Soup is not only a very healthy option for lunch but also a wonderfully frugal meal as well. I switched from a monstrous baguette, crisp and chocolate bar lunch to a simple bowl of homemade soup and watched the pounds fall back into my pockets at least, they are yet to fall off of the waistline!
Now that winter has truly arrived I have begun making batches of my favourite soups to stock the freezer with and lunchtime becomes super(!) easy with a 7 minute ping through the microwave.
You don't have to include as many or indeed any chillies in your version of these as they are packed with flavour anyway. These soups both originate in Morocco and use La Kama as a base flavour. It adds a lovely rich warmth and depth to them.
This is my vegetable version of the Moroccan classic that would usually include lamb. Carnivores should feel free to add some if they so desire. It will easily serve 4 but I can stretch this to 6 portions.
1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of La Kama spice blend
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
500g carton passata
1.7l vegetable bouillon
175g dried green lentils
2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
5 celery sticks, chopped into small pieces
2/3 small pack coriander, few sprigs reserved, the rest chopped
Heat the oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over a medium heat and fry the onions and garlic until starting to soften. Tip in the spices and chilli, stir briefly, then pour in the passata and stock. Add the lentils, carrots, sweet potato and celery, and bring to the boil.
Cover the pan and leave to simmer for 30 mins, then cook uncovered for a further 5-10 mins until the vegetables and lentils are tender. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve in bowls with lemon wedges for squeezing over, and the reserved coriander sprinkled over.
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
This soup owes a lot to the use of aged goats cheese but if that is not to your taste you can replace with a nice Gouda or maybe Gruyere. This comfortably makes 6 portions, possibly more depending on the size of your squash.
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
150ml creme fraiche
120g aged goats cheese (or gouda if you prefer)
2 red chillies, de-seeded and chopped finely
1 tablespoon la kama
Freshly milled black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and stir in the chopped onions together with a teaspoon of salt. Give them a good coating and allow to simmer gently with the lid on until they become soft, about 10 minutes. Add the squash and give everything a good stir.
Use some greaseproof paper to cover the pot and then place the lid on top as well. Allow to simmer for another 20 minutes.
Now add the tomato puree, a tablespoon of La Kama, the water and the chillies. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Allow to cool. Now using a hand blender begin to puree the soup. Slowly add in the creme fraiche followed by the cheese. Reserve some crumbled cheese to sprinkle on top when serving. Re-heat and serve.