Category Archives: Soups, Stocks

White Soup

I complain about my small kitchen all the time, but the reality is it forces me to be creative and practical in many ways. For example, I need to constantly make room in my cupboards for new ingredients.

I don’t remember why I had a large jar of white beans, but I needed the jar so the beans had to go. I thought they would make a lovely white winter vegetable soup… and they did. Parsnip and cauliflower go so beautifully with beans, I think, and the garlic, cheese and herbs added all the right flavour dimensions.

You need to plan ahead if you want to make this as the beans have to soak overnight. Also, if you can wait, this soup will be even better after a day in the fridge, as the flavours develop and intensify.

Serves 4

  • 2.5 cups dried white beans, such as lima beans
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, woody centre removed, and diced
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • olive oil
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.2 litres water
  • vegetable stock cube
  • salt & pepper

Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. The next day, rub them to slip the skins off. Don’t worry if you don’t get them all, they’ll come off when cooking. Drain and set aside.

Saute the onion in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and parsnip, and sauté for a few minutes to soften the parsnip a little. Add the water, stock cube, thyme, bay leaves, beans, cauliflower and some salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, reduce to a low simmer and skim any foam off the top that has accumulated. Simmer for 1.5 hours. Check a few times to see if it needs more water.

Remove the bay leaves and puree the soup in a blender or with a bamix stick. Season to taste.

Serve with some extra grated cheese, a swirl of cream, or some prosciutto, crisped up in the microwave and crumbled over the top. And I know it’s a daggy 80’s café thing to do, but I like mine with snipped chives.


Corn and Saffron Chowder

This soup is so comforting you’ll feel like you’ve just slipped into a warm dressing-gown and slippers. But for comfort food, it’s also nutritious and fresh, so it won’t leave you feeling blah.

I love the combination of corn and coriander, and the saffron adds a subtle flavour and aroma. I don’t often use cream in cooking, but it’s just a small amount, and you can’t very well have chowder without it. I have to admit it does round it all out beautifully.

Serves 3-4

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon saffron strands
  • pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 4 corn cobs, kernels sliced off
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 700 ml water
  • 1 veg stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • handful of grated cheddar cheese

Soak the saffron in a little white wine, or water if you don’t have any. Saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the crushed coriander seeds (or coriander powder), chilli and saffron, including the liquid it was soaking in. Add the water and stock cube, corn and potatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for 40 minutes.

Chop the coriander and stir into the soup with the cream. Serve topped with a little grated cheese.


There is no rival. Gazpacho is summer in a glass.  Serve it as a soup, in shot glasses alongside oysters or grilled scallops, or as a dressing or sauce for grilled meats or seafood.

If you can, start it the day before, it will be better.    This recipe is adapted from the French Laundry cookbook.

  • 3 skinned chopped tomatoes (skin them by cutting an “x” on the bottom, then blanch in boiling water for a minute)
  • 1 chopped medium sized red capsicum
  • 1 small or half a large red onion, chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix, cover and leave overnight if you can, or at least for a few hours.  Puree with a stick, or put in the blender or food processor, and serve chilled.

We had it last night with grilled seafood skewers, and a white bean, basil and goat cheese puree.  Perfect.


Pea Soup with Mint Oil

This is what I call summer comfort food. It’s healthy, nourishing and satisfying, and it’s just the what the doctor ordered after all the Christmas/New Year indulging.  The soup itself is very simple and fast to make, but you’ll need to make the oil a few hours ahead.  I’m getting into fresh infused herb oils after reading the amazing French Laundry cookbook that I got for Christmas.  The mint oil recipe is adapted from this book.

I made a fresh peach, mozzarella, basil and rocket salad to go with mine and it was simple summer perfection 🙂

Serves 2-3


  • 500 grams frozen peas
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 leek
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil

Mint Oil:

  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • About 1/2 cup canola oil (don’t use olive oil, the flavour is too strong and will overpower the mint)

To make the mint oil, blanch the mint in boiling water for 15 seconds, refresh in ice cold water, and squeeze dry.  Chop the mint and place half in a food processor with half the oil, and process for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the oil and mint and process for another 2 minutes.  Place a piece of muslin, cheesecloth or a brand new chux cloth over a bowl and secure with an elastic band. Pour the oil/mint mixture over and allow it to drain through, for about an hour. Don’t squeeze the cloth it will spoil it. Put the oil aside for an hour at least to let the flavour develop.

Meanwhile, make the soup. Clean and slice the leek and saute in olive oil until soft, about 7 minutes, stirring a few times to stop sticking.  Add the bay leaf, peas and stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 12 minutes.  Puree in blender or with a stick, adding a little water if its too thick.

Serve with a swirl of the mint oil.  The mint oil will keep for a day or two only.

Fresh Borlotti Bean and Spring Vegetable Soup

Yesterday I felt like a nourishing but healthy meal, and when I saw borlotti beans at the greengrocer I felt inspired to make something with them.  This seasonal soup is fresh with spring flavours – asparagus, peas, mint – and perfect, I feel, for a light dinner at this time of year.  Its also quick and very easy to make.

