Celery and Stilton Soup – and Easy Garlic Breadsticks

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We love a bit of Stilton cheese with a glass of port over Christmas, but now it is dry January and the remains of the cheese need using up. Of course, you can use another blue cheese or strongly flavoured cheese for this.

To go with this I have baked some Easy Garlic Breadsticks. Yes, breadsticks means breadsticks 😉 (if you didn’t see this epsiode of HIGNFY, go to about 19:50 and see Maureen Lipman doing a Mrs May..) It is rare for us to eat white bread, but this is such a great way of making croutons! A half sized, ready to bake baguette makes 6 sticks and they keep quite well wrapped in foil, or leftovers can be broken up for use as a croutons for soups or salads. I first made them during one of our photography courses, and they were a great hit (you’ll find them in my Focus on Flavour book). Conversation stoppers though, as you can’t hear anything over the crunch…  I like them with a Caesar salad too.

I’ve included some golden paste in the recipe – you really don’t notice the flavour of turmeric, but it adds a lovely golden colour. I like to include it as often as I can in cooking, especially if I haven’t had it in yogurt for breakfast.

A bowl of this soup (145 kcals)  with one or two breadsticks (91 each) makes a lovely lunch or can be part of a fast day meal.

Stilton and Celery Soup
Serves 6
A great way of using up some blue cheese, which combines so well with celery to make a rich, satisfying soup. Terrific with a crunchy garlic breadstick!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 7g unsalted butter (50)
  2. 1 onion, chopped (45)
  3. 100g potato, peeled and diced quite small (80)
  4. 4 medium sticks (about 300g) of celery, in thin slices (50)
  5. a splash of water
  6. 1.2 litres vegetable stock, made with 1 tsp of Marigold stock powder (15)
  7. 150g Stilton cheese, crumbled (615)
  8. freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1 tsp golden paste (11)
  10. a few celery leaves, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, then add the onion, potato and celery.
  2. Stir well and add a splash of water to stop them sticking.
  3. Cover with a lid and braise gently for about 10 minutes, until softened.
  4. Add the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
  5. Blend (ideally with a stick blender in the pan) and then add the cheese, pepper and golden paste.
  6. Mix well until the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve garnished with some chopped celery leaves.
Notes
  1. Per serving: 145kcals, 10g Fat, 6g Carbs 7g Protein
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/
Easy Garlic Breadsticks
Yields 6
Ready to bake baguettes have a long shelf life, or can be stored in the freezer. They make lovely crunchy breadsticks with a soft centre.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 ready to bake baguette (368)
  2. 1.5 tbsp olive oil (179)
  3. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (5)
  4. Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c (fan).
  2. Mix the garlic with the olive oil and seasoning.
  3. Cut the bread lengthwise, then cut each half into 3, aiming for a triangle shape cross-sectiom.
  4. Lay on a non-stick baking sheet and brush with the oil, making sure that the garlic is reasonably evenly distributed.
  5. Bake on a middle shelf for about 15 minutes, until golden.
  6. Serve while still warm.
Notes
  1. Per stick: 92 kcals, 4g Fat, 12g Carbs, 2g Protein
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

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

Italian Vegetable Soup – 125 calories

Italian Vegetable SoupThis is the final soup recipe for my collection of 12 Super Soups.  All these recipes can be found in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life as well as here on this site.

I make a lot of soups as they are a great way of getting to eat more vegetables! 

A lot of people think that cheese is too high in calories to use on a fast day, but if you use a little strong cheese, it is amazing what a difference it can make to both the flavour and the texture. Because parmesan is a little salty too, it helps to balance your electrolytes  – when you may have been drinking a lot of fluids on a fast day, you do need some salt to replace what may have been lost or is missing because you haven’t eaten. So whereas on non-fast days I rarely use salt in cooking, on fast days I like to make sure that something salty is part of our menu. That could be capers or pickles, air dried ham perhaps, or the stock that I use in soup.

