soup

MADRAS PUMPKIN AND LENTIL SOUP



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MADRAS PUMPKIN AND LENTIL SOUP

When creating food plans for my clients I find myself repeating : Batch cook soups, add beans and lentils for protein, freeze them, take to work for lunch. It has become a mantra.
I think that soups should be the first thing a person learns to cook. They are incredibly easy, versatile and practical, especially since they keep, freeze and reheat very well. They are an easy way to get a variety of vegetables into those who don’t like eating many (pesky children…).

The most difficult process about this soups is cutting up the pumpkin, I don’t particularly enjoy cutting through the hard skin of the squash. Even my large chef’s knife seems to get stuck inside the cut. Sometimes I feel that hammer and chisel would be a much better tool than a knife. However after struggling through the first cut things get easier. Of course you can make your job even easier and use a butter nut squash. (Or as I often do enlist the help of another person, usually my husband)

Finding a good curry powder is essential for this soups flavour. I tend to get mine from an Indian supermarket or use Steenbergs organic blends. Spice blends sold in supermarkets tend to have rather strange things added - milk powder???!!! Noooo! Yes, if you don’t want any dairy in your diet you have to check curry powders too. Madness! Some of the commercial curry blends tend to have funny aftertaste that just spoils the taste of the finished dish.

You can blend to soup but I do like a bit of a texture - I do get bored with the sameness of a large bowl of blended soup at times. This soup lends itself for a variety of toppings, coriander leaves, lime wedges, sliced chillies, sourdough croutons, coriander and mint chutney… I like to eat mine with fresh chopped coriander and a big squeeze of lime. And of course this soups is ideal for freezing!

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MADRAS PUMPKIN AND LENTIL SOUP
Serves 4-6

ingredients
1 kaboocha or sweet mamma squash
2 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped (or grated with microplane grater)
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 tbs madras spice mix (I used Steenbergs organic madras blend)
1/2 cup red lentils
6 cups vegetables stock
1 tin of coconut milk
lime
fresh coriander

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method
  • Using a heavy chef’s knife cut the pumpkin into wedges, remove the stringy inside with seeds.
  • Place onto a baking tray and bake at 200C for 30-40min till pumpkin flesh is soft and caramelised. Set aside and let cool.
  • When cool enough to handle remove the flesh from the skin (by the way the skin is edible too, use if you are planning to blend the soup smooth).
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot (this makes a big batch of soup) and add the onion. Saute till softened before adding the ginger and garlic and cook for another minutes stirring constantly taking care not to burn the ginger and garlic.
  • Add your curry spice and cook briefly for about 30 seconds.
  • Next add the pumpkin flesh, red lentils, 6 cups of vegetable stock and 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30minuted until the soup is thick and lentils are cooked tender (falling apart into the soup).
  • I like to take a potato masher and mash any large pieces of pumpkin into the soup.
  • Add lime juice to taste and garnish with coriander leaves or any other toppings as suggested above.
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CAULIFLOWER ALMOND SOUP

CAULIFLOWER ALMOND SOUP

Cauliflower is one of the vegetables my kids have a very negative reaction to, it’s the run in a different direction kind of response. I grew up eating cauliflower prepared in various ways but now I am trying to come up with recipes that make cauliflower not taste like cauliflower as a way to trick the kids into eating it. I don’t want them to miss out on the glorious nutrition this vegetable possesses.

I think I really succeeded with this recipe. It has a very robust savoury flavour that will (or could) convince any cauliflower hater. To be perfectly safe I just keep my mouth shut in case the word cauliflower slips out. Don’t get me wrong I do, with great satisfaction, announce the truth after the plates have been left clean :)

Adding almonds and beans is a way to boost the protein and fibre content and they are the key in masking the cauliflower flavour notes. I have garnished the soup with toasted sesame seeds but any soft herbs (parsley, chives, coriander, chervil) work well too. Hemp seeds are another great topper adding the illusive omega 3 fatty acids to the soup.

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CAULIFLOWER ALMOND SOUP
4 servings

ingredients
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
3 large leeks, sliced and rinsed
1 small cauliflower (about 3 cups), divided into florets
1 tin (or 1 cup) white beans (canellini, butter)
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup ground almonds

method
  • Heat a medium/large sauce pan on the stove. Add the cumin seeds and dry toast for about 1 minute, take care not to burn them. Remove half and reserve for garnish.
  • Next add the leeks with any residual water from washing them.
  • Cook for couple minutes to soften, adding few tablespoons of water if the pan gets dry.
  • Next tumble in the cauliflower and beans adding the vegetable stock.
  • Cook for 20minutes on a medium heat.
  • Transfer the soup into a blender, add the ground almonds and puree till smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  • Return to the pan to reheat.
  • Serve the soup garnished with the cumin seeds or herbs.



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CZECH SAUERKRAUT SOUP

CZECH SAUERKRAUT SOUP

Today I went to my favourite local Polish shop. Lech, the owner is so friendly, my kids love him (and it’s not just for the free lollipops he gives them). Of course I was the only non Polish person there. I did get few puzzling looks for speaking English as the entire clientele seems to be from Poland :) I tend to shout Thank You in Polish very loud when I am there.

I love going to the Polish shop, here I can impress my kids with being able to translate what’s written on the packets (I grew up on the Czech/Polish border) and of course I can get certain groceries that are the same or very close to some of the foods I grew up with. Pickled gherkins and sauerkraut are always on the list.

I was complaining to Lech that there aren’t any Czech food shops around and he, bless him, offered to get me some Czech groceries via his friend who is driving to Slovakia. How very nice! That’s what I call customer service.

My friends, just like my cooking, come from different countries. And as much as I love to explore foods from around the world it is always comforting to have something that brings me back to my roots. Sauerkraut soup is definitely one of those things. Yes, it is an acquired taste if you are not used to sauerkraut. My husband loves it (he has been converted to more than just Czech beer) however my mother-in-law was less than impressed when I put a bowl in front of her the other day. She however likes my other Czech offerings so I won’t hold this one against her :)

In true international spirit I used Czech dried marjoram (the best in my opinion), Hungarian paprika (legendary), Polish sauerkraut and Devon grown Riverford potatoes. They all came together into a very familiar taste of home. This soup is one of my favourite quick lunches, not only because I love it, but mainly because I always have all the ingredients on hand.

If you want to keep the soup gluten free, as I often do, just omit the flour and leave the soup more of a broth consistency. When I fancy thicker, more goulash soup, consistency I add flour at the beginning to make a roux. As you know I tend to use very little or no oil in my recipes. You could go totally oil free but I believe that cooking the paprika in oil brings out the flavour and 1 tbs between 4 portions amounts to almost nothing.

Please make sure you don’t use your best (and expensive) raw sauerkraut from a health food shop. A jar (or a bag from the Polish shop) is perfect here. If you are a sauerkraut novice use just 1 cup and drain it (or even rinse it). I love it full on!



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CZECH SAUERKRAUT SOUP
The added flour will help thicken the soup, you can easily omit this as I very often do for a more broth like soup and of course to make the recipe gluten free. They are equally delicious.
variation:
Add some sliced vegetarian sausage or cubes of smoked tofu to make the soup more substantial.

Serves 4 (or 3 hungry people)

1 tbs rice bran oil (or organic rapeseed)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1tbs paprika
1 tsp caraway
1 tsp dried marjoram
1tbs flour (optional)
4 cups vegetable stock
3 medium potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1-2 cups of sauerkraut
1 clove garlic

The one without flour
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  • In a large sauce pan heat the oil and add the onion. Sauté gently till translucent.
  • Add the caraway and paprika and cook for a few seconds in the oil.
  • Add the flour and cook for about 30 seconds stirring constantly (you can omit the flour for a thinner soup)
  • Add the stock. If using flour add a small amount fist while stirring to combine with the flour, than add rest of the stock.
  • Add the potatoes, bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 20minutes.
  • If you are not used to the flavour of sauerkraut than add just 1 cup and drain if first. I cut through it with a knife or scissors to avoid long strands of cabbage in my soup. If like me you love sauerkraut add 2 cups. I don’t even bother to drain all the liquid…
  • Let the soup simmer for further 5 minutes.
  • Before serving add crushed clove of garlic, stir into the soup.
  • You can serve some sourdough croutons on top, I just eat it on its own :)


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CREAMY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH SAGE




CREAMY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH SAGE

Butternut squash is one of my favourite vegetables, I especially love to make it into a soup. It pairs up beautifully with different fruits, veggies and spices. I love roasting it to concentrate its rich sweetness. I could eat a whole bowl of roasted butternut squash, especially with some chilli, lime and coriander dressing poured over it.

