I’ve realised with spring nearly here my weekends of enjoying comforting winter soup are numbered!  One thing to do: Get cooking!  This soup is my spin on a classic. It’s really economical, easy to make, low(ish) in fat, but best of all – it’s absolutely delicious. I can’t get enough of it.  Whilst I love soup, especially a creamy soup but I hate the calories, I’m forever fighting the battle of the shrinking jeans. Luckily I learnt a great tip on Weight Watchers years ago: Replace cream in soups with low fat Carnation evaporated milk! Genius: This scrimps on calories, but not taste. If you aren’t in a hurry, make this ahead of time as the flavour develops overnight… Guess what’s on the lunch menu for work this week?image

Making this soup reminded me of weekends from my childhood when Dad always had a pot of soup on the go. I’d hang around the kitchen begging for a taste, counting down excitedly until lunchtime. It didn’t matter what it was, pumpkin, tomato, celery, ham and pea, potato….I’d always hoover it back. In hindsight, I was a fussy eater when I was little, Dad probably made soup regularly to get a good dose of veges into me…

Serves 4

1 tlb olive oil
1 tlb butter
1 brown onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 medium sized floury potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2 leeks, pale section only, washed, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock (I used Maggi dried stock) – if you want to make a vegetarian version then replace this with vegetable stock
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup low fat evaporated milk
Pinch of salt
2 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • Heat oil and butter together in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the onion softens. Add the potato, leek and white pepper and cook, stirring frequently until leek softens (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the chicken stock and thyme sprigs and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer, uncovered, until potato is soft (about 20 mins).
  • It is now the perfect time to make your Guilt-free Croutons (see below).
  • Remove from heat, remove the woody stem of the thyme sprigs, keeping the leaves in the soup.
  • If you have a stick blender (like the one pictured), blitz the soup until smooth and creamy (I find it is less likely to get hot soup splatter on myself if I tilt the pot as shown in the picture). If you don’t have a stick blender then blitz the soup in batches in a blender until smooth.
  • Place the soup over medium heat. Add the evaporated milk and stir to combine. Reheat, stirring, for a couple of minutes until hot. Taste and season with salt.
  • Ladle the soup among serving bowls and top with Guilt-Free Croutons. Serve immediately.

Guilt-free Croutons
3 thick slices day-old bread crusts removed, cut into 2cm cubes (any bread, wholemeal, white, doesn’t matter!)
Oil spray – any (rice bran, canola, olive oil)
1/2 tsp Garlic powder*
1 tsp any seasoning of your choice – I used Masterfood’s Tuscan Seasoning (use whatever you have)*
Smoked garlic salt (or normal salt)*

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Line your roasting pan with baking paper then place the cubed bread on top. Spray liberally with spray oil. Turn bread over, respray. Sprinkle with garlic powder, seasoning and smoked garlic salt. Toss seasoning through (use your hand!).  If the seasoning isn’t sticking – give it another quick spray!
  • Place in preheated oven, shaking pan occasionally, for 10 minutes or until crisp.
  • Remove croutons from oven and set aside.

*If you haven’t got any of these – freestyle it!  I’ve used salt, pepper and garlic flakes/mixed herbs/smoked paprika – experiment!