To remove the woody stalk, snap your asparagus. It will naturally break at the right point. Hoorah!

It is very difficult to prepare beetroot without your kitchen looking like you have murdered someone in it. I am very lucky because my market sells cooked beetroot which you plonk into bags with the fork provided. At home, I covered my chopping board with a big sheet of grease-proof paper which I tucked underneath to hold it in place. I forked out my beets, scraped off the skin with my knife and chopped. By the end of cooking, numerous red flecks will inevitably adorn you and your worktops, so don't wear white or your favourite frock.

I am pretty sure you don't need to worry yourself with soaking dried beans and cooking them for hours before including them in your soup. Unless you want a bean that is hard to find in a can, like attractive speckledy ones, use the canned variety, but rinse well first.

Broad beans/Fava beans 
Put the entire pod into boiling water, bring back to the boil and simmer for three or four minutes. Drain and submerge in cold water then pop the beans out of the pods. You will probably want to tear the pale coating on each bean and release the bright green bean into ultimate freedom.

If I blitz my soups, it's with a stab blender, directly in the pan. 

Jerusalem artichokes can be easily and successfully peeled with a soft-fruit peeler. DO NOT prepare your loved one a dish of this vegetable - though it is amazing, it does not produce romantic bodily results.

To prepare the fresh stuff, behead and bebottom it, remove the outer layers then bash it with a wooden spoon. It will infuse your soup with its heavenly, lemony oils. Remove it before serving. You can also chop the inside parts but do it finely cos it's pretty woody.

Lentils produce a bit of scum as they boil. Don't get upset, they do it with everyone. Spoon it off, and add more water if the pan starts looking a bit dry.  Season lentils at the end of cooking. If they have to share the water with salt, they can get a bit stroppy and refuse to soften. I think the little orange ones are pretty well behaved though.

Peas is good frozen. If it's the season, fresh peas are a treat. Simply remove them from the pod and cook minimally. Try them raw, they are super sweet.

To prepare this spikey monster: Behead and bebottom it. Stand it on its bare bottom. Use a big knife to cut from the top down in slight curves to remove the skin and eyes. The trick is to not get upset about losing a bit of fruit. This way you will cut out all the eyes successfully - don't worry, they are not real eyes and there will be plenty of flesh left for your soup. Chuck away the skin (why does this tip sound so bodily?), cut it in half and then quarters across the core, then, keeping each quarter standing up, cut the triangle of core off and send it packing.

If you're going to blitz potatoes, check they are good for mash and don't over-process them with the blender as they can go gluey.

Swiss Chard
Wash the leaves then then cut either side of the white stalk to separate it from the leaf. The stalk takes longer to cook, the green just needs wilting. Try it raw, it's earthy and salty.

Tomatoes - Peeling and Deseeding 

N.B. Don't get your knickers in a twist, this is not as fiddly or time-consuming as you think. You don't need chef skills and you don't need icy water. But you do need to be OK with getting a bit mushy. Put a bowl nearby to dump your seeds/skin into.

  • Cut a cross on the top and bottom of the tomato, put into boiling water for a minute or less and then transfer to cold water. The skins will be trying to come off on their own. You will need to give them a helping hand.
  • Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then for each quarter, slide a small, sharp knife from one point to the other, cutting out the evil jelly and seeds, and keeping the lovely flesh.

Vegetable Soups
If you use too much water in your veggie soups they will be thin and bland. If you’re not sure how much to use, don’t worry, go with the flow but drain some of the water into another container once the veggies are cooked - that way you can add some back in if it ends up too thick.

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