Two soups, dairy free!

Soup really is a “souper” food (just couldn’t’ resist!). It’s warming, comforting, tasty and convenient and can be packed full of nutrients and goodies as all the veg and cooking fluid gets mixed up in one, ensuring many of the vitamins and minerals leached out during cooking are available for consumption.

What really annoys me about soup, though, is the amount of dairy products recipes or ready made soups contain. Often the most innocuous, simple soups found on shelves contain some form of dairy, even if it’s just dried milk powder. Even my favourite Cranks recipe book includes milk and butter as a standard in many of their recipes. Of course if you’re making it yourself, it’s easy enough to substitute oil for butter etc but it’s really not necessary in the first place.  Soup is definitely healthier, and I think yummier, without it.

Take for example the humble leek and potato soup – tasty and sumptuous in it’s simplicity. The potato content creates the thick, creamy texture, seasoning enhances the underlying leekiness. So why do so many recipes include milk as a key ingredient? If cooked and blended correctly, this soup has a lovely smooth creaminess about it whilst being dairy free.The same goes for watercress soup, another one of my favourite yummy lunches. Packed full of flavour and a serious amount of vitamin and mineral goodness, watercress soup, made with a little potato and some good veg stock, has a fabulous deep, creamy texture without needing a drop of cream or milk.

Of course, making a ‘cream of’ soup without any dairy can be a little more challenging: soya cream can be used but it carries quite a strong, sweet flavour that changes the overall taste. An alternative is cashew nut; a couple of handfuls can be cooked in the soup with the rest of the ingredients and blended in at the end. This creates a real thick richness to the soup, but also increases the fat content and cost, which is why I tend to stick to the humble spud!

Enough of the soap box and on with the recipes – here are two soups, dairy free and simply yummy to the core. Enjoy!

Leek and potato soup
1 small onion finely chopped
2-3 leeks (depending on size), well washed and chopped
1 carrot diced
1 medium potato
1 tsp vegetable oil
veg stock
salt and pepper
Heat the oil gently in that pan and add the onion and leek, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn. Add a little of the veg stock if things start sticking. After a few minutes, add the carrot and potato, lower the heat and put on the lid, leaving it to simmer for 5 minutes or so to allow the veg to soften. Check once or twice for burning/sticky. Pour in the stock, enough to cover the veg and bring to the boil. Once bubbling, reduce the heat again, pop on the lid and leave to simmer until everything is soft. Season and blitz until smooth, adding more veg stock to get the thickness you desire. Reheat to simmer, season again if necessary and serve.

Yummy watercress soup
My family love this soup, and their friends too, even though it’s green! If you want extra green and hearty soup, include a few chard leaves as well. It becomes even richer and earthy!
1 small onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 medium potato, diced
1 teaspoon veg oil
veg stock
few chard leaves chopped (optional)
1 bag/large bunch watercress, rinsed
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the onion for a few minutes making sure it doesn’t brown. Add the garlic and potato and continue to saute, stirring all the time. Add the veg stock to cover the potatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so until the potato is cooked. If using the chard, chop the stems and add to the pan, simmering for a few minutes, then add the chopped chard leaves and watercress. Pour in some more stock to just cover the greenery, mix well and simmer for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes, then blitz until smooth, seasoning to taste as you go. Enjoy!

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