The nights are drawing in and the quilt is back on the bed! Time to bring out some old favourites! Stew and dumpling is always a hit in our house, along with soups. On a cold winter’s day, you can’t beat a big bowl of steaming hot soup. Just about anything can be added to stock to make a soup and I often use left-overs with a few spices to make a broth for supper.

I remember, as a child, my grandmother cooking the bones of the chicken to make a stock and then creating hearty soups for us to eat with a big chunk of homemade bread; delicious! Below you will find a few recipes to try, including some classics and one or two unusual ones. My minestrone soup is often very similar to my vegetable soup and my family like it chunky, but if you prefer, it can be liquidized to make a smoother soup. The flavour will be the same.

Buen Apetito


25g butter
2 rashers of streaky bacon
450g seasonal vegetables (carrots, courgette, celery, cabbage, leeks, turnip etc)
1 onion
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 cloves of garlic
2 litre of chicken stock
50g vermicelli pasta
Salt and pepper
Mixed herbs

Peel and chop the vegetables, onion and peel and crush the garlic. Dice the bacon and cook in the oil in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables to the saucepan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and add the stock. Simmer for another 30 minutes and then break up the pasta into short strands and add with the seasoning and mixed herbs. Simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes and serve.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

1kg chicken
1 medium onion
1 litre chicken stock
350g carrots
Salt and pepper
100g celery sticks
50g pearl barley
40g butter
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
100g semolina

Peel and chop onion and carrots, slice chicken and put all three into a saucepan with the stock and pearl barley and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Make the dumplings by melting the butter, whisk the eggs and add to butter. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in the semolina to form a thick paste. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to thicken. Shape the dumplings and drop into soup, along with the diced celery. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve.

Leek and Potato Soup

25g butter
2 medium leeks
1 small onion
350g potatoes
600ml chicken stock
150ml single cream
Salt and pepper
Fresh chives or
watercress for

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks and onion and cook gently without browning. Add the peeled and chopped potatoes with the stock and seasoning. Bring to boil and simmer very gently for 20 – 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then sieve or puree in processor until smooth. Chill completely. To serve, stir in cream sprinkle with chives or watercress.

Pumpkin Soup

1 ½ cups of stock (vegetable is best)
¼ cup margarine
1 medium onion
3 or 4 cups cooked pumpkin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp paprika (optional)

Chop the onion coarsely, melt the margarine and cook onion until sautéed. Add salt, pepper and paprika if using. Add cooked pumpkin and stir in stock bringing to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes.

Cream of Mussel Soup

900g mussels
25g butter
1 small onion
Bunch parsley
Bunch dill
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
Black pepper
150ml white wine
1 small carrot
1 stick celery
600ml fish stock
½ tsp curry powder
142ml double cream

Clean the mussels under cold running water, scraping off any mud and barnacles and remove the beards. Discard any mussels that remain open and rinse again. Melt butter in large pan and cook chopped onions for 3 minutes. Crush garlic and chop parsley and dill and add to the pan. Add the mussels, pepper, bay leaves and wine to the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes until the mussels open. Remove any that remain closed. Lift the mussels out and pull them away from the shells. Keep warm. Strain the liquid into a large pan. Peel the carrots and cut them and the celery into thin match sticks. Put into the pan of liquid, boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mussels, curry powder, cayenne pepper and cream and heat through until hot but do not boil. Serve immediately.