Boxing Day Soup

Stuck for ideas for what to do with your Christmas leftovers? Read on for Jasmine Hemsley’s simple and delicious Boxing Day soup recipe.

I love chatting to folk old and young about the nostalgia of the pot that bubbles away at the back of the stove with enticing aromas, ever-changing as the alchemy of cooking is underway, turning leftovers and scraps into the most grounding and nourishing of dishes. That “stock pot” is the ultimate in eco, anti-food waste, economical and highly digestible foods.

I’m sure many of you will have heard me wax lyrical about the qualities of bone broth, not least of which from a soothing, easy-to-digest plus waste-not-want-not point of view. So if you did do a classic turkey Christmas roast or any other meat roast then be sure to make good use of everything and turn the bones/carcass into a nourishing broth with some water and a bit of time for it to do its thing — the magic of slow cooking in action.

While I make leftover and fridge-clear out soups a-plenty all year round, the one I absolutely look forward to only comes around once a year (though I make sure I claim enough to last me two days): it’s Ro (my other half’s mum’s) Boxing Day Soup. She’s an amazing cook, but there is just something about this particular soup that absolutely does it for me. A blended soup that tastes like all the comforts of Christmas, served piping hot with a touch of chopped curly parsley in total retro style, the icing on the cake to the medley of umami flavours beneath with hints of sweetness from roasted veggies, chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce (yes everything goes in!).

So now for the recipe of sorts — since we’re not starting from scratch it’s more an art than a formula but if it was a formula it would look something like this:


If you’ve had a meat roast, strip off any remaining meat and save for curries, stews, stir-fries and/or sandwiches. Pop the bones and any dripping etc. into a slow cooker with any veg scraps and a bay leaf if you like and cook on medium/low over night or at least 8 hours, in a pressure cooker for a few hours or cook long and slow in the oven or on the hob to get a nutritious bone broth.

Start the soup in a big pot, first sautéeing a couple inches or so of ginger, thinly sliced, in your favourite fat or cooking oil (I use ghee). Then add all the leftovers, top with the bone broth, add a good grind of black pepper and simmer for an hour or so, lid on.

NB. If you haven’t had a meat roast, you can use a little vegetable stock, bouillon or miso paste to give it some umami depth (just don’t add too much since the other ingredients may already be salty!) but since there is usually so much flavour already, water will do. You can also add favourite spices if you want to change it up a bit but I find there are enough Christmas flavours going on — and I love the taste of Christmas!

The veg you add can be roughly chopped if you want it chunky, minestrone-style, or blend it smooth-ish (keep some of the lovely texture in there), just like Nick’s mum makes it, adding more water if needed to create the consistency you like. At this point I like to taste and season with salt since the soup is made from already seasoned dishes, so it’s only at this point you have a better understanding of the final dish, add a bit more ginger (grate it in) and pepper if you like.

To serve, check if it needs a squeeze of lemon or lime to add some acidity. Garnish with curly or chopped parsley to keep its retro feel, a swirl of cream for traditionalists or cream alternative. If you’ve got any ginger and lemon cashew cream left from my mince pie recipe just thin with a little with water and use that!

See Jasmine’s Kitchari recipe for a soothing post Christmas Ayurvedic boost.