6 Annie Bell soup recipes that can be whizzed up in minutes

It’s soup season – and these Annie Bell soup recipes are tasty, nutritious and can be whizzed up in minutes.

Tomato soup with pistachios

tomato soup with pistachios
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
3 banana shallots, peeled, halved and sliced
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1.2kg cherry tomatoes (or baby plum tomatoes)
sea salt
Tabasco
50g shelled pistachio nuts

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots for about 5 minutes until softened and starting to colour, stirring frequently. Stir in the balsamic vinegar which should evaporate almost immediately, then add the tomatoes and some salt and fry for about 2 minutes, stirring now and then. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes to a mushy purée.

2. Whiz the contents of the pan until smooth in a blender or processor with 100ml water and a few shakes of Tabasco to taste, then pass through a sieve. Return to the pan. Put a couple of ladles of the soup back in the blender with the pistachios and whiz until smooth, then stir this into the pan. Reheat as necessary to serve.

EXTRA DECORATION Scatter over a few chopped pistachios and some finely sliced spring onion.

Super-green watercress and parsley soup

watercress and parsley soup
Chris Alack

SERVES 4-6

1.25 litres good quality vegetable or chicken stock
50g unsalted butter
250g trimmed watercress (leaves and fine stalks only)
300g maincrop potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced (see Colour Code below)
sea salt and black pepper
25g trimmed flat-leaf parsley (leaves and fine stalks only)
crème fraîche or sour cream and extra leaves to serve

1. Bring the stock to the boil in a medium pan. Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat, add the watercress and stir until it wilts. Add the sliced potatoes and stir for a minute longer, then pour in the boiling stock and season with salt and pepper.

2. Simmer the soup for 6 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. Whiz the contents of the pan in a blender with the parsley until smooth. Press through a sieve. Season to taste, reheat as necessary and ladle into bowls. Finish with a dollop of crème fraîche or a swirl of sour cream and a few extra leaves. 

COLOUR CODE Slicing the potatoes very thinly means the soup cooks in no time and the watercress retains its greenness. Adding the parsley last, at the whizzing stage, amps up the glow. 

SMART SWAPS A really useful soup: the basic method above is brilliant for any similar leafy greens. You could replace the watercress with spinach or rocket, and experiment with a mixture of two or more, flavouring with a little sorrel if available. 

Veg boost pea and mint soup

pea and mint soup
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 leeks, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
1 celery heart, trimmed and thinly sliced
600g frozen peas
900ml vegetable stock
sea salt and black pepper
1 handful mint leaves plus extra to serve
120g good-quality bought pesto
freshly grated parmesan to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the leeks and celery for 8-10 minutes until softened and lightly coloured, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peas and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the stock and some seasoning, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Whiz the contents of the pan with the mint in a blender or processor until smooth, then return to the pan. Stir in the pesto and taste for seasoning. Reheat as necessary and serve with a drizzle of oil, scattered with parmesan and a couple of small mint leaves. 

WITH ADDED PASTA Ten minutes before eating, cook 50g tiny pasta stars (or other soup pasta) according to the packet instructions, and add to the soup on serving, with an extra spoonful of cooked peas per serving if wished. 

Chilli-spiked pepper and butternut soup

chilli spiked pepper and butternut soup
Chris Alack

SERVES 6

550g red peppers (about 4 large)
25g unsalted butter
800g ready-prepped chopped butternut squash flesh (supermarket packets are fine)
1 large onion peeled and chopped (about 200g)
4 garlic cloves peeled and sliced
1 heaped tsp finely chopped medium-hot red chilli
600ml good-quality vegetable stock
300ml tomato passata
sea salt and black pepper
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Roughly chop the peppers, discarding the core and seeds. Melt the butter in a very large pan over a medium heat, add the peppers, chopped squash, onion, garlic and chilli and fry for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock, passata and plenty of seasoning, pressing the vegetables down to submerge. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until everything is tender, stirring occasionally. Whiz the contents of the pan in batches in a blender or processor with the balsamic vinegar until smooth. Pass through a sieve if wished. Return to the pan, and reheat as necessary to serve. 

WITH CRISPY LARDONS Stir-fry 150g chopped lardons in a drop of olive oil in a nonstick frying pan for 3-4 minutes until coloured. Add 40g pine nuts, then continue frying for 2 minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain well on kitchen paper and scatter over, with a few small basil leaves (Greek if available) if wished.

Courgette and apple soup

courgette and apple soup
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
700g courgettes, trimmed and sliced
1 bramley apple (about 200g), peeled, cored and diced
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and sliced
sea salt and black pepper
700ml vegetable stock
2 large handfuls trimmed flat-leaf parsley
1 large handful basil leaves generous squeeze of lemon juice

1. Heat the oil in a medium-large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the courgettes, apple and spring onions, season with salt and fry for 15-20 minutes until softened and translucent, stirring frequently. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Whiz the contents of the pan in a blender or processor with the parsley and basil until smooth, then add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and taste for seasoning. Reheat as necessary and serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

EXTRA DECORATION Crumble a little goat’s cheese over each serving and add a scattering of finely sliced radishes and basil leaves. 

10-minute broad bean soup

broad bean soup
Chris Alack

SERVES 4

25g unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
150ml white wine
500g frozen broad beans
800ml vegetable stock
sea salt and black pepper
crème fraîche or soured cream to serve
finely chopped dill to serve

1. Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the onion for a few minutes until softened, stirring in the garlic about a minute before the end. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce until syrupy, then add the broad beans and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Purée the soup in a blender, pass through a sieve and season to taste. Reheat as necessary. Serve hot with a spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream swirled through, and a scattering of dill. 

EXTRA DECORATION Peel and blanch a few extra broad beans and scatter these over.

Recipe by Annie Bell. Food styling by Clare Lewis. Styling by Sue Radcliffe.