BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

(Lewis Carroll)



Quantities are approximate; it usually does not matter much if more or less of any ingredient is used.

Chicken stock is usually specified; but stock made from other birds (but not grouse) will also do, as will vegetable stock (although it will not be quite as good). Except where “good stock” is specified, stock made with a stock cube will do.

Quite a few of the soups are thickened with potato. Potato goes gluey if liquidised or processed other then very briefly, especially if it is cold. This can be avoided by using a vegetable mill (mouli-légumes), or by liquidising the other ingredients first and only adding the potato to be briefly liquidised at the end. But as the latter process will leave lumps, the soup should then be put through a strainer. Soup made with whole tomatoes or unskinned peppers should also be strained after liquidising to eliminate bits of skin and pips.



1-2 onions, peeled & sliced
3-4 cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
1 clove garlic, peeled & sliced
1lb/500gr sweet potatoes, peeled & roughly sliced
1 ½ pints/900ml chicken stock (made with stock cube will do)
Zest and juice of 1 lime
salt, pepper, olive oil, crème fraiche

Melt the onions in olive oil without browning. Add the ginger & garlic. Cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, the chicken stock and the zest of the lime.  Simmer until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Liquidise, then stir in the juice of the lime, 4-6 tablespoons of crème fraiche and salt and pepper to taste.  Freezes well (before the addition of the crème fraiche).




300-400gr brown or flat-capped mushrooms
4 leeks
1 medium potato
1 pint/500 - 600ml chicken stock (made with stock cube will do)
1/3 pint/200ml milk
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons cream
1 ½ tablespoons dry sherry
bay leaf, salt, sugar, light cooking oil, e.g. sunflower.

Peel and slice the mushrooms. Wash and slice the white part of the leeks. Peel the potato and cut in half. Sweat the mushrooms, leeks and potato gently in some oil. Add the curry powder, salt, a pinch of sugar, bayleaf, stock and milk. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Remove the bayleaf and potato and liquidise the rest thoroughly. Add back the potato and liquidise a bit more. Strain back into the saucepan, heat, stir in the sherry and cream, and serve. Freezes well (before the addition of the cream).




100gr sweet corn kernels (tinned or cooked fresh)
3-4 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon, rind removed
1 onion, peeled
2 stalks celery
1 green pepper, deseeded
1 medium potato, peeled
1 level tablespoon flour
1 pint/500ml milk
butter or  light cooking oil, e.g. sunflower
salt, pepper, chopped parsley, bay-leaf

Dice the bacon and cook gently in a tablespoon of butter or oil for 5-10 minutes without letting it colour. Dice the onion, celery, green pepper and potato. Add them to the pan and cook gently for a further few minutes. Stir in the flour and slowly add half a pint/300ml water, stirring the while. Add the bay-leaf and simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Fish out the bay-leaf, add the milk, sweetcorn and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste, warm through and serve.   



"By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield? -- I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure.''

"If you mean Darcy,'' cried her brother, "he may go to bed, if he chuses, before it begins -- but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough I shall send round my cards.''

From Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. White soup was an English culinary staple from medieval times, related to the "blankmanger" that the Cook in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales could make so well.. It was made with broth thickened with ground almonds (or almond milk) and shredded chicken breast.




An excellent quickly made soup that is good for dinner parties.

2 tablespoons butter
2 heaped tablespoon flour
1 pint/500ml milk
1 pint/600ml good chicken stock
6 tablespoons dry sherry
5 oz/150ml cream
8 oz/250gr stilton, grated (on the large grater)

Melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Gradually add the milk and then the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes. (Up until this stage, everything can be done in advance and the soup reheated when needed.) Add  the sherry and cream and bring almost back to the boil. Add the grated stilton and stir until melted (less than a minute), keeping the saucepan on the heat but without letting the soup boil. Salt to taste (not usually necessary) and serve immediately.




1 bunch watercress, washed, reserving a few leaves
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium potato, peeled
1 ½ pints/800ml good chicken stock
4 tablespoons cream
salt, pepper

Cut the potato in half. Simmer it and the chopped onion in the stock for 15 minutes, covered. Add the  watercress and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the potato and reserve. Liquidise the stock and watercress thoroughly. Add back the potato and liquidise for a few seconds more. Strain back into the saucepan and add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat, stir in cream and serve, with a few leaves watercress sprinkled on top. In season, wild garlic can be used instead of watercress.



