have a cold at the moment, and as the old adage goes, ‘starve a fever and feed a cold’. Which is actually pretty correct from I can gather. I think the best go too when you have a cold, is soup, but rather than but one of the many delicious soups that are on the market nowadays I like to cook my own ‘cold cure‘. Of course nothing cures a cold but rest and time, but this really goes a long way to giving the body the fuel it needs to deal with a virus. I have been a vegetarian for 40 years now, so this is my super healthy vegetarian soup recipe. I cook in a way that brings out the flavours as much as possible, so give it a try. If you don’t fancy any of the veg, swap them out for things you do like, and of course adjust the chilli to the level you are comfortable with.
2-3 potatoes, 1 or 2 carrots, Some broccoli, 3 decent sized mushrooms, 2 or 3 birdseye chillies, 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, a spoonful of chopped root ginger, 1 small tin of butter beans, 1 vegetable stock cube, a large teaspoon of dried crushed chillies, a pinch of black pepper, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, and some oil for cooking.
Boil a kettle full of water. While this is heating, peel and chop the potatoes. We are going to cook these for long enough that they start to break up and naturally thicken the soup, so chop them into approx cm cubes. Fill a decent sized pan just under halfway with the kettle, and make sure this is boiling. Add the potatoes, and bring back to the boil. When the water is boiling, add the crushed stock cube to the mix and put a lid on the pan. Reduce heat to a fairly lively simmering.
Note: I use Oxo stock cubes. If you are careful you can crush them up in the foil wrapper , work them to a fine powder before tearing a corner and adding to cooking. It saves a lot of mess rather than peeling and then crushing.
Meanwhile you can start chopping the carrots, these need to be similar size chunks to the potato, or a little smaller.
Chop the broccoli, mushrooms fairly small. Chop the ginger and fresh chillies into small pieces, and either crush the garlic, or chop extremely finely.
Now add the carrots to the pan and stir, then bring back to the boil and put the lid back on. Return to simmering.
Now put a decent size frying pan on a medium heat, and add oil while you get on with chopping the onions. Onions start to go off once peeled, so it’s always best to leave them till last. Add directly to the pan when you have finished chopping. The pan should be hot enough to cook them fairly quickly, I like them to brown a little, caramelise I call it, but for me the taste of well cooked onions really adds to the overall flavour. Add the garlic and the dried chillies, if the pan looks a little dry add some more oil. Turn the heat down a little and cook for a couple of mins.
Next add the rest of the veg, broccoli, mushrooms, ginger and chopped chillies, and stir in well. Make sure you turn the veg with a spatula, you want to mix in the onions and garlic properly and get them off the bottom of the pan. We are just going to soften the veg here and get a bit of pan fried flavour into things.
Whilst the veg is cooking, open the beans and drain and rinse them. Ideally I’d add dried beans, but these take some planning for, with the soaking and pre-cooking. Most times I clean forget, or just cook at random, so always keep a selection of tinned beans in the cupboard. I’m using butter beans in the soup as they are quite soft and go well with the veg, but you could get away with most beans if you wanted.
Add the beans to the potatoes and carrots, make sure the mixture is boiling and recover.
Stir the fried veg for a couple more minutes, then add to the main pan, stir all in well for a couple of mins and bring temperature back up. Then put on to simmer with the lid on, and leave for ten mins, stirring once or twice. Then add the herbs and black pepper, stir and leave another five minutes. Just make sure it is not cooking to high. If the lid is sputtering and steam escaping, then it’s probably too hot.
After the five mons your soup should be ready. I like to serve with fresh buttered bread, and a little grated cheese sprinkled on top. Another option is to make some garlic cheese bread, baguette is best. That really sets the meal off. Today I had some really nice Waitrose artisan bread, so just went with the butter.
This will serve about 6 people. I am never too exact with the measurements as it is fun to experiment, and to be honest it’s a good way to use up veg that’s coming to the end of it’s life. The mix will sit in the fridge for a couple of days and just get thicker and tastier so you don’t need to be in any hurry to eat it!