Colouring Time

14th March 2009

Eat in Colour 2009 is a healthy eating campaign, focused on making the most of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The campaign has been created by the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), a trade association committed to the support and development of the UK fruit and vegetable industry, and keen to supply hints, tips and recipes so that everyone can benefit from great food and good health. Vegetables make the tastiest and most colourful soups and there’s no easier or more cost-effective way to make sure you enjoy a healthier diet. Whether you’re a busy mum, a dad who’s useless in the kitchen, a grandparent with a hungry horde to feed or a student on a serious budget Eating in Colour is ‘souper’ simple…

Simple Steps to Sumptuous Soups

Anything goes when you’re making vegetable soups – choose a mixture of your favourites, stick to just one or use up what’s left in the fridge. As a guide, you’ll need around three handfuls of veg per serving. Using a variety would serve up a rainbow of colours, and a balanced and broad range of nutrients as each vegetable contains different levels and types of vitamins and minerals.

Everything about making a vegetable soup is easy and quick. Just peel each vegetable and cut roughly into chunks or slices. At this point you can gently fry or ‘sweat’ a finely chopped onion in a large pan with a small knob of butter or margarine or a tablespoon of vegetable oil. This helps build in more flavour.

Gently does it – add the chopped vegetables, give them a stir and add just enough water to cover them. Allow the water to come to the boil and then turn down the heat so that it gently simmers.

Give your soup extra flavour by adding a vegetable or chicken stock cube at this stage. It’s not essential, as veggies are naturally full of flavour but stock does add a little something extra. Let the vegetables cook until they are all soft. Turn off the heat and allow the vegetables to cool a little. Don’t drain off the stock.

If you fancy a creamier soup then you can add a splash of milk or cream at this point.

Either spoon the contents of the pan into a liquidiser or use a handheld blender to whizz the stock and cooked vegetables into a smooth soup. Add a little more water or stock at this point if you prefer a thinner consistency. Return the soup to the pan and give it a good stir. When you are ready to eat, gently reheat the soup and season to taste with a little salt and pepper. If you’ve used a stock cube you might not need much extra seasoning.

Be adventurous – try adding a teaspoon of chilli or curry powder for a soup with a kick, or garnish the soup with a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh parsley, coriander, basil, chives or spring onion, or add swirl of sour cream or dollop of crème fraîche.

What could be easier or tastier?

There’s no need to let potential ingredients go to waste even if you don’t need soup that day. Soup keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and is perfect for freezing Just thaw out and then heat through thoroughly in a pan or microwave.


Pea Soup

This fab soup is bursting with nutrients. They provide substantial amounts of 8 vitamins, 7 minerals, dietary fibre and protein. Besides loads of vitamin C, peas are a great source of vitamin K1, essential to healthy bones and the body's healthy blood clotting ability. The humble pea is also a very good source of folic acid and vitamin B6 which contribute to cardiovascular (heart) health. Green peas are also a good source of iron, a mineral necessary for normal blood cell formation and function, so this soup helps combat anemia, fatigue, decreased immune function and learning problems.

Ingredients

serves 4

2 tablespoons butter, margarine or vegetable oil
1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
300g frozen peas
750ml water
1 vegetable stock cube
3 tablespoons crème fraîche

Method

1. Heat the butter, margarine or vegetable oil in a large pan and fry the spring onions for 1 minute until slightly softened
2. Add the peas, water and stock cube, then bring to the boil
3. Simmer for 5 minutes, then allow to cool slightly before whizzing in the blender
4. Stir in the crème fraîche
5. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste


Beetroot Soup

Not just a pretty soup! Beetroots are a rich source of carbohydrates, a good source of protein, and have high levels of important vitamins, minerals and micronutrients like potassium and magnesium. They are an excellent source of folic acid and are therefore recommended to women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Betalins are found in beetroot in large quantities. They are antioxidants and prevent the oxidative processes that are thought to be the cause of many diseases. Beetroots contain soluble fibre, which can help reduce blood cholesterol and ‘carotenoids’ and ‘flavonoids’ which help prevent LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol from being oxidised and deposited in the arteries. Cooked beetroot, so that means this soup, is a great source of folate that can protect you against high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is also crucial to the development of a baby’s spinal cord during the first three months of pregnancy, so a good intake of folate is important to prevent spinal cord defects such as spina bifida.

