Category Archives: soup

bean soup


The problem with this quick bean soup is that I can’t be bothered with making the real recipe which involves soaking beans overnight and a long cooking process next day!  But when the soup is just for the two of us, this is what I do…

I boil a pan of water, add salt and 50gm pasta (ditaloni) per person. In another pan,I sautè a little chopped onion in a little olive oil, add a drained can of chickpeas (or borlotti beans), salt, a teaspoon of stock granules and about 800 ml water. I bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. I then use the minipimer to create a smooth bean puree. I drain the pasta and add to the soup.

A good idea is to simmer the beans with rosemary or sage and add a little of the chopped herb when serving. A swirl of extra virgin olive oil in each plate too!

cabbage soup


I like the frugality of traditional recipes, a contrast to our wasteful world of excess.

For cabbage soup, I finely slice half a savoy cabbage (verza) and stew it slowly on a low heat in a covered pan with some olive oil. I take care it doesn’t burn!  After about 15 minutes I add water, a teaspoon of vegetable stock granules and continue to cook slowly for another 15 to 20 minutes. I add salt to taste and lots of pepper.

A nice accompaniment is a slice of bread fried in oil which can be put in the bottom of the bowl (for me!) or served as a side (for Augusta!). A good sprinkling of grated parmesan is a must.

leek and potato soup


We arrived in the mountains to a  dull, rainy morning. So to warm us up…

I washed and sliced two leeks and 4 peeled potatoes, and put them in a pot with enough water for three people and a teaspoon of stock granules. When the water came to a boil, I simmered, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked. I liquidised the soup with the minipimer, tasted for salt and pepper and served  with grated parmesan. Fried croutons would be nice too, or  just toasted bread.

After lunch the sun came out and we – Augusta, Laura and I- could go for a nice walk. The power of leek and potato soup!

leek, potato and barley soup


This is Augusta’s soup.

First she brings a litre or so of water to boil with a teaspoon of vegetable stock granules and adds a finely chopped leek.  A few minutes later she adds two medium sized potatoes, also finely chopped. After another minute or two she adds two tablespoons of pearl barley. On a simmer, the soup cooks in about 40 minutes. At the end she adds a knob of butter, parsley and a generous spoonful of parmesan.

Nothing nicer to come home to on a wet evening!

curried pumpkin soup


With colder weather now, a soup is always nice for supper.

I sauté half a chopped onion in olive oil and add a good spoonful of curry. Then I add cubes of pumpkin and, after a minute or so, water. I add salt, pepper and a teaspoon of vegetable stock granules. The soup simmers until the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked. Then I use the minipimer to create a smooth, thickish soup. I serve with a swirl of cream or yogurt and a few roasted pumpkin seeds.  Alternatively, use croutons.

I used  roasted pumpkin left over from the gnocchi, so the soup cooked really quickly. It IS a bother to peel a pumpkin for this soup; luckily you can get ready cut cubes from the supermarket.



I love soups. This takes a little careful chopping, but the cooking is quick and simple.

I chop small dice of whatever vegetables I have: carrot, fennel, courgette, cabbage, potato, tomato, onion, leek … and add them to a pot of boiling water with some stock granules and a handful of frozen peas. It simmers for 30 minutes. Apart I cook 50 gm of pasta per person – I usually use ditaloni, but broken spaghetti are fine too. To serve, I add the pasta to the soup and sprinkle on top some fresh herbs, or parmesan or a swirl of olive oil or even harissa.

I often make minestrone to last a few days, in which case, on the second or third day, I make a change by whizzing it all up to make a “cream of vegetable”.

farro spezzato/cracked spelt

Immagine We learned about “farro spezzato” many years ago on a family trip to Umbria. I think you could probably use cracked wheat (bulgar) instead.

I cover 100-120 gms of cracked spelt with cold water, bring to the boil, add a teaspoon of vegetable stock in granules and simmer for about 30 minutes. I top up with water from time to time; the final result should be thick but soupy. In the meantime I chop 2 small carrots, 2 sticks of celery,  an onion and a chilli and sweat them in extra-virgin olive oil. I add two plum tomatoes from a tin and cook a little longer.  I add the “soffrito” of vegetables to the farro towards the end of its cooking time. I add salt and pepper to taste.

This soupy “risotto” is perfect for a cold evening, just like last night. When is summer coming? It’s the end of May, for goodness sake!