You can create soups like this Mulligatawny in a flash
Soup can be a simple snack, a filling mid-week meal or a great dish to serve to friends – the variations are endless. Although convenient, canned, powdered or ready-made chilled soups can be high in salt. So why not try making your own? You don’t need any special equipment and it’s easy, cheap and nutritious. Soup can be stored in the fridge for three days or frozen for up to three months. You can defrost it straight from the freezer to give you a meal in minutes.
Soup can be made with almost any ingredient and is perfect for using up leftovers and odds and ends of meat, fish or vegetables. It can be thick and creamy or a warming hearty broth. It can even be served chilled on a summer’s day, such as this gazpacho, which doesn’t even need cooking.
It’s thought that soup has been enjoyed for around 20,000 years. Every country and culture eats soup. With almost mythical status as a healing food and used in times of both feast and famine, it’s no wonder soup is often regarded as the ultimate comfort food.
Download your How to make your own soup guide (PDF 274,KB)
Fill yourself up
Soup is one of the most filling foods you can eat. Research has shown that soup can keep you fuller for longer than eating the same ingredients separately.
This makes soup a particularly good food if you have diabetes and trying to avoid snacking between meals.
Try this easy potato, leek and cheese soup.
Soup and weight loss
As long as it’s not full of fat or cream, soup can be useful if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. A major ingredient is water, which means soup can be less ‘energy-dense’ food. Energy density is the amount of energy or calories per gram of food. So you can eat a filling amount of soup without consuming too many calories.
How to make soup
Unlike baking, where you need to follow a recipe, soup is very flexible. You can adapt any soup to make it your own and it’s almost impossible to get it wrong, so it’s ideal for the novice cook.
The key to good soup is stock. Look for fresh or liquid versions, they’re usually tastier and less salty than stock cubes. If using stock cubes, go for reduced salt ones. Best of all is homemade stock, which is really simple to make. Make a big batch and freeze it in small portions.
This could just be a chopped onion, or a stick of celery and a carrot. It’s not the main flavour but is the starting point for soup and adds depth. Finely chop and sauté in a little oil until soft, or brown to add colour and a deeper flavour.
The heart of your soup
Here you have the opportunity to change the dynamic of the soup. Simple vegetable soup can be transformed – chilli, ginger and garlic will give an Asian flavour or add shredded leftover chicken or ham.
Curry powder or paste and fresh coriander provide an Indian influence, a teaspoon of pesto gives an Italian twist, while a pinch of harissa and a squeeze of lemon delivers Arabic essence.
Try our chilli bean soup with avocado salsa.
Boosting flavour with herbs and spices enables you to use far less salt, so add any that you like. You can also add a teaspoon of mustard, it’s up to you.
Try this recipe for harira soup.
Add lentils or beans
Throw in a handful of red lentils with the stock to add fibre and also thicken the soup. Or try tinned beans, chickpeas or lentils. These ingredients have a low GI (Glycaemic Index) so do not affect your blood glucose levels as much.
Recipes for you to try:
For extra zing when serving, try a swirl of 0% fat Greek yogurt, a sprinkle of toasted almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or freshly chopped chives or basil. For healthy croutons roast small cubes of sweet potato until crispy.
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