Tasty Soups

Soups can be served as a start to a meal or they can be meals in themselves. Most can be prepared beforehand and often improve with reheating. They are cheap to make because they can include whatever ingredients you have handy such as stock from cooking chicken or meat to leftovers of vegetables, meat or fish. Cooking times may very but soups can be left on their own while you do other things. Purée and cream soups are cooked quite quickly to retain their flavour: 

Broths: Thick, filling soups make from meat or vegetables needing long simmering on gentle heat to obtain maximum flavour.
Purée soups: Usually made with a vegetable or solid meat, such as game, base and mixed in an electric blender after cooking. Prolonged cooking will ruin the flavour.
Iced soups: Can be prepared in a variety of ways but always served cold in individual cups or plates.
Cream soups: Made mostly from green vegetables, cooked in milk and thickened with egg yolk and cream and often blending giving them a smooth consistency.
Velouté: Velvety soups using chicken or veal stock. Using egg and cream liaison make this soup especially smooth. Bisque: Rich cream soups – served hot or cold – generally made from shellfish such as prawns or lobster and finished with a rich cream and egg liaison.

Consommé Madrilène

This is very simple soup that is quick to make. Provided you have the right quality ingredients, it is elegant enough to serve up at a dinner party.

1L carton jellied chicken consommé
1 wineglass sherry
250g tomatoes (skinned, seeds removed and flesh chopped)
Flatleaf parsley

Utensils: cutting board; chef’s knife; 2L pot; spoon for stirring; ladle
Time: 10 minutes

Bring consommé to boil in a pot. Add sherry and tomato pieces and leave for five minutes to warm up. Serve with chopped parsley scattered on top.

Avocado Cream Soup

2 avocado pears
35g butter
25g flour
800ml chicken consommé
1 brown shallot, or small onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery (chopped) or 1/2 tsp celery seeds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 egg yolks
2-3 tblsp double cream or cooking cream
Pinch of paprika
Sprig of snowpea leaf

Utensils: 1.5L pot with lid; vegetable knife; cutting board; blender or food processor; whisk; wooden spoon
Time: 20 minutes


  1. Melt butter, stir in flour until mixture is smooth and straw coloured. Whisk in chicken consommé and let it thicken. Add shallots (or onion), celery (or seeds) and seasoning. Stir until boiling. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Peel avocados, remove stones and scoop out the flesh. Put in food processor with the soup. Process until until smooth and return to the pot. Bring to boil.
  3. Stir egg yolk and cream together for liaison with a fork in a small jug, mix in a little of the hot soup. Stir in the liaison carefully off the heat and warm up carefully without boiling.
  4. Taste for seasoning and serve in individual soup bowls. Garnish with a dusting of paprika and a sprig of snowpea leaf.
French Onion Soup

When I lived in Paris, Les Halles was a big vegetable market near Bastille, which used to come alive in the early hours of the morning. I remember fondly finishing off the evening there with a bowl of onion soup poured of bread with lashings of melted Gruyère in one of the myriad of small bistros that surrounded the market. It is perhaps the most famous of all French soups and calls for good, strong jellied beef stock. This Cordon Bleu recipe includes Champagne and serves up to eight.

5 onions
50g butter
1.5L strong, home made beef stock or jellied beef consommé
1-2 glasses of Champagne
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
85g each of Gruyère and Parmesan cheese, grated
1-1.5cm thick slice French bread per person
1 egg per person
Utensils: vegetable knife; cutting board; frypan; 2L pot with lid
Time: 20 minutes


  1. Slice onions finely and cook them in butter with the garlic in a frying pan until they are golden brown.
  2. Bring stock to boil in a separate pot, add the onion and garlic. Season and simmer for 6 minutes. Add Champagne.
  3. Combine the cheeses and sprinkle half on the bread. Put under gill until cheese has melted.
  4. Ready 8 soup bowls. Place the bread with the cheese in the bottom and pour the soup over. The bread will float to the top.
  5. Serve the remaining cheese and egg separately. Each person beats the egg into their soup. The soup must be boiling so the egg thickens the soup – and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

1 carrot
1 onion,
2 stick celery
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1.25L water
1 bay leaf
1 small leak
sea salt
freshly grounded black pepper
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 clove garlic
2 tomatoes or half a can of chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp parsley, chopped
100g small macaroni or dried soup pasta
Leftover cooked vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower florets, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc
Parmesan, grated; or 4 tblsp pesto (optional, see below)
Utensils: cutting board; chef’s knife; 2L stockpot with lid; skillet; microwave dish; sieve; fine grater; stirring spoon
Time: preparation – 30 minutes; cooking time – 1.5 – 2 hours


