Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Two Simple, Low Sugar Soups

There's something about working from home that renders me ravenous come 1pm each day but as I'm trying to follow a low sugar diet at the moment, mid-morning sweet treats are out. To make up for the absence of elevenses, lunch has been elevated to a focal point in my day and a cheese sandwich simply won't cut it. Thanks also to an ongoing attempt to resist turning the heating on until at least 4pm, lunchtime usually finds me shivering at my desk, swathed in a dressing gown over my clothes and in desperate need of something warming to fill my tummy. Something like soup...

Soup is hardly a revolutionary concept but it ticks the boxes in some many ways - it's cheap, warming and nice and light on the old carb front, helping to avoid the mid-afternoon slump to which I always succumb if I've been overdoing it on the wheat. But now that I'm cutting down on sugar and scanning food packaging more carefully I've been shocked by the amount of added sugar lurking in most shop-bought soups. It really is scary. Take, for example, Tesco's Tomato and Basil soup. Sound's healthy, doesn't it, until you realise it packs 12g of sugar in just half a carton. Many manufactured soups also include excessive amounts of salt, too. 

So I've been trying out some soup recipes at home which are cheap, healthy, contain no added sugar and are pretty nifty to rustle up. The pea soup in particular takes around 20 minutes to make from scratch, so it's really not a labour-intensive, time-consuming process at all. Here are my two favourites...

Pea, Pancetta & Mint Soup
I discovered this beauty in one of my children's cookbooks, DK's Star Cooks, a compendium of celebrity chef recipes which kids can make themselves. This soup is a recipe by Jean-Christophe Novelli and takes just 5 minutes prep time and 10 minutes' cooking time. It's absolutely delicious and packed with goodness.

Serves 4


15g butter
1 small onion
6 slices of pancetta or dry cured smoky bacon, chopped
450g frozen peas
1 garlic clove
800ml chicken stock
Handful of fresh mint
Salt and pepper to season

Heat the butter in a large pan and gently fry the onion till soft. In another frying pan quickly fry the pancetta until crisp and then add to the big pan with the peas and garlic. Cook for a few moments. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for around 10 minutes or until the peas are soft. Add some mint and seasoning. Whizz in a blender until smooth.

Roast Butternut Squash Soup

I have this recipe on a torn and tattered scrap of paper that I ripped out from a magazine years ago, made a lot in the past and then forgot about. I rediscovered it recently and remembered just how easy and delicious it is. It's a bit more time consuming but so worth the effort. It's a rich, warming soup, with the added creaminess of a dollop of creme fraiche. It also freezes well.

Serves 8


1 large butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
25g butter, melted
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 tsp salt flakes
1.2 litres chicken stock
200ml creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place the squash in a glass or ceramic baking dish and add the melted butter, onion, paprika, garlic and salt. Mix together with your hands, cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for around 1 hour or until the squash is tender. 

When the squash is cooked, puree it down in a blender alongside some of the chicken stock, working in batches. Once all of the squash mix has been pureed, add to a large pan with the rest of the stock and heat over a medium heat, bringing to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche and season.


  1. Lol that first paragraph could be me at home, although we don't turn the heating on until 5 and it's freezing! The pea and mint sounds lovely, thanks for sharing on #ThriftyThursday :-)

    1. Finding it hard to stick to my no heating rule right now with all this awful weather!

  2. Both of those sound gorgeous! I need to convince everyone round mine to eat more soups! #thriftythursday

    1. Thanks, Kate! My next challenge is to persuade my kids that green coloured things are good - they will just about eat tomato soup, but only the kind that has 'Heinz' on the front of a can!

  3. The butternut squash soup sounds delicious. I love soup and to my shame have never looked at the ingredients on a shop bought one. I will check in future, all that sugar and salt is shocking.

  4. Thanks for the recipes, yum! I never actually considered soup as a sugary eat... eek!


    1. Hi Gayle and thanks for your comment! I just checked out your blog and you have some great tips and posts - good luck with it!


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