Vegetable and Lentil Soup with Spiced Eggplant

One of my favourite meals to make in the cooler months is soup. For it is both easy, and versatile, and almost certainly guarantees that those last few veggies in your crisper drawer are used up at the end of the week.

I find that soup is also a particularly good option on the days when I know that the husband will be home late from work. I make a batch during the day and eat early with the kids. Then his serve can easily be re-heated when he arrives home – without the worry of it being mis-timed or overcooked.

On this occasion, I found inspiration in Taste Magazine – in the form of a tomato based vegetable and lentil soup – that was topped with spicy eggplant. And we all know how much I like my eggplant! 

The addition of lentils resulted in a hearty soup, that warmed us up from the inside out. The eggplant was quite the star too – and definitely not short on spice!

From memory we served the soup with some toasted sourdough with lashings of butter (of course).  The perfect soup ‘dipper’.

What about you? Do you have a favourite soup?

(ps. I hope you are enjoying the new ‘printer’ friendly versions of my recipes, which I think you can also adjust to suit what serving size you are after. Let me know what you think!)

Print Recipe
Vegetable and Lentil Soup with Spiced Eggplant
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the leek, carrots and zucchini, and cook for a few minutes (or starting to soften). Add the garlic and spices, and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Season the soup, and divide among serving bowls. Top with fresh parsley and the spiced eggplant.
For the Spiced Eggplant:
  1. Preheat oven to 200C, and line a tray with baking paper. Dice an eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Combine 1tsp garam masala, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes and 1/4 tsp turmeric in a bowl. Add the eggplant and toss to coat. Spread onto the lined tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown.
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Miso Pumpkin Soup

It’s minus 4 outside as I type this post, with an expected top of 10 (which we will reach after midday, if we are lucky).  There is a heavy layer of frost on the grass, and ice on the cars in the street, although the sky is clear and there is no fog to be seen.

If I’m to be honest, the chilly winter is not all that surprising, really. We had a pretty awesome summer… and it always seems that the hotter the summer =  the colder the winter. In Canberra, at least.

So while I am 100% a summer girl, after 18 years in Canberra (???) I am slowly becoming acclimatised to the joys of the Canberra winter.  I’ve got a decent collection of beanies and gloves, along with some great warm jackets, and have even mastered the art of layering. Our hydronic in-slab heating goes a long way in helping me forget just how cold it is outside too.

But then there is the food. Winter inevitably means that my slow cooker comes out at least a few times a week, bringing with it hearty stews and casseroles. Homemade soups also make a frequent appearance – the aim being to warm oneself up from the inside out.

On this particular occasion I went with a pumpkin soup. But not just any pumpkin soup. This one was jazzed up with miso paste and ginger (inspired by a recipe I found in a recent Taste magazine edition). It also had a lovely creamy texture owing to the addition of coconut milk, and a little zing from fresh lime juice. 

We served the soup with some loaded toasties. From recollection – there was avocado and tomato on one, and a swiss cheese, mustard and ham combination on the other.

But the soup.

Oh the soup.

Delicious, easy, and definitely a winter warmer!! With the added bonus that we now have a few serves in the freezer too.

Miso Pumpkin Soup (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2tbs minced ginger
  • 1tbs  minced garlic
  • 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 120g white miso paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • coriander leaves to serve
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic  and ginger and cook for a minute – stirring.
  2. Add the pumpkin, tomatoes and miso paste – stirring to coat well.
  3. Add the coconut milk / stock, and simmer – covered – for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add the lime juice and zest, and season to taste.
  5. Serve in bowls, and top with coriander.

Asparagus and spinach soup

IMG_4399 The lovely people at the Australian Asparagus Council surprised me with multiple bunches of asparagus recently. And, given that asparagus is one of my favourite Spring ingredients, I wasted no time in putting it to good use. IMG_1737 First up – was this delightful soup. Made one particularly chilly day – when time was short and comfort food was craved. And, as is the case with most homemade soups, it was so easy and speedy to prepare. IMG_4396 And despite being a comforting meal, this was also a healthy one. With lots of green! IMG_4397 I loved the little roasted spears on top, and the drizzle of natural yoghurt. And a good amount of black pepper. Never forget the pepper! IMG_4400 Asparagus and Spinach soup (serves 2-3)

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed into 3cm pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 L vegetable stock
  • 60g spinach leaves
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • pepper, to taste
  • natural yoghurt to serve
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the asparagus, onion and garlic and sauté until the onion starts to soften. Remove a few of the asparagus tips for serving later.
  2. Add the potato and stock, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender.
  3. Add the spinach leaves and allow to wilt, before blending the entire mixture until smooth.
  4. Add lemon juice and pepper to taste.
  5. Divide among serving bowls and top with natural yoghurt and the asparagus spears to serve.

