This is a low-calorie, low fat vegetarian soup which is both healthy and internally cleansing. We find it a summertime favourite, helpful in keeping the waistline in trim.

First, prepare all the vegetables. Peel and finely chop the shallots. (You could use a bunch of spring onions if you prefer.) De-seed and finely chop the chillies - you may wish to use more (or less) chillies if you like your food particularly spicy. Peel, crush and finely chop the garlic cloves. Wash and chop (moderately roughly) the cabbage and the celery.

Put all the vegetables in a large saucepan with a well-fitting lid. The pan should be big enough so that the vegetables fill only half of it. Cover the vegetables with boiling water from the kettle, then bring to the boil and bubble for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for another 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Stir occasionally.

Next, add the tins of tomatoes (with the juice) and bring back to the boil, stirring well. Then, stir in the French Onion soup packet mix and add more water from the kettle. Bring back to the boil, stirring briskly, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add plenty of freshly-ground black pepper, and add salt to taste - don't be tempted to add a lot of salt straight away.

Serve as a starter or a light meal, on its own or with crackers and cream cheese.

This soup goes quite a long way. It can be kept in the fridge and reheated tomorrow, or divided into portions in plastic tubs and kept in the freezer.