Beetroot, cumin and coriander soup

A nod to the BBC good food site, which is a source of reliable recipes. I was looking for new ways to cook beetroot, of which there is a plentiful supply in one of our local supermarkets. I had also grown a few more puny specimens which I added to the mix. 


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions in wedges
  • 1kg raw beetroot (about 3 very large beetroot) peeled and diced (or you can add a carrot if you don’t have enough beetroot)
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.2 litres marigold stock, or other vegetable stock
  • 30g hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • natural yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • (I also added some chopped celery)


  • Heat the oil in a large soup pan, and gently fry the onions, optional celery, and a good pinch of salt.  Cook for around 10 minutes
  • Add the Chilli flakes, and 1 tbsp each of cumin and coriander, turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes until the smell is fragrant with spice.
  • Add the vinegar, stir and add the stock. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for an hour. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • When the beetroot is tender, use a soup wand to blend. 
  • Meanwhile, chop the hazelnuts roughly. In a dry frying pan, add the nuts, sesame seeds and 1 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp coriander, and gently toast until the nuts are golden. 
  • Serve the soup with a swirl of yoghurt in each bowl, topped with a good sprinkling of spiced toasted nuts. 

Spicy lentil and bulgur wheat soup

This is a Turkish dish, very quick and simple, from Anatolia. There are several variations, depending on the region. Essentially, it is a thick lentil soup flavoured with mint, red pepper flakes and olive oil. I find it is better with bulgur wheat added. 


  • 300g red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 tbsp bulgur wheat, rinsed
  • 2 litres of water 
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste (I buy this online and freeze it in portions)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Another tbsp extra tasty olive oil


  • In a large soup pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil, and fry the onion over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add the chopped garlic, and fry, stirring, for another minute. 
  • Add the lentils and the water and bring to the boil, and cook for around 30 minutes. 
  • Stir in the bulgur wheat, tomato paste, red pepper paste, dried mint, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another ten minutes, until the bulgur wheat is cooked. Add water if the soup appears too thick. When the bulgur wheat is cooked, give the soup a whisk with a large beater to mix well.
  • Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning. 
  • To serve, add a swirl of olive oil and a garnish of mint and red pepper flakes. 

Minestrone 1

I’ve marked it as number 1, because I know that there will be variants and I might post some more minestrone recipes. I’ve previously done a summer vegetable version as well. 

This is a more solid affair, this soup. As usual, after making the broth, you add the vegetables in the order in which they will cook, saving those with the shortest cooking time until the end. You can vary the vegetables in season, to include chopped beetroot, celeriac, fennel, peas, leeks, kohl rabi, or substitute rice or barley for the pasta. 


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon or 100g pancetta, or more if you wish
  • 2 tsp marjoram or mixed herbs
  • a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml red wine
  • 1 can of haricot beans, drained. 
  • 1.7 litres of boiling water or stock
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small potatoes, such as charlottes, peeled and diced
  • About the same volume of turnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • half a small cabbage, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • 50g small pasta
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Heat the olive oil in a very large soup pan, and cook the onions very slowly for 5 minutes so that they soften. Add in the chopped garlic and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the bacon and herbs. You can actually use just about any herb; thyme, basil, marjoram all work well. 
  • Once the bacon is cooked and the mixture is hot through, add the chopped tomatoes, red wine and haricot beans. Bring this to a simmer and then add the boiling water or stock. Bring to a simmer and cook very very slowly for the flavour to develop, and for the beans to be hot and cooked through. 
  • You can pause at this stage, and then finish the soup off when you are ready, about 45 minutes before serving, to ensure that all of the vegetables are perfect. 
  • Add the carrots, simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and turnip, simmer for 15 minutes
  • Add the celery, cabbage and pasta, season with salt and pepper, simmer for 10 minutes
  • Stir in 2 tbsp grated parmesan, and serve with more parmesan. 