Italian Vegetable Soup
A little pesto and a sprinkle of parmesan bring a taste of Italy to a straightforward vegetable soup. There is lots of scope for varying the vegetables according to the season.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ tbsp olive oil
  2. ½ large onion, chopped
  3. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  4. 1 stalk celery, chopped
  5. ¼ cauliflower florets (150g)
  6. 1 medium carrot, chopped
  7. ¼ sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  8. 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  9. 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  10. 1 tsp pesto
  11. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve
  1. A few basil leaves, roughly torn
  2. 10g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in large pan and gently sauté the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until a little softened.
  2. Then add the celery, carrot and red pepper and cook gently for a further 10 minutes, adding a little water if necessary to prevent them sticking.
  3. Add the cauliflower, parsley and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
  4. Add the pesto and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  5. Serve in warmed bowls with some basil leaves and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Notes
  1. Per serving: kcals 124
  2. Carbs 14g Fat 6g Protein 5g
  3. You could add some pasta or cannelini beans to make a more substantial soup for a non-fast day.
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup – 90 calories per serving

Is there anything that cauliflower doesn’t lend itself to? So many wonderful ways of using this vegetable! Here is one of my favourites, combining the kick of harissa and warm fragrant spices along with the nuttiness of almonds. The recipe came originally from the BBC Good Food site, which has lots of super ideas, but theirs was much higher in calories. I have used less oil and made the soup less dense, so that it is ideal for a fast day. Beware of the harissa! It can be fiercely hot if you aren’t used to it, so you might want to start with a smaller quantity and taste before adding it all. For a milder kick, you could use a chilli sauce, such as Cholula.

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup

This recipe can be found in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life, available in kindle and print editions from Amazon, worldwide.

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup
Serves 6
A wonderful blend of cauliflower and almonds with warm, spicy tones and a kick of harissa
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  4. 1 tsp ground cumin
  5. 1 tsp ground coriander
  6. 1 tbsp harissa paste
  7. 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock, made with stock cube or bouillon powder
  8. 30g toasted flaked almonds
For serving
  1. 1 tsp harissa paste
  2. 1 tsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the spices together with the harissa paste, for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower and stock and most of the almonds, reserving some for decoration.
  3. Bring to the boil, cover and lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Whizz with a hand blender until smooth.
  4. To serve, mix harissa paste with lemon juice to make a swirl for decorating and sprinkle flaked almonds over the top.
Notes
  1. Per serving: kcals 87
  2. Carbs 10g Fat 5g Protein 4g
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Spicy Chickpea and Spinach Soup – 150 kcals per serving

Here’s a warming and satisfying soup that works well for a fast day or as a lunch or supper any day. This one is is my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life (available on Amazon worldwide in print or kindle editions).  

Spicy Chickpea and Spinach Soup

I used sunflower oil for sautéing the onions, but coconut oil would be great for this. You can vary the green vegetables according to what’s available – I’m going to try this next time with some of my home-grown kale. You could use any canned beans, but I love the almost nutty flavour of chickpeas. For a non-fast day a swirl of coconut cream on top and some slivers of toasted coconut would be lovely.

Spicy Chickpea and Spinach Soup

Serves 4

  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil 60 kcals
  • 1 onion, chopped 44 kcals
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped 4 kcals
  • 2.5 cm root ginger, finely grated 9 kcals
  • 1/2 fresh green chilli, finely chopped 4 kcals
  • 1 litre vegetable stock 24 kcals
  • 2 large carrots, chopped 58 kcals
  • 400g can of chickpeas, drained 339 kcals
  • 150g spinach leaves, washed and shredded 35 kcals

For the garam masala

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds 8 kcals
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds 5 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 4 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 3 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder 3 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 3 kcals

Heat the oil in heavy pan over low-medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for a few minutes, until the onion starts to become translucent and soft.

Add the garam masala and cook for another couple of minutes, until the spices are fragrant – add a splash of water if necessary to stop them burning.

Add the stock and carrots, bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the carrots are tender.

Add the chickpeas and then whizz a little with a stick blender, making sure to leave some nice chunky bits.

Add the spinach and cook for a few more minutes until the spinach is wilted.

Serve in warmed bowls.

