23 October 2016Last updated

Food | Recipes

Fuss-free soups for super-quick dinners

For easy, enjoyable suppers, make a meal out of these delicious bowls of flavours

3 Jun 2016 | 12:00 am
  • Sweet potato and squash soup with seared tuna skewers


Sweet potato and squash soup with seared tuna skewers

Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 30 mins
Serves 6-8

500g diced sweet potato
500g diced Hubbard squash
4 cups vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemongrass heart, smashed
3 tbsp fish sauce
150g fresh tuna
150g hot, cooked rice noodles
Fresh coriander, a handful, to garnish

Simmer sweet potato and squash with stock, coconut milk, ginger, garlic and lemongrass, half-covered, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Blend until smooth and stir in the fish sauce. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat a stove-top grill pan that has been lightly sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Cut the fish into cubes. Don’t oil the fish, simply thread the cubes on to four soaked, thin bamboo skewers and pan-grill until just seared.

To serve, ladle the soup over nests of hot noodles, sprinkle coriander leaves over and add a skewer of seared tuna.


Chicken, vegetable and noodle soup

Prep time 15 mins
Cooking time 1 hour
Serves 4

2 litres chicken stock
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped carrot
½ cup finely chopped Italian parsley, plus extra for garnishing
150g extra-fine noodles or capellini pasta
400g finely chopped chicken breast fillets

Bring the stock, chopped vegetables, parsley and some seasoning to a boil. Skim off the froth, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Increase the heat and bring to a boil once more, stir in the noodles or pasta and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.

Season the chopped chicken with sea salt and milled black pepper and stir into the simmering broth, then turn off the heat and cover. Leave for 5 minutes or until just cooked and still moist. Check seasoning and garnish with parsley before serving.

(If the noodles or pasta absorb too much liquid on standing, thin the soup down with some more stock.)

Try these variations

  • Add a few spoonfuls of chopped dill and the juice of a lemon.
  • Use fresh tagliatelle instead of dried noodles or pasta.
  • Instead of noodles or pasta, add ready-made wontons (available at speciality Asian stores) and cook until tender.
  • Add soy sauce to taste. 
Sprinkle the soup with finely chopped spring onion and a grating of fresh ginger.


Sausage and lentil soup with beef bacon and croutons

Prep time 50 minutes
Serves 4

1 cup dried brown lentils
400g canned red lentils
200–300g chicken or beef sausages, thinly sliced
400g canned chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried mustard
1½ litres chicken, beef or vegetable stock
Beef bacon, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces, as desired
Croutons, for serving

Rinse the lentils and drain well. Add to a large saucepan with remaining ingredients. Do not season.

Simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Season to taste.

If the soup gets too thick, thin with more stock. Serve topped with croutons and beef bacon pieces.

Try this variation

  • For a vegetarian option, leave out the meat altogether and top with crumbled feta and croutons.


A pottage of three beans and brown rice

Prep time 20 mins
Cooking time 45 minutes
Serves 4

400g canned cannellini beans
400g canned butter beans
400g canned borlotti beans
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2–3 cloves garlic, crushed
1–2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1½ litres vegetable stock
Sun-dried tomato pesto, for serving

Rinse the beans and rice and drain well.

Soften the onion and celery in gently heated oil and stir in garlic and parsley. Add stock, beans, rice and seasoning and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered, or until the rice is tender. Stir once or twice. Using a stick blender, blend roughly so that no more than half the beans are puréed. Check seasoning. This is meant to be a thick pottage but can be thinned down with stock.

Serve with blobs of pesto.

Try these variations

  • Add spaghetti, broken in half or thirds, instead of rice. In this case don’t blend the soup.
  • Add a can of blended Italian tomatoes and 1 tsp dried oregano to the softened onion and celery and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Use grated Parmesan to garnish instead of pesto.
  • Use fennel instead of celery and parsley. Stir in a few spoonfuls of cream and reheat.