Soup Kitchen by Tommi Miers and Annabel Buckingham

We’re very proud of so many of our past students - they pop up here and there, doing all sorts of interesting things. Many cook in restaurants, others open their own businesses . Some have opened their own cookery schools, food shops and cafes or restaurants.

Others travel and cook, sometimes in the most bizarre locations.

Several are food writers, some like Clodagh McKenna do radio, others like Rachel Allen are doing television series and have written cookbooks.

Yesterday, I got a present through the post of a gorgeous new cookbook , co-written by another former student, Tommi Miers who already had us bursting with pride earlier this year when she won Masterchef. 

Since then Tommi’s career is going into orbit, she is a rapidly rising star, constantly in demand to make guest appearances on TV, radio shows, openings and regular articles in all the trendy food magazines. In the midst of it all, Tommi has a strongly developed social conscience.

She and her co-author Annabel Buckingham met Noel Hennessy and chatted about doing a book to raise money for the homeless charities in London, neither had any experience of the publishing world and no funding for the project. They decided on Soup.

Undeterred by obstacles, (Annabel couldn’t cook and Tommi knew nothing about design, they got on the phone to talk to chefs about soup.

Friends rallied round to make encouraging noises and share invaluable pearls of wisdom. They advised them on everything from book clubs to corporate sponsorship and copyright law and never laughed at what Tommi describes as ‘their staggering ignorance’(as they toasted their first publishing offer, they suddenly realized that they weren’t totally sure what a royalty was.) Their parents lovingly refrained from telling them to get normal jobs. Outstanding professionals including a photographer, graphic designer, law firm, literary agent, accountancy firm and website design company offered to work with them and represent them for free. 

It was a trip. They found themselves in some amazing situations – from slick publishing houses and star-studded launches to incredible soup kitchens and blooming allotments. They’ve donned suits at Book Fairs, worn blue hairnets and white coats at the Maldon salt vats and spent many hours brainstorming over a latte at Carluccios.

Few foods rival the feel-good factor of soup – whether spooned from a bowl, sipped from a cup or slurped straight from the pot. From the thick tomato soup of childhood memory to a spicy, restorative broth on a chilly evening or a cooling gazpacho, soup and well-being go hand in hand.

The eventual collection brings together 100 soup recipes from today’s top chefs and food writers. From Delia Smith’s Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup to Jamie Oliver’s Chickpea Leek and Parmesan Soup, there are soups for every meal and every mood. As every culture embraces soup of some description, the book includes as well as the homely winter veg recipes, Ken Hom’s summery Tomato and Ginger Soup, Sam Clarke’s Chorizo and Chestnut Soup and Donna Hay’s Prawn, Lemongrass and Coconut Soup.

Soup is the ultimate seasonal food, welcoming with open arms whatever ingredients are cheap, abundant and in their prime at that time of year. The book is organized seasonally so that ingredients are easy to find and at their full-flavoured best.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who launched the book at a celebrity bash in London, says soup is ‘always among the most generous and friendly of dishes’. Created in the same spirit of generosity and enjoyment, Soup Kitchen brings together the finest chefs and food writers working today with their favourite soup recipes.

Over half the chefs took the time to create an original recipe for the book.

70% of all proceeds raised from Soup Kitchen and related promotions will be donated to homeless charities in the UK, including the Salvation Army and Centrepoint.

Soup Kitchen published by Collins –  with an Introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, edited by Annabel Buckingham and Thomasina Miers, winner of Masterchef.
Order Soup Kitchen by Annabel Buckingham and Thomasina Miers from Amazon

Tortilla Soup

Serves 4
1.2 litres chicken stock
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 x 400g can tomatoes or 4-6 fresh tomatoes, skinned and seeded
6 corn tortillas
5 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1-2 dried ancho chilli, stem and seeds removed (see note below)
200g buffalo mozzarella or barrel-aged feta, diced in ½cm pieces
1 large ripe avocado, diced as with the cheese
1 large lime, cut into wedges

Put the onion and garlic in a large, heavy frying pan on a fairly hot flame, and dry toast for 5-6 minutes until they start to take on a golden colour, stirring regularly. Put them in a food processor or blender with the tomatoes and whiz to a puree. Put the puree in a saucepan on a medium-high heat and reduce to a thick, tomato puree. Add the stock and simmer for 25 minutes. Season to taste, bearing in mind that feta is saltier than mozzarella. (This can be done the day before.)

Put the chilli in a dry frying pan and toast for 30 seconds – bee careful not to burn it or the chilli will taste bitter. Tear into strips.

Cut the tortillas in half and then cut each half into 2cm long strips. Heat the oil in a saucepan until shimmering (test with a tortilla strip to see if it sizzles which means the oil is hot enough.) Add half the strips and fry, stirring constantly until the pieces are golden brown and crispy. Take out and dry on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining strips, you can re-use the oil for another recipe.

When you are ready to eat divide the tortilla strips between 4 bowls. Add the tomato broth. On the table arrange the cheese, avocado and lime wedges so that each person can add liberally to their soup, squeezing on the lime juice. You may also like to chop some flat leaf parsley or coriander to garnish (the Mexicans use a herb called epazote if you can find it.)