Curried Pumpkin Soup


  • 30 g butter
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 15 g curry powder
  • 950 ml vegetable broth such as marigold
  • 900g cooked pumpkin
  • 355 ml single cream
  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 10 g sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 190C.
  • Cut thepumpkin into wedges, remove seeds and then bake, skin side down, for approx 1 hour. Allow to cool then remove skin and mash pumpkin flesh.
  • Arrange pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until seeds begin to brown (I cheated and used prepared pumpkin seeds, because I hate shelling them.)
  • Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, then stir in flour and curry powder until smooth. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble.
  • Gradually whisk in the broth, and cook until thickened.
  • Stir in the cooked pumpkin and cream. Season with soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat.
  • Garnish each serving with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Leek and celery soup

This recipe is dedicated to my friend Anna. The soup is much better than she led me to believe, a delicate pale green with a smooth consistency. The dominant flavour is of celery. It is very useful for using up all the celery that we end up with after recipes that ask for just one or two stems. This version is from Delia Smith’s Vegetarian Collection.


  • 350g Celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 110g potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • White sections of 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 pint stock
  • 1/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 150ml single cream
  • 150ml milk
  • salt and pepper


  • Melt the butter in a large pan over low heat.
  • Add the chopped celery, potatoes and leeks, and stir. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes
  • Add the stock and celery seeds, and a little salt, and simmer very gently for a further 20 minutes.
  • Puree the soup by blending it, then add the cream and milk, and season to taste.

If you have a few celery leaves, chop them finely as a garnish, before serving with hot buttered brown toast.


Garbure is a thick French soup, almost a stew, based on cabbage and beans with some form of meat and other vegetables, often with bread added. It originated in the south-west of France, around Bearn, the Pyrenees, Gascony and Landes. It may vary from household to household and season to season, depending on what is available. The basic principle behind this dish is the lengthy simmering of an assortment of vegetables and meats, generally meats preserved en confit. As far as vegetables go, anything is possible. The cabbage may be accompanied by any kind of beans, potatoes, turnips, celeriac, kohl rabi, nettle tops, borrage, leaf beet, beetroot, in fact just about anything that can be grown in the area.

I started with an enormous home-grown cabbage. I didn’t use all of it; this cabbage weighs more than an average baby, and is about the size of a basket ball. I just shaved off about a quarter of it.One word of warning: this involved a lot of chopping and I used a very large pan.


  • 1 small cabbage (or part of a larger one), coarsely shredded
  • 3 tbsp goose fat
  • 2 carrots, diced, or use celeriac
  • 1 turnip, diced, or use kohl rabi
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large leek, split lengthways into quarters and then chopped
  • Parsley, thyme, bayleaves
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2.3 litres of stock or water
  • 1 can of borlotti beans (you could use any sort of bean, especially canellini beans.
  • 350g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 250g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cubed.
  • 1 serving of meat per person, for example ham hough, sausage, confit of duck or goose. If you cooked the hough yourself, use the stick in the soup.

  • Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the cabbage, simmer for ten minutes and then drain well.
  • In a large soup pan, heat the goose fat and add the carrots, celery, turnips, onion and leeks, and stew very slowly for fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time.
  • Add the drained cabbage, and cook for another ten minutes
  • Add herbs, salt, cayenne and the stock, then stir in the beans, potatoes and pumpkin and cook, uncovered, at a very slow simmer for around 40 minutes. You may need to top up with water as required.
  • Submerge the meat in the soup and continue to cook for another thirty minutes.
  • To serve, line each bowl with a slice of home-made bread, ladle the soup over the bread, and top with a portion of meat.

    There are other versions, which include cloves, or garlic, or other ingredients. You can make the base soup, cool before the step where the meat is added. Then, when you need to, reheat what you need.

Courgette and sweet potato soup

I got this recipe from the women who run the cafe at Hebridean Jewellery, which is just down the road. I’ve now made it a couple of times, using slightly different herbs, and it is delicious and creamy, whilst being completely vegan. I got the idea of using mint from the incomparable book ‘A celebration of soup’ by Lindsay Bareham. 


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large courgettes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 4 white potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped, or a 1/2 tsp dried red pepper
  • 3 tsp dried basil, or 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil and chopped parsley to serve


  • Saute the onions in the olive oil over a low heat. When they are soft, add the chilli and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more. 
  • Add the other vegetables, herbs and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender. 
  • Use a soup wand to blend the soup thoroughly so it is smooth
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper; I used salt-free stock and I needed to add a level tsp 
  • Serve with a small swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and chopped parsley. 



