Archives for posts with tag: soups

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

I’ve done a pumpkin soup on here before, but this one is spicier and lower in calories (and quicker to make). It’s perfect for a really cold winter’s day, which is what we’re experiencing here right now. The spices are just suggestions – use whatever you have to hand.

Spicy Pumpkin soup (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 tbsp butter or oil 25
1 onion, diced 11
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2
1 tsp cumin seeds 2
1 tsp fenugreek seeds 3
1 tsp coriander seeds 0
1 tsp mustard seeds 4
1 tsp ground ginger 2
1 tsp smoked garlic powder 2
450g pumpkin purée (made from 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cooked) 38

Total calories per serving: 90

Method: Heat the butter or oil in a pan and cook the onions in it until they are going translucent (about five minutes). Meanwhile, heat the whole spices in a dry saucepan until fragrant, then grind (with pestle and mortar or in a blender). Stir the garlic into the diced onions, cook for a minute, then add all of the spices and cook for another minute before adding the pumpkin purée. Cook until the soup is warmed through. If you think it’s too thick, you can add some water or stock to thin it down. I like mine gloopy!


Ice formations

It’s well and truly winter now, but I did manage to dig up one last harvest before the snow and ice arrived.

Leek and sunchoke soup

This is one way of using some of that winter vegetable harvest up – a warming but simple soup.

Leek and sunchoke soup (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 tsp butter or oil 40
50g/2oz leeks, halved and sliced 31
200g/8oz sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes, roughly chopped 146
300ml/10 fluid ounces vegetable stock 12
salt and pepper to taste 0

Total calories per serving: 240

Method: Sweat the sliced leek in the oil or butter over a lowish heat until softened, then add the pieces of sunchoke and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the stock, bring to a simmer and cook until the sunchokes are soft (about half an hour). Blend to smoothness and season with salt and pepper to your taste.


Now the clocks have gone back and the weather is cooling, I’m making soup on a regular basis. This is a very autumnal one, with lovely orange pumpkin and yellow split peas. The peas add a filling starchiness to the soup, while the pumpkin provides a velvety smoothness. Pie pumpkins have a better texture than regular jack-o’lantern varieties – but you could also use butternut squash for this.

Pumpkin and split pea soup (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 tbsp butter or oil 25
1 onion, diced 11
1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced (435g) 37
1 cup yellow split peas 168
3½ cups/875ml  stock 9
A few sage leaves, finely shredded 2

Total calories per serving: 250

Method: Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion until soft. Stir in the pumpkin and sweat with the onion for five minutes. Add the split peas and stock and simmer until the peas are soft. This will take around 45 minutes – or you can really speed things up by using a pressure cooker, which will take about six minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to your taste. Blend until smooth and serve, decorating the soup with a few shredded sage leaves.

Roasted tomato and garlic soup

This is such a simple soup and tastes so good for so few calories. Both my teenagers assert that this is their second favourite soup – and their favourites are different, so this is a good way to please everyone. I’ve made four batches of it today (still having a bit of a tomato glut!).

Roasted tomato and garlic soup (serves 3)

Ingredient Calories per serving
2 tbsp olive oil 80
750g heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks if large 45
4 cloves garlic, peeled 6
salt and pepper 0
Handful of basil leaves 1

Total calories per serving: 130

Method: Heat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Arrange the tomatoes and garlic in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle the oil over the top. Sprinkle some salt and fresh pepper over and then roast for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender or food processor. Pour the juices from the pan in with them and add the basil leaves. Blitz until smooth and serve immediately (or cool the soup and freeze it for later use).

I’m going to have to change the name of this blog to ‘Black Bean Blog’ soon, I know. I just find these particular legumes incredibly useful for fasting day meals. I usually cook a couple of cups of beans at a time and keep them in the fridge as a quick and easy source of protein for lunches. If you believe this effusive website they’ve got particularly good health benefits. I’m growing black beans (Cherokee Trail of Tears) for the first time this year, so hope eventually to be cooking my own!

This recipe was inspired by one on the Budget Bytes site for black bean and avocado enchiladas. My avocado, sadly, was not ripe enough to eat, so instead of using tortillas, I put the corn and beans in the (adapted) enchilada sauce as a soup instead. The addition of cocoa intrigued me – you don’t taste chocolate in the finished dish, but there is a richness to the sauce which wouldn’t be there otherwise, I think.

For a soup which takes mere minutes to make, this one is absolutely delicious.

