Soup, Soup, Glorious Soup

It isn’t many foods that have poems written about them. And remember the story of Esau who, coming in tired and hungry, was willing to give up his birthright for a bowl of pottage – lentil soup. I t must have been good soup! From the time man discovered that he could bake clay hard in the fire he began to make clay pots – and what do you cook in such a pot? – Soup of course.

The earliest pots have the markings of woven sticks on the outside so presumably they first of all lined baskets with clay – but somehow soup in a basket never took off.

Every generation and every people group have some form of soup or stew – it is served hot, cold, thick, thin, creamy, clear, vegetarian, meaty, spicy – something for everyone. It isn’t as fashionable at dinner parties these days – starters tend to be more complicated and dinner parties an excuse to show off. But soup will go on as long as people come home hungry and it is time for a revival

Sweet and Creamy

For 4 you will need

25 grams ( 1 oz)

I clove of garlic, crushed

225 grams sweet potato

1 largish parsnip

1 level teaspoon of paprika

1 level teaspoon of chilli flakes or ½ deseeded chilli, finely sliced

750 mls ( 26 fl oz) vegetable stock

2 teaspoons of mustard of your choice – mine would be honey mustard

1 tablespoon of grated strong cheese – Parmesan, Cheddar, Stilton

125 ml ( ¼ pint ) double cream or low fat yoghurt

Salt and pepper

Dice the sweet potato and the parsnip. Melt the butter and fry the garlic, parsnip and sweet potato. Add the spices, chilli and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in the mustard and cheese. Blend in food processor. Reheat in pan, but do not boil. Season to taste. When serving add a spoon of cream or yoghurt.

Variation – you could replace the parsnip with carrots or squash.

Chicken Soup – one version is known as New York Penicillin so good is the effect of eating soups like this.

For 4 you need

75 grams ( 3 oz) of pearl barley or red lentils

4 medium potatoes, cooked for 10 minutes and diced

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

2 chicken breasts – I prefer to leave them in quite big chunks, but you may prefer to cut them into smaller pieces.

845 mls (1 1/1 pints ) chicken stock

If you are using lentils boil them up in clean water first and then rinse and drain. This makes them less gassy. In a large pan cook the carrots, onion, stock, and pearl barley or lentils. Simmer at least 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and heat through. Whether or not you need to add more seasoning depends upon the stock used. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes until the barley is cooked through.


Replace the onion with a finely sliced leek. If you drain off some of the stock you can add some diced ham and a pastry lid and you have a delicious chicken and ham pie.

Salad Soup

Yes I know it sounds weird, but it tastes good. The use of lettuce in soup goes back all the way to ancient Rome.

For 4 you will need

25 g ( 1 oz) butter

I medium potato, diced

I onion, diced

520 mls ( 18fl oz) vegetable stock

75 grams (3 oz) peas – frozen are fine

2 handfuls of lettuce leaves

3 green onions ( scallions) sliced finely

4 radishes cut up small or sliced very finely

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons of double cream ( or you could save the top of the milk for a day or two.)

1 teaspoon of chopped herbs – parsley, mixed herbs, oregano, chervil as you like

Cook the potato and onion in melted butter. Add the stock and peas. Boil and then simmer for about 25 minutes. Shred lettuce finely and add. Cook for 5 minutes and then blend. Add the chopped green onions and radishes. Season as needed. Add the herbs. When serving add a spoonful of cream to top each bowl.