Nutritionists always talk about nutrient density. This means we look how much nutrition (nutrients) you get in relation to calories. Butternut squash is a nutrient rich vegetable containing only 40 calories per 100g but it delivers 6.6g of fibre (the average person in the UK gets about 12g per day, our palaeolithic ancestors ate around 100g per day), over 200% of your daily vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and a 1/4 of your vitamin C requirement. It also contains whole host of other vitamins and minerals however in much smaller quantities.

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If I ask you to name omega 3 fatty acid sources you may say fish, flax seeds or walnuts. Did you know that vegetables also contain alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) better known as omega 3 fatty acid? Butternut squash will give you 24mg of ALA in 100g. Kale for example contains 180mg per 100g. OK these are not huge quantities but us plant based folk tend to eat lots of vegetables and can get quite important amount of omega 3 this way. I have added 1 Tbs of hemp seed to each portion of soup to add a further 1000mg of ALA . The required daily amount for ALA for an adult is about 1-2g.

CREAMY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH SAGE
Serves 2-4. I am greedy and don’t eat bread with my soups so I like my portions rather big. This will serve 4 as a starter, 3 as a main meal or 2 greedy ones.
For oil free version roast the butternut squash in a roasting dish that has been lined with parchment paper.

ingredients
2 tsp coconut oil (divided)
1 medium size butternut squash
1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8 sage leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
1/2 tsp ground dried chilli powder (I used Kashmiri chilli, Cayenne is also great)
1 tsp dried ginger powder
3-4 cups of vegetable stock (depending on the size of your squash)
a handful (1/3 cup) of cashews
lemon juice to taste

method
  • Preheat oven to 200C (fan oven).
  • Peel and deseed the butternut squash. Cut into large dice.
  • Place 1 tsp coconut oil into a roasting dish that will hold the butternut squash pieces in one layer. Place the roasting dish briefly into the oven to melt (about 1 min)
  • Next add the squash and roast for 40 min or till soft and caramelised.
  • In a medium sauce pan heat the other tsp of coconut oil (or use 60ml, 1/4 cup water). Add the sliced onion and cook till softened. Next add the garlic and sage, cook for further minute before adding the spices, cook these about 30seconds while stirring constantly.
  • Add the roasted squash and enough vegetable broth to cover the vegetables by 2cm (just under 1 inch). Cook for 20 min.
  • Puree the soup in a blender with the cashew nuts till smooth. Add lemon juice to taste.
  • Serve garnished with some sage leaves and hemp seeds.

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SPICY CARROT SOUP

SPICY CARROT SOUP

Most of my lunches start by opening the fridge and the pantry in hope I will get inspired. Rarely I have a plan. My only aim is tasty quick nutritious food. This method is not dissimilar to cooking lunches with my great grandma during summer holidays when I was a child. We would go into the garden, pick fresh veggies and herbs, sometimes we picked mushrooms from the nearby woods and make a lunch. Every day we had a vegetable soup to start with. These days I am not picking my vegetables fresh from my garden ( I wish I could) but the process is still the same.

Today I had far too many sad looking carrots hanging around. Therefore making carrot soup seemed like a good idea. In my opinion a good carrot soup needs some spice or it will taste too much like cooked carrots. I know this may sound a bit strange but cooked carrots bring back rather unpleasant memory or primary school when I was forced to eat overcooked carrots for school lunch with disastrous results….Adding ginger, garlic and chilli allows me to enjoy the benefits of cooked carrots without the bad memories.

When it comes to carrots I prefer eating them raw. We are not however very good at chewing them efficiently enough to break down the cell walls to receive the maximum benefit from beta carotene. Cooking carrots makes beta carotene more available to the body. The conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A (preformed only available from animal products) is more efficient with a bit of fat added. Therefore adding the teaspoon of coconut oil as suggested in the recipe may aid this process. Alternatively you could sprinkle the soup with some hemp seeds before serving.
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SPICY CARROT SOUP
Oil free if coconut oil not used.

1tsp coconut oil or 60 mil (1/4 cup) water
1 onion
1 tbs minced ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 chilli pepper
5 medium to large carrots, sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
2 medium tomatoes,
1 litre, (4 cups) light vegetable stock
Coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnish

  • In a medium size saucepan heat the coconut oil or water, add onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  • Next add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30minutes.
  • Blend with a stick blender or in a stand up blender.
  • Garnish with some fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves. Enjoy.



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LENTIL, PORCINI AND SPINACH SOUP

LENTIL, PORCINI AND SPINACH SOUP

My Dad is coming over for Christmas and he promised to bring more of his foraged, hand cut and dried over wood stove wild mushrooms. That’s why I have been clearing “the last year’s stock” by sticking the woodland treasures into everything. They add so much flavour and meaty chewy texture. I love them.

Due to the never ending supply courtesy of my Dad I use them very liberally, by large handfuls. The cupboard where I store the bags of mushrooms is drowned in the their characteristic scent (there is a reason why you can’t find dried mushroom scented candles in shops). Dried porcini tend to be rather pricy in the UK, but luckily you don’t need a lot, half an ounce will give plenty of flavour to your dishes.

For this recipe I used a mixture of lentils (one of those soup mixes from a shop), feel free to create your own mixture or use just one type of lentil. The soup will taste great with any type of lentil. Beware it is very filling, I did say it serves 4 generously, I mean generously. This is a main course soup. No need for bread either.

It freezes beautifully. My plan is to freeze a batch to have a quick lunch on hand when I have had enough of cooking over the holiday season. You may just need to add more stock when reheating. I do hope my Dad will approve of the use of his handpicked mushrooms (and won’t miss the meat ).

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LENTIL, PORCINI AND SPINACH SOUP
Serves 4 very generously.

ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped into small dice
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into small dice
2 stick of celery, chopped into small dice
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbs of tomato puree
1 tin of tomatoes
15 - 30 g (1/2 - 1oz) dried porcini mushrooms
2 medium potatoes, cut onto 1cm dice
300 g (1 and 1/2 cups) lentils (I used a mix of red, puy and green)
6 cups (1.5 litres) of vegetable stock
200 g frozen spinach (300g fresh), defrost if using frozen

  • In a large stock pot heat 60ml water (or stock) and the onions, garlic, carrot, celery and rosemary. Cook with the lid on for about 10min or until soften. Add more water if needed.
  • Next add the tomato puree, cook for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, cook for 10 min with the lid on.
  • Next add the porcini, potatoes, stock and lentils. Cook on low heat for 30-40 min or until the lentils are cook. Depending on the how much the lentils absorb you may need to add more water if need.
  • Add the spinach, if using frozen defrost and let it heat through in the soup. If using fresh let it wilt in the soup.
  • Season and serve

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KALE, SWEET POTATO, RED LENTIL AND TOM YUM SOUP

KALE, SWEET POTATO, RED LENTIL AND TOM YUM SOUP

After the unusually warm autumn it is finally starting to feel much chillier. I noticed myself picking up the pace when walking my dog this morning in an attempt to warm up. I am not complaining, to me cold weather means I can eat lots of gorgeous comforting soups.

This soup is a favourite of mine, I am surprised that it has not made it onto my blog yet. Maybe it because I have never measured anything when cooking it. And I don’t seem to be to consistent when making it either, there seem to be a few variations to this recipe. I have made suggestions below the recipe if you want to try them out. It is so easy to make that it became one of my staples whenI was in college, I would cook it in the morning and take it in a flask for lunch.

This soup is full of flavour, high in protein, comforting and pleasantly spicy. I use a shop bought Tom Yum paste for speed (I have been planning to make my own but somehow nit hasn’t happened yet...). Just make sure you buy one without shrimp paste, I found a shrimp free one in an Asian supermarket). A Thai red curry paste is a good substitute but will not give the soup the same hot and sour undertones.


