12 Super Soups – for fast days or any day

Italian Vegetable Soup Spicy Chickpea and Spinach Soup _MG_5269-2 Tuscan Zucchini Soup Mushroom and Celery Soup Spring Minestrone Soup Hot and Sour Chicken and Mushroom Soup Watercress Soup Carrot and Coriander Soup butternut squash soup _MG_3080 Simple Vegetable Soup

I love soups! They are a great way of filling up before your main course, or make a perfect lunch. They can showcase all kinds of vegetables and elevate them to become star ingredients. They are a great way of increasing your veg intake, so helping you to have more fibre and get your five-a-day.

I make my own stock quite often, but if not, a good quality bouillon powder or cube is perfectly acceptable – especially on a fast day, the extra salt can be very helpful at balancing your electrolytes, so keeping headaches and light-headedness at bay.

Most of these soups are easy to prepare and quick to cook and can be simmering gently while you get on with making a main dish. I often make a larger quantity than I need and freeze leftovers for another day.

Vary your textures, from a clear broth such as in Hot and Sour Soup, to a hearty chunky soup such as the Spicy Chickpea and Spinach, with a variety of smoother textures in between. A stick blender is a really useful but inexpensive tool that helps to make smooth soups easily, right in the pan, without extra washing up.

Make the most of herbs and spices to add flavour and depth – a little sprinkle at the last minute is appealing to the eye as well as to the palate. Try a grating of strongly flavoured cheese, such as parmesan, a spoonful of pesto, a few toasted slivers of almonds, a swirl of yogurt, finely chopped fresh herbs, some drops of chilli sauce or some freshly roasted and ground spices.

Here they are, in order of calorie counts and with links to the recipes.

12 Super SoupsPhotosNumber of Calories
Click on the links above for the recipes
Mushroom and CeleryMushroom and Celery Soup36
WatercressWatercress Soup60
Hot and Sour (Tom Yum)Hot and Sour Chicken and Mushroom Soup76
Moroccan Cauliflower with AlmondMoroccan Cauliflower Soup87
Tuscan ZucchiniTuscan Zucchini Soup89
Carrot and CorianderCarrot and Coriander Soup97
Bargeman's Tomato_MG_5269-2110
Caribbean Butternut Squashbutternut squash soup120
Italian VegetableItalian Vegetable Soup124
Spicy Chickpea and SpinachSpicy Chickpea and Spinach Soup150
Spring MinestroneSpring Minestrone150

All the recipes are in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, available on Amazon in kindle and print editions

Salmon Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Herbs <200 calories

Salmon Stuffed with Pine Nuts and HerbsSalmon is one of my go-to ingredients for a fast day, when I focus on “mainly plants and protein” and I always have some fillets in the freezer. This recipe makes a good change from my usual technique of putting it on a pile of sliced vegetables and wrapping it in paper parcels. I will defrost the fish first.

This recipe is in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, but as I had included it in this week’s meal plan, and highlighted the photo, I thought I should share it here.

The original idea came from a New Zealand cook, Annabel Langbein, from her excellently-titled 2003 recipe book “Cooking to Impress without Stress”. 

You can use walnuts instead of pine nuts and vary the herbs. I plan to serve it with a spoonful of tsatsiki (greek yogurt with salted, drained, finely chopped cucumber and mint), but it would be lovely with a chilli and tomato salsa or on a non-fast day, a hollandaise sauce would be super.

A rainbow of steamed seasonal vegetables and perhaps a few baked mushrooms add visual appeal, flavour and plenty of fibre. Today we will be having swiss chard and carrots, plus some slivers of raw vegetables – my new kitchen gadget, a super-duper Mandolin, is going to be put to use! 

Salmon Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Herbs
Serves 4
A delicious and simple way to jazz up a fillet of salmon - it's quick too! You can prepare the stuffing while the oven is getting up to temperature.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
18 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 salmon fillets (each about 100g), skinned
  2. Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  3. 1 bunch flat leaved parsley, finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp capers, roughly chopped
  5. 2 tbsp pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  6. sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve
  1. 6 lemon wedges
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 220ºC (fan)
  2. Lay the fish onto a non-stick baking sheet.
  3. Cut a diagonal slash in the top of each one.
  4. Mix the parsley, nuts, capers and lemon zest together and stuff some into each piece of fish.
  5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and squeeze lemon juice over.
  6. Bake for 6 – 8 minutes.
  7. Serve with a wedge or two of lemon to squeeze over.
Notes
  1. Defrost frozen fish before cooking - but you can slice the diagonal while still frozen, which speeds up the defrost time.
  2. Per serving: 186 kcals
  3. Carbs 2g Fat 10g Protein 21g
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Annabel Langbein
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Focus on Flavour – Keeping it Light

Since early January we have been working on evolving our lifestyle with the aim of getting our bodies back to normal, i.e. not ‘overweight’, improving our fitness level and hopefully increasing our chances of living to a ripe old age in good health.

We are following a 5:2 diet (5 days eating normal, healthy meals: 2 days restricted calorie intake – 500 for women/ 600 for men), inspired by Michael Mosley’s “The Fast Diet”

With this in mind I am preparing a lot of our meals from scratch and trying to eliminate unnecessary calories.

I’m going to start trying to photograph our meals, especially when it is something new.

Each week I am planning our meals for the week, so I’m going to share those meal plans here and link to recipes or include my own as and when I can.