Sunday Soup

fiona kirk Sunday Soup web.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

The first time a good (and soupaholic) friend tasted this potage he declared it to be the best lentil soup he had ever tasted and was amazed to discover there isn’t a lentil in sight - it’s the combination of the smoked bacon and slightly caramelised onions that really does give it a lentily edge! This soup has become a staple in more households than I can begin to count...

Ingredients

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
8 rashers smoked lean bacon, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 dessertspoon cornflour
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
250mls homemade or best-quality bought chicken stock
250mls full-cream milk (semi-skimmed can work but I’m not a fan for this soup)

Method

  • Warm the oil in a soup pot and gently sauté the onion until translucent and very soft.
  • Increase the heat slightly, add the bacon and continue to sauté for a few minutes, stirring all the time until the edges of both the onion and the bacon are slightly caramelised.
  • Reduce the heat again, stir in the cornflour and cook for another 5 minutes then add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, a good pinch of salt and at least 5 good grindings of black pepper and continue to cook on a low heat for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the stock, stir well, increase the heat, bring the soup to just boiling then reduce the heat to a very low setting.
  • After about 5 minutes, add the milk and keep stirring until the soup is hot and ready to serve (don’t let it boil or the milk may curdle).
  • Either serve as it is - all chunky, filling and moreish - or if you are flasking it for lunch, snacks and the like, liquidise the whole lot until fairly smooth.

Beef and Barley Broth

fiona kirk nutritionist author beef and barley broth.png

(makes 4 servings)

There is something about barley that evokes a warm, cozy feeling! Many countries, like Scotland where I hail from, use this starchy and delicious grain copiously, others barely recognise its existence but barley in a meaty soup is a marriage made in heaven. It is also deliciously nutty in a warm salad as a replacement for rice, pasta or couscous.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light olive oil
300g lean stewing/chuck steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 litres homemade or good quality bought beef stock
100g pearl barley, rinsed
Large handful fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Warm the oil in a soup pot and quickly brown the meat over a high heat, stirring constantly. Add the Balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and keep stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Reduce the heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and rosemary. Put the lid on and allow to gently sauté until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add three quarters of the stock, bring to the boil, add the barley and parsley, stir well then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or so until the barley and carrots are tender.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf and rosemary then whizz with a hand blender to slightly thicken but still leave a good chunky texture.
  • Season to taste and if it is too thick add the remainder of the stock and/or boiling water.
  • NB: This is one of those soups that thickens if left overnight as the barley continues to swell so check the consistency and add water if necessary before serving.

Cream of Mussel Soup with Saffron

Fiona Kirk Cream of Mussel and Saffron Soup.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

If you love mussels, you will love this soup. The broth is seriously shellfishy but at the same time very delicate and despite the addition of cream, not at all cloying.  And, as this soup is a bit of a treat and is rich in protein, minerals and good fats, I feel no guilt whatsoever in advising you to have some freshly-baked bread on the side - it is simply one of those soups that demands a bit of dunking!

Ingredients

10 saffron threads (no need for absolute accuracy here!)
300ml strong fish stock (if using ready-made stock or pastes/cubes, make/buy twice what you need and reduce by boiling until you have somewhere close to the required amount of stock)
1.5kg fresh mussels, de-bearded, barnacles chipped off and well-washed (discard any that don’t close when tapped against a hard surface)
4 tablespoons double cream
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 egg yolks
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Lemon juice
Fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Put the saffron threads in a cup, add 1 tablespoon warm water and let them infuse for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put the stock in a soup pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add the mussels, cover and shake, keeping the heat high until the shells have opened (about 5 minutes). Discard any unopened mussels then drain, retaining the liquid.
  • Strain the liquid through a very fine or muslin-lined sieve to get rid of any grit or bits of shell and return to a clean pot then shell the mussels and keep them aside, covered while you make the soup. You can keep some in their shells for topping/decoration if you wish.
  • Add the sherry and the strained saffron infusion to the broth and stir over a low heat until hot but not boiling then whisk the egg yolks into the cream in a cup or small jug and drizzle slowly into the broth, whisking all the time, raising the heat (so you achieve a continuous bubble not a frantic boil) until the broth thickens slightly. This can take around 5 minutes or more but be patient - you are looking for a double cream sort of thickness, not lumps of scrambled egg in a milky broth!
  • The minute you have reached the desired consistency, remove the soup from the heat and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Add the shelled mussels and stir gently for a few minutes to allow them to warm through before serving with some finely-chopped parsley scattered over the top if desired.

