Butternut and Bean Soup

After the excess of the festive period what better than home made soup to detox and start that weight loss programme. Chances are, most people know someone who at some stage has been on a soup diet. The most unpleasant would appear to be the cabbage soup diet where you eat home made cabbage soup every day. Soups are so easy to make and can be made from pretty much anything you have lying around in the store cupboard and the bottom of the fridge. One drawback is that soup and bread go so well together, but resist the temptation to eat bread with every soup meal (something I am guilty of) and this will help limit the middle aged spread. Blended soups work best with a little cream or cream cheese added. Try using 0% fat natural yogurt as an alternative. Both Yeo Valley and Total make great fat free yogurts.

This recipe makes enough soup for 4-6 people depending on appetite.

1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
½ red or green pepper – diced
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 sticks celery – finely chopped
1 red chili – sliced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
About 1 litre or so of vegetable stock
½ butternut squash, pumpkin or other squash – peeled, deseeded and diced into rough 1cm cubes
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1x400g tin red kidney beans (you could also use borlotti) – drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper

Start by roasting the squash. Heat the oven to 200C. Put the diced squash in a baking dish, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season and roast for approx 20 minutes until just tender.

Now take a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil, then gently fry the onion, celery and pepper until softened. This takes about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs and fry for a further 3-4 minutes. Now add the drained beans, tomato puree, sliced chili and roasted squash. Cover with the stock then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

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