Thursday 13 December 2018

Darina Allen: The best (and easiest) vegetable soup you can make today

Darina Allen at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Photo: Tony Gavin
Darina Allen at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Photo: Tony Gavin Newsdesk Newsdesk

Our foods should be our medicine, says Darina Allen, and it is our medicine provided we start off with really fresh, nourishing food.

Back in October, Darina Allen schooled us in the Irish Independent on how to shop and cook wisely. Here again, as Mother Nature dictates, we share her fail safe recipe for a heart warming soup.

My mother always used to say, "if you don't put your energy and your time in putting your food on the table, you'll give it to the doctor or the chemist". It's really important for people to nourish themselves and to feed themselves and their families well. It's very simple, it's not rocket science, you just have to get fresh, wholesome ingredients and keep absolutely, totally, away from processed foods.

● Soups are terrific, because you can make them in big quantities all year around and then freeze them and add bits to them. The other thing is to make broth, which is a magic food, like chicken stock.

'Grow, Cook, Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes' by Darina Allen is published by Kyle Books, €29.99

Darina's Basic Vegetable Soup Technique

Well over half the soups we make at Ballymaloe are made on this simple formula.

Serves 6. In season: All year round


1 part onion

1 part potato

3 parts any vegetable of your choice, or a mixture

5 parts stock or stock and milk mixed



One can use water, chicken or vegetable stock and season simply with salt and freshly ground pepper. Complementary fresh herbs or spices may also be added. So one can make a myriad of different soups depending on what's fresh, in season and available. If potatoes and onions are the only option, one can still make two delicious soups by increasing one or the other and then adding one or several herbs. We have even used broad bean tops, radish leaves and nettles in season.

Sample soup recipe

150g (2oz) butter

150g (5oz) chopped potatoes, one-third inch dice

110g (4oz) peeled diced onions, one-third inch dice

340g (12oz) chopped vegetables of your choice, one-third inch dice

1.2L (2 pints) homemade chicken stock or 1L (1 3/4 pints) stock and 150ml (5fl oz) creamy milk

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and stock. Boil until soft, liquidise, sieve or put through a mouli. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Adjust seasoning.

Online Editors

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life