Winter = soup time!

A good hearty soup is one of my absolute favourite winter meals. Easy to make, versatile, and freezes well. For a busy person, it ticks all the boxes!

I have experimented with soup to some extent – I have a recipe that was given to me by a work colleague (I believe it was a Donna Hay recipe) for a spiced pumpkin soup. I’ve tried it with different veggies, and different curry pastes, and tried adding chickpeas as a thickener and for extra protein, and I’ve always been happy with the results.

The inspiration for today’s recipe is two-fold. Firstly, I saw a recipe in a magazine at work today for a carrot and cumin soup as part of a soup fast. The soup fast didn’t interest me in the slightest but that recipe looked pretty good. It contained cumin seeds, and that got me thinking.

I have cumin seeds at home. I also have black mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds. The five of those together, in equal quantities, make a flavour sensation called panch phoron, or Bengali five spice. I first encountered this blend in a recipe from one of my absolute favourite vegan recipe sites, One Green Planet (link to the recipe below)

I couldn’t find panch phoron in the Indian grocery store so I bought the five spices and mixed them myself. The seeds are used whole, so literally all you have to do is put equal amounts of each seed in a container and mix them together!

That curry itself is another of my favourites and a winter staple. You know those recipes you make so often you don’t need to look at the recipe? This is one of those recipes. Seriously, you should try it. DO IT! 

Anyway, the seed (pun intended) was planted and this recipe began to take shape!

Panch phoron in a soup! GENIUS!

I went to the local fruit and veg shop for inspiration. I was thinking of carrot but then I saw sweet potato. I can’t go past sweet potato! Plus, the aforementioned curry is made with sweet potato, so I know that spice/veg combination works. So sweet potato it was!

First, heat up a bit of oil in a large pot over medium heat (I used rice bran, but I think coconut oil would work really well too). Then add 2 teaspoons of panch phoron and wait for the magic to happen!

Once the seeds start popping, add one chopped onion and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until soft.

Next, throw in about 1kg of peeled, chopped sweet potato and 1 litre of veg stock. Stir well, cover and cook for around 30 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until sweet potato is nice and soft.

Remove from the heat and blend until smooth. I used a stick blender which is the easiest and if you make a lot of soup I highly recommend getting one! A normal blender would work too, although a bit more fiddly and messy.

You will find the soup is quite thick at this point. Next, throw in a can of coconut milk (I used light but I presume full fat would also work!) and stir well!

And there you have it! I served mine with fresh coriander (because I can’t go past fresh coriander!) and some toast.


INGREDIENTS (5-6 serves)

– 1 Tbsp rice bran or coconut oil

– 2 tsp panch phoron (see above for details)

– 1 onion, chopped

– 1kg sweet potato, peeled and chopped

– 1 litre vegetable stock

– 1 can light coconut milk 


1) Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add panch phoron and heat until it starts popping.

2) Add onion and cook 1-2 minutes until soft.

3) Add sweet potato and stock, cover and cook over medium heat for around 30 minutes until sweet potato is soft.

4) Remove from heat and blend until smooth.

5) Stir in coconut milk and serve! 


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