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Weekend Grauniad: 20 best soup recipes – parts 1 & 2

I won't be making the meaty ones, & will leave out fish stock etc, for veggie substitutions.

Romy Gill’s dal soup One of my favourites. I use a fresh chilli, no salt, & like to add cavolo

Serves 4

red lentils 250g

cold water 1.7 litres

turmeric powder 1½ tsp

sea salt 1½ tsp

ghee 4 tsp

nigella seeds 1 tsp, plus a little extra for garnish

fresh ginger 2 tsp, grated

spring onions 3, chopped with green

butternut squash 200g, peeled and diced

fennel seeds 1 tsp, crushed in a pestle and mortar

chilli flakes 1 tsp

crushed pepper 1 tsp

tomato puree 1 tsp

fresh coriander 1 handful, chopped

Wash and drain the lentils. Add the lentils to a medium-sized saucepan with the water, turmeric, 1 tsp sea salt and 1 tsp ghee. Cook the lentils on medium and occasionally stir.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the other ingredients.

Heat a frying pan and once hot, add the remaining ghee. Add nigella seeds and when sizzling add the ginger and cook for a minute. Add the spring onions and cook for another minute. Add the butternut squash along with fennel seeds, chilli flakes, crushed pepper and the remaining salt. Cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato puree and coriander, mix well with the ingredients in the pan and cook for 2 minutes and leave it to rest.

Once the lentils are nearly cooked, add the cooked squash mixture to the dal. Cook for a further 15 minutes, then serve.

Sally Clarke’s chilled pea soup with mint, spring onion and yogurt I like dried peas in winter as they're more stodgy, though fresh & frozen make a better summer soup. Basil or pesto are also a tasty alternative to mint & blend with white beans instead of peas.

Serves 6

unpodded peas 1.5kg (500g podded)

mint stalks a generous handful

spring onions 1 bunch, washed, root ends trimmed

olive oil 4-6 tbsp

fennel bulb 1 small, washed and roughly chopped

desiree or king edward potatoes 200g, washed, peeled and roughly chopped

celery 2 sticks, washed and roughly chopped

mint leaves small bunch

spinach or parsley leaves 75g

Greek or similar good quality yogurt 170ml

mint sprigs 6 small

First make the pea stock: pod the peas and divide them into 2 bowls – the large peas with the medium ones and the tiny peas apart. Reserve the pods, wash them and place in a pan with the mint stalks, barely cover with water (about 1.25 litres) and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the stock is flavourful, then strain.

Slice the white part of the spring onions roughly and the green part very finely. In a heavy-based saucepan heat the olive oil and, over a gentle heat, cook the white part of the spring onion, fennel, potato and celery until just beginning to soften. Do not colour the vegetables – they should simply stew slowly in the oil. Add salt, pepper and a litre of the stock, and simmer until the vegetables are completely soft. Add the large and medium peas and simmer for 3 minutes. Finally add the mint leaves and the spinach or parsley leaves, remove from the heat immediately, and stir together so that the leaves start to wilt. Cool for a few minutes and then place the bulk of the vegetables in a food processor or liquidiser (take care not to overfill the bowl or flask as the contents will still be very warm and therefore dangerous).

Slowly add the liquid from the pan and puree until smooth. Pour through a medium-gauge sieve into a clean container, pushing the debris through with the back of a ladle. Place the container over a bowl of iced water so that the soup chills as quickly as possible. (The quicker this is done, the brighter the green the soup will remain.) Add the remaining pea stock to the soup until the correct consistency is reached – remembering that the soup will thicken on cooling.

Taste and adjust seasoning and chill until ready to serve.

Blanch the small peas in a pan of boiling salted water, strain and chill in iced water, then drain. Add the finely sliced green parts of the spring onion with a touch of olive oil and salt.

To serve, whip the yogurt with a little cold water until smooth and the consistency of single cream. Give the soup a good stir and a final taste, pour into six chilled soup plates, drizzle with the yogurt, sprinkle with the peas and garnish with the mint sprigs.

Giorgio Locatelli’s pasta fagioli (bean and pasta soup with mussels)

(It tastes fine without the addition of detrital feeding shellfish!)

The idea of adding mussels to a bean and pasta soup gives a whole new lease of life to an old staple. There are so many handed-down regional recipes for these kinds of soups, which inevitably start rows among Italians as to which is the most authentic. In the summer it is also good if you allow the soup to cool down before serving.

To prepare mussels, scrub the shells really well under cold, running water, removing any beards. Discard any mussels that are open or that don’t close if you tap them against your work surface. Once cooked, discard any that haven’t opened.

Serves 6

dried borlotti beans 800g, soaked overnight (or, if you can find them, 1.6kg fresh beans in their pods)

olive oil 100ml

leeks 2 medium, chopped

shallots 3, chopped

carrot 1, chopped

celery 2 stalks, chopped

garlic 3 cloves, whole

fresh rosemary 2 sprigs

tomato purée 1 tbsp

mussels 800g, cleaned

white wine ½ glass

small pasta, such as ditalini 500g

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh marjoram leaves 2 tbsp, plus a little extra for garnish

extra virgin olive oil a little

Put the dried (or freshly podded) beans into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for about 45-60 minutes for fresh beans, around 1-1½ hours for dried, until they are just soft.


Transfer three-quarters of the beans to a blender with a little of their cooking water (reserve the rest); blend to a soup consistency.

Heat the olive oil in a separate pan, add the leeks, shallots, carrot and celery, and then the garlic and rosemary. Cook gently for 2 minutes, add the tomato purée and cook for another minute, then lift out the garlic and rosemary and discard them.

Add the reserved beans with their cooking water, along with the blended beans.

Put the mussels into a large pan with the wine, cover with a lid and cook over a high heat, shaking the pan a couple of times, until the mussels open, then take off the heat and keep to one side. Discard any that haven’t opened, then shell around 15-20 of them, leaving the rest in their shells for garnish.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes or according to the packet instructions, then drain and add to the bean soup along with the shelled mussels and some of the reserved cooking liquid. Transfer to a large, warmed serving bowl. Add the marjoram, taste and season. Sit the mussels in their shells on top and garnish with the extra marjoram. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and finish with black pepper.

2 Replies

Thanks Mel, there's some lovely soup recipes there. I love soup! :-)

Zest :-)

1 like

Me too! :D x

1 like

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