Best everyday vegetable soup

I must make soup at least once a week and there are so many reasons for this.  Warming and nourishing, a great way to use up vegetables (particularly sad or slightly bendy ones), get your five a day in one go, disguise vegetables for those less keen, good for you, super cheap and of course absolutely delicious.  Whilst I make many variations on vegetable soup, what follows is my blueprint.

A couple of leeks and carrots is where it starts but you can add so many other things thereafter.  If I have some butternut hanging around then a few chunks of that, peeled, will go in.  A lonely courgette or a few florets of broccoli will also find a happy home.  I nearly always add some red lentils, a superb way to add to the already fibre rich soup and they yield such a velvety texture.  Half a bunch of parsley languishing in the fridge will go into the pot rather than the compost and a teaspoon of curry powder will certainly be added if there is a parsnip in the mix.

The resulting soup will go off in packed lunches and I will thoroughly look forward to my bowl when I stop for lunch.  Any extra (what?) can be frozen for another day.

If you are feeling flash add a swirl of cream or a handful of croutons when serving.  This is very simple and possibly rather old fashioned but it is an absolute winner too.

Everyday soup

Once blended taste for seasoning, depending on your stock you may need a touch of salt.  I sometimes add a splash of milk or indeed cream when whizzing to add a touch of richness, particularly if I have a scrap of cream (or creme fraîche) that needs using up. A splash of sherry just before adding the stock is only ever a good thing if you have a bottle to hand.

A tablespoon of oil

A small knob of butter

2 leeks, finely sliced

2 carrots, peeled and chopped fairly small

100g red lentils

1 litre vegetable stock (chicken stock is fine if that is all you have)

A few sprigs of parsley if you have them

Melt the butter with the oil in a medium size pan.  Add the leeks and soften for a few minutes before adding the carrots and the lentils.  Stir into the oil and then add the stock. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the carrots are soft and the lentils breaking down.  Add the parsley and whizz with a hand held blender then taste and season if necessary.  This is enough for 2 very hungry people or three on a normal day but is easily doubled or trebled.

The picture above is before blending, the picture below is after.