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  • Serves 4-6

  • 50 minutes

  • Easy

  • 1 medium white onion, finely sliced

  • 3 garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped

  • 1 fennel head, halved lengthways & finely sliced

  • 3 celery sticks with leaves, thickly sliced at angle

  • 1 carrot, peeled & thinly sliced at angle

  • 2 or 3 peppers, red, yellow &/or orange, thickly sliced

  • 1 courgette, thickly sliced at angle

  • ½ tsp saffron threads, soaked in 150ml hot water

  • 1 small glass of white wine (pref dry, optional)

  • 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika powder

  • 1½ tins of chopped tomatoes, or 3 or 4 fresh ones

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed

  • 200g halloumi cheese or firm tofu, cut into 2cm cubes (optional)

  • 1½ litres of hot water, with 1 tbsp good quality vegetable stock

  • 2 cups of rapeseed or veg oil

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • Handful of fresh parsley, roughly torn

  • 2 tsp rock salt & 1 tsp white pepper

This Mediterranean inspired summery broth has lots of punchy flavours, and you can mix up the vegetables anyway you might prefer. We love this dish in our house. I also adore celery, so when my lovely local veg people tweeted a photo of some fat leafy stuff, I decided to grab some along with some frond-topped fennel and peppers. Make sure you include all the fronds and leaves, as there's so much flavour in them. I sometimes make this as a simple veg dish without any halloumi or tofu, but I it was a special post-exam treat for the teens. Deep fried halloumi bites are one of their favourites. Just don’t add the cubes to the broth until serving or they will lose their texture. Enjoy with hunks of bread or roasted new potatoes.

  1. Place a large deep heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions and sauté for 5 or 6 minutes.
  2. Then add garlic, chilli and celery. Saute for another 5 or 6 minutes then add the paprika powder, fennel and carrot.
  3. Turn up the heat until the pan is sizzling, then add the white wine. Stir well and then add the saffron water and threads, tomatoes, chickpeas and vegetable stock. 
  4. Bring to boil and then reduce heat.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until fennel and celery are just tender, then add the peppers and courgette and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  5. In a small pan, add the remaining oil and place on high heat. Check oil is sizzling hot but not burning (with a piece of bread or halloumi).
  6. If using tofu, sprinkle cubes with ½ teaspoon of fine salt and a pinch or two of paprika. Fry the halloumi or tofu cubes in batches, for 7-8 minutes until golden brown. Drain on kitchen roll and set aside.
  7. Add more water to the broth if necessary and season with rock salt and white pepper, to taste. Add lemon juice just before serving.
  8. Serve in deep bowls, scattered with halloumi/tofu cubes and some fresh parsley on top. 
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