Oh and be sure to check out for more recipe ideas. What about you? Are you a fan of asparagus?

Mexican-inspired soup

IMG_4564 I have this feeling that our household is feeling the strain of what has been a rather big year. Everyone is a tad under the weather  and Little J is, we think, cutting a new tooth (and waking up hourly overnight as a result).  The bags under our eyes grow, as does my reliance on caffeine, and we are definitely counting down the days until we can all take a nice holiday together! In the meantime, though, we are trying to keep healthy and happy. At least in the kitchen – where dinner time is a lovely constant amongst the chaos. Not that it needs to be fancy, though. For this meal was inspired by little more than a tin of condensed soup. IMG_4554 We’d had limited sleep the night before, and the littlest member of our family took only a short nap during the day. The change in season had also brought with it a barrage of sniffles and sneezes, and a general lack of energy.  But dinner time was fast approaching, so I decided to get creative with that humble tin of soup. And it didn’t take much to turn it from a “plain jane” tomato soup, into something more exciting! Onion, garlic and corn were added, as was a good amount of chilli. Blended until smooth, then finished with beans and more corn. And more chilli. IMG_4560 Topped with all the good stuff too – avocado, coriander, sour cream and spring onions.  Served alongside some cheese-topped corn chips that we’d oven baked for 10 minutes or so. IMG_4561 Who says canned soup has to be boring!! Mexican-inspired soup (serves 2 – 3)

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 corn cobs, kernels removed
  • 2 red chillies, sliced
  • 1 300g tin of condensed tomato soup (+ 1 tin of water)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tin 4-bean mix, drained and rinsed
  • Toppings: avocado, sour cream, coriander, spring onions
  1. Sautee onion and garlic in a little olive oil in a medium saucepan until soft.
  2. Add half of the corn kernels, chillies, soup and water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining corn, chilli powder and beans, and stir to combine. Heat through, and season to taste.
  4. Divide among serving bowls, and top with avocado, sour cream, coriander and spring onions (or a selection of these!)

What about you? Do you like to jazz up the humble tinned soup?

Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker

IMG_4063 Yes. I did it. I finally added a Slow Cooker to my (ever-growing) list of kitchen gadgetry. But with temperatures in the minus most mornings this Winter, and days seemingly jam packed with work and kids, the lure of a ‘throw-it-all-in-and-walk-away’ cooker was all too much. IMG_4032 And, I can categorically state that it has already been given a good workout. Pulled pork, lamb casserole, beef brisket, corned beef and, most recently, minestrone soup. IMG_4053 Yes one fine day – around lunchtime, I chopped and diced and placed everything in the bowl of the slowcooker. IMG_4054IMG_4055 Covered with stock, and left to cook on low for 6 hours. Finished with some macaroni (in this case, probably too much macaroni) and allowed to cook for a further hour or so. IMG_4059 Then dinner was served. And lunch. And dinner the following day too. IMG_4064 Served simply with sourdough and a sprinkle of chilli flakes. IMG_4066 So easy. So simple. So convenient!! Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 parsnips – peeled and diced
  • 1 swede – peeled and diced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 stalks rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs basil pesto
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1 can beans (I used cannellini) – rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup macaroni (or less)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Add all ingredients (except for the beans, pasta and peas) to a slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours.
  2. Add the beans, macaroni and peas, and cook for a further 30-60mins on medium – or until the pasta is cooked. Add more stock if needed. Season to taste.

What about you? What is your favourite slow cooker meal?

The little onion soup that wasn’t

IMG_3362 It was only the other day that I was posting about soup for dinner, and well here we are again. This one called to my curiosity from the pages of a Donna Hay magazine – as it was an onion soup that apparently only took 10 minutes to prepare. IMG_3339 Yes, friends, no long slow cooking of onions required (and thus no house smelling like onions for days afterwards). Rather, it used store-bought onion relish, mixed with stock and thyme. IMG_3341 Sadly, however, it was not my favourite. Perhaps it was because I chose an onion relish that was too sweet? The cheesy bread topping did cut through some of the sweetness, but overall it was a little sickly by the end of the bowl. IMG_3349IMG_3358 Pretty? yes. But not quite the rich onion soup that I had hoped for. IMG_3363 A belly-warmer nonetheless.

Let them eat….soup!

