Soup.  A rather nice four-letter word. And at this time of year, there’s nothing quite as comforting and nourishing as a warm bowl of soup,  and just recently a great new cookbook was published that covers everything from broths and chowders to dunkers and dippers.  “A  Bowl of Soup” by Hannah Miles is published by Ryland, Peters & Small at £20 for a hardback, packed with over 70 recipes to take you through the year with a suggestion for any reason or season.

A lawyer and MasterChef finalist, Hannah Miles has developed a second career as a cake maker and food writer. She’s written other books such as Popcorn Treats and Milkshake Bar but this latest is a real soup bible – and not content with giving recipes for the soups, Hannah gives recipes for dunkers and dippers with everything from toasties and sandwiches to crisp-breads and wraps.  To warm you up on a cold winter’s day, here are a couple of taster recipes from ‘A Bowl of Soup’


This soup is inspired by my good friend Steven Wallis, winner of UK MasterChef in 2007 and an all-round amazing chef who cooks the best curries I know. It is a subtly spiced Indian dhal with coconut, finished with a tadka (spiced butter). It is perfect served with naan for dipping.

400 ml coconut milk 

200 g red split lentils

1 large red chilli

4 large vine tomatoes 

2.5-cm/1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped 

1 teaspoon fenugreek

1 tablespoon garam masala 

salt and pepper

2 large naan breads, sliced, to serve (optional) 

2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter

1 large garlic clove, finely sliced 

6 curry leaves

1 tablespoon black onion/nigella seeds 

For the soup, heat 800 ml water and the coconut milk in a large saucepan and pour in the lentils and a pinch of salt. Cut a slit in the chilli but keep it whole as you will remove it later. Halve the tomatoes and add to the saucepan with the ginger, fenugreek and garam masala. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft. Remove the chilli and discard it. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth, or use a stick blender. Return to the saucepan and season well with salt and pepper. 

To prepare the tadka, heat the ghee in a small frying pan or pan then add the garlic, curry leaves and black onion/nigella seeds and fry until the garlic just starts to turn golden brown. Take care that it does not burn. Pour the soup, reheated if it has cooled, into four bowls and then top each with a spoonful of the tadka, which diners should stir into the soup. Serve straight away with slices of naan on the side, if you like.


Curried parsnip soup is one of the most traditional flavours of soup and is always popular. The sweetness of the vegetable pairs perfectly with the spices. This soup is topped with a traditional tadka of ghee with fried spices and curry leaves. I like quite a mild flavour so I use korma curry powder, but you can use a spicier version if you prefer. You can even add a finely sliced red chilli at the same time as the garlic for extra fire. Parsnip crisps also make a fun topping.”

2 tablespoons ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped  

2.5-cm/1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
500 g parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 litre vegetable stock 

salt and pepper 

2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds 

1 teaspoon nigella seeds 

12 curry leaves 

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan and fry the onion over a gentle heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for few minutes. Add the parsnips and curry powder and cook for a few minutes, then add the stock and simmer until the parsnips are soft. 

Blitz the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, or use a stick blender, and then season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Heat the ghee for the tadka and add the cumin seeds, nigella seeds and curry leaves. Heat for a few minutes until you can smell the spices and the seeds start to pop. 

Pour the soups into four bowls and top each with a little of the hot tadka to serve. 

A Bowl of Soup by Hannah Miles, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£20) Photography by Alex Luck © Ryland Peters & Small