I just love the beautiful pink marbliness of borlotti beans (although they do turn a pale grey or brown when cooked).

If you can’t be bothered shelling fresh beans, you can use a tin of borlotti beans, but I would urge you to try the fresh ones, the texture is so much better.  If you use dried borlotti beans, you will have to soak them overnight, and simmer the soup for longer.

  • 300-400 grams fresh unshelled borlotti beans
  • 1 leek, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends removed and cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas (use fresh if you can be bothered shelling these too!)
  • 1 medium-large potato, peeled and diced
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • About a tablespoon each fresh chopped parsley and mint
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Shell the beans and rinse.  Saute the leeks in some olive oil until soft, stirring regularly.  Add the celery and garlic, and saute for a few more minutes. Add the bay leaves, beans, potato, stock, water and some salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the asparagus, peas and herbs, and simmer for another 5-7 minutes.

This would be lovely with some garlic, cheese or herbed crostini.  I had mine last night with grilled goat cheese on toast.

Serves 3-4

Alkaline-restoring Miso Soup

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the need to balance acidic with alkaline foods in your diet.   Just google the topic if you want to find out more, but the upshot is that too much acid forming food and drink in your diet leads to all sorts of trouble.  I bet you can guess what the culprits are too: alcohol, coffee, soft drink, fried food, sugar, processed foods, cheese and meat.. etc

Many experts believe our diet should be 75% alkaline (fresh veg, fruit, whole grains etc etc) and 25% acid.    Yesterday my diet would have been the other way around: coffee and pancakes for breakfast (mostly acidic) homemade chicken noodle and vegetable soup for lunch (a little alkaline) and mussels and fries for dinner, with wine and beers later at the footy – highly acidic!

Today I’ve put some balance back, with a super quick and fiercely healthy soup that’s fresh, sharp and hydrating, so it will also help you if you have a hangover.  And taking under 10 minutes to prepare, it has earned a spot in the Emergency Meal category.

  • About 1/3 cup miso paste
  • About 600 ml water
  • Handful of silverbeet leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 tin brown lentils, or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sliced fresh chilli, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • Juice of half a lemon

Gently heat the water and miso paste, stirring to dissolve. Its important not to boil miso soup, or its goodness will be destroyed.   When heated through and the paste is dissolved, add the spinach, about half of the lentils or chick peas, chilli and lemon juice.

Serves 1-2

Variations: you could make this a more substantial meal by adding soba noodles, tofu and/or shiitake mushrooms.  Some fresh herbs – eg mint, coriander – might also be nice.

Jerusalem Artichoke and Porcini Mushroom Soup

I made this soup several years ago for a dinner party and I can’t believe I haven’t made it since. I thought about it again this week and realised I didn’t know where  the recipe was.  Casting my mind back over five years, I felt exhausted at the prospect of flicking through a metre high pile of cooking magazines to find it, so I just re-created it.

Jerusalem artichokes (which are not an artichoke at all) have an intense flavour that can often overpower a dish, but in porcini mushrooms they have found their perfect match. You’ll find dried porcini mushrooms (or ceps) in packets at delis, markets and continental grocers.    Jerusalem artichokes are just coming into season now.

Make this soup today, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  It is rich, hearty, tasty and very special.

Serves 6

  • 4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced.
  • 20 g porcini mushrooms (they usually come in 10g packets)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, washed well and sliced thinly
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, and the yellow centre leaves
  • 500 ml (2 cups) homemade chicken stock
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper
  • Creme fraiche or parmesan cheese for serving

Boil the kettle. Put the dried porcinis in a small jug or bowl and pour over 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water.  Cover with a dish or lid and let the mushrooms reconstitute – give them about 10 minutes.

Heat some olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan, or stockpot, and add the leaks.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until they are soft.  Add the garlic, celery, bay leaf, dried sage, and picked thyme leaves.  Stir, and cook for a few more minutes until the celery is soft.

Strain the mushrooms and reserve the liquid.  Roughly chop the mushrooms.  Add the potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, stock, water and the liquid from the mushrooms.  Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, and using a hand held bamix, puree the soup.  You can do this in a blender or food processor but its much messier.

Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche, or a sprinkling of grated parmesan.


Mushrooms? Must be Cab Sav. I can’t drink it without thinking of a sommelier friend who told me of the (alarmingly high) number of diners who have enquired what proportion of the wine was cabernet and what percentage sauvignon, but I digress.
Coonawarra is one of the only Australian geographic regions with any resonance in the international market, and it’s entirely due to the fact that the place was custom-built to grow kick-arse Cabernet. One of the better offerings is Bowen Estate, which is enormously and justifiably popular. Intensely floral, with dark cherry predominating, followed by capsicum and backed by vanilla and spice tones with a slight hint of peppermint and finishing with chalky tannins. Delicious. Get it for about $26 at Dan’s.

The Simplicity Project ~ Jenn Pike

Transform your body & fall in love with yourself with Simplicity & Ease

The Abbotsford Kitchen

Go Cook Yourself