Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro (Italian Bread Crusts And Tomato Soup), 32p – VEGAN

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup...

Pappa al Pomodoro, or in other words, Bread-Crust-And-Tomato-Soup…

I love a good tomato soup, and quite often with the humble tomato, simplicity is key. So imagine my delight, yesterday evening, idly leafing through the iconic River Café Cookbook (Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers), and finding a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro. I’d never heard of it, but fell in love instantly – garlic, salt, herbs, tomatoes and a little bread. Of course, the original calls for fresh tomatoes in late summer, and ‘open-textured white bread made with olive oil, such as Pugliese’, given that The River Café is famous for tremendously good Italian cooking (and was home to a fledgling Jamie Oliver, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro and many many other great chefs of our time). Alas, although my other half (also a River Café chef in her youth) is fond of the odd Pugliese, I’m not about to go and buy a loaf to tear up and fling into soup, nor recommend that you do on a budget cooking blog. I decided to see if I could make my own version, from my basics.

Firstly, who has a toddler or fussy teenager or even adult in their household that doesn’t eat their crusts? I used to battle with my four year old boy in the morning about the crusts on his toast, until I gave up – if he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t like them, and giving his toast a quick trim is easier than ten minutes of parrying – me insisting that he eats them, him nibbling and giving me looks out of the corner of his eye and grimacing and whining, oh it’s just not worth it, is it? So now I trim them off, and fling them in a bag in the freezer. I blitz them into breadcrumbs when I need a small amount of them, rather than waste a whole loaf of bread, but today I dug some of them out for this soup. Bread crust and tinned tomato soup, given a fancy Italian name. Stay with me, it’s utterly delicious…

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all...

A selection of bread crusts recently rejected by the Small Boy, now cunningly smuggled into soup. Hooray for toddler fussiness after all…

Serves 2 at 32p each

2 fat cloves of garlic, 4p
a pinch of salt, <1p
4 tbsp oil, vegetable or sunflower, 8p (The River Café Cookbook uses olive oil, but it’s gone the way of the pugliese in this recipe, i.e. NOT HERE)
400g carton of tomatoes, 35p
1 stalk (2g inc stalk) fresh rosemary, 8p or 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
60g bread, crusts are best but any bread will do (approx 2 slices medium cut bread), 7p

First finely slice your garlic and add to a saucepan with the salt. Pour over the oil and turn the heat on very very gently – I do garlic then heat, because quite often I’m doing a gazillion things at once in my kitchen, and the oil gets too hot because I decide to quickly wash something up and the garlic goes in and burns and I have to start the whole thing again. It just needs a gentle soften here, so garlic, salt, oil, gentle heat. Burnt garlic stinks. In all kinds of ways.

After a minute, pour over the chopped tomatoes and add 250ml water and the herbs, and bring to the boil. Stir well, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, until the soup thickens and concentrates. It might seem like a lot of water, but trust me, it needs it, and it’s going to have even more in a minute…

After 15 minutes, tear up your bread and fling it in. Add another 250ml water (if you’re sceptical, add it a little at a time, but the bread sucks a lot of water up as it swells from bland boring crusts to soft and soggy pieces of deliciousness). Bring it to the boil again, then cover it to retain as much heat as possible (a lid, a plate, some tin foil) and turn the heat off. Leave it to stand for as long as you can bear it – I managed half an hour before I dived back in, but it’s one of those that improves the longer it stands around doing its thing, hanging out on the hob, developing its flavours…

Warm through to serve. Depending on your tomatoes, it might be a little sharp (although it shouldn’t be after all that cooking and hanging around, but not all tomatoes are created equal. If that’s the case, just stir in a teaspoon of sugar as it warms through to adjust it). After me – nom nom nom nom nom nom nom…

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I did my shopping this week, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:

Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics table salt 25p/750g. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics tomatoes 35p/400g. Fresh rosemary 80p/20g. Mixed dried herbs 35p/14g. Giraffe bread £1/800g.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter ( and Instagram ( and find me on Facebook at

…and if you enjoy my recipes, you might like one of my books – I like to direct people to the Hive, as they deliver to your local independent book store, or your house. They’re available in other places too, but I think the Hive is just great:

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

Roasted carrot, chickpea and garlic soup, 26p (VEGAN)

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

A soup that’s like a great big comforting hug… Yes please.

