Soup is warm and comforting and today I have two very different soups.

I like orzo in this Mediterranean pasta soup. It is a delicious light pasta. Instead of kale, you could use spinach or leeks in this recipe. It is a good idea to let this soup stand for ten minutes. The vegetables will wilt a little and the pasta swells and it is worth the short wait.

The chicken noodle soup has a lot more eating and drinking in it. There is an Asian feel to this soup and the ingredients are much more available today then they were a few years back.

Irish tastes have become a lot more adventurous and you will find a lot of interesting ingredients in Asian food markets and Health Food shops. A drizzle of any chilli sauce is good with this soup. This is a great recipe if you have any left over chicken. Just shred it and add.

Happy cooking,


Learn to Cook with Neven is out now published by Gill Books.

Mediterranean pasta soup

Serves four

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of cherry tomatoes

450ml (¾ pint) vegetable stock

100g (4oz) orzo or any other soup pasta shape

100g (4oz) cavolo nero leaves (Tuscan kale or use regular kale)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and thyme and sauté for 6-8 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on a bit of colour.

2 Stir in the tomato purée, then pour in the cherry tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring.

3 Add the orzo or soup pasta to the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes, until the pasta is just tender.

4 Remove the tough stalks from the cavolo nero or kale, then roughly tear the leaves into pieces. Add to the pan, season and switch off the heat. Leave the soup to stand for 10 minutes, until the kale is wilted, then ladle into bowls to serve.

Mediterranean pasta soup. \ Food styling: Sharon Hearne Smith. Photography: Philip Doyle.

Chicken noodle soup

Serves four

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 celery stick, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken stock (made from cubes is fine)

100g (4oz) spaghetti

225g (8oz) boneless, skinless chicken fillets, cut into 1cm (½in) strips

2 heads of baby pak choi (or use 1 regular size), thinly sliced

Small handful fresh coriander leaves

About 1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp White Mausu peanut rayu or chilli sauce (optional)

1 Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium to high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until softened but not coloured.

2 Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Break the spaghetti into smaller pieces – halves or quarters of its original size. Add to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

3 Add the chicken strips to the pan, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 4-5 minutes, until tender and cooked through.

4 Add the pak choi to the pan. Simmer for 1 minute, then ladle into bowls and scatter over the coriander leaves. Season with the soy sauce and serve the peanut rayu or chilli sauce for drizzling on top, if you like.