Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup

Soup Mix is a packet mix of barley, dried peas and various lentils that is easily available in supermarkets. It it not something I would normally buy, but my Father had a couple of bags in his pantry and I inherited them.

During a particularly cold snap, they were used to make a hearty and creamy vegetable soup. It is a soup that is warming and delicious. It also freezes very well.

The soup’s secrets are – the inclusion of fennel with leeks, onions and celery. Fennel is rarely included in soups yet it goes so well with lentils and beans. We have an extraordinary Dried Fava Soup that uses fennel in its base. The second secret is that half of the lentil-barley mix is cooked separately and blended to a puree before including in the soup. This gives the soup a beautiful creamy texture.

Healthy and utterly delicious, this soup is beautiful on a cold Wintery evening. Pair it with Parmesan Toasts if you wish, or with Polenta Crisps.

Similar recipes include Du Puy Lentil Soup, Red Lentil and Garlic Soup, and Vegetable and Barley Soup.

Browse all of our Soups and all of our Lentils Soups. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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30 Soups for Early Spring

Oh the joy at the arrival of Spring. But truth be told, despite longer days and gorgeous gardens, the weather is in transition and can still be quite cold.

Our soups for this season straddle the heartier soups that reflect our transition from Winter, and the fresher, herb laden soups that echo the emergence of Spring.

To help you on your way with stocks for your soups, here are the ones that we use the most

Now that you have your Spring menu organised, let’s get cooking! Many of these soups will freeze well.

Here are 30 of our best Soups for Early Spring.

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Four Asparagus Soups for Spring

It is almost Spring, and Spring brings with it the delights of young peas, beautiful broad beans and new asparagus. To celebrate the upcoming bounties of the garden, here are four soups featuring asparagus that we want to share with you. Asparagus makes the most delightful soups – gentle yet flavoursome and very, very healthy. They can be made hot or cold to suit the weather, and thus are not restricted to Springtime but can feature in your kitchen all year.

Oh the joy of the first asparagus of the season!

You might like to browse our other Asparagus Recipes and our Cold Soups. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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Velouté d’asperges | Cream of Asparagus Soup

This soup, so they say, is reminiscent of the creations of the 18th century French grande cuisine. Asparagus was introduced by the Italians during the Renaissance, and was part of a change in eating habits that saw vegetables introduced into grande cuisine. Previously they had been considered the food of peasants.

This soup is thick, smooth and delicate as well as utterly delicious. It is simple to make with easily accessible ingredients. It is the perfect soup for year-round enjoyment, as it can be served cold in Summer and hot in Winter.  We’ve been making this soup since the early 2000’s.

The soup can also be made quickly and easily in any high speed blender that also heats foods as it blends. I have given the instructions for making it this way as well as the usual, stove-top method. In the blender it takes around 15 mins, including cooking the asparagus. When you are using the high speed blender (mine is a Vitamix), then there are no worries about stringy stalks on the asparagus – all is blended into a smooth, perfect soup.

Similar recipes include Chilled Asparagus Soup, Gentle Asparagus Soup, and Asparagus Raita.

Check out our collection of:

Browse all of our other Asparagus Soup recipes, our Asparagus recipes, and our French dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Brinjal Rasam | Eggplant Rasam | and Eggplant Rasam with Rosewater

Brinjal Rasam is a type of Mysore Rasam, but with eggplant added. It is a delightful combination – whether in sambar or Rasam, toor dal and eggplant are a match made in heaven. It is another recipe from Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See.

One of the interesting notes that Ammal Auntie makes in Mysore Rasam is that the addition of Rose petals (or rose water) to Mysore Rasam (the second method) brings out the flavour and provides a nice rose scent. She is right! If you are going to try this, best leave out the asafoetida. The rose water has a tang of its own, and it tames some of the rasam’s spiciness. The scent is certainly there and it is not unpleasant, as strange as it may seem. It does go well with the eggplant.

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Easy Tomato Pepper Rasam

Sometimes, particularly when cooking large batches of dishes, we skip corners and the steps that enhance the complexity and sophistication of the dish go by the wayside. And this is Ok – it still tastes jolly amazing.

This rasam is in that category. The recipe is for 2’ish cups (four small serves or 2 large ones), but it can be scaled up. This is the way that rasam is often cooked when 30 or so people need to be fed, and in our house, it might be made this way when it is 15 mins to dinner time and we just need to get it on the table.

