Lentil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed or grated

350g red lentils

1.5 litres vegetable stock

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons crushed dried chillies

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.

Heat oil over medium heat and fry onions until slightly browned and soft.  Add garlic and cumin, and fry for a minute.  Add lentils and stir fry a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.

Add stock and chilli flakes, and simmer covered until the lentils are very soft and breaking apart.  Add more stock or water if needed, it needs to end up soupy.

Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Puree it all together with a stick blender.

Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Roast Vegetable Soup

The chilli flakes are optional in here – I like the deep flavour that comes from roasting the vegetables together with some heat.

3 medium eggplants or 2 large

2 red capsicums

6 plum tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, chopped

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

1/2 cup (total) chopped fresh herbs – basil, oregano, &/or parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1 litre vegetable stock – I use Moredough or Stock Merchant

can of cooked Butter Beans


For the roasting of the vegetables:  I use an over tray, which I line with foil.  I then make little foil ‘nests’ for the eggplants and the capsicums to make it easy to lift them out, and to contain the juices that flow out.

Prick eggplants a few times, and place in oven tray under high heat grill for 30 minutes.  Turn the eggplants.  The skin will go black, which is fine because it will be discarded later.

Add capsicums to the oven tray, and grill eggplant and capsicum for 15 minutes under high heat grill.  Turn eggplant and capsicums.  Add the tomatoes to the oven tray (or put in separate dish below in the oven if there isn’t room).  Grill on high for a further 7 minutes, then turn everything again and grill for another 8 minutes.  You may need to take the eggplant out for these final 15 minutes if it has completely collapsed.

Remove vegetables from the oven.  Scoop eggplant out of skin and retain any moisture that has come out as well.  Remove skin from capsicums and tomatoes, and chop up and put with the eggplant.

WHILE THE VEGES ARE ROASTING:  Gently fry the onions over a low heat in the olive oil for 15 minutes until soft and brown.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 10 minutes.  Add chilli flakes if using, salt, pepper and herbs.  Stir and cook for another minute or two.  Add stock and roast vegetables.

Simmer for 20 minutes, then puree with a handheld blender.  Add the drained canned butter beans and warm through.

Serve with bread on the side.




Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk

This recipe is largely from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ ‘Isa Does It’. It has the most amazing texture.

About 2kg Butternut Pumpkin
Oil for brushing or spraying the pumpkin before roasting

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 Tablespoon ginger, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper – I use white
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock (I use Moredough or Stock Merchant)
1 can coconut milk – light is fine
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
2-3 Tablespoons lime juice – to taste

Heat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Chop pumpkin into large chunks, removing the seeds. Brush or spray with oil and put on banking sheet. Roast for 50-60 minutes until ver tender. Remove skin, and set aside.

Saute onion in the coconut oil for about 5 minutes, add a pinch of salt and sauté a further 5 minutes to caramelise. Add garlic and ginger and stir through, then add pepper, chilli flakes and remaining salt. Add white wine and scrape down the pan to combine everything well. Add the pumpkin flesh, coconut milk, maple syrup and lime juice – mix well and heat through.

Blend with hand held blender until completely smooth.

Serve with some chopped herbs or spring onions, and a swirl of coconut milk (optional).

Tomato Barley Soup

You can put whatever vegetables you like into this – onion, carrot and celery are a must though. I add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes to give it a little heat.

When I need to finely chop a whole lot of stuff, I always use my Japanese Mandolin. I put in the coarse shredding blade, and then slice 2-3mm thick. I have a Benriner – google it and you can purchase online – The Essential Ingredient in Prahran has them, but if you are anything like me, you’ll come away with a basket full of new gadgets and specialty foods when you shop there.

This soup freezes well so I always make more than I need and put meal-sized containers in the freezer.


1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 button mushrooms, sliced or diced
Any other vegetables you’d like to add – I use 1-2 little yellow squash for colour

2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cups of vegetable stock (you can use water, or a mix of stock and water – I always use stock because it gives a richer, fuller flavour)
1 cup pearl barley
1 can beans – cannelini or borlotti for example
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato puree

2 teaspoons mixed italian herbs (thyme, oregano, basil, etc)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the vegetables in the olive oil in a large pot for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 60-80 minutes until the barley is fluffy. Serve.

Tomato Barley Soup

Tomato Barley Soup

Chickpea, Tomato and Bread Soup

This recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book ‘Plenty’. If you haven’t seen his documentary series or visited his restaurants in London already, I highly recommend you do – his food is amazing http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients: this soup is incredible, and is a complete meal. If I am having guests, I’ll complete everything up to the part where you add the croutons well ahead of time, and then finish it off once we’re ready to eat. It tastes great heated the next day, if there is any left.

One of my favourite kitchen tools is a Japanese Mandolin – it lets you slice things super thin, and is really fast. I use it for recipes like this where there is a lot of slicing involved

1 large onion, sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
about 120ml olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled, cut lengthwise, and sliced
1 tablespoon tomato puree
250ml white wine
400g plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 litre vegetable stock (I use Moredough or Stock Merchant)

160g stale sourdough bread, crusts removed
400g can chickpeas
4 tablespoons basil pesto (for vegan, I buy Botanical Cuisine’s ‘Basil and Kale’ pesto or make my own – will post the recipe some time)
handful of shredded basil leaves to serve
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Fry the onion and fennel in 3 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add carrot and celery, cook for further 4 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato puree and stir as you cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a few minutes.

Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices (chop them roughly if whole tomatoes), the herbs, sugar, stock, and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

While this is cooking, tear the sourdough into bite sized pieces, and then mix through with your hands 2 tablespoons of olive oil and freshly gourd salt. Place on a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes until dry and crisp. Set aside.

Drain chickpeas, and squash about 2/3s of them with a masher. Stir into the soup, and simmer for 10 minutes. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper liberally.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Spoon some pesto into the centre, drizzle with a little good olive oil, and top with freshly shredded basil. Enjoy!

Vegetable and Barley Broth

This is a very simple soup, so you must use a very good quality vegetable stock and vegetables.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons tamari or light soy sauce
1 small potato, finely diced
1 medium carrot, thickly sliced
50g pearl barley, soaked for about an hour in water
1 litre vegetable stock (I use Moredough or Stock Merchant)
salt and pepper to taste

Soak pearl barley in water for an hour, then drain.

Gently fry onion, garlic and bay leaf in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms, herbs and tamari/soy – fry a further 5 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients, then simmer for about 45 minutes. Serve.

Simple Barley Broth

Simple Barley Broth

Tomato and Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large finely chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 litre vegetable stock (I use Moredough or Stock Merchant vegetable stock)
2/3 cup dried brown lentils – wash thoroughly before using
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
170g tomato paste
800g canned italian tomatoes, chopped (also use the liquid)
1/2 cup chopped italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Gently fry onion and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the stock, lentils, celery, carrot and bay leaf. Bring to boil, then simmer covered for about an hour.

Mix the tomato paste and chopped herbs together.

Remove bay leaf from soup, then add the canned tomatoes and the tomato paste/herb mixture. Simmer another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve topped with some chopped herbs.

Tomato and Lentil Soup

Tomato and Lentil Soup