Recipes: Warm yourself with soups, broths and breads from Rachel Allen's new book

A humble bowl of soup is always a comfort, whether nursing a cold or a broken heart. Rachel Allen, a food writer and teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery School, shares her gratifying recipes

by Psychologies

Bowls of soup on a table

Cauliflower, Cashew and Coriander Soup

Serves 6

This smooth and creamy golden bowl of goodness gets its silky texture from cashew nuts and its soothing anti-inflammatory qualities from the yellow turmeric. Serve on its own, or with toasted cashews scattered over the top.

  • * 1 cauliflower head
  • * 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • * 1 large onion, chopped
  • * 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • * 100g cashews
  • * 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • * ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • * A few good pinches salt
  • * 1.1L vegetable or chicken stock
  • * 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • * 4 tbsp chopped coriander (leaves and fine stalks)

To serve: 20g cashews

  1. First, prepare the cauliflower. Remove and discard the outer green leaves, reserving any smaller ones close to the cauliflower, and cut off and discard the base of the stem. Cut the cauliflower into slices, then chop it all: florets, stalks and any remaining leaves.
  2. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the cauliflower, the chopped onion and garlic, the cashews and the turmeric. Season with the pepper and a few good pinches of salt (this soup needs careful seasoning, otherwise it can be bland).
  3. Cover the vegetables with the saucepan lid, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring from time to time, for 15-20 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, toast the cashews. Place them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toss them regularly for about 4 minutes, until golden. Roughly chop and set aside.
  5. Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to the boil, then blend well. Add the lemon juice, chopped coriander and more salt and pepper, if necessary. The soup should be smooth like velvet.
  6. Serve straight away or reheat, and scatter the toasted cashews on top.

Pumpkin, Cheese and Rosemary Scones

Makes 9

Deliciously savoury and gorgeously light in texture, these scones are great served with a hearty bowl of soup. You can use any squash instead of pumpkin and, if you fancy, add lardons of crispy bacon or diced chorizo to the mix.

  • * 175g peeled and deseeded pumpkin (weight when peeled and deseeded)
  • * 1 tbsp olive oil
  • * 200g plain flour
  • * 1½ tsp baking powder
  • * Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • * 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • * ½ tsp salt
  • * 50g finely grated cheese (Cheddar or a hard cheese such as Parmesan)
  • * 1 egg
  • * 100ml milk, plus 1 tbsp extra for brushing over the top
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan, gas mark 6. Cut the pumpkin into 1-2cm chunks and place on a roasting tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until tender. Tip the pumpkin into a bowl (leaving the oven on) and mash very well with a fork, or blend in a food processor, then allow to cool. If using canned pumpkin puree, you’ll need 125g.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and cayenne pepper into a bowl and add the rosemary, salt and all but 2 tbsp of the grated cheese, reserving the remaining cheese for scattering over the scones before they go into the oven.
  3. Whisk the egg and mix with the pumpkin puree and milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients then, with your hand in a claw shape, mix the two, making sure you don’t knead but simply mix until it comes together.
  4. Tip the mixture out on to a floured surface and tidy the sides, working it into a rough square and patting the dough out to 2cm thick. Brush a little milk over the top and scatter with the remaining cheese, then cut the dough into 3 x 3 portions to make 9 scones.
  5. Place the scones on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. They should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

Roasted Parsnip, Garlic and Haricot Bean Soup with Sage

Serves 6

This is a supremely smooth and silky soup, topped with deliciously crisp fried sage leaves. The garlic cloves, when roasted in their skins, deliver a sweet but rounded depth of flavour that I adore. This is the perfect soup for a cold and blustery day.

  • * 3 medium or 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • * 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • * 6 very large, whole unpeeled garlic cloves
  • * 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • * Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • * 1 x 400g tin haricot beans
  • * 1L vegetable or chicken stock
  • * 1 tbsp chopped sage

To serve:

  • * 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • * Handful sage leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan, gas mark 6. Place the parsnip and onion chunks in a roasting tray with the whole unpeeled cloves of garlic. Drizzle over the olive oil and toss the vegetables, seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread them out to cover the base of the roasting tray and place in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and a little golden around the edges.
  2. Drain the tin of beans and tip all but a generous tablespoon of beans into the vegetables. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more.
  3. Take the tray out of the oven and tip the beans and vegetables and any juices into a saucepan with the hot stock. Add the chopped sage and blend until smooth. Season to taste.
  4. To serve, pour the hot soup into warm bowls. Put the olive oil into a small frying pan and allow to get hot. Add the sage leaves and fry for 10-15 seconds, until they turn a couple of shades darker and become fragrant. Spoon the sage-flavoured oil and the crispy sage leaves over the soup with the reserved beans, and enjoy.

NB: If using dried beans, use 125g haricot or cannellini beans. Soak in water for at least 5 hours, then drain, cover with water and boil for 30-40 minutes, until tender.

Soup Broth Bread’ by Rachel Allen (Penguin Michael Joseph, £22)

Photographs: Getty Images (main photo) and Maja Smend (recipe photos) 

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