Surrounded by the remnants of Christmas and the constant hum of the washing machine I secretly enjoy the beginning of January. Don’t misunderstand, I love the festivities and party season but there is something quite therapeutic in ridding the house of clutter and returning to normality again. December is a time to let go a little, throw caution to the wind and enjoy rich foods and drinks which, of course, means that it’s time to pull back a little in the New Year.

I have devised and written about many variants of soup making, but soup is and remains a favourite dish of mine. Prepared in advance and lasting for a few days, a bubbling pan of broth is an easy lunch – hunger satisfied before the ever regrettable munchies attack, and today my cravings are for the lightness and flavours of the Orient.

As ever in soup making, exact quantities aren’t always exact and ingredients can be juggled to suit whatever you happen to have in the larder. A splash of soy sauce and sprinkle of chilli flakes are enough to mollify a huge appetite without the need for hunks of bread but if you prefer a more substantial meal, pour the boiling soup over a portion of warm smoked salmon… delicious!

Picante Oriental Broth

  • Olive oil
  • 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 4 sticks celery, trimmed and finely sliced
  • Handful of mushrooms, halved and finely sliced
  • About a litre of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Sprinkle dried chilli flakes
  • Cup of frozen peas, defrosted
  • Fresh coriander, chopped

In a large saucepan, soften the leeks and celery then add the mushrooms. Pour in the chicken stock, soy sauce and chilli flakes; bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but still retain some bite. Add the peas and once they are heated through, sprinkle in the coriander and serve piping hot.

click here for printable version