Six super simple soups and stews for winter

Jun 20, 2019, 01:10 AM

It’s officially cold, and there’s nothing for warming hearts and hearths like a steaming bowl of soup. From delicious broths to rich stews, here are our favourite recipes for the winter months. As a bonus, they use low-energy appliances, so you can keep both your effort and your energy usage to a minimum.

For the microwave

Yes, you can make fabulous soups from scratch, among other meals, in your microwave.

Creamy cauliflower soup

Cauliflower soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • Thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Break the cauliflower florets off, roughly chop the stalks and rinse thoroughly under cold water
  2. Place cauliflower in a microwave-safe dish, cover, and microwave on high for 10 minutes, until cauliflower is soft
  3. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, combine onion, garlic and butter, cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes
  4. Combine the contents of both bowls with the stock and blend with a stick blender
  5. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and microwave on high for 2 minutes
  6. Stir the cream into the soup
  7. Garnish with picked thyme leaves to serve

Potato and leek soup

Potato and leek soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 400g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 400g leeks, washed thoroughly and chopped
  • 30g butter
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 500ml milk
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine potato, leek and butter, cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through
  2. Remove the bowl, pour in the milk, cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes
  3. Remove the bowl and set aside
  4. Pour the stock into a separate microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes
  5. Pour the hot stock into the potato mixture and blend using a stick blender
  6. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper and serve hot

For the slow cooker

Don’t be put off by these seemingly long lists of ingredients. There’s very little prep involved, and then the slow cooker does all the work.

Steak and Guinness stew

Stew

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1kg stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
  • 450-500ml Guinness stout
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper and toss in flour
  2. Heat a good amount of olive oil in a large pan and brown the beef in batches
  3. Combine the browned beef, onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, celery, bay leaves, rosemary, Guinness, stock and tomato paste in the slow cooker. Use a little Guinness to deglaze your pan and pour this liquid into the slow cooker, too
  4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and serve hot

Beef Pho

Pho

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 500g beef bones, oxtail or short rib
  • 500ml reduced salt beef stock
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 limes
  • 400g beef fillet, sliced very thinly
  • 400g flat rice noodles
  • 1 handful bean sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 birds eye chillies, thinly sliced

Method

  1. Place beef bones in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover, and set aside for 10 minutes. If using oxtail or short rib, skip this step
  2. Place beef bones (or oxtail or short rib) in the slow cooker, and add cloves, anise, cinnamon, onion, carrot, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and the juice of one lime. Pour in stock and top with 1 litre of water, ensuring all the contents are immersed.
  3. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 4-6 hours
  4. Prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions
  5. Divide the noodles and sliced beef into 4 bowls
  6. Strain the broth of all solids, and ladle over noodles and beef
  7. Top each bowl with bean sprouts, spring onion and chilli and serve immediately

For the pressure cooker

Want the intense flavours of slow cooking in the cook time of a microwave? Use a pressure cooker for bold, hearty flavours at a fraction of the usual time.

Tomato and basil soup

Tomato soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1.5kg tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in the pressure cooker on a medium heat
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onion is translucent
  3. Add the tomatoes and stock, season generously with salt and pepper, and stir everything well
  4. Bring the mixture to pressure on high heat, then turn down to medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally
  6. Add the basil leaves to the mixture
  7. Blend the soup with a stick blender, season to taste and serve hot

Chicken stew

 

Chicken stew

Ingredients

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Method

    1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and toss in flour
    2. Heat oil in the pressure cooker on a medium heat and brown the chicken in batches
    3. In the pressure cooker, combine the browned chicken, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic and thyme, and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently
    4. Pour in the stock and bring the mixture to the boil
    5. Bring to pressure on high heat, then turn down to medium heat and cook for 20 minutes
    6. Carefully quick-release pressure and serve hot

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