It’s definitely the time of year to wrap up in sweaters and scarfs. Chilly autumn walks and misty landscapes have me yearning for piping hot soups too. Lots of November vegetables make great additions to soups and stews. Creating your own freshly prepared soups and stews is really easy. All you need is a well-stocked store cupboard, seasonal veg and a little time. Some of my favourites are parsnips, leek, cauliflower and celeriac. Try different combinations of veggies, pulses, herbs and spices: parsnip and apple with a little nutmeg; creamy celeriac; leek and potato with a handful of fresh sage; cauliflower and butterbean broth; there are so many to try!
Start by sautéing a base of onion, celery and carrot; this will give a robust flavour for you to build on. Next add your veggies and pulses with a good vegetable stock and cook until soft. Then add herbs, spices and any leafy veggies. You should only need to cook the soup for another five minutes or so before it’s ready to serve.
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ x 400g cannellini beans, drained
1 small potato, peeled and cubed
150g kale, finely sliced
50g stale bread, torn into chunks
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
2 tsp vegetarian pesto
1. Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized saucepan and heat the fennel seeds until they pop. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook over a low heat with the lid ajar for 15 minutes until soft, but not brown.
2. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes and bay leaf then bring back to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.
3. Add the cannellini beans and potato, together with 100ml water, and bring back to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Stir in the kale and the bread and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes. The soup should be thick but not dry, so add more water if needed.
5. Serve in bowls, seasoned to taste, topped with a dollop of pesto.