Black-eyed beans and carrot soup

Still eating through the stored carrots, not so many left now. I used some of the salt-free stock that I made earlier in the season with the less pretty carrots. 


  • 125g black-eyed beans, soaked and drained (haricot beans are an alternative)
  • 850ml to 900ml low-salt vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 1 bayleaf
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • 25g flour
  • 25g butter
  • 300ml milk
  • salt and pepper
  • a grate of nutmeg


  • Put the beans in a large pan with the stock, and bring to a simmer and cook gently for 45 minutes
  • Add the onion, celery and carrots, as well as the herbs, and simmer with the lid on, until everything is tender. 
  • Remove the bayleaf, and blend the soup. You may need to add a little water if it is very thick. 
  • Heat the butter in a small pan, and when it is hot, add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, before adding to the soup pan. 
  • Blend in the salt, pepper, milk and nutmeg, adjusting the seasoning to taste.

This soup is not super-glamorous, but it tastes delicious. Serve with a garnish of chopped parsley, and with slices of brown buttered bread. It is a better colour made with haricot beans, but black-eyed beans are easier to find in the shops. 

Cannellini bean, lamb, celeriac soup

This is a rich, chunky soup with lots of flavour and it uses lots of ingredients that I can get locally. It is another Ottolenghi recipe. 


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 170g celeriac, in bits about the size of a cannellini bean
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lamb, in 2cm cubes
  • 1.75 litres of water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans OR 100g dried beans, soaked overnight and drained. 
  • 7 cardamom pods, lightly squashed
  • (you could add a stick of cinnamon as well)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp caster sugar or date syrup
  • 4 firm potatoes such as Charlotte or Jersey Royal, 2cm cubes
  • salt and black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Chopped coriander and green chillies (depending on your taste)


  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the onion and celeriac over a medium heat until starting to brown. This takes around 5 minutes
  • Add the garlic cloves and cumin and cook for another two minutes before turning off the heat. 
  • Put the meat and water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 10 minutes, and skim the surface to get a clear broth. 
  • Add the onion and celeriac, the soaked cannellini beans, (if using tinned beans, wait until later) along with the turmeric, cardamom, sugar and tomato puree. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour so that the lamb and beans are tender. 
  • Add the potatoes, 1 level tsp salt, pepper, canned beans, and bring back to the simmer. Cook for a further 20 minutes, with the lid off the pan, to thicken the soup. 
  • When the soup is cooked, add the lemon juice and check the seasoning. Serve garnished with chopped coriander. You could add chopped parsley and hot green chillies. Ottolenghi gives a recipe for Zhoug which can be used as a garnish. 

Serve with bread. 

Yoghurt and barley soup

This recipe is based on one in Ottlenghi’s book, ‘Jerusalem’, but there are many versions, in my soup book, in my two books of Turkish recipes, and in a book by Madhur Jaffrey. The key ingredients are yoghurt, eggs, dried mint, and some sort of grain. Some of the recipes use bulghur wheat, others use rice. One recipe has a handful of green lentils, another has some chickpeas. This recipe has herbs and spring onions stirred in. 


  • 1.8 litres dilute lamb stock or vegetable stock
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 60g butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 450g Greek yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped herbs, try mint, parsley, spring onion, to garnish


  • In a large pan, bring the stock to a simmer, and add the barley and 1 level tsp salt. Cover and simmer for around 20 minutes, until the barley is cooked. 
  • In the meantime, melt the butter in a medium pan, low heat, and fry the onion and dried mint until the onion is soft, around 10 to 15 minutes. Add this to the barley pan. 
  • Whisk the eggs and the yoghurt together in a large bowl. Add a scoop of the hot stock from the barley pan, and keep whisking, and adding scoops of hot stock, until the mixture is warm. 
  • Add the warmed yoghurt mixture to the barley pan, and season with salt and pepper. Heat gently until the soup is almost at a simmer. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with chopped herbs.