Making soup a main meal.

Beans and pulses

Beans are at there easiest to use when canned but you get a lot more for your money if you buy dried and soak them yourself overnight to use the next day. They are packed full of goodness, and act as slow release carbohydrate. My favourite is butter bean, soft and comforting on a cold day.  There are so many varieties that the list is almost endless, the most common are easily picked up in the supermarket whether dried or canned. Chick peas are fab as well and the common baked bean (haricot) in tomato sauce can have the sauce washed off and be an extremely cheap alternative. When I have been working on a lean budget I have  searched the shelves for the best deal.  Pulses fit nicely into this as well many such as red lentils can be added without the soaking so if its for a quick and very healthy meal this is the one I would go for.

Beans can be grown in your vegetable garden and can be dried to save for winter, I’m trying borlotti beans this year, want to see if its worth the effort. I’ve dried some others in the past but mainly as seed for the following year.

For non meat eaters like me, it is a quick and healthy source of protein too.


Cereals  such as couscous and polenta can be added to thicken soups to make them more substantial, and polenta can also be made into a thick paste then cooled cut into cubes and crisped up by frying or being brushed with oil and grilled  and used in the same way as croutons for something a bit different. I am going  to explore using herbs and spices for different effects but you could add cheese to yours or any number of other ingredients.

There are also the old and trusty pearl barley, and not so commonly used oats and rice. These will all give you a wholesome end product at very little cost.


Oh my, how I love pasta, the most versatile of foods. It can be made fresh at home or bought fresh or dried in stores.  The varieties are many and marvellous too.  It seems there is nothing that can’t go with or into pasta.  It can be made simply from 00 flour and water to much more elaborate mixtures with eggs and flavourings of many sorts.  It can be your own very special recipe as I’m sure you would find every Italian family has and all of them fabulous. It can be mixed with beans in the same soup then becoming a substantial meal for anyone.


  • I too love soups and because I like creating I’m always trying new ways and new ingredients. Like you I grow a vegetable garden at home, including beans. I love the way you talk about different things you can do with a soup. You educate the reader. I believe just like you that to be a good chef or cook is not about knowing a recipe but to think and create, understanding ingredients and how thry work together. I also try to do that in my blog, by not just giving a recipe but ideas on options and want my reader to experiment and create, not just produce a dish. Anyway I’m happy you asked for my friendship, I think we can look forward to a good one, we have things in common.
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  • Would love to share links. How about you?

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