I am NOT a vegetable person, but this soup is an exception. It’s so hearty and filling and it tastes incredible. To bump up the protein, I usually add chicken, but you can leave it out if you’re a vegetarian.

This is based on the NHS Change 4 Life Hearty Vegetable Soup. I think that’s a great recipe, but I wanted to bump up the veggie content, so added mushrooms, courgette, and pepper, and I also wanted to get some more protein in the bowl, hence the addition of the chicken and cheese.

Serves 4 as a main meal or 8 as a side dish

1 tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
1 leek, trimmed, washed, and sliced
4 closed-cup mushrooms, sliced
1 courgette (zucchini), diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 small handful of frozen green beans
1 small handful of frozen peas
1 small handful of small pasta shapes OR brown rice
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into cubes (optional)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large soup pan, heat the oil. Sautee’ the carrots, onion, leek, mushrooms, pepper, courgette, and celery for about five minutes, or until the veggies start to go slightly translucent.

Add the tomatoes, vegetable (or chicken) stock, tomato paste, green beans, and peas.

Bring to the boil and add the pasta (or rice) and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta (or rice) is just cooked through. Add in the chicken and warm through for a minute or two.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated parmesan, if desired.