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KALE, SWEET POTATO, RED LENTIL AND TOM YUM SOUP
Serves 4

ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs - 2 tbs tom yum paste (or red curry paste)
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 orange flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm dice
1 cup of red lentils
5 cups of water (4 cups if using tinned coconut milk)
50g (2oz) coconut cream (or tin of coconut milk)
4 cups of shredded kale
salt and pepper to taste
lime juice to taste
chilli flakes to taste

method
  • Heat 60ml (1/4 cup) water in a stock pot, add onion and garlic and cook till the onions soften.
  • Add the tom yum paste, kaffir lime leaves, sweet potato, lentils and 5 cups of water and coconut cream.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 20 min or until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Next add the shredded kale and cook for further 10min.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with lime juice (I use up to juice of half a lime for my portion) and some crushed chilli flakes.

Variations:
Add tomatoes
- add 4-5 medium ripe tomatoes or a tin of chopped tomato after adding the tom yum paste, cook for 5-10min to soften, use one less cup of water
Change the greens - instead of kale you can use spinach (no need to cook, just let the spinach wilt in hot soup)
Change the sweet potatoes - use pumpkin or butter nut squash
Make it lower in fat - omit the coconut milk or cream, it will still taste delicious; you can add the above mentioned tomatoes instead
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MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

My cupboard is always full of spices, that way I can always create a dish with influences from different cuisines. Sometimes I buy pre-mixed concoctions but I do love creating my own blends. They may not be authentic but it is all about the taste.

Last weekend we had a Moroccan feast so perhaps that’s why I reached for Moroccan spices again to make this lentil and spinach soup. It was thick, chunky and filling, just the thing one needs after a long dog walk through mist and fog. I though it could have done with a bit more chilli. Mind you I always have a handy chilli flake grinder or a bottle of chilli sauce within my reach...

This is a great soup for batch cooking, just double the quantities and keep some in the freezer for those “can’t be bother to cook” days. And if you want to shorten the preparation a bit more look out for Moroccan spice mixes such as Ras El Hanout in your spice isle.

I had about a cup of the soup left over for today, due to the lentils it thickened considerably overnight in the fridge. I considered pouring the leftovers over a baked sweet potatoes but had no patience to wait an hour for it to bake... I opted for sauteing some mushrooms, cooked couple handfuls of brown rice pasta and mixed it all together with the leftover soup and few squirts of ketchup. It turned out to be a very yummy lunch for one.


letnil-moroccon-soup

MOROCCAN SPICED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP
Serves 3-4

ingredients
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into fine dice
1 stick of celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp harrisa paste (depending on how spicy you like your soup)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) red lentils
3-4 cups of vegetables stocks
100g spinach

method
  1. In a large soup pot heat 1/3cup (60ml ) water (or 1 tbs oil) and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soften, add more water if the vegetables are starting to stick.
  2. Add the spices and cook for about 30seconds.
  3. Next add the harrisa paste and tomatoes and cook for couple of minutes.
  4. Add the lentils and vegetable stock and cook for 20min or until the lentils are soft, nearly falling apart and the soup is thick.
  5. Add the spinach leaves and let them wilt into the soup, this will take about a minute.

Leftover magic
leftover-bolognaise

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CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

Lately I have increased the amount of juicing I have been doing and have been enjoying their fresh zing in the mornings. Lunches, possible due to the awful relentless rain and wind, have been largely soups. Warming, soothing and a wonderful way to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

This soup is exactly that. Many odd pieces of veggies rescued from the vegetable drawer cooked in flavoursome broth with the addition of barley to give the soup more body and sustenance. You could of course any veggies you find lurking around, swede, turnip, courgette, celeriac, peppers, peas, sweetcorn....anything goes.

Add some herbs or different grain, quinoa or brown rice would be lovely. I wold cook these separately and add to warm up just before serving. Which ever way you go this will warm you up in this wet wintery weather.

barley-soup

CHUNKY VEGETABLE AND BARLEY SOUP

serves 3-4

ingredients
1 onion
1 celery rib
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 large potato
1/4 cauliflower
half broccoli
1/2 cup barley
veg stock

method
  1. Peel the onion, peel the potato and parsnip. Cut all the vegetables into fine dice (about 1 cm/1/3inch).
  2. In a large sauce pan or stock pot add all the vegetables and barley.
  3. Add enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables by about 5cm (2 inches).
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 20min or until the barley is cooked. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Enjoy.
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CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP

CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP

Cauliflower season is back! It has been making appearance in my weekly veggie box for past few weeks. White, crisp and sweet, it lends itself perfectly as a base for a creamy soup. In my version I have paired this nutritious brassica with leeks and beans which further enhance its creaminess.

Last year, at Christmas, my sister-in-law cooked some cauliflower soup for a starter. As she pulled it out of the fridge to reheat it, she opened the lid of her storage container and the most awful smell wafted around the kitchen. She exclaimed it smelled like &*%£. Subsequently the whole lot was poured down the sink. Be this a lesson to you, cook and eat, do not store and especially do not take leftovers to an open plan office for lunch (unless you really don't like your colleagues) . Cauliflower and broccoli soups indeed have the ability to smell in an extremely unappetising fashion when stored.

For this recipe I used cannellini beans that were cooked from dry but you don’t have to do the same, a tin of cannellini beans (or any other white beans) will work great too. Simply drain and add at the same step. If you don’t want to use the wine (I don’t always have a bottle open in the fridge) you can achieve a similar undernote of gentle acidity by squeezing some lemon juice into the soup before serving.

I garnished my soup with lightly toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley, but this is where you can let your imagination run wild. How about home made sun-blushed tomatoes, sourdough croutons, basil leaves, homemade pesto or some smoked paprika. Now my mouth is indeed watering, I have a cauliflower in the fridge, cooked white beans in the freezer, now all I need is couple of leeks ... Today’s topping? Maybe the tomatoes that have been dehydrating since 9am and some basil. Yum.

cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER, LEEK AND BEAN SOUP
Serves 2-3

2 large leeks
2 cloves of garlic
1 small cauliflower
125ml (1/2cup) white wine
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 1 tin, drained)
3 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to tast
lightly toasted pine nuts and parsley for garnish

cauliflower-and-bean-soup

  1. Slice the leeks (mainly the white part) and wash thoroughly. Put the leeks into a medium size stock pot or sauce pan with 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Cook till soften.
  2. Crush the garlic and add to the leeks.
  3. Next add the wine, boil for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.
  4. In the meantime cut the cauliflower into florets. Add these to the leeks together with beans and vegetable stock.
  5. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  6. Blend the soup in a food processor or with a stick blender until smooth. Season.
  7. Garnish with pine nuts and parsley.
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ROASTED TOMATILLO AND TOMATO SOUP

ROASTED TOMATILLO AND TOMATO SOUP

Have you discovered tomatillos yet? I absolutely love them! Unfortunately they are still very hard to find here in the UK but they are worth searching for. Luckily Riverford, who deliver my organic veg boxes, have been supplying them (when in season) for 2 years running. You can even buy a salsa verde kit from their website. Occasionally tomatillos are available in our local Mexican shop Otomi. Failing that, they carry jars of tomatillo salsa verde, these are a good start for a tomatillo novice.