Carrot and Saffron Soup

Fiona Kirk Carrot and Saffron Soup.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

10-12 saffron threads soaked in a small cup of water
2 tablespoons light olive oil
450g carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
2 level teaspoons ground coriander
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good squeeze of fresh orange juice
1 level teaspoon whole cumin seeds (optional)
1 small carton low fat creme fraiche (optional)

Method

  • Warm the oil in a large pan, add the carrots, onion and garlic and saute gently until they begin to soften (donʼt let them brown). Add the ground cumin and coriander and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes, add the strained saffron liquor and the stock and bring slowly to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Transfer to a liquidiser and blitz thoroughly until the soup is very smooth and frothy. Pass through a sieve before returning to a clean pot. Heat through, check the seasoning and add the orange juice.
  • To serve, dry-fry the cumin seeds briefly in a pan until they begin to pop, ladle the soup into bowls, top each with a good dollop of creme fraiche, if using and scatter over the roasted cumin seeds.

Blazing Hot Tomato Soup (v)

blazing tomato small.jpg

(makes 4 servings)

This soup can be as ʻblazingly hotʼ as you want it - some like it hotter than others! Add just
the merest hint of chilli powder and smoked paprika and it tastes remarkably like a rather
famous canned soup but without the added colourings, flavourings and preservatives so can
be a real winner on the health stakes for both kids and those who donʼt go in for a spicy
soup. Packs well too!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes or 8 good-sized, fresh, ripe tomatoes
120g sweet red peppers from a jar
500mls good chicken or vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Juice of 2 small limes
Natural live/bio yoghurt
Parsley leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Warm the oil in a heavy-based soup pot, add the onion, garlic and salt, cover and sauté over a very low heat for around 20-30 minutes (the longer the better). Check and stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure the vegetables are not catching on the bottom of the pot.
  • If you are using fresh tomatoes, place them in a large bowl, pour boiling water over to cover, count slowly to 30, drain off the water, leave the tomatoes until cool enough to handle then slip off the skins, remove the core and seeds and roughly chop the flesh.
  • Drain the red peppers, chop and add to the pot with the fresh or tinned tomatoes, stock and spices and stir well - if you like it a little less ‘hot’, leave out the cayenne pepper - then bring just to the boil before turning the heat down to low and simmering for 20 minutes. 
  • Blitz the soup in a liquidiser or blender before passing through a fine sieve into a clean pot, add the lime juice a tablespoon at a time and keep tasting until you get the perfect citrus ‘edge’, add sea salt to taste, reheat gently and serve topped with a generous spoonful of yoghurt straight from the fridge (the hot and spicy soup combined with the oh so cold yoghurt is magical!) and top with a good sprinkling of parsley.
  • NB: This soup (without the yoghurt topping) will keep in the fridge for a few days or you can portion and freeze it for convenience.

Very Quick Tomato Soup (v)

(makes 2 servings)

A soup, a drink, a must when you are in a rush!

Ingredients

3 large ripe tomatoes
500mls fresh tomato juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lime or half a lemon
4 drops Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon celery salt
Freshly ground black pepper
0% fat Greek yoghurt
Mustard cress or celery leaves

Method

  • Place the tomatoes in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and leave for 30 seconds.
  • Drain, remove the skins, chop into quarters, remove the seeds and finely dice the flesh.
  • Put the tomato flesh, the tomato juice, the Worcestershire sauce, the balsamic vinegar, the
  • lime/lemon juice, the tabasco, the celery salt and a few good grindings of black pepper in a
  • medium sized pot.
  • Stir well and heat through until just beginning to boil.
  • Taste and adjust, adding more of any of the flavourings and/or seasonings until it’s just how
  • you want it - some like it hot!
  • Pour into bowls or mugs, top with a good dollop of yoghurt per serving and scatter with
  • snipped mustard cress/finely sliced celery leaves or flask it if you are on the go.
  • NB: Adding a generous measure of vodka on a lazy Saturday/Sunday morning can get the
  • day off to a very cheering start!

