Leftovers soup. A simple healthy meal that even a child can make.

At this time of year I love making soup. It's warming, can be very healthy, nourishing and frankly, flipping cheap to make. Ideal when my waistband and purse are both feeling rather stretched!

soup with nigella seeds

To those of you who make soup all the time it might seem like a pointless recipe idea to write about as they really are so simple, but mentioning my meals in the "real world" it seems a lot of people don't realise it can be almost as quick to whip up a soup as to heat up soup from a tin, sachet or tub. It's certainly cheaper (and very satisfying in more than one way) if you use leftovers.

Sunday roasts are great for leftover soup - I literally dice up all the leftover veg then chuck it into a saucepan or the slow cooker and reheat with about two cups of stock.  You can add leftover meat (I chop it finely using a nice sharp knife before adding it to the mix) and you can even crumble up leftover stuffing for extra flavour. Leftover mash will thicken a thin soup- whisk it in thoroughly. The only thing I don't add is roast potatoes.

NB Top tip for soups, stews or curries which have turned out runny - throw in a couple of those frozen mash nuggets to thicken.

Once the mixture is bubbling you can add wine or sherry, cream or creme fraiche, cranberry sauce or mint sauce -or just leave it as it is. Experiment and create your own unique soup. Make it smooth or leave it lumpy. Maybe blend the vegetables and add the meat afterwards for a semi-smooth soup.

10-year-old making soup

Recently my 10-year-old daughter made us a lunchtime soup using leftover sprouts, carrots, swede, peas, mash and vegetable stock. She used a stick blender to make a smooth mix and added extra hot water at the end to make sure the consistency was how we like it.

We served it with focaccia and felt very happy with the results. The whole thing took 15 mins from fridge to table. I nicknamed it "smug mother soup" as I loved that my daughter made it, it was effectively free as it was entirely created from leftovers and the rest of my children slurped it down happily when there's no way they would have eaten the sprouts it contained!

vegetarian soup from leftovers

It would be great for anyone on a diet - vegetable soups in particular are generally low cal and filling. You could probably enjoy a cup of it for "free" on many diets. Make a batch and freeze it in portions for a quick microwaveable lunch or supper. You can even take it to work in one of those snazzy insulated soup cups.

My favourite is leek and potato which I love with or without cream. If you plan to freeze soup I'd advise leaving the cream out - add it just before serving after reheating.

What's your favourite?