From rich and creamy mushroom to spicy pumpkin, try these delicious vegetarian soups.

Red lentil soup

Serves 3

Ingredients
3-4 large carrots, preferably purple ones, cut into large chunks or batons
2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
1-2 tsp maple syrup
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2½ cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp dried red chilli flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
¼ tsp ground cumin or coriander
200g split red lentils, rinsed and drained
600ml hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp cashew nuts
Salt and pepper

Method
1
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
2
To caramelise the carrots, put them in a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of the oil, the maple syrup and some seasoning. Tip them into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 20-30 min, or until tender and golden.
3
While the carrots are roasting, make the soup: heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, fresh red chilli, ginger and garlic, and fry gently for 4-5 min until softened.
4
Add the chilli flakes and cumin or coriander and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the red lentils and stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, part-covered, for 20 min, or until the lentils are tender.
5
Before serving, toast the cashew nuts. Put the cashews in a large, dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat for 3-4 min, tossing the pan occasionally, until golden all over. Tip the nuts into a bowl and leave to cool, then finely chop.
6
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with the roasted carrots, toasted cashews and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

Mixed mushroom soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g mixed mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
600ml hot vegetable stock
2-3 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp crème fraîche or cashew cream (see beetroot soup recipe)
Salt and pepper

Method
1
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, leek and garlic and sauté gently until softened.
2 Add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper and cook for 5-10 min until tender. Add the stock, thyme and bay leaf and simmer for 30 min.
3 Remove the pan from the heat, take out the bay leaf and stir in the crème fraîche or cashew cream.
4 Blend the soup until smooth and creamy using a stick blender, then check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if needed.
5 To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and scatter a few finely sliced fresh mushrooms over the top.

Beetroot and berry soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
4-5 large raw beetroots. Keep aside stalks and leaves to garnish
400ml hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp dried barberries or cranberries
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper

To serve
½ tsp grated fresh horseradish
3 tbsp yoghurt, almond yoghurt or cashew cream (see below)
2 tbsp flaked almonds
Wheat crackers or lightly toasted rye bread

Method
1
Place the beetroots in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water and cook uncovered for 30-40 min, until tender. Remove the beetroots and set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool, peel off the skins (wearing rubber gloves is advisable) and chop the flesh into large chunks.
2 Using a stick blender or high-speed blender, purée the cooked beetroots with the stock and half the barberries/cranberries until you have a thick, smooth consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add a squeeze of lemon juice if the soup is too sweet.
3 Before serving, mix the horseradish with the yoghurt. Toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for 3-4 min, until lightly golden. Finely chop the reserved beetroot leaves.
4 To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of the horseradish cream, beetroot leaves, flaked almonds and the remaining barberries. Serve with a few wheat crackers or lightly toasted rye bread.
5 If you wish, replace the yoghurt with cashew nut cream. Soak 100g of cashew nuts in water for at least one hour, then drain. Blend the soaked nuts with 100ml water and a pinch of sea salt until smooth.

Speedy pea soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
300g frozen peas
450ml hot vegetable stock
2-3 tbsp crème fraîche or cashew cream (see beetroot soup recipe)
1 small handful of mint leaves
Salt and pepper

To serve
Outer leaves of brussels sprouts
Savoury granola

For the savoury granola
250g mixed nuts and seeds
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
2 tsp ground spices (such as paprika, chilli, cumin or garam masala)
2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
3 tbsp water

Method
1
First, make crispy sprout leaves. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Place the outer leaves from the sprouts in a bowl, toss gently in olive oil or melted coconut oil, and season with salt and pepper. Tip the leaves on to a large baking tray, spreading them out in an even layer, and cook for 10-15 min until crisp and golden around the edges. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain.
2 For the savoury granola, turn the oven to 180C/gas 4. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, season, then add the oil and water and stir until combined. Spread the mixture on two baking trays in a thin, even layer. Bake for 15-20 min until lightly golden and crispy. You may need to stir it once or twice during baking. Cool on a wire rack, then crumble to a coarse texture. Use what you need; the rest will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
3 For the soup put the garlic cloves in a large saucepan and just cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for 5 min until tender.
4 Add the peas and stock and simmer for a further 5-7 min until the peas are just cooked through. Add the crème fraîche or cashew cream and mint leaves.
5 Remove the pan from the heat and blend until silky smooth, using a stick blender or in a food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6 To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the crispy sprout leaves and savoury granola.

Creamy chickpea soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
200g dried chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp sumac, plus extra for sprinkling
350ml hot vegetable stock
1-2 tbsp preserved capers, rinsed and drained, plus extra to garnish
Salt and pepper

Method
1
Put the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and leave to soak overnight, then drain.
2 Place the chickpeas in a large saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 1 hour, or until tender. Drain the chickpeas and set aside until ready to use.
3 Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sumac, and fry gently until the vegetables have softened. Add the cooked chickpeas, reserving a few to garnish, and stock, and simmer for a few minutes to heat through. Stir in the capers.
4 Remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth and creamy using a stick blender or in a food processor, adding a little extra stock if the soup is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper, bearing in mind that the capers are quite salty.
5 To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle over the reserved chickpeas, a few extra capers and a little sumac.

Courgetti kale soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
2-3 courgettes, spiralised or cut into julienne strips
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
4-5 cavolo nero leaves, or the equivalent amount of kale, stalks removed and leaves torn into large pieces
600ml passata
Pinch of sumac
Salt and pepper
3-4 tbsp toasted pine nuts, to serve

For the passata
1 tbsp olive oil
800g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

Method
1
First, make the passata. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the tomatoes and garlic. Cover with the lid and cook gently for 10-15 min until the tomatoes have softened and rendered their liquid. Add the sugar, season well and simmer, uncovered, for a further 10-15 min until reduced and thickened. Leave to cool slightly, then press the sauce through a fine sieve. You should be left with a smooth, thick pulp.
2 Blanch the courgetti briefly in boiling water until just softened, then drain and place on kitchen paper until required.
3 Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, add the cavolo nero and sauté until wilted and softened.
4 Pour the passata into a saucepan and heat gently. Add the courgetti and cavolo nero and heat until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5 To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, add a pinch of sumac to each one and scatter over the pine nuts. You could also scatter a handful of grated parmesan cheese or some sautéed cubes of pancetta or chorizo on top.

Pumpkin soup

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 medium pumpkin, cut in half, deseeded (keep the seeds for roasting), peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
2 tsp garam masala
800ml hot vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

To serve
2-3 tbsp yoghurt or cashew cream (see beetroot soup recipe)
2-3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2-3 tbsp quinoa

Method
1
Toast the quinoa for a few minutes in a large hot frying pan with some salt and pepper. After a couple of minutes, add the pumpkin seeds until the pumpkin seeds pop, and the quinoa has puffed up and started to pop too.
2 Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5.
3 Mix the pumpkin and onion with the oil and garam masala in a large bowl until combined, then tip into a large roasting tray. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer and roast for 30-40 min until the pumpkin is golden and cooked through.
4 Tip the roasted pumpkin and onion into the bowl of a food processor with the stock and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5 To serve, ladle the soup into mugs or bowls and serve topped with a swirl of yoghurt or cashew cream, the quinoa and the pumpkin seeds.

Anna Jones
Anna Jones

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