Seasonal Soups

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Country Minestrone Soup

¼ cup olive oil
30g butter or margarine
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 sticks celery, coarsely chopped
3 potatoes, coarsely chopped
4 medium baby marrows, chopped into chunks
100g green beans, cut into small pieces
4-5 spinach leaves, finely shredded
4 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
½ butternut, cooked, cut into small pieces
3 litres boiling water + 4 vegetable stock cubes OR 3 litres vegetable stock
2 tins (410g) whole peeled tomatoes (chopped with liquid)
½ cup tomato puree
coarse salt and black pepper
parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Heat oil and butter in a large pot. Add onions and cook over a medium heat until golden brown. Add carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add remaining vegetables, sautéing them for a few minutes to soften them. Lastly add stock and water, tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and pepper for seasoning.

Cover pot, bring to boil, then lower temperature and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until soup has thickened.

If desired, halve the soup and liquidise to thicken, then return to the pot with the remaining half.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Soup freezes very well. Serves 10-12

Thick and Hearty Vegetable Soup

15g butter or margarine
45ml olive oil
750g packet butternut soup mix, chopped in food processor
3 small potatoes, cut into small dice
1.25 litres chicken or vegetable stock (45-60ml stock powder)
2 tomatoes, cut into small dice
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 sprig rosemary
60ml parsley, freshly chopped
250ml spinach, very finely shredded
125ml cooked pearl barley (optional) and 1 x 410g tin cannelini or butter beans
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and olive oil on a medium heat in a large pot. Chop vegetables in a food processor.

Sauté them in the butter and olive oil until softened and a little golden. Then add potatoes and sauté for a few more minutes.

Then add stock, tomatoes and chicken breasts and simmer with lid on until softened. Add rosemary, parsley and spinach and continue to cook until very soft. Adjust seasoning.

Cook pearl barley as directed, and lastly add to soup with the beans to thicken if desired.

TO SERVE: This soup can be served on its own as a meal. Serve with some toasted bread topped with grated mozzarella and parmesan or grated feta and Tussers and placed under the grill for a few minutes. Serves 4

Hearty Italian Bean Soup

125ml pearl barley
250g spinach, shredded
4 baby marrows, diced
2 potatoes, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 small butternut, diced
1 x 410g tin soaked cannellini beans
125g thin green beans, sliced thinly
125ml fresh or frozen peas
30ml olive oil
fresh basil, coarse salt and black pepper

Cover barley with water and simmer for 45 minutes until soft. Drain. Do not allow it to get mushy.

Place spinach, baby marrows, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and butternut into a pot and cover with at least 1.5ℓ (6 cups) cold water. Add 30ml salt and bring to a boil. Add black pepper and boil for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove half the vegetables and liquidise when soft and return to the pot containing rest of vegetables.

Simmer the beans and peas for about 10 minutes or until softened in the salted water. Reserve the water.

Add the beans, peas, barley and olive oil to the pureéd vegetables. Simmer gently, stirring from time to time. If the soup is too thick, add some of the reserved salted water.

Just before serving, stir in some finely chopped basil. Serves 8

Butternut Squash Laksa Soup

500g (1 lb) butternut
10ml (2 tsp) minced chilli
5ml (1 tsp) minced garlic
2 large pieces fresh ginger
2 lemon grass sticks
30g (1 oz) fresh coriander
5ml (1 tsp) Chinese 5-spice powder
5ml (1 tsp) ground cumin
10ml (2 tsp) olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
3 lemon leaves
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
375ml (1½ cups) coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
coconut shavings

Cut the butternut into very small cubes and set aside. Process the chilli, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, coriander, Chinese 5-spice powder and cumin in a food processor until they make a paste.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the spice paste and the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the butternut, stock and lemon leaves and stir, scraping all the bits at the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the butternut is soft and cooked. Add the coconut milk and adjust the seasoning. Bring back to a boil and add the lime juice.

Serve with fresh coriander leaves and top with coconut shavings.

CHEF’S TIP: Ensure that the coriander and coconut shavings are added only just before serving.
Serves 4

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