Exploring Orkney's larder - soup

Discover new products and recipes from Orkney's food and drink producers with our feature, Exploring Orkney's Larder.

Our regular food blogger Rosemary Moon has been sampling more of Orkney's finest produce. Keep reading to try her recipe for yourself.

With all the TV that we're watching and, just off the back of Christmas when it was shown what seemed like several times, Julie Walters’ classic delivery of Victoria Wood’s Two Soups sketch remains one of my all-time comedy highlights. Well, my two soups might not make you laugh but they should warm you up as they celebrate two Orkney ingredients that make deliciously restorative bowlfuls for the colder winter months.

Carrots grow well in Orkney and the village shops, Shearers and The Brig Larder all stock them throughout the season. Like Orcadian neeps, the carrots grow big and yet remain sweet and juicy. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs it’s all about the grower selecting the right varieties of seeds to grow in Orkney soils. The local shops aren’t worried about uniform sizes and shapes in the same way as supermarkets - washed carrots in a basket to select from is all that is required.

Carrot and coriander seems to have become the leading flavour combination for soup but my preference is for something thicker and more warming. I add chopped tomatoes and some red lentils for a soup that is perfect for the snowiest winter that we have experienced in the four years since we moved to Orkney.

I was introduced to oatmeal soup by my friend Katie Stewart, a great Scottish cookery writer best known for her years as The Times Cook. I put my own twist on the idea when I wrote a cookbook for Marmite by using a spoonful as the stock. On arriving in Orkney I was, after just six weeks, asked to give a cookery demonstration on beremeal at the wonderful Orkney Library - the writer of the Book of Bere, Liz Ashworth, was unwell and unable to give the demonstration planned as part of Book Week Scotland. On that occasion I made the soup with beremeal but I prefer it with another product from the Barony Mill, their oatmeal flake. It is our preferred oatmeal for porridge. If you are not a Marmite lover then simply use vegetable bouillon powder or a stock cube instead.

Beremeal from Orkney

Many people want their soups to be cooked quickly but that never delivers on flavour as much as cooking the vegetables long and slow and extracting as much sweetness from them as possible, before adding the stock and simmering. Most of us aren’t going anywhere very often these days so take the time to cook your soup slowly and see what a difference it makes to the final flavour.

Carrot, lentil and tomato soup

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 onion
  • 350g carrots
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil and/or a knob of butter
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 50g red lentils
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Milk


  1. Prepare the vegetables: dice the onion, slice the carrots and finely chop the garlic.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan, add the prepared veg with the cumin, stir well then cover and cook slowly for 5-10 minutes over a low heat, stirring once or twice. Wash the lentils in a sieve under cold water.
  3. Add the lentils, the tomatoes and then rinse the can out twice, adding the water to the pan each time. Add salt and pepper, bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Blend the soup until smooth and season to taste. Add enough milk to achieve your favourite soup consistency. Reheat if necessary and serve with oatcakes and Orkney Cheddar.

Orkney oatmeal soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large onion
  • 25g butter
  • 50g oatmeal flake
  • 1 tsp Marmite or bouillon powder, or a stock cube
  • 1 lemon
  • 2-3 sprigs parsley
  • 300ml milk


  1. Prepare and chop the onion. Melt the butter in a medium pan, add the onion and cook slowly until softened but not browned. Stir in the oatmeal with the Marmite and then add 600ml boiling water. Add a little salt and some pepper, bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Zest the lemon into the pan off the heat and add the parsley and milk. Blend until smooth then return the soup to the pan. Reheat gently, add more seasoning to taste and serve.

Rosemary Moon ‘retired’ to Orkney after a long association with the salmon industry in the islands. The author of 19 cookery books and countless more recipes, including writing for Waitrose and Lakeland, she has brought journalists and food writers to Orkney in the past to show off our diverse and delicious food and drink. After several holidays here Rosemary and her husband Nick have settled in South Ronaldsay but, once a cookery writer always a cookery writer, Rosemary is finding it impossible to stop jotting down the new recipes that she is creating with the island produce.

Rosemary also writes and vlogs about whisky and is particularly interested in whisky and food matching. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and on her rosemarymoon.com.

The Promoting Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.

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