Get all souped up

You can't beat a hot bowl of soup to lift your spirits when it's chilly outside. Here are three winners -- and they're healthy, too

Stuart O'Keeffe

Soup is the ultimate comfort food and gives me a warm and cosy feeling. And it's perfect for cold winter days. A steaming hot bowl of soup is also a great alternative meal for lunch or dinner. My soup recipes are packed full of flavour and very healthy. Try them out over the next few months.

Cream of mushroom

and barley soup

Serves 4- 6


>200g pearl barley

>1 litre chicken stock

>2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

>4 shallots, minced

>1lb button mushrooms, sliced

>3 celery stalks, finely chopped

>3 stalks sage, finely chopped

>1 tsp salt

>1 tsp freshly ground pepper

>2 tbsp flour

>200ml white wine

>200ml light sour cream

>Mushrooms (to garnish)


>Bring barley and 200ml of chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan over a high heat. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes. Set aside.

>Heat oil in a big pot over a medium heat.

>Add shallots and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.

>Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown; this will take about 8-10 minutes.

>Add the celery, sage, salt and pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about three minutes.

>Add flour and stir for one minute.

>Add white wine and cook for a further two minutes.

>Add the rest of the chicken stock, increase to a high heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer until the soup has thickened; about 20 minutes.

>Add the cooked barley to the soup and continue cooking until heated through. Stir in sour cream and garnish with mushrooms.

Spiced butternut

squash and apple soup

Serves 4-6


>2 tbsp olive oil

>1 onion, diced

>3 cloves garlic, minced

>1 tsp ground ginger

>1/2 tsp ground turmeric

>1/4 tsp cinnamon

>2 carrots, peeled and chopped

>1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, quartered and chopped

>1 whole butternut squash, seeded and peeled and cut into half-inch chunks

>Coarse salt and pepper


>Heat olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat and sauté onion and garlic for five minutes.

>Add ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and cook for one minute.

>Add carrots, apple, squash and one litre of water.

>Bring to the boil, partially cover and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

>Cook until vegetables are tender; this will take about 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat and let cool.

>In batches, purée soup in a food processor or blender until smooth.

>Season and serve with a drizzle of cream and chopped chives if desired.

Split pea soup with ham

Serves 6


>3 tbsp butter

>1 large onion, chopped

>2 carrots, chopped

>2 celery stalks, chopped

>1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks

>2 tsp marjoram

>250g green split peas

>2 litres water


>Melt butter in a large pot, sauté onion for four minutes.

>Add carrots and celery until softened, about six minutes.

>Add in rest of ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover partially and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

>Remove ham and blend soup in batches. Season to taste.

>Remove meat from the hock and stir into pureed soup and serve.