How to make a comforting soup from scratch in 5 easy steps


Whether you’re out enjoying the fireworks, or wrapped up at home, nothing could be more comforting, nutritious and warming than a bowl of homemade soup.

This time of year, parsnips, celeriac, beetroot and carrots are in their prime, making them cheaper and easier to find in the shops. And with Halloween over for another year, there are hundreds of pumpkins and squash going for a song too. That makes soup a great budget option to fill you up through the long nights.

I like to free-wheel when it comes to soup – it’s a great way to use up your leftovers or make the most of vegetables that have seen better days.

Get started on your bonfire night treat by emptying out the veg drawer, then follow these 5 steps to make the magic happen…

5 tips for a great autumn vegetable soup

  1. Fry your chopped onions/spring onions/leeks (any allium will do) in butter or oil for at least 10 minutes. These can be cooking while you prepare your other veg. This step really adds depth to a soup, so don’t hurry it.
  2. Now add the ooomph. Garlic, ginger, spices, leathery herbs such as thyme or rosemary and a pinch of salt. Stir until you are enveloped in wonderful smells and then add your chopped root vegetable or squash and stir to cover everything in the aromatic oils.
  3. Add your stock. It’s fabulous if your stock is homemade but don’t worry if it isn’t (do try to use an unsalted natural stock cube or powder if you’re cheating though.)
  4. Cook until the vegetables are soft enough to purée and then blitz. Use a hand-held blender in the saucepan (you can transfer to a jug blender – but this avoids the mess and the washing up!)
  5. Make it sing. Give the soup zing with lemon or lime juice. Add some chilli or black pepper to tickle your tastebuds. Enrich with a dash of coconut milk, milk, yoghurt or cream if you like and taste to balance up the salt.

Turn your simple soup into a full-blown meal 

  • Add a handful of red split lentils to the pan with your veggies – it will thicken and enrich the soup, giving a wonderfully creamy texture and will help fill you up too.
  • Throwing a drained tin of chickpeas or beans into the pot once the veggies are cooked is another quick and easy option. You can decide whether to blitz them in the soup for a truly creamy effect or partially blend the soup and eat it with whole pulses in the style of a minestrone.

These miraculous little chickpeas, lentils or beans won’t just satisfy your hunger, they’ll keep you full of energy for longer too.

Pulses contain complex carbs that you digest slowly, so you’re less likely to sneak a snack later on. They’re also packed with good fibre, keeping your digestive system in tip-top form. 

Continue reading for a simple soup to try out this autumn…

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Spiced Parsnip and Lentil Soup  (Serves 4)

Prep time: 15 minutes         Cooking time: 30 minutes

Spiced parsnip and lentil soup in a bowl


  • 50 g butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 cm piece of chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 800 g parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 handful of split red lentils
  • 2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped into rough chunks
  • 1 1/2  pint of stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • salt and black pepper
  • coriander or parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 red apple, chopped finely

How to cook your warming soup:

  1. Melt the butter in the pan and cook the onion for about 10 minutes until it begins to colour.
  2. Add the garlic, sprinkle in the curry powder and wait until your entire kitchen smells of spices.
  3. Stir in the parsnip and lentils.
  4. Add the stock and simmer until the vegetables are soft and the lentils have collapsed. Blend in a food processor, jug blender or, better still, use a hand-held blender and blitz in the saucepan.
  5. Once the soup is fairly smooth have a taste; add cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper to balance the soup. If the soup is too thick just add a little milk or water.
  6. Garnish with coriander or parsley and finely diced apple.

Before you curl up with a bowl of steaming soup, sign up to Eat Better with us for more tasty tips and ideas.

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This is the sixth in a series of blogs from Jenny Chandler, author of Pulse and Cool Kids Cook. Also check out Jenny’s simple tips for cooking lentils from our blog.

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