Why do I love tomatillos? First and foremost it’s the flavour! They are tangy, zingy and fresh tasting. On top of being delicious they are very good for you. Tomatillos contain phytonutrients withanolides that have been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties. They are a good source of vitamin C, E and carotenoids such as betacarotene, lutein, zeaxanthin. Tomatillos also contain host of minerals such as potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus and manganese. Not bad for something that looks like an unripe tomato...

close cousins - tomatillos and tomatoes
tomatillos-details

So far I have only used these Mexican gems in a salsa, but I was ready to expand my tomatillo horizon. Soup seemed like a good start for experimentation. Paired with tomatoes (who are their close cousins) and chillies I was sure (ish) to be onto a winner. I must say I was very pleased with the results. The downside was I only managed to make one lunch portion of soup...However thought this amount would be perfect for the very fashionable dinner party amuse-bouche. Served in shot glasses with a nice coriander leaf and a slice of lime perched on the rim of the glass this would make a very impressive pre-appetizer. Flavour explosion guaranteed! So you can either eat the whole lot yourself (like I greedily did) or you can wow your guests. Whichever way you go... Enjoy!

the finished product
tomatillo-soup

ROASTED TOMATILLO AND TOMATO SOUP

Serves 1 greedy person for lunch, 6-8 as an amuse-bouche in shot glasses

ingredients
200g (7 oz) tomatillos
150g (5 oz) tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 cup of well flavoured vegetable stock
coriander leaves for garnish

roasted tomatoes and tomatillos
tomatilo-roasted

method
  1. Peel the papery husk of the tomatillos (this is a sticky job), wash well.
  2. Line a baking dish with aluminium foil in a way that it will catch all runaway juices. This will also prevent the tomatillos and tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of your pan.
  3. Roast the tomatillos and tomatoes in a 200C oven for 20 minuter or until they start to blister and split (see photo).
  4. In a medium sauce pan heat 60ml of water, add the onions, garlic and chilli and saute for 5 min or till softened. Add more water if needed.
  5. Next add the tomatillos and tomatoes with all their juices.
  6. Add the vegetable stock and cook covered for about 10minutes.
  7. Blend in a food processor or using a stick blender.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves.
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BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND ORANGE SOUP

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND ORANGE SOUP

The house move is getting closer and closer, 7 days to go! Yesterday our lovely friends came to help us with the disaster zone that was our attic. Thank you!!! The day before (after watching The Croods with kids in the cinema) I sorted boxes of old cooking magazines. With all my books in boxes I resorted to couple of old Good Food magazines to read in my bath. There I came across a Valentines ( February 2008 issue) menu from the celebrity chef James Martin. The geek in me had to add up the calories, fat and protein of the romantic menu. Rather than romance you may expect a coronary...

Here are the results, per serving:
kcal - 2500
fat - 194g, sat fat - 70g
protein - 90g

Based on the British Nutrition Foundation RNI’s this meal contains over 500kcal, 124g of fat (50g sat) and about 50g more protein than an average women needs in a day (of course needs vary according to body shape, but trust me nobody needs 194g of fat!!!).

People tend to idolise TV chefs, they nearly posses superstar status. This gives them a lot of influence and they should be using it in a positive way. You may say the above meal is a celebration meal, only for special occasions. I agree, we do not make a three course meal every day. Still I think this is irresponsible. UK like the USA is experiencing obesity crisis, the health service is finding it hard to cope. We now have thirteen year old children having bariatric surgeries and their health suffers as a result of such intervention. This generation of children may die before their parents unless things change.

I would like to challenge TV chefs to create some healthy tasty meals, but from what you can read below, this may be near to impossible. When challenged, John Burton Race had a bit of a tantrum. By the way what does he call moderation???:

"It's a very good idea to watch your saturated fats," said John Burton Race, a Michelin-starred British chef whose recipes were evaluated by The Fat Panel. "But I would rather eat one spoon of full-fat cream ice cream than sit there with a gallon of unsweetened yogurt. I would rather eat these foods which are naughty but nice in moderation than try to look around for substitutes. It's just a pointless exercise."

And on he goes:

"It's ridiculous," said Race, pointing out that the panel harped on 100 grams of butter in his baked apple recipe, which also included dried fruits, nuts and the whole fresh apple."If you want something really indulgent, one of the lovely, rich things in life, have it in balance and moderation," Race said. "I'm sure that it won't kill you."

I will repeat Dr Esselstyn’s words again: “Moderation kills!” Chefs only get the message when faced with their own mortality. Maybe its time to start making changes sooner.

Read more at:
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=7071103&page=1#.UZDnjo6TQ0s


butternut-orange-soup


BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND ORANGE SOUP
Yummy, spicy soup. No added oils just good fat from the walnuts.

Serves 4

1 onion, chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped (deseeded for milder soup)
120ml (1/2 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
750ml light vegetable stock
For the topping:
large handful of parsley
handful of walnuts

  1. In a medium sauce pan heat about 60ml (1/4cup water) and saute the onions, celery and chilli till soft. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick.
  2. Add the orange juice, butternut squash and vegetable stock.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for half an hour.
  4. While the soup is cooking chop together the parsley and walnuts.
  5. Serve the soup garnished with the parsley and walnut mix.

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BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE

BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE

Growing up the only beetroot we ate came pickled from a jar. Nothing wrong with a bit of pickled beetroot I always thought it was delicious. I do think that Czech pickled beetroot is so much better than the one I can get in the UK. So much sweeter, yummier, I especially love the whole baby beetroots, it wouldn’t be a problem for me to eat a whole jar in one sitting....

These days I do prefer to use fresh beetroot. The possibilities are endless. I can always marinated it to get a lovely pickle like taste. I love raw, grated beetroot in salads, juiced, made into smoothies or raw soups. It is also great roasted with balsamic vinegar, or simply boiled and made into salads or mixed with grains to make a “risotto” (check out some of my other beetroot recipes).

Everybody is familiar with Russian Borscht, the famous beetroot soup. I know, traditional recipes don’t need to be messed with but I couldn't resist playing with it a bit and here is the result: borscht with attitude. I have infused the Russian soup with some Thai flavours. It will sure wake up your taste buds! I do wonder if my Russian friend will like it...

borscht-with-attitude

BORSCHT WITH ATTITUDE
This is easily doubled if you are feeding more people. I didn’t think kids would go with the spiciness of this dish hence the 2-3 portions...

Serves 2-3

ingredients
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced into 1cm (less than 1/2 inch) pieces
2 medium beetroot, diced into 1 cm pieces
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 Tbs vegetarian Thai red curry paste
1 medium-large potato, diced into 1 cm pieces
2 cups shredded cabbage
125ml (1/2 cup) unsweetened almond milk
lime to taste
fresh coriander

method
  1. In a medium sauce pan heat about 80 ml (1/3 cup) of water.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.
  3. Add the carrot and beetroot together with the red curry paste.
  4. Cook for about 1 min.
  5. Next add the stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 10min before adding the potato.
  7. Cook further 10 min before adding the cabbage.
  8. Cook further 10 min or until the beetroot is cooked through.
  9. Add the almond milk and just heat up.
  10. Finally add lime juice to taste (I used juice of half a lime and a bit extra at the table)
  11. Serve in soup bowls garnished with coriander.

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TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP

Christmas Eve is the BIG day in the Czech Republic, we have a Christmas dinner and open our presents in the evening. In my Czech/English family we mix customs from both countries. We still have our main meal on Christmas Eve, usually inviting few friends over. Presents, however, we open on Christmas day, as it is customary in the UK.

The same applies to our food, we mix some Czech traditional dishes (split pea soup, braised red cabbage. potato salad), few English ones (bread sauce, sprouts, cranberry sauce, roasted parsnips and carrots) and as there is no turkey or carp (Czech traditional Christmas meal) on our table, we are free to try a new dinner centre piece each year.

Traditional Czech pea soup has definitely earned its place on our international menu. I have had it made the same way, on the same day, for last 40 years! In our house it happened to be purely vegan. The only change I made was the addition of frozen peas, for color and sweetness. Every year I wonder why I only make this delicious soup on Christmas Eve.

splitpeasoup

TRADITIONAL CZECH CHRISTMAS PEA SOUP
You may have to increase the cooking time (each batch seems different), the peas should be very soft before the soup goes into the blender. If you are making the soup ahead make sure you have some water on hand, it thickens as it stands.

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a light meal

ingredients:
1 1/4 cup (250g) split green peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 medium to large carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, with the leaves, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
6 cups (at least) of water
2 tsp of vegan stock powder ( I use Marigold)
1/2 cup (125ml) frozen peas
bread for making croutons about one small slice per person ( I used a spelt and sunflower loaf, but any good quality bread will do, no pre-sliced white!!!)
1 Tbs of canola or olive oil


splitpeasoup2
method
  1. In a large saucepan (stock pot) combine the split peas, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, marjoram and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the hear and simmer, covered, for about 1 hr. The peas should be very soft.
  3. After the hour of cooking add the stock powder and cook for further 10-15 min just to let flavors combine.
  4. Puree the soup in a food processor till smooth. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  5. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and add the frozen peas, heat up only.
  6. While the soup is cooking cut the bread slices into 1 inch cubes. Place into a bowl and combine with the oil.
  7. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking tray and broil ( grill ) until golden brown, about one on each side. You can make the croutons well ahead.
  8. Serve the soup with the croutons on top.