IMG_3573 I’m always a little hesitant to put soup on the menu for dinner, perhaps because it seems too ‘light’ and not hearty enough to satisfy hungry appetites at the end of the day. But there is no denying that it is healthy and quick to prepare, and rather comforting when the cool evenings arrive. Then I came across a recipe for broccoli and lemon soup in a recent edition of Taste magazine (you can also find the recipe online here) and had a bit of a light bulb moment. For this soup was more than just blended veggies (although it had its fair share of those too) – as it was ‘beefed’ out with the addition of quinoa. Brilliant! IMG_3561 And, true to form, the soup was quick and easy to throw together. Onions, broccoli (stalk and all), garlic and potatoes, chopped and cooked in chicken stock until tender. IMG_3564 Finished with an entire tub of baby spinach, lemon juice and a big handful of fresh mint. IMG_3569 Blended until smooth, and served with quinoa (prepared separately), marinated feta and some lemon zest. IMG_3572 Friends, I’m not kidding when I say this was one tasty little soup – made all the more special with the zesty lemon and creamy feta. IMG_3578 It has immediately been added to ‘the list’ – ie the ever-growing collection of  dishes that would be perfect to serve when guests are in town! What about you? Made any nice soups lately?

BBQ pork ramen noodle soup

This was a meal that came together oh so quickly this week. But time saved did not mean sacrificing on flavour, thanks to a few simple ingredients (and with the help of some store-bought BBQ pork from a local Chinese restaurant). IMG_0775 Simply – a flavoursome broth – made with chicken stock, soy, garlic, ginger and spring onions. IMG_0763IMG_0764 To which we added bok choy and ramen noodles. IMG_0766 Ladled into large bowls with lashings of the BBQ pork, and finished with some fresh chillies and more sliced spring onions. IMG_0771 Yes, my friends, this soup hit the spot just beautifully one chilly evening. IMG_0772 And took literally only moments to prepare, and even the little Miss goggled down the noodles and pork with gusto. A winner all round! What about you? Are you a fan of soups like these?

Vegetable quinoa soup

IMG_0393 Thus hubs has been struck down with ‘man flu’. Or so it seems. So in order to get him back on his feet as soon as possible – or at least attempt to – I’ve been focusing on veggie-rich meals. Lots of vitamins, and nutrients, and lots of garlic. IMG_0389 One such meal – was this vegetable quinoa soup. Comprised literally with whatever vegetable I could find in the fridge, and pulled together with some herbs, stock and a secret ingredient….quinoa! IMG_0391 A one pot meal – that successfully warmed us from the inside out. Full to the brim with tasty vegetables, bulked up with quinoa for some added protein. IMG_0392 Served with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, but I think other fresh herbs would work just as nicely too. IMG_0397 Vegetable quinoa soup (serves 3-4)

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1/4 cauliflower – broken into small florets
  • 1/4 pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 L vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Water as required
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the leek, garlic and spices – and heat, stirring, until the leek starts to soften.
  2. Add the vegetables, and stir well to coat with the leek/spice mix.
  3. Add the stock, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the quinoa, and cover. Cook for a further 15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft.  Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  5. Ladle into serving bowls and top with a sprinkle of parsley.

What about you? Tried any new soup combinations lately?

Tomato and corn soup and a winner announced

IMG_0072[4] Happy Monday lovely people. Let me start this week off by sharing….you guessed it….another soup. IMG_0078 And what a tasty little soup it was too. Taken from a weekly recipe mag, it was rather easy to throw together.  Simply – tomatoes, onion (and later, green chillies) roasted… IMG_0062 Until starting to blister. IMG_0066 Then combined with corn kernels, chicken stock and garlic, and simmered until soft. IMG_0063IMG_0067 Finished with a good ol’ blend, and topped with a mixture of avocado, coriander and lime juice. Served with a side of corn chips. IMG_0072 We both agreed that the lime / avocado mixture completely lifted this soup. Turning it from nice, to really scrumptious (and even the little Miss agreed!) IMG_0074 Definitely a soup that we will add to the ‘make again’ list. ____ Thankyou to everyone that entered my Fitness First “Pay it Forward” giveaway. Untitled design (2) I loved reading the entries, and really wish I could send everyone the prize pack. For I could relate to so many.  But, alas, there can only be one winner. And that is…. Yasimum! Here’s hoping the prize pack will help you on your road to recovery, and assist you in reaching your fitness goals! I’ll be in touch by email soon. Thanks against to Fitness First for sponsoring the whole #changeforthebest campaign! —- What about you? Cook anything fun this past weekend?