I woke up this morning craving a carrot soup – it’s all rock and roll round here these days. I’m a bit snuffly around the edges at the moment, sore throat and generally feeling a bit sorry for myself, and still limping around tragically on a still-broken left foot. This may be the most self-pitying recipe introduction to date. But basically, I fancied something warm, and sweet, and comforting, and easy to do. Something I could fling in the oven and forget about, and get something good inside. Carrot led to roast carrot, and garlic, and some chickpeas for protein and good measure – and the result is a subtly spiced, hearty, sweet and delicious soup. It’s like the soup equivalent of a cuddle, this one. And suitable for all my lovely vegan readers, too. Hurrah.

Serves 4 at 26p each:

300g carrots (approx 3 medium ones), 17p
240g tinned chickpeas (that’s the drained and rinsed weight of a 400g can), 60p
4 fat cloves of garlic, 7p
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or sunflower), 4p
150g onion (one small one or half a large one), 9p
1/2 tsp cumin (1.3g), 3p
a pinch of dried chilli flakes, 2p
800ml weak vegetable stock (1/2 stock cube will do), 1p

First heat your oven to 180C. Wash your carrots and slice thickly, and toss into a roasting tin. Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas and add to the tin, with the whole garlic cloves. Pour over the oil and give it all a shuffley-shake to lightly coat it, and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely slice your onion, and set to one side. When your first 20 minutes is up, remove the roasting tin from the oven, scatter the onion over, and the cumin and chilli, and give it all another shake. Cook for a further 20 minutes, until it looks like this:

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots - waste not want not!

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots – waste not want not!

Remove the garlic cloves from the roasting tin, and tip the rest of the contents into a blender – keeping some chickpeas aside to garnish if you like that sort of thing. Squeeze in the soft garlic (don’t put the skins in the blender, they end up like tiny bits of wet tissue that stick to the roof of your mouth. We learn from our errors, round here, and pass the wisdom on – though in my defence that was many years ago…). Add the stock and blend until smooth.

Remove from the blender and warm through, garnishing with reserved chickpeas to serve.

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:
Basics carrots 85p/1.5kg. 400g tin of chickpeas 60p. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 95p/1.5kg. Ground cumin £1/42g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Basics vegetable stock cubes 25p/10 cubes.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

…and if you like this, you might like one of my books, available to order over at Hive, who will ship it to your local independent book store, or your house! Check it out here:




This recipe came about after I bought a bag of yellow split peas on a whim to make a daal, and never quite got around to it. Fishing them out of the back of the storecupboard this week, I was determined to finally put them to use, so I asked my blog readers what they thought I should make out of them. Several people enthusiastically suggested soup – so with a little trial and error and a lot of surreptitious tasting along the way, here’s what I ended up with. Thick, creamy, comforting and delicious – I’ll never be at a loss what to do with a bag of split peas again.


100g dried yellow split peas

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp each cumin and turmeric, or 2 tsp garam masala

100g yoghurt

Handful of parsley or coriander

First, pop the dried yellow split peas into a bowl and cover with water. Cover with clingfilm or a plate, and leave to soak for at least eight hours, or overnight.

Then, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and slice the carrots. Pop into a medium sized saucepan with the oil and spices, and saute on a medium heat for five minutes to soften.

Drain and thoroughly rinse the peas, and tip into the pan. Cover with water and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas and carrots are soft.

Pour the mixture into a blender, tip the yoghurt in, and pulse until almost smooth. I like to leave mine a bit rough and chunky for a great texture, but it’s up to you.

Serve hot, with bread to dunk in, and torn parsley or coriander to garnish.

**VEGANS** Replace the yoghurt with soy yoghurt, or almond or rice milk for a real treat.

**MAKE IT GO FURTHER** Freeze leftovers in small portions to use as a spicy, chunky pasta sauce, or the base for a curry for leftover chicken. Just defrost in a saute pan with a little water, stir in the chicken and any green veg you have to hand, and you have a pretty instant curry. It works just as well without the chicken, too. I’m thinking green beans, broccoli, peas – a colourful, healthy, sensationally quick dinner.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe



While in Tanzania, I visited last years winner of Oxfam’s Female Food Heroes competition: an Africa-wide search to celebrate female farmers and food producers who were making a difference to their lives and communities. (I’ll write more about Sister Martha separately).

