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Simple, tasty… and they won’t break the bank – you can’t go wrong with these healthy bowls of soup

SPICY CHICKEN, BOK CHOY AND NOODLE SOUP 

SPICY CHICKEN, BOK CHOY AND NOODLE SOUP

Serves 4 

COOK’S TIP 

To reduce the cooking time to around 30-40 minutes, use chicken legs or thighs instead of a whole chicken. 

  • 1 small free-range chicken (about 1.4kg/3lb 4oz) 
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced 
  • 2 star anise 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 celery stick, chopped 
  • 1 carrot, chopped 
  • 6cm (2½in) piece of ginger, finely sliced 
  • 4 baby bok choy 
  • 8 spears of tenderstem broccoli 
  • 1 heaped tbsp peanut or almond butter 
  • 2tbsp chilli paste 
  • 3-4 nests of wholewheat noodles 
  • Thai basil, mint or coriander 
  • 2 Thai chillies, chopped (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Place the whole chicken into a large lidded casserole and pour in enough boiling water to cover. 

Casa Benasal Gewurztraminer Moscatel Valencia 2021 (12.5%) £8.95, thewinesociety.com

Casa Benasal Gewurztraminer Moscatel Valencia 2021 (12.5%) £8.95, thewinesociety.com

Add the garlic, star anise, cinnamon, onion, celery and carrot, and half the ginger. Cook in the oven for 1-1½ hours until the meat is tender and cooked through. 

Lift the chicken from the broth onto a board to cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones and shred, discarding the skin. 

Strain the stock into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and add the remaining ginger. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the bok choy and broccoli and simmer for 3 minutes. 

Whisk in the peanut or almond butter, then add the chilli paste to taste. 

Meanwhile, cook the noodles as per the packet instructions. Spoon the noodles and chicken meat into deep bowls, ladle over the boiling stock and divide the greens between the bowls. 

Serve topped with lots of fresh herbs and chilli, if using. 

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Great with spice

Casa Benasal Gewurztraminer Moscatel Valencia 2021 (12.5%) £8.95, thewinesociety.com 

I love everything about this wine, including the price. Tropical, exotic and fragrant, it has all the aromatics to embrace the spiciness of this soup, and the taste is spectacular. This is a Spanish blend from a vineyard putting biodiversity first – so grab it for your fridge. 

BEETROOT, APPLE & PARSNIP SOUP WITH BLUE CHEESE

Serves 4 

BEETROOT, APPLE & PARSNIP SOUP WITH BLUE CHEESE

BEETROOT, APPLE & PARSNIP SOUP WITH BLUE CHEESE

  • 1 large red onion, chopped 
  • 4 beetroot, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped 
  • 1 large parsnip, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped 
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped 
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 plump garlic clove, chopped 
  • 1tsp fennel seeds 
  • 1ltr (1¾pt) vegetable stock 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • A handful of parsley, chopped 
  • A handful of chives, chopped 
  • Blue cheese, such as Saint Agur, crumbled 
Lucky Saint Lager (0.5%, 330ml) £1.50, Waitrose

Lucky Saint Lager (0.5%, 330ml) £1.50, Waitrose

Put the red onion, beetroot, parsnip, apple, potato and garlic into a large, lidded saucepan. Add the fennel seeds and pour the vegetable stock over. 

Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmer gently for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft. 

Cool slightly then blitz with a handheld blender or processor. Adjust the consistency with a little water if the soup has thickened too much, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Just before serving, add a sprinkle of parsley and chives, and crumble the blue cheese over. 

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Best with beetroot

Lucky Saint Lager (0.5%, 330ml) £1.50, Waitrose 

A lager works a treat with beetroot soup and this very low alcohol option is a regular in my fridge. It has that classic lager taste, but minus the booze – a difference barely noticeable. With just 53 kcals, this is a remarkable find, and at the introductory price of £1.50, I’d buy a stash before it goes up to the regular price of £1.80. 