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REDUCE WASTE/ ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

REDUCE WASTE/ ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

Apparently, here in the UK, we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year. For an average family with children this means £680 ending up in a compost bin. In my case this would mean some 5-6 weeks of food being wasted.

Jan Kees Vis, the global director for sustainable sourcing development at Unilever (what a mouthful!), says that food is “too cheap” resulting in too much food wasted. Food waste takes place mainly in restaurants and homes.

In Australia they have come up with the brilliant OzHarvest initiative. Shops, restaurants, hotels, delis and others donate surplus food to the needy. Check out the website :
http://www.ozharvest.org/index.asp Sound like a fantastic way to reduce waste!

Sheepishly I will admit to throwing away a whole bag of salad leaves and a rather disgusting half a pack of radishes that hid under bags of kale and other fresh veggies for a while. Yes, it did make me feel guilty! Indeed this was a case of bad planning.

Mr Vis claims it is the low cost of food that is behind food waste. I am not so sure about that. The food that is cheap, the processed food, is not what ends up is out bins. These foods have a suspiciously long shelf life. The foods that we throw away are more likely to be perishables. According to the Love Food Hate Waste website fruits and vegetables do indeed account for 26% of our food waste,followed by drinks, bakery products, meals, dairy and meat. Together these foods make 83% of our food waste. http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

In my opinion careful planning is the key to reducing waste. Shop with a shopping list, don’t buy more that you need and keep an eye on your perishables to make sure you use them before they go off. I tend to go through my fruit and veg the day before my organic box delivery. I turn what's left them into soups, salads, dips or smoothies.

The fruits we waste the most are bananas, apples and oranges. Brown bananas are great for baking, making smoothies or simply freeze them and blend them (on its own or with other fruits) to make a fab super quick ice-cream. Apples can be juiced or blended in smoothies, I like to stew them to make some apple sauce (great in fat free baking) or a compote. They are also great in a cabbage or carrot salad. Not so fresh oranges are still great juiced or “smoothied”. They also make a yummy base for a salad dressing or can be added to a soup (carrot and orange, yum).

Remember my celeriac and pear salad? This is what happened to the other half of the rather large celeriac. It became a part of yummy root vegetable soup.


root-vegetable-soup

ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP
Nice and easy, just chop throw it into the pot and blend...

Serves 4

ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 small or (as in my case) half a large celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium parsnips, cleaned and cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
1 medium to large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
sprig of rosemary, tough stalks removed and leaves chopped
1.25l (5 cups) of vegetable stock

method
  1. Place all the ingredients into a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil. reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 45min
  3. In batches pour soup into your blender and blend till smooth.
  4. Serve on its own or topped with some of lime coriander cashew cream.

Lime, coriander cashew cream:
http://www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/f76e5eb9a33b938f4667bb68c4c61a56-131.html


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GUEST BLOG BY ALEX: Hot Sun Soup

Looks like I have tendinitis in my right hand. With my husband away the kids decided to cook dinner and my son wanted to blog about it:

Hello my name is Alex
My mum hurt her hand so I decided to cook. Along with my sister we made a red lentil soup (Hot Sun Soup) from the Viva website. First I had to chop the onion.I had some bad experience in the past from chopping an onion. When I did it at school it made me cry. But this time I was fine
. Just as we got to the garlic part of the recipe we found out we didn’t have any so I asked my mum what shall we use instead of garlic she suggested to use garlic powder.

The soup turned out really well my family loved it. Afterwards me and my sister enjoyed half an avocado each. What a lovely dinner!

Here is the website link to get the recipe http://www.viva.org.uk/guides/snappy-veggie-guide.pdf

Viva-lentil-soup
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MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

It would be near impossible not to get touched by the story of Stamatis Moratis that was published in the New York Times. This man’s incredible recovery from terminal lung cancer is just amazing. It is not an unexplainable miracle, this is the power of healthy food, absence of stress and being a part of community (and a bit of luck). Moving to the island of Ikaria is not practical for everyone however learning from the “Ikarian” life style would make a huge difference to anybody’s life.

The Ikarians stop and relax, socialize, don’t stress over not having much. They play dominos and drink wine. They centre their diet around plant based foods most of which they grow themselves. They live to a ripe old age without being plagued by the diseases most Westerners seem to suffer from.

Believe me I am inspired! Food? I have that covered, I do rather well in adhering to the whole foods plant based diet. Unlike the Ikarians I do not drink wine much at all. I don’t think it is wine that makes them live as long as they do. Having friends to share a glass of wine with is more important that the wine itself. A shared pot of green tea will surely do the same. Being around good friends is good for the soul and body.

And so is soup. This one has more Mexican influences than Ikarian but it does use their favourite staples, beans, potatoes and vegetables. My friend K shared it with me which made it taste even better. Make it today and share with a friend or a loved one.

Link to the original article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

Mexican-bean-soup


MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
I have grated the carrot, it thickens the soup and I like grated carrot in soups. You can just dice it if you wish.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated (or finely chopped)
1 red pepper, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 larger potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tin of red kidney beans no salt added, drained
1 cup tomato passata
3 cups vegetable stock
2 large tortilla wraps
fresh coriander or spring onions for garnish
Optional : cashew cream made of 250ml (1 cup) of cashews and 180ml (3/4 cup) water

  1. In a large soup pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) of water and saute till softened. Add more water if the onion starts to stick.
  2. Next add the chilli, garlic, celery, grated carrot and red pepper to the onion and saute for about 5 min, adding more water if needed.
  3. When the vegetables have softened add the potato and spices. Cook about 1 min.
  4. Add the beans, passata and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-30min until.
  5. While the soup is cooking preheat the oven to 200C. Cut each tortilla in 10 wedges, place on a baking tray and bake till crisped up, turn them over half way through. About 5-10 min. The tortilla wedges will start to brown at the edges.
  6. Serve the soup with the wedges on the side garnished with fresh coriander/spring onions and cashew cream if you wish. It is delicious without the cream too.
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SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PEAR SOUP

SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PEAR SOUP

Suddenly I realized that it was getting dark much earlier than just a few weeks ago. There is a chill in the air when I let the dogs out in the evenings. I am not quite ready to let the summer go, especially since we had a very poor one here in the UK. I long for a few more evening meals in the garden but the nature of things cannot be changed.

Instead I am getting excited about the autumnal bounty of fruits, veggies and nuts. I am looking forward to warming and comforting meals, movie nights whilst cuddled up on the sofa and cups of tea warming my hands after a dog walk.

A delicious soup is the ultimate comfort food, and the abundant autumnal produce is full of gorgeous deep flavors to warm up person’s belly and soul. This week I found myself with a butternut squash, some overripe pears and punchy chilli peppers. Perfect for a hug in bowl, err I mean soup.

IMG_4552

SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PEAR SOUP

Serves 4

ingredients
1 large onion
2 ribs of celery
2 stalks of lemon grass
1/2 inch piece of ginger
1 chilli pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 butternut squash
4 small pears (2 large ones)
1litre (4 cups) of vegetable stock


IMG_4524

method
  1. First chop the onion and celery. Make sure you peel the celery to remove the tough strings.
  2. In a large soup pot heat 1/4 cup of water, add the onion and celery and cook till softened.
  3. Next finely chop the lemon grass, chilli pepper (deseeded if you wish) and garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes or till softened.
  4. Peel your butternut squash and chop into bite size chunks. Core and peal the pears and cut into quarters.
  5. Add pears and butternut squash to the soup pot.
  6. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the hear and simmer for 30min or till the squash is tender.
  7. Blend in a food processor till smooth.

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GENTLE SWEET POTATO, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

GENTLE SWEET POTATO, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

It has been estimated that about 15% of the population are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers. Unfortunately I am one of them. My GP has done tests years ago to rule out Crohn’s and concluded that IBS it was. He prescribed some Fybogel sachets and antispasmodics to be taken every day. If I suffered weekly I would have probably taken all that he recommended however my IBS is not of very frequent occurrence and I hate taking any meds. Last three times I suffered were November (2011), August and September. I just couldn’t justify medicating myself with antispasmodics for something that comes once every few months. I will admit to having a trusty packet of strong painkillers in my drawer just in case the pain gets really bad, but it hardly gets used. I learnt to deal with IBS in my own way.

These are my personal strategies (different strategies work for different people):

I have tried to find a trigger food but without a huge success. Lactose is a very common trouble maker and indeed cutting out dairy has helped (less frequent flare ups) but it has not eliminated my IBS completely. Low fibre and high refined sugar diet tend to aggravate IBS however my fibre intake is generally high and refined sugar intake very low.

Stress can bring IBS on and reducing it through relaxation and meditation, or just simple "me time" is very helpful. The stress doesn't have to be only psychological I do tend to get IBS after a cold or any other infection. Hence supporting my immune system is also very important in minimising the frequency of IBS flare ups.

Listening to my body has been the first line of defence. I can spot my symptoms when they are just starting, slight tinge in my back (yes I get horrid back pain with my IBS) and going off food are the first indications of a brewing trouble. I can actually be halfway through a meal when I realise I can’t stomach another spoonful. This is a definite sign as I am generally known for my insatiable appetite.

When I spot the first signs I just have to stop eating, 24 hrs usually does the trick and can stop (or at least lessen) the pain which can be rather unbearable. The pain I experience starts in my back followed by pain in my abdomen, especially the upper part. Nausea, bloating and constipation are soon to follow. Hot bath relieves the back pain for a while, unfortunately it doesn’t last...Hot water bottle and wrapping myself in blankets helps a little too.

After 24 hrs of not eating I start gently. A plate of boiled potatoes is usually my first choice, and yes they taste amazing! Some broccoli on the side a tahini sauce seem to be gentle enough not to bring any pain back. I can't eat any raw foods for 48hrs apart from bananas when IBS attacks. And strictly no alcohol or anything with vinegar.

I have a bottle of probiotic powder and I should be taking them everyday. However I am notoriously bad at taking supplements... I try to put them in my smoothies, on top of my porridge or into my soya yoghurt...that is if I remember. I will have to set a reminder on my phone....( I am much better with my B12) Probiotics are a key treatment for IBS.

My IBS and I have been on a journey, getting to know it well had been an important strategy, I am on top of it most of the time. And I am determined the turn most of the time into always.

Here is a gentle soup that I made last time I had IBS. It is delicious and you don’t have to have IBS to make it :)

sweetpotatocarrotsoup

SWEET POTATO, CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

Makes 2 portions

ingredients
1 onion, chopped finely
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
vegetable stock
fresh coriander (cilantro) - optional

method
  1. Put onion, ginger, sweet potatoes and carrot into a sauce pan.
  2. Cover with vegetable stock. It should reach about 1/2 inch above your veggies.
  3. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30min or till veggies are tender.
  4. Blend till smooth.
  5. Serve garnished with coriander.



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SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

Back from our holiday in Disneyland Paris. We all had a blast and kids wanted to stay at least another five days. I must admit that even before we left for Disneyland I was already dreading the food. Not much understanding of veggie needs in France. Indeed I have returned with a bout of my irritable bowl syndrome which has been a very rare occasion over the last year and a half... Not sure whether it was the much richer food, less fibre or just the stress of a long tiring drive (and I was just the passenger).

Do you remember the book
“French Woman Don’t Get Fat” ? Well, I have to report that they certainly do. I am sure we all have an image of Marion Cotillard type woman in her Channel suit, elegantly lifting a Gitane to her Dior adorned lips while talking about French literature with her charming scarf wearing male companion. None of that in Disneyland. And yes French women, men and especially children are getting larger too. All around the world we seem to be on a slippery slope. I could not believe a young boy I saw in our hotel (about 14). His family were visiting the park from the Middle East. He was so large that he struggled to walk, his breathing was laboured and he was sweating profusely. It was painful to see. This was not a rare sight.

Interestingly in the Middle East, China and India it is the affluent who are putting weight on. Fast food, in these countries, can still be a luxury enjoyed by the well off. I remember when the first McDonald restaurant opened in Prague in the early 90’s the cost of a hamburger was twice of what a decent restaurant meal would amount to. On the contrary, in countries such as the USA, Great Britain and indeed France (even though it only has obesity levels comparable with the USA 30 years ago...), the poorer tend to be larger, due to junk food being cheap.

Sometimes, though, I can’t but think that blaming the cost is only an excuse, healthy food doesn’t need to be expensive. As I don’t go to McDonald’s I am not sure about the prices but I believe that you will have to spend at least £12 to feed a family of four. My veloute soup is for sure a quarter of the price or less. It is filling and much much better for you. This veloute (oh la la, how very French) is as rich as the egg yolk and cream thickened French veloutes. All thanks to the magic of a mere 1/3 cup of cashews. Provided you can get a white sweet potato (I had some from the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range) the soup has a beautiful pale yellow colour, good enough for a Channel suit :)

sweetcorn-veloute


SWEETCORN AND CELERY VELOUTE

If you are not using a high speed blender make sure to soak the cashews for at least half an hour in some water, drain before adding to the soup.

Serves 4

i
ngredients
3 large stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, preferably white variety, peeled and diced
500ml measure (2 cups) sweetcorn (frozen or fresh)
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
80ml measure (1/3 cup) of cashew nuts
cracked black pepper and coriander leaves for garnish

method
  1. In a large sauce pan heat up about 60ml water (1/4 cup), add the celery and onion and cook till softened. Add more water if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of your pan.
    2 Next add both potatoes, sweetcorn and the vegetable stock.
    3 Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20min or until the potatoes are tender.
    4 Transfer the soup into your blender, add the cashews and process until smooth.
    5 Serve garnished with coriander and cracked black pepper.
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MUSHROOM SOUP WITH GOLDEN CHANTERELLES

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH GOLDEN CHANTERELLES

This is the time of the year when, back in the Czech Republic, people flock to the woods and forests with baskets in their hands. The purpose of this madness? Mushrooms of course. My Dad told me about his latest mushrooming expeditions that bore a basketful of some of my favourite mushrooms, golden chanterelles (also known as girolles). I must admit I was jealous and may have to plan my next trip around the mushroom season.

To my surprise a little plaster for my sorrow was found in a supermarket. I stumbled upon a small (100g) punnett of golden chanterelles. Ok I didn’t pick them myself, I didn't walk miles through the woods until the perfect grassy bank was found. I didn’t get the chance to lift the tufts of grass to discover the golden treasure underneath. But I did get to eat them.

A lonely 100g pack will not feed many so I have stocked up on other mushrooms to make a soup and used the chanterelles as a garnish, a little flavourful golden crown jewel to sit on the top of the otherwise dull colour of my yummy soup. My son couldn’t get enough and proclaimed the golden chanterelle to be his favourite mushroom too. Next I will be searching for fresh porcini...


MUSHROOM SOUP WITH GOLDEN CHANTERELLES
If you have a very young garlic you can use the whole bulb, it is very mild and will not make the soup too garlicky. As for regular garlic, one large clove will work instead.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 whole very young garlic, or 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
450g (1 lb) of mushrooms (any type will do, I had a mixture)
120ml (1/2cup) Marsala wine (or sherry)
2 cups light vegetable stock
cashew cream (1/2 cup cashews - 1 cup water)
for garnish:
100g (3-4oz chanterelles)
1 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
pinch of salt

chanterellesoup

method
  1. In a large sauce pan heat 2 Tbs of water, add the onion and garlic and saute till softened, add more water if they start to stick.
  2. Add the thyme and mushrooms and saute until they start to soften about 5 min. Pinch of salt will help bring out the juices out of the mushrooms.
  3. Next add the Marsala and let it boil for a minute to cook off the alcohol.
  4. Add the stock and simmer gently for about 10min.
  5. Using a stick blender (of a regular blender) whizz up the soup till fairly smooth.
  6. Finish the soup with the cashew cream.
  7. In a small non stick frying pan, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms, pinch of salt and fry until just starting to caramelize on the edges.
  8. Serve the soup topped with some of the golden chanterelles.
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RAW FREEDOM

RAW FREEDOM

There is no doubt that eating as nature intended is good for us. We all know that including more fruit and veggies in our diet is the key to good health. Eating the majority your fruit and veggies raw can further amplify their magic health giving powers. I have been trying to incorporate more raw foods into my daily menus. I love green smoothies and raw desserts, make my raw crackers, but I still wanted to know more. The obvious solution? A raw food seminar!