While we were at her house, I are very little, having spent the night before being horrendously ill. She shook her head at the state of me, and spooned out a small bowl of clear broth, and two chicken legs, and handed it to me. “Soupo,” she said.

“Soupo” turned out to be exactly what I needed, full- flavoured and slightly salty with meltingly-soft chicken falling from the bones. I devoured it, and seconds, and asked her what was in it. Sister Martha laughed. “Kuku.” “What else?” “No. Just Kuku.”

Just chicken, slowly stewed in its own juices – I jotted down a reminder to myself to make some when I got home. And tonight, still very unwell and with the typical empty fridge of the returned traveller, I dug out a packet of chicken from the freezer, defrosted it, and made myself “just Kuku.”


Ingredients: Serves two.

4 pieces of chicken on the bone
300ml water
A pinch of salt

Place the chicken in a saucepan or frying pan on a medium heat. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes on each side to seal.

Pour over the water and turn up the heat to bring to the boil. Boil for a few minutes, then transfer the chicken and liquid to the slow cooker on a high heat, and cover. If you don’t have a slow cooker, simply turn the heat down to low and cover the pan, but be aware that it has a long cooking time.

Simmer gently for 3 hours, or longer , until the broth is golden and the chicken very tender.

For a clearer broth, strain the liquid before serving and add the chicken back into the bowls.

Serve on its own, or with bread, or with a shake of lemon and black pepper.

You can adapt this soup to taste; I recommend frying two sliced garlic cloves and a finely chopped onion with the chicken in the first stage for a heady, sweet soup with extra antioxidants – maybe garnish with a little coriander or parsley if you have any to hand. Use it as a simple, foolproof base and adapt it to suit your tastes.

On a night like tonight, “just Kuku” is exactly what I need.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe


I received this recipe from Linda this morning, and it sounds absolutely delicious. If you don’t have curry powder, a teaspoon of cumin would be a good substitute. It’s that time of year when curried soup is a most welcome thing! Thanks Linda!

Linda’s Curried Soup

1 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion
1 large parsnip
3 or 4 large carrots
1 green pepper
1.5 litres boiling water + 1 or 2 veggie stock cubes
1 tsp mild curry powder

Dice onion and sauté in oil till onion is soft but not browned.
Stir in curry powder and then all the rest of the veggies (small dice).
Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the veggies are soft. This probably takes about half an hour, but I didn’t time it!
As the veggies are cut up into small dice the soup cooks quite quickly.
Blend with a stick blender and serve.

It is a tasty soup and a useful and thrifty way of using up those odd veggies. The first time I made it I used a wrinkly green pepper which would have been thrown out in many households but it made a good addition to the soup.

The soup has a good butternut squash colour and a lovely creamy consistency.
My husband loved the first batch and was delighted when he saw me making it again yesterday!”

If you have a favourite thrifty recipe you would like to see here, email it to

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Simple Spiced Potato Soup

This is one of my go-to recipes, a whatever-happens-to-be-in-the-cupboard special. I sometimes add a chopped chilli to the onion, and some coriander from my window ledge herb box, but I have given the basic recipe below – feel free to customize it as you wish. when it comes to my lunch, I can be an impatient oik so I tend to chop the tinned potatoes into small cubes. It makes no difference to the final product, just means that they cook quicker. I like to serve this soup with pitta bread.

Serves 2

1 onion
a splash of oil
a few generous pinches of ground cumin or turmeric (whichever you have available)
1 x 500g tin of potatoes (approximate drained weight)
1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
150ml natural yoghurt

Peel and chop the onion and put into a saucepan with the oil and cumin. Cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes to soften the onions into a spicy sweetness.

Drain the tinned potatoes, cut into small cubes and tip into the saucepan. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.

Tip everything into a blender along with the yoghurt and blitz until smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary – I find different tins of potatoes come up differently.

