Summer Minestrone and a quick stir fry

Image of a strawberry plant

You can tell it’s Wimbledon Fortnight.  I’m not sure what the weather is like on Centre Court but where I live it has been alternating between blazing sunshine and torrential downpours.

But the sunshine and showers mean that everything in the vegetable garden is growing like the clappers, which is ideal because I’m trying to eat lighter food (code for dieting).

Anyway, whether you’re weight-watching or just eating healthily, here’s a main course soup and a stir fry which are fresh and tasty and very handy if you’ve just got home from work and want a quick supper. The soup is particularly good if you do grow your own and you want to use the vegetable thinnings.

I think these two recipes would be suitable for someone on the Fast Diet (the 5:2 Diet) but I haven’t attempted to add up the calories.

However the diligent and kind-hearted Paddington Foodie has done all the work for us – check out the ready reckoner!

Each recipe here serves two.

Image of peas and their pods

Summer Minestrone


About 600 ml of good quality chicken stock, preferably home-made

1 carrot, 1 onion and 1 stick of celery, peeled and diced

A double handful of any or all of the following: peas, broad beans, borlotti beans

Optionally: a few French beans, cut into half inch lengths; baby courgette, sliced; very thinly sliced fennel

A double handful of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chervil and/or basil

A Parmesan cheese rind

Salt and pepper

Image of a bowl of summer minestrone


Set the stock to heat in a large pan.

Dice the carrot, onion and celery and add to the pan with the piece of Parmesan rind (gives flavour without adding huge amounts of fat)

Cook for five minutes or so. Add the remaining veg and simmer until cooked but still al dente. (Non-dieters can also add small pasta shapes).

Take two large soup bowls, put a handful of chopped fresh herbs in the bottom of each and pour the soup over. Eat and enjoy.

Quick stir fry

Image of stir fry ingredients

My husband suggested I call this “Bottom of the Fridge Stir Fry” but I thought that sounded too much like mulch, which probably says a lot about the state of my salad drawer.

It is infinitely versatile though – you can make it with fresh prawns or chicken, or as I did with leftover cooked chicken, or skip the protein completely and just eat the veg.


A heaped tablespoon each of chopped ginger and garlic and finely sliced spring onion. Save the green tops of the spring onions, slice them finely and use to scatter over the finished dish.

A tablespoon or so of olive or sunflower oil oil plus a teaspoon of  sesame oil.

One red pepper, one yellow pepper and half a green pepper, deseeded and cut into thin slices.

About 120 g (4 oz) mushrooms – I used chestnut mushrooms.

A handful of cooked chicken, cut into small bite-sized pieces.

A quantity of soba noodles –  see method.

2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

1 tablespoon of  mirin.

Image of peppers and mushrooms in wok


Pre-prep absolutely everything  and have the sauces ready at your elbow.

Cook the soba noodles according to the packet directions. (Mine said use one bundle of noodles per person but I thought one between two was plenty). Run cold water over the noodles, drain and set aside.

Heat the oils in a wok, add the garlic, ginger and the white part of the spring onions and fry quickly, stirring.

Add the peppers and mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes, keeping everything moving.

Add the cooked chicken and soba noodles and stir fry until they’re heated through but the peppers still have a bit of bite.

Pour in the soy sauce and mirin, frizzle for a second or two, mixing everything together, then serve, scattering the chopped green spring onion on the top.

Image of stir fry in bowl with chopsticks

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