Saskia (Raw Freedom, the wonderful raw food coach) runs her classes from her house. Not only you will find out about why and how to eat raw, you will also have plenty to taste. Wonderful raw lunch is included and rest assure she makes sure you leave with a tummy full of delicious raw goodness. I wanted inspiration and that is what I got. As you may know I already use cashews to make creamy cheesy sauces, but having raw courgette “pasta” with it was a new discovery ( I need to invest in a spiraliser). All the food was amazing from the guacamole mushrooms to the zingy purple salad. And if you think that you will lose out on your favourites when eating raw there was a cheesy tart and 4 different amazing raw ice-creams.

The best thing about Saskia was her infectious enthusiasm for raw food and her enviable vitality. She is not trying to persuade anyone to become 100% raw, that would be daunting, she inspires you to have a go and discover what raw food can do for you (less wrinkles anyone?). If you need a bigger push and support she offers one to one coaching, which is tailored to your individual needs.

I have several raw cookbooks and when I look at the recipes they seem very daunting. Long lists of ingredients, some of which are extremely difficult to find in my immediate area and too many steps to get through. I love my cooking but those kind of recipes make me give up before I start. Saskia’s recipes are nothing like that, they are easy and very doable. I left very inspired, raw chocolate ice-cream in the freezer, I feel poised to embark on the quest of including more interesting raw foods in my family’s diet.

To get inspired and well fed check out Saskia’s website, go to her next seminar or book one to one coaching. I am sure you will feel amazing.

http://www.rawfreedom.co.uk/#

To inspire you even further here is a couple of Saskia’s recipes (with her permission) that I just had to make for my family today.

Saskia's-fruit

GINGER & MINT FRUIT SALAD WITH CASHEW CREAM

Saskia presented this as a special treat for breakfast, I think it would make a perfect dinner party dessert!

Serves 1

Make a delicious fruit salad for one from a selection of the following fruit:
banana, papaya, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, mango, grapes, nectarine, dates, pineapple, orange, apple, plums...

Add:
4 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated

cream
handful of cashew nuts
1 orange, juiced
2 Medjool dates

Blend the nuts with the orange juice and dates, adding water if necessary to get the right consistency. Pour over you fruit salad and indulge.

Saskia's-soup


SPINACH SOUP

Watch Saskia making this recipe on her website.

Makes 1 large or 2 small bowls of soup

3 handfuls young spinach
1 avocado
1 spring onion, white part only
1 cm ginger
1/2 tsp mineral salt (pink Himalayan salt)
1/2 water

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

To make the soup warm, use 1/4 pint boiling water mixing with 1/4 pint cold water to make the 1/2 pint water in the recipe.
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KOHLRABI, LETTUCE AND PEA SOUP

KOHLRABI, LETTUCE AND PEA SOUP

Kohlrabi is still rather unknown in the UK. You are lucky to find it at farmers markets or through an organic box scheme. When kohlrabi was discussed on Riverford facebook page many of the comments were full of confusion about this wonderful vegetable.

In the Czech Republic, we have grown up eating kohlrabi, but we don’t really know what to do with a turnip or swede... My preference has always been to eat kohlrabi raw, in salads or just thinly sliced on top of a good piece of bread. When I manage to get one here in the UK (and I get excited when I do), I just peel it, cut it up and enjoy it’s sweet flavour unadulterated. What does it taste like? Similar to a young turnip, but much better, sweeter, crunchier. You could also compare it to the juicy core inside of a broccoli or cauliflower stalk. Yum.

The Czechs also use kohlrabi in broth based soups. Unfortunately as a child I never enjoyed pieces of boiled kohlrabi in my soup. Bad memories aside I thought to reinvent the soup idea and really enjoyed the results. The kohlrabi complements the flavours of tender sweet lettuce and green peas. I think this is a perfect light soup for spring (or summer).

To enjoy the best flavour of raw kohlrabi choose smaller younger ones, about the size of a medium apple. The older and bigger they get (especially towards the end of season, they tend develop rather tough woody texture). My kohlrabi was on the large side (the downside of box scheme - you get what you get), but surprisingly sweet and without any tough woody bits.

As far as nutrition goes, kohlrabi contains great amounts of fibre and Vitamin C, it is also a fantastic source of potassium. Other minerals in Kohlrabi include copper, calcium and phosphorus. As all members of brassica family the sweet crunchy vegetable contains cancer fighting phytochemicals. Give kohlrabi a go!


kohlrabi

KOHLRABI, LETTUCE AND PEA SOUP

ingredients
1 large kohlrabi (mine was 760g - 1 3/4 pound), peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks
1 litre of light vegetable stock
half of a large head of tender sweet lettuce
250ml (1 cup) of peas (I use frozen)
extra peas to add texture (if using frozen just defrost, if fresh cook in a separate pan till tender)

method
  1. In a medium saucepan bring the stock to a boil, add the kohlrabi pieces and cook about 15min till tender.
  2. Wash the lettuce and tear or cut into smaller pieces.
  3. If using a good blender pour the stock with the kohlrabi into the blender, add lettuce and 1 cup of peas, season and process till smooth.
  4. If using a stick blender, add the peas and lettuce into the stock let heat up but don’t boil and blend with your stick blender.
  5. Add the extra peas (about 2 Tbs per portion) and serve. ( I have defrosted the peas by pouring just boiled water over them)

kohlrabisoup

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COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP

COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP

Another gorgeous sunny day, hubby working from home and some beetroot in the fridge. That got me thinking about making a cold soup for our lunch. I haven’t had many cold soups in my life, actually as far as I can remember only twice. A fantastic gazpacho (this coming from me who doesn’t like raw tomatoes) and a chilled berry soup. My husband though it tasted a bit like a sorbet, which is a great idea for next time...

Cold soup can be an alien prospect to some but once you try it you may get hooked. The flavour is so vibrant and zingy, it really makes your taste buds dance. My beetroot was cooked but next time I will try the same recipe completely raw .

One thing about this soup is that it is better eaten in smaller portions. The flavour is so strong that a whole soup bowl is very overwhelming. This however makes it a fantastic starter for an elegant dinner party, or even better served in shot glasses as an amuse bouche at a cocktail party. I can just see them lined up in a row, the gorgeous deep colour, topped with a head of young alfalfa and radish sprouts, who could refuse...

COLD BEETROOT AND APPLE SOUP
If you have a high speed blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) this soup will be a child’s play to make. If using a less powerful blender or food processor please see my tips below.

Make this soup ahead and keep in the fridge before serving.

Serves 4 as a starter portion ( I will have to see how many shot glasses I could fill next time....)

coldbeetrootsopdetail

ingredients
1lb beetroot (cooked or raw)
2 tart apples ( I used Granny Smith)
1 slice of ginger (roughly 4mm thickness)
pinch of chile flakes (or 1/4 of fresh chilli pepper)
1 lime (if using high speed blender half of a small lime will be enough)
3 spring onions
1 cup of apple juice
cupful of ice
pinch of salt (or to taste)
alfalfa and radish sprouts for garnish


beetrootcoldsoup

method for high speed blender
  1. In your blender combine the beetroot, 2 halved apples, slice of unpeeled ginger, chilli, half of a small lime, spring onions, apple juice, salt and ice.
  2. Process till smooth (don’t let it heat up), this should take about one and half minute.
  3. Serve topped with the alfalfa and radish sprouts and a slice of lime.

method for other blenders or a food processor
I am not sure how well other blenders would deal with the rather hard raw beetroot, so experiment or maybe use the cooked one to be on the save side.

  1. Cut up the beetroot, core and cut up the apple.
  2. Place in the blender together with the ginger, chilli, zest of 1 lime and juice of half (or one whole lime - to taste), sliced green onions, apple juice and ice.
  3. Process till smooth.
  4. Serve topped with the alfalfa and radish sprouts.
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CHICKPEA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

CHICKPEA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Couple days ago I finished reading The Food Revolution by John Robbins. It is one of those books everybody should read, one of those books that can change the way you live your life. I admire John Robbins immensely, not just because he has been able to walk away from life of luxury his father’s business was offering (Baskin and Robbins) but mainly because by doing so he has been able to live according to his admirable principles and thus changing lives of many people.