Serve and enjoy!

Tips: I sometimes like to add spinach to this soup and a tiny dab of mustard, to make it a bit more exciting. If there are any Spiced Spinach Potatoes left over (see Saag Aloo recipe), this is a brilliant use for them. Just add in place of the tinned potatoes.

‘Simple Spiced Potato Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Red Wine And Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are one of my staple products, being both cheaply available at supermarkets and greengrocers, and simple enough to grow at home. I’m a tactile cook, so I like to break them up with my hands instead of slicing them, but it doesn’t make a difference to the end result of the recipe. If you like this and you have red wine and mushrooms left over, try making the Earthy Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto…

Serves 2

200g mushrooms
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 300ml boiling water
50ml red wine
a handful of chopped thyme, plus extra to garnish

Gently clean any excess earth from the mushrooms with a clean tea towel, and break or slice them up. Peel and chop the onion and peel and crush the garlic. Put the mushrooms into a saucepan along with the stock, wine, thyme, onion and garlic.

Bring to the boil, then reduce down to a simmer for 20 minutes for all the flavours to meld. Remove from the heat and pulse in a blender.

Serve with extra chopped thyme to garnish.

Tips: Replace the red wine with white wine and add a tablespoon of natural yoghurt just before blending for a lighter, more traditional creamy mushroom soup. garnish with some grated strong hard cheese.

Mix any leftover soup with a carton or tin of chopped tomatoes and some cooked red or brown lentils for a hearty pasta sauce that can be frozen in portions, and defrosted for a quick and easy dinner.

‘Red Wine And Mushroom Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Feisty Soup

I make this for myself whenever I feel as though I am coming down with a cold. you know – when you’ve got that shaky, exhausted feeling and general self-pity. Instead of spending a fortune on various over-the-counter paracetamol and lemon drinks, I drag myself into the kitchen and cook myself a cure. This is called feisty soup for a reason: it’s a bit like hot and sour Chinese soup in a way, and if this doesn’t help shift whatever is wrong with you, I’m not sure what will. I’ve combined lots of natural goodies that have antioxidant and other nutritional qualities – garlic for goodness, chillies to fire up your system, tomatoes for vitamin C and lemon and ginger to cleanse and revitalize.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a thick slice of ginger
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
juice of 1⁄2 a lemon or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
a handful of parsley

Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger, chop the chilli, and put them all into a medium-sized saucepan with the oil. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, pour in the stock and add the lemon juice.
Chop the parsley and add to the saucepan as well.

Simmer away for about 20 minutes, until the onion and ginger have softened.

Blitz in a blender to achieve your desired consistency, I leave mine a bit chunky but it can be blended smooth.

Eat, and feel better soon!

Tips: If making this soup for little mouths, do not chop the chilli or use the seeds inside. Instead, halve the chilli down the middle and rinse it under a cold tap to remove the seeds, then add to the soup whole during cooking. Remove before blending.

Any remaining soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

The soup can be left whole and chunky as a fiery sauce to form part of a more substantial meal. Omit the stock, stir through a few handfuls of cooked prawns and some green beans, and serve with spaghetti or noodles.

‘Feisty Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Carrot And Coriander Soup

Carrot and coriander soup is a classic fresh soup that crops up everywhere – from inside cardboard cartons in the supermarket to on smart restaurant menus. here’s my simple recipe for making your own. I often substitute the fresh potato and carrot for their tinned sisters, for an even easier version.

Serves 2

1 onion
4 carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
a fistful of fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and chop the onion and place into a medium-sized sauce- pan. Wash and chop the carrot and potato (without peeling), and add to the pan. Pour in cold water to cover (approximately 500ml), crumble in the stock cube and bring to the boil.

Add the parsley and coriander. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are tender and yield easily when prodded with a fork.

Remove from the heat and blend in a food processor until smooth. Serve hot.

Tips: Add a scant 1⁄2 a teaspoon of ground cumin or turmeric for a spicy soup. use less water (only 300ml) to make a lovely carroty pasta sauce instead of a soup.