Summer Soup Shots


(makes 6 servings)

These delightful little concoctions are a super-nutritious snack or appetiser and can be kept in
the fridge for a couple of days without losing their gorgeous green colour. You can also top
them with toasted nuts and seeds, a few prawns drizzled with chilli oil or a spoonful of salsa

Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and roughly chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed, roots removed and roughly chopped
A good handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
160ml coconut cream
Juice of one lime
Sea salt and ground white pepper
170g fresh or tinned white crab meat
1 heaped teaspoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Put the cucumber, avocado, spring onions and coriander in a blender and whizz until
  • smooth.
  • Add half the lime juice and all the coconut cream and whizz again briefly until just mixed.
  • Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
  • Pour the soup into glasses or cups, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to chill
  • thoroughly (minimum 30 minutes).
  • In a bowl, using a fork, mix the crab meat (well-drained if using tinned crab) with the sweet
  • chilli sauce, the olive oil and some or all of the remaining lime juice - don’t make the mixture
  • too wet.
  • Season to taste, cover and refrigerate.
  • When ready to serve, top the soup shots with a generous spoonful of the crab mixture.

Spinach and Watercress Soup (v)

Spinach and Watercress Soup

(makes 4 servings)

It is almost impossible not to start slurping this soup straight from the blender the minute you have blitzed it - the rich, green colour, the velvety smoothness and that subtle ‘irony edge’ that you just know is providing vitamins and minerals in abundance makes this a quick-fix elixir you have to repeat again and again! And the oats add some protein making this a soup that fills you up for a good few hours…

Ingredients

2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaped tablespoon porridge oats
2 bags spinach leaves
1 bag watercress
Fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Warm the oil in a large soup pot and sauté the onion gently until soft.
  • Add the stock and the porridge oats, bring slowly to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and watercress and keep stirring whilst bringing the soup back to the boil then turn off the heat.
  • Blend the whole lot until you have a smooth, foamy soup then return to a clean pan.
  • Heat through gently, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and check the seasoning.
  • You can grate a little lemon zest on top of each bowl for added zing.

Chicken and Barley Broth

Chicken and Barley Broth

(makes 4 servings)

A meal-in-a-bowl style soup but in no way heavy or overly-filling. I am a big fan of barley! My Scottish heritage? Probably! But also because this little grain packs a mighty punch nutritionally, has a lovely nutty taste and doesn’t occasion that bloated feeling that occurs with many wheaty grains.

Nutrition Bite: when compared to many grains, barley is lower in fat and calories and higher in dietary fibre and trace minerals and beats an equivalent serving of quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet or wild rice hands down - nutritionally-impressive and tasty!

Ingredients

1 small chicken
20 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons light olive oil
I medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 celery stalks, finely sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced or diced
1.5 litres chicken stock
5 small sprigs fresh thyme
150g barley, rinsed
150g green split peas, rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bag spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Method

  • Roast the chicken until cooked through, allow to cool slightly then remove the skin and chop the flesh into bite-sized pieces (or buy a small ready-roasted chicken).
  • Roast the tomatoes in a low oven for around 15 minutes or until they start to caramelise around the edges then remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the onion, celery and carrot and gently sauté until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. 
  • Add the stock and thyme, stir in the barley and split peas, bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the barley and split peas are tender but still have a slight ‘bite’.
  • Check the seasoning then add the chicken flesh, the roasted tomatoes and the spinach.
  • Stir everything very gently making sure the tomatoes don’t break up too much then simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning again and serve.
  • NB: like all broths, the longer you leave them, the thicker they become so add boiling water before serving to achieve desired consistency.

Adzuki Bean Soup (v)

Adzuki Bean Soup

(makes 4 servings)

This a great lunchtime soup, is easily transported and does a splendid job of filling you up nicely to get you through a taxing afternoon. A good dollop of Greek yoghurt stirred in at the last minute before topping with the parsley creates a light creamy look and taste and marries extremely well with the beans. This soup can be cooked on the hob if you don’t have a slow cooker.

Nutrition Bite: Adzuki beans are an awesome source of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, are packed with protein, fibre, folate, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, thiamine, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, calcium and more and have been shown to help manage diabetes, increase antioxidant intake, boost muscle mass, improve heart health and help manage weight.

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin Adzuki beans
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
450mls chicken/vegetable stock
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
8 button mushrooms, cleaned and roughly sliced or chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon smoked or unsmoked paprika powder
A generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
A generous splash of soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Put all the ingredients other than the salt, pepper and parsley into a slow cooker, stir well and cook on the low setting for around 5 hours.
  • Season to taste and if you wish, add more paprika, Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce before serving topped with the parsley.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, gently sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper in a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot until soft. Add the remainder of the ingredients other than the salt, pepper and parsley, bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 30-40 minutes.
  • Season to taste and if you wish, add more paprika, Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce before serving topped with the parsley.

