onion 1
carrot 1
celery 1 stalk
leek 1, halved and sliced
swede (or celeriac or squash) ½, diced
parsnip 1, diced
stock 1.2 litres
pearl barley 100g
parmesan rind or grated (optional)
salt and pepper to season
curly parsley to serve

Dice your onion, carrot and celery and sweat in a little bit of oil or butter until softened a little bit. Add in the sliced leek and your choice of starchy veg. I often buy a bag of stew veg as it’s a cheap way to have a choice of vegetables. Add about 570ml of stock and then add the pearl barley and simmer for about 40 minutes. The barley should swell but shouldn’t absorb all the liquid.


  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 300g carrots , chopped
  • 500g potatoes, diced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
  • 4 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 500g passata
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 400ml whole milk
  1. Put the oil, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and bay leaves in a big casserole dish, or two saucepans. Fry gently until the onions are softened – about 10-15 mins. Fill the kettle and boil it.
  2. Stir in the tomato purée, sugar, vinegar, chopped tomatoes and passata, then crumble in the stock cubes. Add 1 litre boiling water and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 mins until the potato is tender, then remove the bay leaves. Purée with a stick blender (or ladle into a blender in batches) until very smooth. Season to taste and add a pinch more sugar if it needs it. The soup can now be cooled and chilled for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  3. To serve, reheat the soup, stirring in the milk – try not to let it boil.


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 knob butter
  • 1 homemade chicken or cube vegetable stock
  • 1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 140g Stilton , or other blue cheese, crumbled
  1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water if the onions start to catch.
  2. Add the celery, leek, potato and a knob of butter. Stir until melted, then cover with a lid. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid.
  3. Pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the rest of the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Stir in the Stilton, allowing a few lumps to remain. Season with black pepper and serve.