Category Archives: Soup

Soups from English Country Cooking.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. © Sue Todd Photography 2016

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

First of all let us wish you a Happy New Year! As always some people have had a great year and others not so good.  But its a New Year and a new start so I’m hoping it will be a great one for all.

It’s a cold start to the New Year here in Northumberland so what better than a large pan of home-made soup to warm you through after a brisk walk outdoors.  We ate this with a loaf of Olive Bread, sadly not home-made as that would have been divine, but this was okay and went really well with the soup.  Tomato soup just seemed like the ‘right’ thing to start the year off and we’re a bit partial to Tomato soup, here is another one we made last year.

As a child I remember plain  and rather boring lentil soup, a variation made using a ham hock and then tinned soups which I generally hated.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully forget the taste of Heinz Oxtail soup, ugh, I loathed everything about it, the only one I ever felt able to eat was the cream of tomato one.  However once you’ve made your own there is no going back.  Soup is one of the fastest meals you can make from fresh ingredients and its so, so much better than anything processed.  Be great for a winter picnic too!

Some key ingredients to a good tomato soup. © Sue Todd Photography 2016

Some key ingredients to a good tomato soup. © Sue Todd Photography 2016


  • 2 lbs of tomatoes
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a splash for the peppers
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese grated to serve
  • Bread to serve with the soup


Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup. A lovely winter warming soup © Sue Todd Photography 2016

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup. A lovely winter warming soup © Sue Todd Photography 2016

Finely chop the onion and garlic.  Using a deep heavy based pan, gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until they are transparent.
Meanwhile cut and de seed the peppers, put them on an oven tray and splash with olive oil. Put the peppers in the oven to roast until the skins have changed colour and they seem cooked. Ours went in the roasting oven of the AGA, for somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes.
Roughly chop the tomatoes, add them to the pan containing the onion and garlic and fry for five minutes.
Add the stock, bring the pan to the boil and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
When the peppers are ready, roughly chop them and add them to the pan with the tomatoes, onion and garlic.
Retaining some small sprigs of basil for garnish, chop the rest of the basil and add that to the pan as well.  Cook for a further 10 minutes.
Season to taste.
Remove from the heat and blend.  You can use either a blender/food processor or a hand-held blender – we use a hand blender and make sure we still keep some texture rather than having it entirely smooth, but do what you prefer.
Return the soup to the heat to warm through.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed before serving.
Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup © Sue Todd 2016

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup © Sue Todd 2016

To serve:

Dish the soup up in warmed bowls with a sprig of fresh basil in the middle accompanied by grated fresh Parmesan and some fresh bread.

Gary’s Tomato Soup

Gary's Tomato Soup © 2015 Sue Todd Photography.

Gary’s Tomato Soup © 2015 Sue Todd Photography.

We wanted soup and I had in mind some bread, specifically some focaccia bread via a Paul Hollywood recipe – for which I of course didn’t have the right ingredients as per usual so had to amend it slightly – I’ll post that shortly.  It needed a good soup and we discussed ‘the soup’ and this is what transpired ….

It was wholesome, filling, warm and welcoming.  I ‘needed’ tomatoes and beans, it was cold, I ‘wanted’  rich and warming.  Armed with that Gary went dutifully off to the kitchen bless him.  The long slow cooking brought out the best in the tinned tomatoes and I’m looking forward to trying this with home-grown fresh tomatoes later in the year.  I can’t help thinking that come summer this will be luscious with fresh beans of any kind from the garden in place of the borlotti beans.  So there will be updates on this one I think.

In my ideal world this would have hit the blog at the beginning of March, but life kinda got in the way as it does from time to time.  Indeed we had a plan for the year for our English Country Cooking Blog, but with Gary out of action for several months, once he was on his feet again we had to catch up once more.  Catching up has taken way longer than we thought and I’m not sure we’re there yet, but hey ho, tis the way of the world.  So it’s the end of March and not a word from us … what can I say?  I can say we’re fired up again, but slow because there’s still issues with what we can actually achieve in the course of a day (of course in my mind the endless task list should always be cleared … UGH!), reality slows us down somewhat.  But there will be more and I hope lots, hopefully as I’ve planned it but if not, well let’s face it the world isn’t gonna end is it? (Issues note to inner self to listen to what I write!).

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Cauliflower, Coconut and Borlotti Bean Soup

Cauliflower, Coconut and Borlotti Bean Soup.  © Sue Todd 2014

Cauliflower, Coconut and Borlotti Bean Soup. © Sue Todd 2014

This one is a blast from our past.  I used to make this soup a lot, but I lost the book in a house move a few years back.  I remembered that it was a book I’d bought in a supermarket a long, long time ago, it took me ages to track it down on the internet, but I found it, here on RecipeSource. Cauliflower and Coconut Soup originates from a book by Jane Suthering, called ‘Sainsbury’s Vegetarian Suppers’ and this recipe is on page 72 apparently – no longer having my copy I can’t verify this.

Cooked cauliflower can be soft and tasteless, but this retains texture and with the spices and apple it makes a versatile and filling winter soup with plenty of flavour.

However I can say that its good, really good.  There’s a number of ingredients for this but it’s fairly quick and easy to put together.  This should serve 4 people.


  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil,
  • 1 onion finely chopped,
  • 1 large carrot, diced,
  • 1/2 pound cauliflower cut into florets (this is about 1/2 large cauliflower),
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled and diced,
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin,
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander,
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric,
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger,
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco or chilli powder,
  • 1 litre vegetable stock,
  • 2 ounces creamed coconut, grated,
  • 3 tbsps coriander leaves, chopped,
  • 1 can borlotti beans drained and rinsed,
  • salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan, then add the onion and carrot, frying for about 5 minutes.

Then add your cauliflower, the apple and the spices.  Mix it up well and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Next add your stock and bring the pan to the boil.  Put a lid on and simmer the soup for 20 minutes.  If you are using an AGA, you can safely pop this in the roasting oven to cook – ensuring you’ve used an ovenproof pan of course.

After 20 minutes; return the pan to the hob if you are using an AGA, remove the lid and add the remaining ingredients.  Keep stirring and continue to simmer until the beans are heated through and all the coconut has melted.

Additional Notes:

This apparently freezes well though I don’t think I’ve ever done this, as it generally gets eaten in our house with none left to freeze.

You can use any cooked or tinned beans you have to hand instead of the borlotti beans.


Chicken Stock – make the most of that Roast Chicken!

Making Chicken Stock © Sue Todd

Making Chicken Stock © Sue Todd

Good quality meat doesn’t come cheaply so its nice to make the most of it.  Whenever we have Roast Chicken (and that’s my favourite roast for Sundays) then we like to ensure that we make the most from the leftovers, which means any spare meat goes into a risotto, pasta dish or casserole and the carcass we use for stock.


  • 1 chicken carcass,
  • 1 onion,
  • 1 carrot,
  • 1 stick of celery,
  • 2 bay leaves,
  • 6 peppercorns
  • small amount of olive oil

Heat the oil in a casserole dish or large pan, add the vegetables and soften slightly before adding the chicken carcass, bay leaves and peppercorns.  Cover the carcass with water and bring the pan to the boil and cook for an hour.  On an AGA, transfer the pan at this point to the top oven to cook.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Carrot and Coriander Soup © Sue Todd 2014

Carrot and Coriander Soup © Sue Todd 2014

We had the remains of a bunch of coriander, a boatload of carrots and some fresh chicken stock made from the remains of the Sunday roast yesterday, so the obvious way to use the stock was to make some carrot and coriander soup.  We like to use every bit of the sunday roast chicken up and we thought this week this would make a nice change.   Continue reading