By Rachel Gillon
There’s nothing more welcoming than a bowl of soup on a cold winters day, especially if it’s a bowl of homemade soup. As well as being a quick and easy meal to make, soup is fantastically healthy and nutritious. With the right ingredients it’s also incredibly economical to make.
So what’s makes a good pot of soup? Firstly, good stock, but that doesn’t mean you have to be using expensive ingredients. For a meat based stock, a leftover chicken carcass, chicken wings, some ham ribs, a ham hough, all make good stock, but to be honest, if stock cubes are what you’ve got and suit your budget, then use them. You could make friends with your local butcher and find out if he has any cheap bones that will make good stock.
Vegetarian or vegan stock can be made with vegetables, or with one of the vegetarian stock powders or cubes that are available. Vegetables obviously make up a good part of any soup and there’s so much to choose from. However, many soups can be made with whatever vegetables you have or whatever is available in the shops or at the market. Some basic ingredients will include onions and maybe garlic or leeks, but to that you can add whatever you have. Even leftover vegetables or mashed potato are great for adding to soup. You might find it more economical to buy what you need from some of the local independent vegetable shops in your local area.
It’s handy to keep some store cupboard staples that will add depth and more nourishment to a pot of soup. With the right ingredients, it’s easy to turn a bowl of soup into a hearty meal. Pulses, such as dried lentils and beans, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, pasta, rice can all add flavour and nutrition. Herbs and spices are also great additions, dried or fresh, they will will both add wonderful, flavour and are are full of health giving benefits.
Here’s a recipe for a nutritious spicy lentil soup. A good source of protein with added health benefits from the spices and the vegetables. The most common lentils used for soup are red lentils but you can also use a mixture of
Spicy Lentil Soup
1 tablespoon oil ( I use rapeseed – use whatever you have)
1 onion – chopped
1 garlic clove – chopped
2.5 piece of fresh ginger – grated
80z ** red lentil
2 carrots – leave whole – see cooking tip
2 celery sticks – chopped or 1 leek – chopped
1 litre stock
Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large pan.
Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
Add the carrots, celery,spices and continue cooking for 1 minute.
Add the lentil and cook for approx 25 – 30 minutes until lentils are cooked and vegetables are tender.
Cooking the carrots whole in the soup retains more nutrition and once cooked it’s easy to either chop or mash with a fork.
The soup can also be blended or left and served as a more textured soup. Turn it into a full meal by serving with chapatis or naan bread.
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