If you can’t get hold of ancho chillies, add a little smoked paprika to your broth and a little fresh chilli or even some strips of sun-dried tomato for a slightly different twist.

Spiced Roasted Parsnip Soup

From Camilla Schneiderman, Divertimenti, Marleybone, London
Serves 4

4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1 medium or 2 small onions, cut roughly into 8 pieces
4 medium tomatoes, cut roughly into 8 pieces
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp powdered turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
750ml vegetable or chicken stock
juice of ½ lemon
a handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4

Place all the vegetables, including the garlic, in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, spices and seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Place all the vegetables, including the garlic, in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, spices and seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Transfer to a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.

When cooked, place the roasted vegetables in the bowl of a food processor and blend thoroughly, adding hot stock through the spout until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve the soup piping hot with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.


From Terence Conran – Restaurateur
Borscht, one of Russia’s better known culinary exports, is the classic beetroot soup. Served hot in winter, it is equally good chilled as a summer soup.
Serves 4-6

50g butter
250g raw beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1.5 litres Beef Stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon

To garnish:

Soured cream
A handful of chopped chives 

Melt the butter in a large pan, over a gentle heat and slowly sweat the beetroot, onion, carrot and garlic, turning the vegetables (which will become a lurid pink) over in the butter.

Add the sugar and stock to the pan, season with a few grinds of pepper, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Using a blender, whiz the soup until it is entirely smooth, then add the lemon juice and salt to taste.

A swirl of soured cream and a scattering of chopped chives is the traditional garnish – delicious, and adding another dimension to the fabulous beetroot colour.

Bacon, Chestnut and Potato Soup with Rosemary

From Rowley Leigh, Kensington Place, Notting Hill, London
Serves 4

750g chestnuts
50g butter
250g bacon, cut into small cubes
1 onion
3 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 litre chicken stock
300g peeled potato
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. With a small sharp knife, cut a small incision in each chestnut and place them in an oven tray. Roast the chestnuts for 20 minutes or until the skins burst. Allow to cool before peeling, removing the inner skin at the same time.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the bacon, cooking it over a medium heat so that it slowly browns and renders its fat. Chop the onion, celery and garlic into small dice and add to the bacon, letting them stew gently together for 15 minutes.

Season well with pepper – no salt for the moment – then add the herbs and the stock and bring gently to the boil.

Chop the potato into neat small dice and add to the soup. Chop the chestnuts quite small also and simmer them all together in the pot for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as required and serve, again with a spoonful of good extra virgin olive oil poured on top if desired.

Classic Fish Soup with Rouille and Croûtons 
This recipe comes from Rick Stein of the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow in Cornwall
Serves 4

900g fish (such as gurnard, conger eel, dogfish, pouting, cod and grey mullet)
1.2 litres water
75ml olive oil
75g each roughly chopped onion, celery, leek and fennel
3 garlic cloves, sliced
juice of ½ orange, plus 1 piece pared orange zest
1 x 200g can chopped tomatoes
1 small red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
a pinch of saffron
100g unpeeled North Atlantic prawns
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1 mini French baguette
1 garlic cove, peeled
olive oil for frying
25g Parmesan, finely grated
2 tbsp. Rouille (can be found in jars)

Fillet the fish and use the bones with the water (and extra flavourings if you like) to make the fish stock.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the chopped vegetables and garlic and cook gently for 20 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the orange zest, tomatoes, red pepper, bay leaf, thyme, saffron, prawns and fish fillets. Cook briskly for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock and orange juice, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the croutons, thinly slice the mini baguette and rub with garlic, and fry in the olive until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Liquidise the soup, then pass it through a conical sieve, pressing out as much liquid as you can with the back of a ladle.

Return the soup to the heat and season to taste with the cayenne, salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into a warmed tureen and put the croutons, Parmesan and rouille into separate dishes. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and leave each person to spread some rouille on to the croutons, float them on their soup and sprinkle it with some of the cheese.

Sweetcorn and Smoked Bacon Soup

From Tom Aikens, Chelsea, London
Serves 4-6

50g unsalted butter
500g fresh sweetcorn kernels, cut from the cob
80g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
15g caster sugar
4g sea salt
4g fresh thyme
1.2 litres chicken stock
150ml double cream

Warm a pan on a low heat and melt the butter. Add the sweetcorn kernels, bacon, sugar, salt and thyme, and cook slowly on a low heat with the lid on the pan for 5 minutes. Stir now and again so the mix does not colour but sweats in the steam.

Add the stock and cream, then turn the heat up, bring to a slow boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme. Blend the soup to a fine puree.
Reheat and serve.

Foolproof Food

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This recipe is from Jill Dupleix – Cookery Editor, The Times
Serves 4

1kg orange-fleshed sweet potato
1.2 litres of boiling water or stock
Salt and pepper to taste
400g canned white beans
1 tsp good curry powder or more
2 tbsp fresh parsley or coriander leaves

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into small cubes. Put in a pan, add the boiling water or stock, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft.

Drain the beans and rinse. Add half the beans and the curry powder to the soup, stirring well, then whiz in a food processor in batches, being careful not to overflow the bowl.

Return to the pan, add the remaining whole beans, and gently heat. If too thick, add extra boiling water.

Taste for salt, pepper and curry powder, and scatter with parsley or coriander.

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About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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