‘Carrot & Coriander Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook:

Really Tomatoey Basilly Soup

This is so simple that I feel cheeky calling it a recipe, but it’s one for all those folks that say to me, ‘Oh I’d love to make soup but I don’t know where to start.’ well, start here and see where it takes you. There’s even some chopping of vegetables involved, so brace yourselves. Tinned soup contains among other things modified maize starch, whey powder, ascorbic acid and other things I’m not entirely sure what they are – so make my own and get something good inside you.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 large carrot
1 potato
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 400ml boiling water
1 x 400g carton or tin chopped tomatoes
a generous handful of fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil

Peel and slice the onion, and wash and chop the carrot and potato into small pieces. (I make mine 0.5cm thick or less so they cook faster and blend more easily. I also leave the skins on for all the extra goodness.)

Put all the vegetables into a saucepan and pour in the stock to cover. Tip the chopped tomatoes over the top, add the basil and bring to an enthusiastic boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to its own souper-duper devices for approximately 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Test by poking a fork into one of them – if it goes through easily, then they’re done.

Blend in a food processor until smooth, and serve hot.
Tip: This will keep in the fridge for about 3 days – but use your discretion, I keep my fridge extra cold so food lasts longer. Cool and freeze in an airtight container for approximately 3 months.

‘Really Tomatoey Basilly Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:

Photography by Susan Bell.


Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

There are many different recipes entitled Love Soup – I’ve seen some rich chicken soup recipes, some with heady garlic and some deep red tomato ones. By chance, the ingredients for this were what I had kicking around in the fridge last Valentines Day, so this warming carrot, ginger and onion soup is mine. Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like sweet roasted vegetables, blended into a home-made soft silky soup. Not in my book, anyway.

Serves 2 – of course!

3 tablespoons oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small piece of fresh ginger (approximately 1cm) or 1 tsp ground ginger
a fistful of fresh coriander
a fistful of fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 large onion
2 large carrots
1 potato
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, dissolved in 500ml water

Preheat the oven to 180C.

First make the marinade for the vegetables. Measure the oil into a tea cup, jug or other small receptacle. Finely grate the lemon zest into the oil, peel and crush the garlic and grate the ginger, then add them too. Finely chop the herbs and add to the mixture. Squeeze the lemon juice in – as much of it as you can squish out – then stir together and set aside.

Peel the onion, chop into quarters and place in a roasting dish. Wash then chop the carrots into thick rounds and add to the roasting dish. Peel and dice the potato and add it too. Pour the marinade over the top and shake to coat the vegetables. Pop the roasting dish into the preheated oven for 40 minutes or so, shaking occasionally to loosen the vegetables an re-coat in the marinade.

When the carrots and potatoes are tender, remove the vegetables from the oven and tip into a blender. Dissolve the stock cube in 500ml boiling water and pour into the blender to cover the veg. Blend until smooth, and serve with a flourish of parsley and a smile.

Love soup recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy at The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available from major retailers and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:


Tomato And Haricot Soup, 15p.

This simple staple started off as a tin of baked beans, thoroughly rinsed, plus a carton of chopped tomatoes – out of which I made a hearty, filling soup suitable for lunch or a light supper. I’ve jazzed it up a bit since then! And don’t be scared of rinsing baked beans, they are normally just haricot or borlotti or cannelloni beans slathered in ‘that’ bright orange tomato sauce, and the value range versions are much cheaper than their plain counterparts…

Serves 4

1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 carrot
500ml beef, chicken or vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin of cannelloni, haricot or borlotti beans (or rinsed baked beans)
a handful of fresh thyme or rosemary
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes

Peel and chop the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic, wash and chop the carrot. Put them all into a saucepan and cover with the stock.

Drain and rinse the tinned beans, then throw them into the pan.

Add the herbs and the chopped tomatoes, then simmer for 30 minutes until the veg are soft.

This soup can be served chunky – by tipping half into a blender, pulsing and mixing the purée back in with the chunky half in the pan – or smooth, by pulsing the lot in a blender.

Tips: For a lighter summer version, add a splash of lemon juice, use chicken stock in place of the beef and parsley instead of the woody herbs. use less stock for a thicker mixture, which once blended can be frozen in ice cube moulds and used as a delicious pasta sauce.

‘Tomato And Bean Soup’ from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: