Tonight’s dinner was bought as a balance of budget, and flavour, but also to meet our calorie requirements. There are cheaper burgers available for sure, but the flavour may not be so good, and they are far more likely to contain more fat and so be higher in calories.
The soup is the result of a play afternoon with my son. The pumpkin was bought for him to play with as he loves pumpkins (he’s not even 2 yet so he has no preconceptions over what should and shouldn’t be a toy). It was then cut up for messy play, letting him play with the ‘guts’ of the pumpkin, while I chopped and peeled the flesh. There’s nothing more budget pleasing than getting so much out of something as simple as a pumpkin. It isn’t a typical, large carving pumpkin, but the smaller type as they are generally sweeter and nicer to eat. They are on sale in most shops for £1 each at the moment.
Most pumpkin soups call for the addition of heavy cream, butter, sherry, or a range of other items that drive the calories up. This recipe instead makes a tasty and healthy soup that uses a fresh, in season item without the need for extras that make it less healthy. What’s more it’s dairy free, a bonus for those who love pumpkin soup but who can’t have eat dairy.
Healthy Pumpkin Soup
- 1 small pumpkin.
- 1 large carrot.
- 1 medium onion.
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, to taste.
- 2 vegetable OXO cubes.
- 500ml of boiling water.
- 10ml of olive oil.
- Seasoning and herbs to taste.
Remove the seeds and the stringy inner from your pumpkin, and either scoop out the flesh from the skin, or chop the pumpkin and peel. Peeling is easier, but scooping is more fun with kids in the house!
Peel and roughly chop the carrot, and chop the onion. Gently fry the onion and the crushed garlic in a large pan in the olive oil for a few minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the carrot and the pumpkin and turn down the heat-fry for a few minutes more.
Add the OXO to the water in a large jug and stir well. Pour into the pan and bring to the boil before turning down to simmer. Cook for around 35-40 minutes, when the pumpkin and carrot should both be soft. Remove from the heat and blend using a hand blender, taking care to make sure that you don’t get splashed with hot soup. It hurts. Believe me.
Add your chosen seasoning. I use half a tradingl teaspoon of tikka spice blend, and a large punch of thyme, though chili goes very well with this soup, as do coriander, fresh chilies, paprika, and others that you are daring enough to try.
This is the cooked soup, before blending. As you can see, it’s darker than it should be. I used beef instead of vegetable stock, which you can try for some variety.
To adapt the soup for baby-led weaning swap the OXO for Kallo Organic low salt stock cubes and avoid spices that may make the soup too hot.
Burgers and Veg
This is almost so simple that it doesn’t need explaining, but is included for completion and for the calorie count.
- 1 pack of Lidl Strathvale quarter pounder burgers.
- 4 Kingsmill wholemeal bread rolls.
- 200g peeled, chopped carrots.
- 200g chopped fresh broccoli.
- Sauce to taste.
Grill the burgers till cooked through and serve on a bun. A George Foreman style grill is wonderful for maximizing the fat drainage, reducing the calories further, whilst being really easy to use.
Steam the vegetables until cooked, and serve with the burgers. There, easy as pie.
When made as described the burgers and veg come in at just 474 calories. Sauce on the burger will of course add calories, but there are some healthier choices that won’t cost so many calories. Helman’s Lighter than Light mayonnaise for instance is only 10 calories for 15g (a small tablespoon full). The soup is another 67 calories for a grand total of 541 calories. And if you want a more filling meal with just the burgers and veggies, serve more veggies and omit the soup starter.
The best bit about this meal is that it costs just 63p per serving for the burger and veg, and the soup costs 38p per serving, totalling £1.01 per person. Double the veg and forget the soup and it costs just 75p each. That’s my favourite kind of a dinner.