I like having soup for lunch. I usually have a tin of lentil or oxtail, but canned soups can be quite high in salt. The lentil soup I get now has one portion of fruit/veg in it, considering it’s got lentils, carrots and tomatoes in I didn’t think that was a lot. So I decided to see if I could do better myself. Not only would making my own soup mean I could make it healthy by packing it full of fruit and vegetables, but I could considerably cut down on my salt intake.
I did some research about how much of different fruits and veg actually constitutes a portion.
The general rule for most veg is 1oz/30g or 3 heaped tablespoons cooked = 1 portion. Some however are slightly different quantities:
- Spinach – 3oz/80g raw or 2 heaped tablepsoons cooked = 1 portion
- Tinned tomatoes (technically a fruit, I know) – ½ can (7oz/200g) = 1 portion
- Tomato puree – 1 heaped tablespoon = 1 portion
- Celery – 3 sticks = 1 portion
- Onion – 1 medium = 1 portion
To get the most benefit you’re also meant to get a wide variety of different types and colours of fruit and veg.
Making your own soup is also a lot cheaper than buying tinned. I use my own stock made from leftover chicken carcasses (Slow Cooker Chicken Stock) so that’s practically free, and all the other ingredients came in at under £4.50. I got 9 (400g) portions of soup so that’s less that 50p a serving and over 5 portions of fruit/veg. I worked out the calorie content for a bowl and it comes in at just 181 calories.
It was super filling so next time I’ll divide it into 300g portions. I should get 12, which would be 38p per portion! Not bad for a healthy, nutritious and filling meal. Splitting it into 12 means it will technically be just 4-a-day soup (114 cals), but that’s still pretty good going for one meal!
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Butter – 1 tablespoon
Onions – 2 medium (finely diced)
Sugar – 1 teaspoon
Garlic – 4 cloves (minced)
Celery – 3 sticks (finely sliced)
Carrots – 17oz/500g (peeled & finely sliced)
Swede/Turnip – 25oz/700g (peeled & finely chopped)
Tinned tomatoes – 400g can
Tomato puree – 2 heaped tablespoons
Chicken stock – c.3½ pints/2 litres
Spinach – 11oz/300g
Seasoning – Whatever you like, I used Italian seasoning, oregano, celery salt, paprika, chilli flakes, and white pepper
Equipment: Chopping board, knife, very large saucepan, wooden spoon, ladle, blender, large mixing bowl
- Heat the pan with the olive oil and butter in, add the onions and garlic and soften.
- When they start to turn translucent add the sugar and start to caramelize the onions.
- Add the celery and fry for a few minutes before adding the carrots and swede.
- Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree, and seasoning. Stir well.
- Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are very soft.
- Add the spinach and leave to wilt for 5-10 minutes.
- Blend in batches, and pour the smooth soup into the clean bowl. To cool the soup quickly for freezing place the bowl in a sink of cold water.
- Divide into freezer containers and freeze when completely cold.
- Defrost or reheat from frozen in a saucepan.