Mexican soup

Mexican soup (serves 1)

Ingredient Calories per serving
200g canned tomatoes, blended to a purée 36
1 tsp cumin seeds 8
1 tsp smoked paprika or chilli powder 6
1 tsp cocoa powder 4
½ cup cooked black beans 114
½ cup corn kernels 62
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 230

Method: Mix everything together in a pan and heat until warm enough to eat. Doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Carrot., lentil and coriander/cilantro soupThe perennial and annual herbs are putting forth strong growth in the recent warm weather. This recipe makes the most of one of each: celery-flavoured lovage and fresh zingy cilantro (also known as coriander).

Recipe for Carrot, lentil and coriander/cilantro soup (serves 2)

Ingredient Calories per serving
1 tsp butter or oil 17
1 onion, diced 22
4 medium carrots, diced 50
1 sprig lovage, chopped 0
¼ cup red lentils 85
500ml vegetable stock 10
big handful of cilantro/coriander 3

Total calories per serving: 185

Method: Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion, cooking over a low heat until softened. Stir in the chopped carrots and lovage (you could use celery in place of the lovage), cook for a further minute or two and then add the stock and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the carrot pieces are tender. Remove from the heat, add the coriander/cilantro and liquidise the soup to a chunky consistency (or smooth, if you prefer) in a blender.

The cheese adds a real depth of flavour to this simple soup: blue cheese is great in this, too, but a mature Cheddar is just fine. My teenagers love this soup and so do I!

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Recipe for Broccoli and cheddar soup (serves 3)

Ingredient Calories per serving
10g/2 tsps butter or oil 24
60g (1 small) onion, diced 8
335g (2 medium) potatoes, diced 86
750ml vegetable stock 10
135g (1 small head) broccoli, broken into florets 13
70g Cheddar cheese, grated 40
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 180

Method: Cook the onion in the oil or butter over a low heat until transparent. Add in the diced potato (I didn’t bother to peel mine) and stir until coated in the fat. Pour in the stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, then add the broccoli florets and cook until tender (about 5 minutes more). Remove from the heat and liquidise the soup to your desired consistency. Stir in the grated Cheddar, reserving a little to decorate the top of the soup, if you’re so inclined. Taste, season if you think it needs it and serve.

Winter Vegetable Soup

This soup takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and then you can leave it alone to cook and it will be ready just 30 minutes from when you started. I made it before I went to work and put my portion into a Thermos flask for lunch.

Recipe for Winter Vegetable Soup (serves 2)

Ingredient Calories per serving
10g/2 tsps butter or oil 36
225g parsnips, peeled and trimmed 84
100g carrots, peeled and trimmed 21
100g leek, trimmed 31
1 tsp cumin seeds 4
1 tsp fennel seeds 3
500ml vegetable stock 3
salt and pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 190

Method: Cut the trimmed vegetables into similar-sized chunks of about an inch/2cm. Heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and stir in the chopped vegetables and spices. I went for a fragrant mix of cumin and fennel in this soup, but add whatever spice or herbs you fancy – spices and herbs have the great fasting-day advantage of being both low-calorie and high-flavour! Cook over a lowish heat for a minute or two, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, then pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend the soup to the consistency you like in a blender or food processor. Season to your taste and serve.

Sweet Potato and Lentil SoupRecipe for Sweet potato and lentil soup (serves 4)

Ingredient Calories per serving
2 tsp butter or oil 17
220g onion, diced 22
2 tsps cumin seeds 4
1 tsp turmeric 2
2 cloves garlic, crushed 2
1 chilli pepper, sliced 1
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated 5
570g sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped 128
1 litre/4 cups stock 10
¼ cup red lentils 42
salt & pepper 0

Total calories per serving: 235

Method: Heat butter or oil and gently fry the onion until soft. Stir in the cumin, ginger, turmeric, chilli and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the pieces of sweet potato, then add the stock and lentils. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces are tender. Blend the soup to a thick purée, taste, add seasoning if needed, and serve garnished with some fresh coriander/cilantro or parsley leaves.


Home-made stock is a very different beast from stock made from a cube or sachet, which makes it difficult to count calories. I made this chicken stock by slow-cooking two chicken legs for three hours (the meat went into the stir-fry I made the other day). The end result, once refrigerated, is a thick, gelatinous stock with a thin layer of fat on the top. I’m guessing this is about 80 calories per serving, but that is just a guess! If you use a packet stock, it will be a lot lower in calories.

Recipe for Chicken noodle soup (serves 2)

Chicken noodle soup ingredients1 tsp oil
75g onions, diced
55g carrots, sliced
500ml home-made chicken stock
55g dry egg noodles

Total calories per serving: 240 (or 190 if you make the stock from a cube/powder)

Method: Warm the oil over a lowish heat and add the onion and carrot, cooking until the onions are soft. Stir in the stock and simmer for 20 minutes, until the carrots are cooked. Break the noodles into small pieces (the easiest/least messy way to do this by putting them in a sturdy plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin) and add to the soup, cooking for a further minute until they are soft.