  1. Cut carrot, onion and celery in medium-sized julienne strips. To cut onion in strips, cut in half and then cut side downwards fairly thinly, from the root end, then trim off root end, leaving onion in julienne strips. Heat oil in a stock pot, add vegetable strips and sauté until just coloured, shaking and stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour on water and add bayleaf. Slice leak and add to the pot. Season, bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, plunge tomatoes in boiling hot water for one minute. Squeeze out seeds, skin and chop roughly. Add to skillet with olive oil on high heat and simmer until well reduced. Add to soup with garlic and parsley and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Separately, boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Add it to the pot with any leftover vegetables and heat through.
  5. Adjust seasoning and serve sprinkled with with grated Parmesan or pesto on top.

Minestrone is an Italian soup with a meat stock base and has whatever is handy of leftover vegetables and also pasta. Without meat this soup becomes a minestra. My secret ingredient is adding a little cayenne which gives the soup a zing.

2 heaped tblsp white haricot beans (soaked overnight or 400g can of canellini beans)
1-1.5L beef or chicken stock
2 medium sized carrots, diced
2-3 sticks celery, sliced
1 big onion, sliced
50g bacon speck, cut in small pieces
2-3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne
Sea salt to taste
50g small macaroni, dried soup pasta
1/4 small cabbage, shredded
400g canned chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato purée
bouquet garni (a bundle of one bay leaf, thyme and parsley tied together)
Leftover cooked vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower florets, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc
Parmesan cheese, grated; or 4 tblsp pesto (see below)


  1. If using dried cannelini beans, soak them overnight, drain, put in saucepan with about 1/2L stock and bring slowly to bowl. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the beans are simmering, prepare vegetables. Heat oil in a stock pot, add bacon pieces, carrots, celery and onion and fry on medium for about five minutes. Add stock to the pot and bring to boil; add the sliced leeks. Lower heat and add cayenne and salt to taste. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, purée, garlic and bouquet garni. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add beans with the water (or whole can of canellini in its liquid) and shredded cabbage. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  4. Separately, boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Add it to the pot with any leftover vegetables and heat through.
  5. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese or a teaspoon pesto (see below) on top of each plate.

Utensils: bowl for soaking beans; saucepan; 2L stockpot with lid; cutting board; chef’s knife; fine grater; stirring spoon
Time: preparation 30 minutes; cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients for Pesto:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Utensils: measuring cup; food processor; jar
Time: 15 minutes

  1. Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in food- processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and cheese and process until smooth. Season.
  2. If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer pesto to a serving bowl and toss with hot spaghetti.
  3. If freezing, transfer to air-tight container or screw jar and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. When needed, thaw and stir.

Utensils: Grater; bowl; spoon; measuring spoon; serving bowl.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes


My son’s favourite, this is a Spanish iced tomato soup and delicious on a hot summer’s day. It is not cooked so top quality ingredients are a must.

1/2kg very ripe tomatoes or
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
200ml extra virgin olive oil
1 cup soft breadcrumbs (from two slices frozen bread chopped in the food processor)
2-4 tblsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1 onion
1 red capsicum
iced water

Utensils: skillet; stirring spoon; big bowl; chef’s knife; cutting board; food processor-blender; spatula; sieve
Time: 20 minutes


  1. Remove tomato cores with a sharp knife, plunge in boiling water for one minute and rinse in cold water. Squeeze out seed, skin and chop tomatoes roughly.
  2. Heat 60ml oil in skillet add tomatoes and reduce over low heat until pulpy. If using canned tomatoes, press through sieve to eliminate seeds.
  3. Meanwhile, soak breadcrumbs in two to four tablespoons vinegar. Put one cucumber, garlic, onion and half the capsicum in blender and add oil, a little at the time, for a smooth mayonnaise consistency. Season to taste, adding extra vinegar if necessary and spoon into a bowl.
  4. Add tomato mixture and blend until smooth. Mix in with breadcrumb and stir. Add ice cubes and leave in fridge until cold.
  5. Chop remaining cucumber and capsicum. Adjust soup for seasoning and vinegar and serve in individual soup bowls garnished with chopped cucumber and capsicum and basil leaves.
  6. For a light meal add chilled king prawns and fresh oysters to the soup.
  7. The soup can also be served in shot glasses with a fresh oyster as an hors d’oevre.
MORE RECIPES from the road:

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