 3-4 carrots (about 400gr)

1 small to medium potato

1-2 sticks celery

1 pint/600ml good stock

1 tsp cornflour

4 tbsp cream

butter or oil, salt, pepper


Peel and grate the carrots (fine grater of the processor). Peel and cut potato into small cubes. Finely slice celery. Cook carrots, celery and potato gently in butter or oil for 5-10 minutes without letting them colour. Add stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Dissolve cornflour in a little water and stir into the soup. Simmer a few seconds more to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Can be done in advance to this stage and reheated.) Add cream and serve.  (French country recipe)



6 oz/150-200gr freshly cooked beetroot (not the supermarket sort in packets with vinegar in it)
1 small onion, peeled and roughly sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and sliced
¾ pint/450ml chicken or beef stock (made with stock cube will do)
2 large tablespoons soured cream or yogurt
salt, pepper

Simmer the carrot and onion to the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrot is soft.. Peel and roughly slice the beetroot, and add it to the stock mixture. Liquidise, strain back into the saucepan, add salt and pepper to taste, reheat and serve with a dollop of sour cream in each plate. Freezes well before the addition of the sour cream..



A good way to make use of prawn shells.

Shells from ½ lb/200-300gr frozen North Atlantic prawns (or indeed other raw or cooked prawnshells)
1-2 red peppers, cut in half and deseeded
1 onion, peeled
1 medium potato, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons brandy
4 tablespoons cream
bay-leaf, chilli powder

Put the prawnshells, red peppers, onion, potato, bay-leaf and a good pinch of chilli powder in a saucepan with 1½ pints/800ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain off the broth. Fish out the onion, potato and chilli and add to the broth. Liquidise and strain back into the saucepan. Add the brandy, reheat, stir in cream and serve. Freezes well before the addition of the cream and brandy.



1 lb/400-500gr courgettes, sliced
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 rasher bacon, with its rind (can be smoked or unsmoked)
½ pint/250ml stock
¼ pint/100ml milk
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon French mustard
1 tablespoon butter or light cooking oil

Sweat the onion and the bacon rasher in the oil or butter until soft, without letting them colour. Mix in the courgettes and cook gently for another 5 minutes. Add the stock, milk, salt, sugar and mustard. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, half-covered, for 15 minutes. Discard the bacon rasher and liquidise the rest of the mixture. Reheat and serve.  Freezes well.




A very nourishing soup.

1 tabspoon flour
1 small tablespoon butter
¾ pint/400ml chicken stock
1 small egg
1 tablespoonsp lemon juice
120-150ml full-fat yoghurt, preferably Greek or Greek-style
salt, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, dried mint

Make a roux with the butter and flour. Slowly stir in the broth and add a small pinch of ground cinnamon and a large pinch of ground cumin together with a couple of pinches of dried mint.  Simmer for a few minutes. Whisk the egg together with the lemon juice, and add a little of the hot soup to this mixture. Then stir it into the rest of the soup (this avoids overcooking the egg). Put the yoghurt into a large bowl and gradually stir the soup into it. Return to the pan and heat through without letting it come to the boil. Add salt to taste. 



1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
juice and zest of 1 small lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
small lump fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
250-300gr potatoes, peeled and sliced about 2mm thick
600ml chicken stock (made with stock cube is fine)
Big handful green coriander (half a large bunch), chopped with its stalks
100ml coconut milk, or equivalent coconut cream diluted with water
light cooking oil (e.g. sunflower), salt

Cook the onion with some oil in a small saucepan until it is limp but not coloured. Add the garlic and ginger, and then the lemon zest and chilli. Cook for a further minute or two. Add the stock, potatoes and some salt, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.  Add the coriander and cook for another minute. Finally, add the coconut milk and lemon juice to taste and serve.



An excellent way of using surplus sorrel from the garden. It is based on a Béarnese recipe.

100g sorrel
100g spinach
200g lettuce or chard or a mixture
handful parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
600ml chicken or vegetable stock (with a stock cube will do)
4 tablespoon crème fraîche
1 medium potato, peeled and very finely sliced
salt, pepper

Finely shred the sorrel, spinach, lettuce and/or chard, and melt in the butter with the parsley, very gently, for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and sliced potato and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Stir in the crème fraîche and serve.


Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670)

PUMPKIN SOUP  (for 3-4)

Pumpkin oil is a central European speciality, but can be found in a few specialist shops in London or on the internet. This soup is based on one eaten in a café in Graz, the pumpkin capital of Austria.

500gr pumpkin

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and chopped

1 small dessertspoon tomato purée (e.g. from a tube)

chicken stock

4 tablespoons cream

a little pumpkin seed oil (if available)

3-4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted (optional)

salt, pepper, light cooking oil

Soften the onion in a little oil without allowing it to colour. Cut the rind off the pumpkin and remove the pips. Cut the flesh into chunks and put it into a saucepan with the onion, carrot and tomato concentrate, and enough stock just to cover the pumpkin (pumpkin is watery, so don't add too much water). Cook until the pumpkin is tender - 15-20 minutes maximum. Liquidise. (This can all be done in advance and the soup frozen at this stage.) Reheat the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into soup plates and add a tablespoon of cream and a swirl of pumpkin seed oil to each plate. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds over the top and serve.



On the Coast of Coromandel

   Where the early pumpkins blow,

      In the middle of the woods

   Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

Two old chairs, and half a candle,

One old jug without a handle--

      These were all his worldly goods,

      In the middle of the woods,

      These were all his worldly goods,

   Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,

   Of the Yonghy-Bonghy Bo.

(Edward Lear)




This is a soup my mother used to make a lot. I thought that it was an Elizabeth David recipe, but I have failed to find it in any of her books.

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

2-4 rashers streaky bacon, derinded and diced

1 tablespoon flour

1 400-500gr tin of Italian tomatoes, chopped

400-500ml stock

olive oil, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme or origano, cream

Soften the onion and bacon in some olive oil without letting them colour. Stir in the flour as if making a roux. Gradually add first the chopped tomatoes and their juice and then the stock, stirring them in as you go and keeping up the heat. Add salt, pepper, bay-leaf and a sprig of thyme or big pinch of origano. Simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Remove the bayleaf and thyme and serve with a spoonful of cream in each plate. This soup freezes well, but should be eaten within one month as the fat in the bacon can become rancid if kept longer.



RED SOUP  (for 4)

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

half a red pepper, deseeded and chopped into small pieces

1-2 carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of the grater

1 small teaspoon ground cumin

80-100 gr red lentils

200-250gr peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (tinned is fine)

1 red chilli pepper, deseeded and very finely chopped

chicken or vegetable stock, olive oil, salt, pepper

yogurt or crème fraiche


Gently fry the onion, pepper, carrots, chilli pepper, cumin and garlic in some olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add the lentils, tomatoes and 1 litre of stock (made with a stock cube is fine). Simmer gently, covered, for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a spoonful of yogurt or crème fraiche in each plate.




This is based on the common chana dhal Indian street snack, transformed into a soup.


1 small onion, peeled and sliced

1 knob ginger root, peeled and finely chopped or grated

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

½ teaspoon black mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (if available)

A good pinch of chilli powder or more to taste

1 teaspoon tomato puree

400gr tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Chicken or vegetable stock or water

Salt, light cooking oil, lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons yogurt


Heart the oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, turn down the heat and add the onions. Soften, without allowing them to colour. Add the ginger, garlic and spices and cook for a few minutes more. Add the chickpeas, tomato puree and stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Liquidise, add salt and lemon juice to taste and serve with a dollop of yogurt in each plate.



A talking-point soup because of its extraordinary colours

500gr red cabbage
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
1 tablespoon sugar
A grating of nutmeg
100ml (6 tablespoons) cream
4 teaspoons white wine or cider vinegar
Salt, pepper

Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and slice it finely. Bring a big saucepan of water to a boil and add the bicarbonate and cabbage. Boil for 5 minutes and drain. Put the cabbage into a smaller saucepan and just cover with the stock. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until tender. Liquidise the cabbage and its stock, adding more stock if it is too thick (the soup will be a dark blue colour). (It can be frozen for future use at this point.) Reheat and stir in the cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into 4 plates and put a small teaspoon of vinegar into each plate. The vinegar will instantly turn the soup that it touches red, so when stirred in the result is a beautiful deep lilac soup.