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After a weekend like that, it’s clear the autumnal weather has already settled in, which means that soup is going to replace salad as part of my staple diet for the next few months. The only problem with soup is that it is usually easier and more cost effective to make a huge batch of it. Which means, when you have a dinky little half freezer like mine with no option to stash bags of it to defrost at a later date, you might find yourself eating it for days at a time.

That is why it is important to get it right. There’s nothing worse than the thought of a bland, tasteless lunch looming over your morning as the delicious smells of the expensive work canteen begins to float your way.

The solution? Spice. And lots of it. When it’s raining and cold, a little hit of heat really warms your cockles and transforms what is essentially over boiled vegetables and water into something a little bit special (please see the Goan tomato and lentil soup and the Mexican bean and chorizo soup as examples). Failing that, stilton and bacon make everything ok. For anyone who agrees, skip immediately down to the flush section and let your purses and taste buds be pleasantly surprised.

Cheap

Spicy tomato and lentil

You may have heard me raving about Glorious’s Goan Tomato and Lentil soup back in January or February. I bought some of it while it was on offer (two for £1.99) and it is the single nicest shop bought soup I have ever tasted in my life. Covent Garden’s horrifically bland basil and tomato recipe, which requires me to add a pint of salt and pepper to before it’s remotely edible, pales in comparison to this glorious combination of flavours. However, when not on offer, I’m not quite prepared to pay £1.99 a pot, especially when I could make my own version for a fraction of the cost.

So after a little experimentation, I managed to come up with my own version, which I think is a fair old attempt at the original recipe. Plus, at six portions at less than £1.99, it blows even the BOGOF offer out of the water. Result!

I would say that you can add in some potatoes to this recipe for a more stodgy soup, but you will need to add a lot more stock (as I discovered one time!) or it will become very thick once blended with the lentils. Also, you can either and a sweep of natural yoghurt or creme fraiche once served, or stir in the yoghurt to give it a creamier consistency.

Cheerful

Mexican chorizo and black bean

This meal was introduced to me by the flatmate. Steadily becoming increasingly confident at cooking after initially shirking at my overbearing manner in the kitchen, the flatmate now has cooking with chorizo down to a T. Pastas, quesadillas….. er….. soup. You name that chorizo recipe, the flatmate can do it.

I’ve only really put this in the cheerful section because I think peppers are extortionate these days, but this recipe would be nothing without them. Seriously, 80p in a local supermarket? That’s twice as much as a lettuce or a bag or carrots, and you get a lot more for your money with those. Thankfully, black beans and chorizo pack in the flavour and provide a serious protein hit, which will see you out the rest of the working day and keep the costs down.

Flush

Bacon, stilton and leek

Any meal with bacon and stilton in immediately sounds decadent, which is more the reason I put in the flush section than the actual costs. Granted, it is the more expensive of the three soups I’ve featured, while simultaneously being the least healthy. But it has bacon and stilton in – foods that will continue to be two of my favourite until the end of time and I need to treat myself when it’s cold and grey. And I like the addition of apple to the mix, giving the recipe a cheeky sweeter edge that complements the very savoury tastes of the meat and cheese.

I adapted this recipe from Soup Tuesday, an excellent sauce of delicious looking soups.

Should be enough of a variety there to keep you going until at least November and to help you stay away from that expensive fresh soup section of the supermarket.

Enjoy!

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