Per serving: kcals 150
Carbs 23g Fat 4g Protein 7g

 

A Taste of Summer – Bargeman’s Tomato Soup – 110kcals

_MG_5269-2

I came across this recipe in a book about cooking on a canal barge by Kate Ratliffe “A Culinary Journey in Gascony”. It makes a wonderful summery soup using loads of fresh tomatoes, but t it would be perfect for a fast day even in winter using tinned, bottled or frozen tomatoes. Adding an egg just before the end of cooking increases the protein content and gives added interest.

I would serve this over some toasted bread rubbed with garlic for a non-fast day.

So imagine yourself cruising along the Canal du Midi and stopping to buy a big bag of misshapen Marmande tomatoes, and enjoying this for lunch….

_MG_2650

Bargeman's Tomato Soup
Serves 2
A wonderful tomato, onion and garlic soup, simple as you like, perfect for making the most of summer or with tinned tomatoes in winter. Add a beaten egg just before serving.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 can (425g) of chopped tomatoes, or 500g fresh tomatoes, peeled and crushed (74 kcals)
  2. 1 onion, roughly chopped (46 kcals)
  3. 4 cloves of garlic, crushed (13 kcals)
  4. 500ml water
  5. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 large egg (70 kcals)
  7. A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stalk (or a tsp of dried thyme) or fresh basil, chopped
Instructions
  1. Put the tomatoes, onion and garlic into a pan along with the water and season well.
  2. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Bring back to a boil, beat the egg lightly and stir into the soup.
  4. Check and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs.
  6. Per serving: kcals 110
  7. Carbs 13g Fat 3g Protein 6g
Adapted from A Culinary Journey in Gascony, Kate Ratliffe
Adapted from A Culinary Journey in Gascony, Kate Ratliffe
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

 

This recipe can be found in my book “5:2 Healthy Eating for Life“, available on Amazon in print or kindle format.

 

Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup – 120 calories per serving

As the last of the summer vegetables get turned into ratatouille, my thoughts turn to warming winter soups and stews to see us through more chilly fast days.

One of my favourites is a spicy soup based on pumpkin or butternut squash, full of Caribbean sunshine.

butternut squash soup

Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4
Bring a touch of Caribbean sunshine to cool autumn or winter days with this colourful and spicy soup.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 10g unsalted butter
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 1 leek, chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 2.5cm piece of root ginger, finely chopped
  6. 500g butternut squash
  7. 1 litre vegetable stock
  8. 2 tsp hot curry powder
  9. ½ tsp ground ginger
  10. ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  11. Sea salt
  12. Freshly ground black pepper
To serve
  1. 1 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley
  2. 1 tbsp crème fraiche
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large pan.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute without browning.
  3. Add the spices, stir then add chopped leek, squash and stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, stir and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until squash is soft.
  5. Add seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve sprinkled with chopped herbs and a swirl of cream.
Notes
  1. This recipe works equally well with any kind of winter squash, such as pumpkin or butternut. If you blend it until smooth it is creamy and luxurious, or if you leave it slightly chunky it seems wholesome and earthy.
Adapted from A Carriacou Cookbook by Rosamond Cameron
Adapted from A Carriacou Cookbook by Rosamond Cameron
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

5:2 in the Summer – Tuscan Zucchini Soup

This is a simple soup that makes a good light lunch or first course at under 90 calories per serving. Add another 70 calories for 3 grissini breadsticks. 

Ideal if you have a glut of courgettes and it freezes well too.

Tuscan Courgette Soup with breadsticks

Tuscan Zucchini Soup
Serves 6
A light and delicious soup that makes the most of courgettes/zucchini and freezes well
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1kg courgettes, diced
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. handful basil leaves
  5. freshly ground black pepper
  6. 10 g marigold swiss vegetable bouillon powder
  7. 1.2 litres water
  8. salt to taste
  9. 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  10. 40 g parmesan, finely grated
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan.
  2. Add the courgettes, garlic, basil and black pepper.
  3. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
  4. Make the stock with boiling water and bouillon powder.
  5. Set aside a couple of tablespoonfuls of the courgettes for garnish.
  6. Add the stock to the pan and simmer gently for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Whizz to a purée with a stick blender.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  9. Stir in parsley and most of the grated parmesan.
  10. Serve with a little grated parmesan on top and some pieces of courgette.
Notes
  1. You can use any shape of courgettes or soft-skinned summer squash.
  2. This soup freezes well.
Adapted from Cooking to Impress without Stress by Annabel Langbein
Adapted from Cooking to Impress without Stress by Annabel Langbein
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Mushroom and Celery Soup

A combination of ingredients that work surprisingly well together, to make a very low calorie, tasty and filling soup, less than 50 kcals a serving.