Ingredients

serves 4

450g beetroot
2 tablespoons butter, margarine or vegetable oil
110g onion, finely chopped
1 litre water
1 vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Wash the beetroot carefully under the cold tap. Don't damage the skin or cut the ends. Put the beetroot into a large pan, cover with water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on, for anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on their size and age
2. The beetroot are cooked when the skins rub off easily. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and chop the beetroot
3. Heat the butter, margarine or vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes
4. Add the beetroot, water and stock cube to the onion, then allow to cool slightly before whizzing in the blender
5. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste


Potato Soup

Spuds aren’t just packed with vitamins. They also contain absolutely no cholesterol. In fact, the fibre in potatoes actually reduces existing cholesterol levels and so helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Potatoes are an easily digestible source of carbohydrate - the body’s main fuel - which your muscles need constantly. This potato soup is a fantastic source of carbohydrates but is low fat – spuds contain 13 times less fat than rice and 5 times less fat then pasta.

Ingredients

serves 4

2 tablespoons butter, margarine or vegetable oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 large potatoes, peeled and roughly cubed
500ml water
1 vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Gently heat the butter, margarine or vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes
2. Add the potatoes to the pan and pour over about 100ml of the measured water and simmer until the potatoes are tender, adding a little water if it gets low
3. When the potatoes are tender to the point of falling apart, add the remaining water and heat through, then allow to cool slightly before whizzing in the blender
4. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste


Carrot Soup

Carrots offer the highest amount of beta-carotene (the pigment that gives them their colour, and is also found in squash, cantaloupe melon, apricots, sweet potato and other yellow red and orange fruit) is an antioxidant which is turned into vitamin A in the body and protects against heart disease, strokes, cancer and wrinkles, so it’s anti-ageing. It’s also essential to healthy growth and cell development, vision and our immune system. Adults need 0.7 milligrams a day, which you can get from one medium carrot, so one bowl of this delicious soup does the job. Carrots are also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin K and biotin and rich in vitamins B6 and C, potassium and thiamine. Extensive studies have shown that eating at least one carrot a day (or one bowl of this carrot soup) could cut the rate of lung cancer by half.

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter, margarine or vegetable oil
500g carrots, sliced
2 small onions, finely chopped
900ml water
1 vegetable stock cube
300ml milk
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Heat the butter, margarine or vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onions and carrots
2. Cook for about 10 minutes until soft, and then add the water and milk and crumble in the stock cube
3. Simmer for 15 minutes then allow to cool slightly before whizzing in the blender
4. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste


Celery Soup

Celery is an excellent source of vitamin C and fibre and also a good source of folic acid, potassium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6 as well as calcium. Celery contains phytochemical compounds known as ‘coumerins’. These are effective in prevention of some cancers, enhancing the activities of certain white blood cells, lowering blood pressure as well as cholesterol and reducing the effects of migraines. It is also suggested that celery is effective in the treatment of arthritic and muscular aches and pains. Old or young, this creamy celery soup is a winter wonder.

Ingredients:

serves 4

2 tablespoons of butter, margarine or vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 head of celery, finely chopped
900ml water
1 vegetable stock cube
150ml milk
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Heat the butter, margarine or vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes until soft, then add the water and milk and crumble in the stock cube
2. Simmer for 25 minutes then allow to cool slightly before whizzing in the blender
3. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste


Tomato Soup

Tomatoes offer a high content of lycopene, proven to help fight against breast, lung, colon, prostate and skin cancers. Packed with nutrition, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, carotenes and biotin. They are also a good source of Vitamin B6, niacin, folic acid and fibre. Tomatoes are also low in calories but high in taste so make a great option for those watching the scales. Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants, particularly when cooked, so a bowl of this soup is definitely skin-friendly comfort food.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter, margarine or vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and roughly cubed
1kg fresh tomatoes, preferably over-ripe, finely chopped
250ml milk
1 chicken stock cube
125ml single cream
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Heat the butter, margarine or vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion and potato, and lightly fry until the onion is soft
2. Add the tomatoes and add them to the potato and onion and fry for 5 minutes
3. Add all other ingredients apart from the cream. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. If the mixture is looking too thick add a little water
4. Allow to cool slightly before whizzing in the blender
5. Stir in the cream
6. Reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste

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