Curried red lentil soup

White not compromising on taste, this hearty soup is relatively quick and easy to prepare, meaning you can have a meal-in-a-bowl on the table in less than 20 minutes.

Serves 6

1 tbsp sunflower oil

4 tbsp Tika Masala curry paste (available from supermarkets)

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 cup red lentils

2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

Salt, to taste

Thick-style natural yoghurt, to serve

2 tbsp chopped coriander, to garish

Poppadams, to serve

1 Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add curry paste and fry for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add tomatoes and 4 cups cold water and bring to the boil.

2 Stir in red lentils, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add grated carrot and simmer for 5 minutes more, or until lentils are just tender.

3 Adjust seasoning with salt, to taste. Serve in bowls, scattered with chopped coriander and with yoghurt on the side, to spoon over. Serve pappadams on the side, if desired.

Chef’s trick: Cooking poppadams in the microwave is quick and easy, and healthier than deep fat frying them. Simply microwave one at a time, for 30 seconds each on high, or until poppadams are nicely puffed.


Pumpkin & Ginger Soup

This simple and delicious soup is a breeze to create and will be sure to warm up any winter’s day.

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
800g (1/2 medium) pumpkin, cubed with skin and seeds removed
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, as preferred
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika, to garnish
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, to soften but not brown.
2. Add pumpkin, ginger and stock and bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until pumpkin is very tender.
3. Puree the mixture in a blender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve sprinkled with a little paprika.

Bean & Lentil Soup

Bean soups are wonderfully satisfying and tasty – this one can also be cooked in a crock-pot, if preferred.

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced

2 sticks celery, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g can crushed tomatoes

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/2 cup green lentils

1 cup macaroni or other small pasta shapes

400g can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

400g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion, carrot and celery; cook over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

2 Add tomatoes, stock and lentils. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

3 Add pasta and beans and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Add oregano and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Chef’s trick: This soup can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for reheating throughout the week. You will find the flavours develop and improve with time.

Chilli black bean soup

Serves 4

2 onions, finely diced

2 tsp ground cumin

2 cups vegetable stock

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g cans black beans in chilli sauce

Sour cream, to serve if desired

Sprigs fresh coriander

1 Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft. Add cumin and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in stock and canned tomatoes.

2 Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in black beans and heat gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

4 Serve with a little sour cream if desired and topped with coriander.

Creamy Seafood Chowder

This seafood chowder with delightfully creamy and rich with seafood. It’s a hearty meal in a bowl and wonderfully warming on a cold winter’s night.

Serves 6
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
300g rindless free-range bacon, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup plain flour
2 cups fish or chicken stock
2 cups milk
3 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut in 1cm dice
400g white fleshed fish fillets, roughly cubed
200g scallops, cleaned
200g peeled prawns
200g mussel meat, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Heat a saucepan, add oil, onion and bacon and cook over a
medium heat for 5-10 minutes until onion is soft. Stir in
flour, off the heat.
2 Add stock and milk, and bring to the boil, stirring
until thickened and smooth. Add diced potatoes, turn down
the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to cook potatoes.
3 Add fish and seafood and simmer very gently for 10 minutes
to cook. Lastly, stir in sour cream parsley and season to taste with
salt and pepper. Serve in deep soup bowls with crusty bread
on the side, if desired.

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

Toasting the orzo pasta doesn’t take long and gives extra richness and depth of flavour to this sustaining chicken soup.

Serves 4
500g skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 cups liquid chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup orzo pasta (see note)
1 small zucchini, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt + freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp grated lemon zest

  1. Place chicken and stock in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 10 minutes to poach chicken. At the same time, heat a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and orzo and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes, until pasta is toasted golden-brown.
  2. Add zucchini, carrot, pepper, onion and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly, for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from stock. Pour stock into soup pan. Chop or shred chicken and add to the soup with extra 2 cups water. Bring soup to a gentle boil and cook for 10 minutes or until orzo is just tender.
  4. Just before serving, stir in oregano and zest and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Chef’s tip: Available from supermarkets, Orzo, sometimes called Risoni, is a small, rice-shaped pasta that has a lovely silken texture.