At the moment, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure we are not wasting food, since it’s more difficult to get to the shops and supplies may be low. Some of us may be facing financial hardship; another reason to ensure we are not letting anything go to waste.

Soup is the ideal way to use up vegetables hanging about the fridge and it is incredibly cheap, as well as very nutritious.

Dried lentils are the perfect addition since they are cheap and easy to cook, they thicken the soup into a hearty and filling meal, and provide a source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre. But if you don’t have lentils in stock, you can try any of the alternatives below, which will do the same.

I’ve given loads of options in this recipe, experiment and adapt as you like.

Ingredients

1.Vegetables: Any that you have to hand.

Pick about three or four out of any of the following suggested options:

  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1/3 cabbage
  • 3 beetroot
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 5-6 mushrooms
  • 1 leek
  • 1 courgette
  • ½ cauliflower
  • ½ broccoli
  • ½ squash
  • ½ turnip
  • 1 tin of tomatoes

 

2. Lentils or alternative – any one of the following would be fine:

  • 1 cup of dried lentils, e.g. red/green/brown/puy
  • 1 tin of any of the above lentils
  • 1 tin of beans, e.g. kidney beans/butter beans/black beans, or any others
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • ½ cup of dried beans, chickpeas or peas, soaked for at least 8 hours in cold water then boiled for 40-60 minutes until cooked
  • ½ cup of oats
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup quinoa

 

3. Stock – For this you can use any one of the following:

  • A stock cube of any sort
  • Your own meat or veggie stock, if that’s something you know how to do
  • A teaspoon of miso paste – this is my preferred option as miso is fermented and feeds our good gut bacteria as well as providing great flavour
  • Bouillon powder – check the packet instructions for how much to use
  • A teaspoon of marmite – even marmite haters will enjoy the flavour it gives the soup!
  • If all else fails – extra herbs and spices or even just some salt! To taste.

 

4. Herbs or spices, if available and depending on your taste. For example –

  • Mix of spices like ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander, turmeric
  • Mix of herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary
  • Alternatively leave your soup plain and savour the taste of the vegetables.

 

Method

1.Wash / peel and chop all of the vegetables and place in a large pot

2. Rinse the lentils or alternative under cold running water and add to the pot

3. Add boiling water from the kettle to the pot, covering all the ingredients, and bring to the boil on the stove

4. Add your chosen stock and stir in to ensure it dissolves

5. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the spices / herbs

6. Place a lid on the pot and simmer on a low heat until the vegetables and lentils or equivalent are softened. This could take up to 40 minutes depending on the ingredients.

7. Check the soup every 15 minutes and add more water if it is getting very thick.

8. If you like you can blend the soup, for example with a handheld blender, or you can leave it as it is. I find that lentil soups work quite well blended while soups with beans are best left chunky. But it is up to you!