Curry Soup

Curry Soup

(makes 4 servings)

This soup is a glorious colour and packs a real punch - and - you can turn it into a curried rice dish by leaving out the remainder of the milk!

Nutrition Bite: The many health benefits of spices due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties include helping to maintain a healthy heart, improved cognitive function, healthy blood glucose concentrations and pain reduction - and, using spices in cooking generally reduces the amount of salt we consume - win, win!

Ingredients

100g white basmati rice
100mls chicken or vegetable stock
200mls full cream milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 dried red chillies, crushed
6 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 green chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
10 curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Sea salt
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced
Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Place the stock and 120mls of the milk in a medium-sized pot, bring just to the boil, turn the heat to the lowest possible setting, add the rice, stir well, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 10 minutes then turn the heat off completely and let the rice sit while you make the soup - don’t remove the lid!
  • Meanwhile, warm the oil in a soup pot over a medium heat and toss in the seeds and dry red chillies. Stir well and let them ‘pop’ and infuse for a minute or two.
  • Add the shallots, ginger, garlic, green chilies and curry leaves and sauté everything gently until the shallots are soft but not browned.
  • Add the turmeric followed by the rice then while continuing to stir over a low heat, add the rest of the milk and keep stirring until it just begins to bubble (don’t let it boil) then turn the heat off.
  • Check the seasoning, remove the curry leaves and serve topped with the red chilli sautéed in a little oil plus the coriander leaves.

Light Chicken Broth

Light Chicken Broth

(makes 3 servings)

There is not much I can say about this chicken soup other than that it feeds much, much more than the soul! My best friend and trusted soup guru, Jean threw this one together one evening when she had a few chicken thighs that were nearing their use-by date and the rest is now history. Trust me, you could live on this soup for 2 weeks and never get bored with it!

Nutrition Bite: food synergy is when food combinations produce a health boost greater than if the foods were eaten separately. Monounsaturated fatty acids (in this case, olive and avocado oil) and beta carotene (in this case, carrots) combined have been shown to result in a 13 times boost in beta carotene absorption which helps protect us against cancer and heart disease.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs, skin on
1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
2 stalks celery, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced
600mls chicken stock
40g brown rice
1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
A generous bunch parsley, stalks removed and leaves very finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Roast the chicken pieces in a medium to hot oven until the skins are crisp and the flesh is cooked through while you make the soup.
  • Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the celery, onion and carrot and sauté gently until the vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Add the stock and bring slowly to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the rice and simmer, covered until the rice is cooked (around 20 minutes).
  • Skin the chicken pieces and shred/chop the flesh before adding to the soup with the horseradish sauce and parsley.
  • Stir well and season to taste.
  • NB: As rice soaks up a lot of liquid, you will probably have to add more stock or water to achieve the light, brothy experience if you are not supping this soup immediately and have refrigerated/frozen it for future use.

Chicken, Chorizo and Greens Soup

Chicken, Chorizo and Greens Soup

(makes 4 servings)

Only thing i can say about this soup is that you really have to make it - it’s top dollar!

Nutrition Bite: greens are a fabulously rich source of vitamin K and those who are deficient in this vitamin have repeatedly been shown to have a greater risk of bone loss and fracture. Post menopausal women are particularly vulnerable.

Ingredients

1 large chicken portion (with leg and breast, skin on) or 2 chicken thighs and 2 chicken breasts, skin on - you can use ready-cooked chicken if time is tight
100g chorizo, finely sliced
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped/sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 medium floury potatoes, peeled and diced
750mls chicken stock
1 head spring greens, cleaned, white cores removed and roughly chopped or two thirds of a bag ready-chopped spring greens
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)

