Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Autumn lunchbox soups

on November 2, 2010

The weekend was a weekend of cooking (again!).  I had some parsnips that had seen better days and loads of carrots because I had originally planned to make carrot cake for the christening.  Soups are definitely the best way of using up vegetables that aren’t looking their best but are still perfectly edible.  Or even use up leftover veges from something like a sunday roast.  The same applies to cakes – banana, carrot, lemon, orange – whatever – perfect way to use up fruit and vege that aren’t so pretty.

And what’s better than soup when it starts to get cold.  It’s warming, tasty, not full of preservatives or other strange things that you find in tins or even fresh supermarket soups.  And very healthy, and good for dieting.  Perfect if you’re wondering about that Christmas party dress.  If you’re going to make a fool of yourself at the works christmas party, you may as well be looking your best whilst you do it!  Plus, if you’re saving your pennies for Christmas, soups made in advance for work are extremely cheap and save you from splurging at lunch (and buying those cheeky crisps or chocolate bars).

I used to think soup was hard to make.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Although, if I’m being honest, a food processor or a smoothie maker or a blender, or even an electric hand blender are extremely handy.  You can manage it without, however, – either use a potato masher or just have it as clear chunky soup rather than smooth soup, but electric appliances to make it that bit easier.

Oh, and to top it all off, they’re both vegetarian, and one is even vegan.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, just in case you carnivores start breaking out in a sweat – try it – it’s actually very tasty and not an inkling of tofu in sight!  If you are vegan, just omit the cream from the parsnip soup, and voila – it’s vegan friendly.

I got these out of Leith’s Simple Cookery book – an excellent recipe book, teaches you the things you thought you should know, but no one ever told you, like how to roast a chicken.  You can buy it here


I have actually changed these recipes somewhat, so they aren’t exactly in the book, but they aren’t dissimilar.

Spicy parsnip soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp oil (use chilli oil if you’re feeling extra spicy)

1 onion chopped

350g parsnips peeled and chopped in small chunks

2 small red chillis chopped (de-seed if you don’t want too spicy)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

850ml vegetable stock (I actually used chicken as it gives more flavour, but wouldn’t be any good if you’re vegetarian)

50ml cream (or yoghurt, but you need to add a tablespoon of the soup to the yoghurt first, mix, then add to the rest of the soup – it’s called slaking and prevents the yoghurt from separating).

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Fry the onion on a low heat until softened.
  2. Add the parsnips to the onion and fry for a few minutes.  Then add the chilli and spices.  Fry for a further minute.
  3. Add the stock to the pan, bring to the boil, then cover the pot and turn to a low simmer for about 20 minutes or until the parsnip is fully cooked.
  4. Turn the soup into a blender, foood processor etc, and blend until smooth.
  5. Return to the pan, add the cream and reheat without boiling.
  6. Serve with crusty bread, or in my case, cool in plastic boxes before putting in the fridge to take to work the following day.

This one was delicious – quite sweet, like parsnips are, but with a definite chilli kick to it.  If you prefer mild spice – I’d reduce the chillis to 1 and definitely remove the seeds.  If you’re like my husband, however, and have no taste buds, you could probably add more, he claimed there was only a mild kick to it, whilst I felt that there was enough spice but definitely any more and it would have been too much!  And yes, I eat chilli in pretty much everything.

This next one is very healthy for you – no naughty cream and the chickpeas have lots of great protein in them without being heavy on calories.   And no chillis, so you don’t have to worry about how many to put in.  This one is also more easily done as a clear chunky soup because the chickpeas remain whole in any case.

Carrot and chickpea soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp oil

1 onion chopped

700g carrots peeled and sliced

handful of chopped fresh parsley or coriander

1 litre vegetable stock (again, I used chicken for the flavour)

salt and pepper to taste

400g tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed

  1. sweat the onion with the oil over a low heat in large saucepan
  2. Add the carrots and continue to fry for a number of minutes until the carrots are softened.
  3. Add the fresh herbs (saving a bit for the end), fry for a further minute, then add the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer on a low heat for about 25 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through.
  5. Pour the soup into a blender, processor etc and blend until smooth.
  6. Return the soup to the pan, reheat and tumble in the chickpeas.
  7. Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkling of coriander on the top, or in my case, cool in plastic tubs and put in fridge to take to work.

So enjoy lunch at work (or even at home) safe in the knowledge that you’re saving calories and money whilst eating tasty warming meals.


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