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Creamy Parsnip Soup with Curry Spices

Parsnips take to spices very well, especially in soups, as our two recipes for Parsnip Soup attest – Roasted Parsnip Soup with Spices  and A Magical Parsnip and Carrot Soup with Garlic.

But sometimes you don’t want to mess around with spices, so this quick soup uses a curry paste or curry powder – which ever one you have on hand. Just be careful to test the heat levels and adjust the amount that you add to the soup.

You can roast the parsnips before making the soup if you like. It will add a depth of Wintery flavour to the soup. But if you are just home from a long day at work, it is perfectly fine to omit roasting.

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Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus has that gentle flavour that makes it an ideal Spring vegetable, especially for soups. Asparagus soups do not have the heaviness of Winter soups, and as we emerge from jumpers, scarves, hats and overcoats, it is a delight to have its gentleness.

I don’t mean to imply that this soup should be kept only for Spring – indeed it will be a staple in your kitchen from Spring right through to the end of Autumn, at the times you can source decent asparagus. This recipe is a take on the recipe that appeared in Moosewood all those years ago – you Woodstock fans will know what I mean (and I am not referring to the bird!). It is a little different to the French Cream of Asparagus that we have also been making for quite a number of years.

This soup can be made in a high speed blender, one that heats the soup as it blends. While it misses the sweetness that can only be found in slowly cooked onions, sauteed asapragus and toasted roux, it is still a great option for evenings after a long day at work.

Similar recipes include the French Cream of Asparagus Soup, Chilled Asparagus Soup and Gentle Asparagus and Turmeric Soup.

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Browse all of our Asparagus dishes and all of our Soups. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Uppadam | Okra Kuzhambu with Sundakkai Vatral

Uppadam is an older recipe, one which people recall their Grandmothers or perhaps Mothers making, but which seems to have lost favour in the current generations. It is generally made with okra, and, as Uppadam means something that is preserved, with vatral, sun-dried vegetables, as well. Manathakkali vatral is traditionally used, and I searched high and low for it. It is difficult to obtain here, it seems, so Sundakkai is the recommended alternative. Sundakkai is sun-dried Turkey Berry/Pea Eggplants.

There are a few ways of making Kuzhambu style dishes with okra, but I particularly like this way. It has that sense of connecting one with past generations of women cooking in the kitchens of South India, or directing the making of similar dishes with a specialist’s hand. The okra is cooked with spices and the vatral, before tamarind and a paste of toasted rice, fenugreek, and chillies is added. This thickens the dish, so it is half way between a Rasam and a Sambar. Meenakshi Ammal has a similar recipe, and I will share that one too, in due course.

Roasting the rice will interest you. It releases more moisture that you thought possible, and the grain itself therefore changes somewhat. Roast until it is aromatic.

Similar dishes include Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Vatral Kuzhambu.

Browse all of our Okra dishes and all of our Kuzhambu recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

Cold soup is a treasure of Summer weather. Some countries (eg India and the Middle East) have a whole cuisine of cold drinks that are sipped in the extreme weather of the hottest periods of the year, and countries such as Spain have a cuisine of cold soups to slurp in similar weather. Here, we have neither although our weather in Summer equals or exceeds that of those countries. It is a puzzle why that is.

Never fear, here in our little patch of Australia, both cold soups and cold drinks prevail in hot weather.  From the simplest (juice tomatoes with a tiny piece of chill, serve as a soup with basil, spring onions, black pepper, sea salt) to beautiful but out of fashion vichyssoise varieties.

Today we make a Gazpacho style soup with watermelon as well as tomato. It is delicious on a hot Summer evening, eating on the deck or verandah with friends and family. Serve as a soup, or even as a savoury drink, like you might serve a tomato juice – leave the bread out if you are going to serve it this way. Sipped or slurped, it is wonderful.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe, from Plenty More, although I have added some cucumber back into the recipe. I love its juice and can’t imagine a gazpacho without it. It makes a difference. Sometimes, I have also added the juice of zucchinis (surprisingly delicious and cooling) in the past too, because I had a glut of them, and it is delicious. It is such a light and delicious soup, and easy to make – you will want to make it all Summer.

In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Coriander and Lemongrass VichyssoiseGazpacho,  and Cold Avocado Soup.

Browse all of our Cold Soups and all of our Tomato Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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