Method

  • Roast the chicken in the middle of a medium to hot oven until the skins are crisp and the flesh is cooked through then set aside, covered to cool slightly.
  • Very gently sauté the chorizo in a dry soup pot until the oils are released and the chorizo is crisp but not dried out. Remove the chorizo from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper to absorb any extra oils.
  • Add the light olive oil to the oils that have been released from the chorizo and warm through before adding the onion, garlic and salt. Cover and leave to sauté over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes (the longer the better) without browning until the onions are soft. This method brings out the delicious juices of the onions and garlic.
  • Add the potatoes and half the stock, bring to the boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through (bite into one to make sure - hard potato is horrible!)
  • Add the greens and the rest of the stock to the pot and continue simmering for 5-10 minutes or until the greens are just cooked through but still have a bit of bite.
  • Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken and dice, slice or shred the flesh before adding to the pot along with the chorizo. The liquid should just cover the ingredients so you may need to add a little boiling water.
  • Keep simmering over a low heat until everything is piping hot, check the seasoning and gently mash the soup with a potato masher until some of the potato and chorizo are slightly mushy - or to your desired consistency.
  • If the soup is slightly too thick for your liking or you have left it in the fridge overnight, you may wish to add more stock or water.
  • Serve with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a generous grating of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Apple Almond Leek and Celery Soup

Apple, Almond, Leek and Celery Soup

(makes 4 servings)

You know what they say... “looks can be deceptive”... no truer word could be uttered about this soup. Looks pale but tastes divine! It’s smooth, it’s silky and the addition of the toasted ground almonds gives it a nutty, gravelly edge. It’s a really good soup!

Nutrition Bite: Almonds are low in starch but high in protein and fibre. Studies show that eating almonds as part of a healthy diet can increase satiety and help you eat fewer calories over the course of a day. One study of 100 overweight women found that those consuming almonds lost more weight than those in the nut-free group. They also lost inches around their waistlines.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ground almonds
2 tablespoons light olive oil
3 medium-sized leeks, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 sticks celery, peeled and sliced
1 Granny Smith apple (or a similarly-tart eating apple), peeled, cored and diced
700mls chicken or vegetable stock
4 tablespoons double cream
Sea salt and white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  • Scatter the ground almonds on a baking sheet and toast in a medium oven until golden (warning, they go from white to burnt in seconds - keep an eagle eye on them!) Set aside to cool.
  • Warm the oil in a soup pot and very gently sauté the onion, leeks and celery until soft (if you let them brown the soup wonʼt be the beautiful pale colour you want to achieve).
  • Add the apple and stock, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are all cooked through then remove the pot from the heat.
  • Allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes, stir in the cream then blitz until you have a very smooth, velvety texture, pass through a fine sieve and return to a clean pot.
  • Stir in the ground almonds, keeping some aside for topping the soup if you wish, season to taste with salt, pepper and the merest hint of nutmeg, reheat gently and serve.

Lamb, Rice and Spinach Broth

Lamb, Rice and Spinach Broth

(makes 4 servings)

This is good! It’s a brilliant combination of protein, good fats, vegetables and just enough starchy carbohydrate to keep you firing on all cylinders for hours. I regard it as a superb lunchtime soup but many of my ‘fitness enthusiastic’ followers tell me it makes a superb post-exercise meal and that a small bowl just isn’t enough - it’s got to be generous!

Nutrition Bite: Eating garlic regularly has been linked to reducing or helping to prevent 4 of the major causes of death worldwide including heart disease, stroke and cancer. And it's a mighty force when it comes to the common cold. In one study over 12 weeks, garlic eaters were less likely to get a cold and recovered faster than those on a placebo. The WHO recommends 1 clove a day.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 large leek, finely sliced and meticulously cleaned
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
500g lamb mince
750mls lamb or vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
150g pre-cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 x  200g bag fresh spinach leaves

Method

  • Warm the oil in a soup pot, add the leek, garlic and salt, stir well, cover and sauté over a very low heat until the leek is soft - around 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a hot pan, brown the minced lamb, stirring constantly until the pink colour disappears and it is slightly crisped around the edges. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  • Add the stock and tomatoes to the soup pot, bring just to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the lamb (with its juices) and simmering for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice, Worcestershire sauce and a few good grindings of black pepper and simmer for a further 10 minutes then add the spinach and continue simmering until it has just wilted but is still bright green (it seems like a huge pile of spinach but it wilts down fast so just keep cramming the leaves in and submerging them or force them down with the pot lid!)
  • If the soup is a little thick for your liking, add more stock or water.
  • Check the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper and/or Worcestershire sauce to taste.
  • If you make the soup ahead of time and either refrigerate or freeze it you will likely have to add more stock or water as the rice will swell and absorb quite a bit of the liquid.
  • NB: the quickest way to clean leeks is to slice them first, place in a colander, rinse thoroughly under running cold water then roughly dry with kitchen paper or a fresh, clean J cloth.