Healthy homemade soups to soothe those winter blues



Sick of the cold? Looking for food that´s tasty, comforting, healthy and cheap? Whizz up these soup recipes in your food processor...

The season of goodwill is long gone.

The weather is grim - cold, dark and wet. You're still waiting to be paid after the wallet-bashing of Christmas and the salads you're supposed to eat as part of your New Year diet just aren't hitting the spot.

There's only one thing that can help - a good bowl of soup.

You may sigh, but the saying 'chicken soup for the soul' didn't materialise out of thin air.
Sit down to a bowl of soup after even the hardest of days at the office and somehow it'll feel as though everything's going to be okay (even if it won't be okay at all).  

But not only is soup cathartic and comforting, it's also cheap and pretty damn healthy - providing you choose the right one.
And if you've snapped up a food processor or stick blender in the sales, or were given one as a Christmas box - what better way to make use of it than making your own soup? So much more romantic than asking your partner to pass the tin opener.

Here are two recipes we love, supplied by Good Food magazine, as well as a third for a simple base soup you can master and tweak to suit your tastebuds.


Red Lentil, Chickpea & Chilli Soup

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(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2tsp cumin seeds
  • Large pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 140g red split lentils
  • 850ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400g can tomatoes, whole or chopped
  • ½ x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped (reserve a few leaves to serve)
  • 4tbsp 0% Greek yogurt, to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for one minute or until aromatic. Add the oil and onion, and cook for five minutes. Stir in the lentils, stock or water and the tomatoes, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils have softened.
  2. Whizz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor to a rough puree and pour back into the pan. Add the chickpeas, heat gently, season well, then stir in the coriander.
  3. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a few coriander leaves.

Per serving: 222 kcals, protein 13g, carbs 33g, fat 5g, sat fat none, fibre 6g, sugar 6g, salt 0.87g


Roast Carrot Soup With Pancetta Croutons

Roast carrot soup with pancetta croutons

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 700g carrots, cut into batons
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, skin on
  • Few thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
  • Small knob of butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 700ml chicken stock, made up with 1 cube
  • 6tbsp double cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the croutons:
  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 2 thick slices rustic bread, cut into soldiers (or sourdough)
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the carrots, half the oil, the garlic and thyme in a roasting tin. Season and toss everything together. Pop in the oven and roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and butter in a large saucepan. Tip in the onions and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft. When the carrots are done, remove from the oven. Squeeze the soft roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and pop in the saucepan. Tip in the carrots and discard any woody thyme stalks. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. To make the croutons, wrap the pancetta around the soldiers, leaving the ends of the bread exposed. Put on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and grind over some black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes until the pancetta and bread edges are crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
  4. While the croutons are cooking, blitz the soup with a hand blender, then sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing to get as much liquid through as possible. Add five tablespoons of the cream, heat through and season. Adjust the thickness with a little water, if you like. You can chill the soup for up to one day at this point, or freeze for two months. Reheat before serving.
  5. Serve drizzled with the remaining cream and the croutons, and garnish the soup with thyme.


Base soup to create your own

Why not get creative? This simple soup base will set you up to make your own culinary creations to help keep you warm this winter. Just add which ever veg, meat or grains that take your fancy. 

Ingredients

  • Large onion        
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery

Instructions

  1. Dice the large onion, carrots and celery and gently fry in olive oil 'til soft. You now have a base for many a soup. What you add then is entirely up to you.
  2. Add three sliced leeks, three spuds and a pint or two of stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Put this through a blender and hey presto - you have leek and potato soup.
  3. For carrot and cumin add more carrots and a few teaspoons of cumin then a pint of stock.



Soup: as well as being cheap, tasty, and good for your body and soul - it offers limiltless options to stop you becoming bored!

Let us know your own favourites below.