The cold months are upon us, and nothing is more satisfying than a piping hot bowl of soup. Its all the encouragement we need to slurp our way through the chilly, winter days. Whether you're a chicken noodle kind of soup-lover, or a creamy broccoli cheddar fan, is there anything better than cozying up to the fire with a giant bowl of soup while the snowflakes fall outside the window?I doubt it.

I made this soup this week, a minestrone of sorts, with the sweetness of butternut squash, made substantial enough for a main course with little beads of orzo pasta. A soup of diced vegetables is the best way of using up a bag of odd vegetalbles. If you can wait, I like it almost more the following day, when the jumple of vegetables has spent the night in the fridge and the pasta has thickened the texture. There is a great taste that develops overnight. Served with some rustic bread, theres nothing better.

Vegetable soup with orzo

Swap vegetables as the need takes you. Carrots instead of rutabega; zucchini for butternut; a leek in place of onion. Whatever you have on hand or looks good in the market.

Serves 6

onion 1, medium

Rutabega 1 cup diced

celery 1 rib diced

olive oil 3 tbsp

butternut squash or pumpkin 1 1/2 cups diced

rosemary 1 tsp leaves

garlic 4 cloves

thyme 10 sprigs

tomatoes 3, large chopped small

white wine 1/2 cup

vegetable stock 4 1/2 cups

green beans 1 1/2 cups chopped

orzo 1/3 cup

Peel the onion and rutabega. Cut them and the celery, into small dice. Warm the olive oil in a deep heavy-based pan over a medium heat, then add the chopped vegetables, stirring them to coat with oil.

Peel the pumpkin or butternut, discard the seeds and fibres, then cut into small dice and add to the pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic. Finely chop the rosemary, add to the pan with the garlic, a pinch of salt and the sprigs of thyme, then leave to cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces then add to the pan, with the white wine. Pour in the stock, lower the heat so the soup simmers gently, then partially cover with a lid and leave to cook for 30 minutes until the rutabaga and butternut squash are soft enough to crush easily between your finger and thumb.

Cut the green beans into short lengths then add to the pan, with the orzo. Turn the heat up and leave to cook for 10 minutes until the pasta is tender and almost soft. Check the seasoning – you will need pepper and a little salt – and serve.

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