Mushroom and Celery Soup

My husband didn’t have any idea what was in it and said he thought it was “very satisfying and kind of meaty”. Perfect for a 5:2 Fast Day.

Mushroom and Celery Soup
Serves 4
A substantial and yet light soup that combines interesting flavours and textures.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 250g mushrooms, chopped
  2. 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  4. 1 litre stock, vegetable or chicken
  5. 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  6. 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  7. sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  8. celery leaves
Instructions
  1. Put the mushrooms, garlic and celery in a saucepan with about 100ml of stock.
  2. Cover and cook over a low heat until the celery is soft, about 30 - 40 minutes.
  3. Add half of the remaining stock and whizz with a blender.
  4. Pour in the rest of the stock together with the Worcestershire sauce and nutmeg.
  5. Bring to the boil, then check the seasoning.
  6. Serve garnished with celery leaves.
Notes
  1. As an alternative to Worcestershire sauce, you could use soya sauce. Next time I make it, I think I will try a few drops of good quality balsamic vinegar instead, which should enhance the mushroominess.
Adapted from The Ultimate Healthy Eating Cookbook , consultant editor Anne Sheasby
Adapted from The Ultimate Healthy Eating Cookbook , consultant editor Anne Sheasby
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Hot and Sour Soup

 

_MG_0572

I had forgotten how great this soup tastes! Spicy, slightly sweet, sour, bitter, salty – it has that umami savoury satisfaction factor.

Especially with home made chicken stock…  but you can use Marigold bouillon or even plain water and it is still yummy.

Hot and Sour Prawn Soup

 

You may know it as Tom Yam Gung – Prawn, or Tom Yam Gai – chicken. The fish sauce is an essential part of the flavour combination, so this won’t work for strict vegetarians, but you could try using soy sauce and a little sugar instead and some cubes of tofu.

I buy lime leaves and lemongrass from time to time at an Asian store in Toulouse, and freeze them.

Hot and Sour Soup
Serves 4
Deliciously light and spicy soup which can be made with prawns or chicken
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 litre chicken stock (I use home-made, or marigold bouillon)
  2. 1 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste
  3. 1 tbslp Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla)
  4. 1/2 lemon or lime, juice only
  5. 2 lime leaves, finely sliced
  6. 5cm of lemon grass stalk, finely sliced
  7. 100g mushrooms (chestnut or canned straw mushrooms), sliced
  8. 1 spring onion, sliced
For garnish
  1. a few coriander leaves
  2. a few birds eye chillies
Optional
  1. 200g of peeled and deveined prawns or shredded chicken
Instructions
  1. Heat the stock in a saucepan and add the curry paste, fish sauce, lime leaves, lemon grass, lemon juice and chillies.
  2. Taste and add more curry paste if necessary.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, the prawns or chicken and the spring onion and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes until the prawns are cooked or the chicken heated through.
  5. Serve decorated with coriander leaves and a couple of birds eye chillies.
Notes
  1. According to MyFitnessPal, the broth comes to about 50 calories per serving without the chicken or prawns.
  2. The Thai red curry paste that I have is furiously hot, so 1 tsp is enough - you may need up to 1 tblsp if yours is mild.
Adapted from The Taste of Thailand, by Vatcharin Bhumichitr
Adapted from The Taste of Thailand, by Vatcharin Bhumichitr
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

If you want to see my meal plans for the week, please go to  Meal Plans – you’ll find my outline plan for the current week, and more detailed calorie counted plans for previous weeks.