumb though is if a product doesn’t appear in the Coeliac UK Food and Drink Directory then I’m not using it.  So now I use Biona Worcester Sauce, which is both gluten-free and vegan.  I can’t really tell the difference in the things that I add it to, but then I don’t eat anything with the ‘real’ stuff anymore how can I compare!  I’ve heard some people say that the Tiger Tiger brand sauce is much more authentic in flavour but since it is so difficult to get hold of, I haven’t tried it yet.  Do you have a preference?  This soup is perfectly fine without the sauce, but if you add some it is lifted to something very moreish.  I encourage you to seek out a bottle if you’ve not already!

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