Wintery Soupy Warm-Up

There is nothing like a good soup to warm you up, and the weather is so icy and snowy that soup has to be available at the drop of a hat for lunch and for a warming starter before dinner.

I love my pressure cooker for making soup, it makes it really quick and easy. The chopping is quite calming and therapeutic and then the gentle hissing is most meditative.

I make most of my soups from what I have hanging around that needs to be used up. Inevitably they have onions and celery as a base, perhaps a leek if one is about, maybe a carrot or parsnip for sweetness.  Any ingredients that I list are a moveable feast really, you should experiment with the odds and ends that you have in the bottom of your fridge and vegetable rack.

Stocks are useful too, fresh stocks if you have them, or the liquid from poaching or boiling a chicken or some gammon.  I like Essential Cuisine home kitchen stock powders too, they are made from dehydrated real stocks and have a freshness that isn’t always evident in normal stock cubes, with much less salt than usual so they don’t drown out the flavours of the vegetables.

Here are a couple of combinations that I have made recently, that you might like to try out, with a rough list of ingredients.  Either of these soups can be made vegetarian by leaving out all the meaty ingredients, you will still have a soup full of flavour.

Mushroom and Chestnut – 1-2 punnets of mushrooms, sliced quite small, (I had about three quarters of a punnet each of portobellini and ordinary button white mushrooms) , a good handful of shelled cooked chestnuts (canned or vacuum packed ones are fine), a shredded leek, stock to cover, a little dried marjoram and thyme.  Pressure cook for 10 minutes. Either serve as it is or blend roughly to the texture that you like. I topped mine with some chopped leftover gammon.

Roughly blended:


Or left unblended.



Leek and Split English Fava (Broad) Beans with Gammon.  Made with the stock from boiling a gammon, I pre-boiled the hulled broad beans (fabulous English ones from Hodmedods that I bought at the Aldeburgh Food Festival back in the summer) for around 10 minutes in plain water, then sautéed a pack of pancetta in the pressure cooker, before adding the beans, 2 chopped leeks,  the gammon stock and some lemon thyme, and cooking at pressure for a further 10 minutes. I didn’t blend this one, the broad beans were slightly breaking up and thickened the soup a little. I added some shredded gammon to the top for a good sustaining broth.


Perfect! I think I’ll go and make some more..

Now what have I got in the store cupboard?