CHUNKY MINESTRONE WITH WILD RICE

Serves 4 

CHUNKY MINESTRONE WITH WILD RICE

CHUNKY MINESTRONE WITH WILD RICE

COOK’S TIP 

The rind or ‘heel’ of Parmesan can be added to soups for a great flavour. Simply remove it before serving. 

  • 100g (3½oz) wild rice 
  • 2tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped 
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 
  • 1tsp fennel seeds 
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • A few sprigs of rosemary and thyme 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes 
  • A heel of Parmesan 
  • 1ltr (1¾pt) vegetable stock
  •  1 x 400g tin borlotti beans, drained 
  • 200g (7oz) cavolo nero or kale, tough stems removed and sliced 
  • Ciabatta or sourdough baguette, sliced 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Piccini Memoro NV (14%) £8, reduced to £6.50, Sainsbury’s

Piccini Memoro NV (14%) £8, reduced to £6.50, Sainsbury’s

Cook the wild rice according to the packet instructions and set aside. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, fennel, carrots and fennel seeds. 

Season, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times so it doesn’t stick. Add the garlic and herbs, stir for a minute more, then add the tomatoes and the ‘heel’ of Parmesan. 

Cook gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced. 

Stir in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the beans and cooked rice. 

Cook for 5 minutes more, then stir in the cavolo nero or kale for the last few minutes. 

Just before serving, lightly toast the bread. Serve alongside the soup with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Fruity beauty 

Piccini Memoro NV (14%) £8, reduced to £6.50, Sainsbury’s 

Clever stuff this, it’s a red wine made with partially dried grapes, delivering lots of fruity and indeed fruitcake intensity with sensational silkiness. It’s also bafflingly good value for money. Pair with chunky minestrone for a delightfully magical match. 

CREAMY LENTIL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATOES AND SPROUTS 

Serves 4 

CREAMY LENTIL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATOES AND SPROUTS

CREAMY LENTIL SOUP WITH SWEET POTATOES AND SPROUTS

  • 2 sweet potatoes, skin on and roughly cubed 
  • 3tbsp olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1tsp cumin seeds 
  • 1tsp fennel seeds 
  • 250g (9oz) Brussels sprouts, shredded 
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 1 red chilli, sliced, plus extra to serve (optional) 
  • 2 onions, finely chopped 
  • 6cm (2½in) piece of ginger, grated (skin on) 
  • 10 curry leaves 
  • 2tsp each ground cumin and coriander
  • 2tsp turmeric 
  • ½tsp cinnamon (optional) 
  • 400g (14oz) red lentils, rinsed 
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk 
  • 1ltr (1¾pt) vegetable stock 
  • A squeeze of lime juice 
  • A small handful of coriander 
Abbotts & Delaunay ‘Les Fruits Sauvages’ Chardonnay (13.5%) £9.99, Majestic

Abbotts & Delaunay ‘Les Fruits Sauvages’ Chardonnay (13.5%) £9.99, Majestic

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Spread out the sweet potato cubes on a large baking tray. 

Drizzle with 1tbsp of oil, season and sprinkle with the cumin and fennel. Roast for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven. 

Add the sprouts, half the garlic, and the chilli, and drizzle 1tbsp oil over. Return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are caramelised and the sprouts a little charred. Set aside. 

Heat the remaining oil in a large pan. Add the onions and gently sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly until soft and sweet. 

Add the remaining garlic, the ginger, curry leaves and spices, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. 

Stir in the lentils, coconut milk and stock. Stir, cover and cook gently for 25 minutes – add a splash of water if it thickens too quickly. When the lentils are soft, season and add a splash of lime juice. 

Serve topped with the sweet potatoes and sprouts. Add a sprinkle of coriander and extra red chilli, if using. 

Olly Smith’s wine pairing: Lentil lover

Abbotts & Delaunay ‘Les Fruits Sauvages’ Chardonnay (13.5%) £9.99, Majestic 

With a textural creaminess, this wine tastes like fine white Burgundy on a budget. A lovely pairing with creamy lentil soup, it’s a taste sensation. 

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