Broccoli soup (5:2 day recipe)

IMG_0690 (600 x 450)We’re back in Turkey following two weeks in the UK, main-lining pork products, rhubarb crumble and hot cross buns, not to mention quite a lot of Old Speckled Hen in Robin’s case!

Today is rainy, so no walks for us, making it an ideal day for a super-strict 5:2 fast. Because we’ve done so much walking this winter, we’ve found it a struggle at times to stick to our calorie limit on our fasting days, so we’ve resolved to get back into the swing of things over the next few weeks. Very soon, we will be entering the short period of the year where it is too hot to walk anywhere other than high up in the mountains, but the pool is too cold for swimming, so the pounds will soon start to pile on if we don’t keep our wits about us.

We tend to avoid meat, fish, cheese and eggs on our fasting days, as veggie-laden soups or curries, served up with rice or homemade flatbreads seem to be more satisfying and fill the gap for longer. Everyone has a different system, but after three years of 5:2 fasting, we’ve found that this is what works for us. One thing I find invaluable is to keep tasty homemade stock in the freezer in suitable quantities for making soup – it really does make all the difference to the end product. If you don’t have any and can’t be bothered to make some, then of course use a good quality stock cube or powder – Kallo or Knorr are both good.

We only had a brief skirmish in the greengrocer yesterday, and we are still using up bits and pieces left behind by the lovely Trudy and Gav, who moved in to look after the cats while we were away, so tonight’s soup is a ‘clear up what’s in the fridge’ effort.

If you were making this on a non-fasting day, you could substitute milk for half of the stock, and some crumbled Stilton or goat’s cheese would be a good addition, sprinkled over at the end. This soup is also delicious made with half cauliflower and half broccoli.

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Here’s the recipe:

Broccoli soup (5:2 day recipe)

(Serves 4, approximately 200 calories per portion)

1 tablespoon oil
A small knob of butter (optional – add a little more oil if not using)
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 head of broccoli, cut into small chunks
1 medium potato, washed and chopped (the peel adds texture, flavour AND nutrients)
1 litre (approx) chicken or vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
Salt & pepper
A good grating of nutmeg (or a pinch of ground nutmeg if that is what you have)

Chopped parsley or mint to finish (optional)

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, celery and leek. Give it a good stir and add some salt and pepper (the salt helps to stop the veggies from browning too much), turn down the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft and translucent.

Add the potatoes and broccoli, stir well, then pour on about three quarters of the stock and stir in the nutmeg.

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Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, cover with a lid and leave to cook for around 10 – 15 minutes. You just want the veggies to be soft – if they go mushy, it will spoil the texture of the finished soup.

Turn off the heat, blend with a stick blender (or in a jug blender if you prefer – you probably know my views on washing up, but it’s your choice). If it is too thick, add a little more stock. Stir in the chopped parsley or mint, if using, check the seasoning and serve in warm bowls.

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