When I watch John’s talks and interviews I can’t help but feel the love he exudes. He is so passionate about a better more compassionate way of living that it would be hard not to be influenced by his thoughts and ideas. There are many very important topics covered in The Food Revolution. I admit to going through many different emotions while reading this book. John’s exposure of the American meat and dairy industries, their inhumane practices made me weep. Biotech companies and their money grabbing ways without any regard for the disaster in their hands left me speechless and angry. This book also brings hope, renews a belief in the good that is in people. I
loved The Pig Farmer chapter, it made a point of how we should never judge a book by its cover. When shown a different path, people have the power to change their way, and in small steps change the world.

One chapter was very personal to me, in My Friend Mike, John talks about his friend’s unhealthy lifestyle and his consequent battle with cancer that he ultimately lost. John described how angry he felt over what happened to his friend: “Inside I was angry and hurt. Angry at Mike for not taking better care for himself, angry at God for letting this happen, and angry at myself for not having been able to prevent it.” If John only new how I needed to hear these words, I went through the same emotions when we lost my amazing father-in-law to cancer last summer, together with the immense grief and loss, I was angry at him for the same reasons John was angry at Mike, I was also angry at myself for not being able to make him listen to my advice and angry at myself for feeling angry. Anger felt so inappropriate. I could not be sure at all whether my dietary advice would have helped him at all, but that was all I had. John validated for me that it was ok, it was natural to feel that way.

If you haven’t done so yet please read this book, it may just change your life. Let me finish with a quote from The Food Revolution:
“Your life does matter. It always matters whether you reach out in friendship or lash out in anger. It always matters whether you live with compassion and awareness or whether you succumb to distractions and trivia. It always matters how you treat other people, how you treat animals, and how you treat yourself. It always matters what you do. It always matters what you say. And it always matters what you eat.”


caulichickpeasoup

CHICKPEA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
This is a very easy soup. You can even omit the step of pureeing part of the soup. It is worth it though, as it thickens the soup and gives it a fuller flavour. You can also puree the soup completely if you so wish.

3 leeks, washed and sliced
1 stick of celery, strings removed and sliced
3 medium potatoes, cut bite size pieces
1 small cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
1l of vegetable stock
plenty of black pepper

  1. In a large sauce pan combine all the ingredients (except the black pepper).
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20min.
  3. Put 3 ladles of soup into a blender and puree till smooth. (I removed all my chickpeas out of the liquid destined for the blender, simply because I wanted as many whole chickpeas in my soup as possible)
  4. Returned the smooth puree into you soup, heat up.
  5. Season with black pepper and serve.

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VEGETABLE STOCK

VEGETABLE STOCK

In the Czech Republic, you could not imagine a Sunday meal without a starter of soup. Most of our soups were based on clear broths usually made out of beef bones but using only vegetables in not uncommon. As a girl I used to spend a large portion of my summer holidays with my step great grandmother at her farm (not a working farm). Everyday we had a soup for lunch, we would go to the garden and pick some fresh vegetables, cooked them in some water and perhaps added homemade noodles and herbs fresh from the garden.

A good stock is a great thing to have lurking around. There are some great vegetable stocks on the market but I do like to make my own on occasion. That way I know it is virtually fat free and I can control the salt content. Homemade vegetable stock is a great way to use up some surplus or tired looking veggies. It is nearly magical how the pile of vegetables gets cooked down into flavoursome golden liquid.

Onions are a must in any good stock. I leave the brown skins on, just remove the very outside layer, make sure you wash the root, or just cut it off. The skins will add to the stock’s colour. My grandma used to use brown onion skins as a dye.

Root veggies add sweetness to your stock, back at home we would always use carrots and celeriac. Don’t forget to use the leaves of celeriac or celery, they are a fantastic flavourful ingredient. Another classic ingredient is parsley use mainly the stalks and keep the leaves for garnish. Thyme and bay leaves add wonderful fragrance of the stock. So does the allspice, which may not be a traditional ingredient in stock making but I love the flavour it adds.

There are so many uses for a home made stock. Soups are the obvious choice, but you can use it for cooking your grains or legumes. I love cooking my brown rice in a vegetable stock, it gives it a lovely colour and of course adds lots flavour. Since I don’t salt my stock it is fantastic for cooking legumes from raw as they should not be cooked with salt. Vegetable stock is also a great base for stews and sauces.

Don’t feel you have to religiously stick the the ingredients below, use what you have in your vegetable drawer add outer lettuce leaves, broccoli or cauliflower stalks, mushrooms, fresh or dried (for a dark savoury broth), few garlic cloves, fennel, rosemary and other herbs. The possibilities are endless.

vegstockingredients


VEGETABLE STOCK
The resulting stock will have a gorgeous light golden colour.

Yields about 2,5l (10cups) of stock

ingredients
5 celery stalks, including any leaves, trimmed and cleaned
3 leeks, half lengthways and wash thoroughly between the layers
1 large onion, washed, unpeeled and quartered
1 celeriac, peeled (cut off the nobbly skin with a knife) and roughly cut up
5 carrots, scrubbed, each cut into 3 pieces
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
15 peppercorns
3 all spice berries
2 bay leaves
parsley, mainly stalks
2 large sprigs of thyme
3 litres (12 cups) of water

method
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl large enough to hold it. Let it cool down completely.
  4. Discard the cooked vegetables ( I keep the carrots to put into my dogs’ dinner)
  5. When cooled place the stock into freezer safe bags or containers. Freeze or keep for 3 days in a fridge.

vegstockfinished
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EASY SWISS CHARD SOUP

EASY SWISS CHARD SOUP

It must be quite obvious by now that I love my greens and it is not just for their amazing nutritional properties. I love the taste! They are so versatile and can sneak their way into so many different dishes.

Today my green star is Swiss Chard. Contrary to its name, this mighty green comes from the Mediterranean. The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about chard in the 4 century B.C. The Romans honoured chard’s medicinal properties, and to this day it is an incredibly popular vegetable in Italy.

Unlike other greens, Swiss chard gives you two textures in one. In a mature plant, you get the thick sturdy white stalk, and the green leafy part. Stalks of kale, spring greens or even older (large leaf) spinach are too tough to eat and usually just thrown away. The Swiss chard stalks are perfectly edible and very delicious. Usually the stalk and leaves are separated, and the stalk starts its cooking first, requiring couple minutes more than the leaves. The Italians sometimes cook them completely separately, treated as 2 separate vegetables. Baby chard on the other hand is cooked in the same manner as baby spinach.

My Swiss chard recipe is for a very quick and easy soup. This is a very easy way to cook Swiss chard, no need to separate stalk from leaves. Give it the right name and it will become kid friendly, I am thinking Shrek Soup or Swamp Soup. Wouldn’t it be great for Halloween with a spiderweb made from cashew cream? I will keep it in mind.

swisschardsoup


EASY SWISS CHARD SOUP

If you can’t find Swiss chard, just use spinach, it will work great in this recipe too.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 litre of vegetable stock
2 leeks
3 medium potatoes
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of mature Swiss chard (mine was 250g, just over 1/2lb)
freshly ground black pepper

method
  1. In a large sauce pan start heating the vegetable stock.
    2 Slice the leeks, and wash out all the grit. Add to the stock.
    3 Peel and dice the potatoes, add to the stock together with the garlic and caraway seeds.
    4 Cook on medium heat for 10 min.
    5 Slice up the Swiss chard, wash thoroughly and add to the soup.
    6 Cook for about 8 minutes.
    7 In a blender (or using a stick blender) puree the soup, season with lots of black pepper.

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THAI FLAVOURED PUMPKIN SOUP

THAI FLAVOURED PUMPKIN SOUP

What a way to treat the rest of my sweet mama squash! The sweet roasted flesh made into a soup with thai flavours, sweet cashew nut milk, zingy lime. Utterly indulgent.

I could tell my husband looked rather suspiciously at the thickened soup I kept for his dinner. Why does cashew milk thicken everything like that??? After adding some water and reheating it he changed his mind very quickly. He said that the soup transported him back to our honeymoon in Jamaica where he ordered their curried pumpkin soup quite a few times. (Now this wasn’t my intention otherwise I would have made it for Valentine’s day!!!). Can of Red Stripe in his hand and he was in the Blue Mountains all over again. He only had one complaint, there wasn’t any left.... Next time I am making at least double the portion.

So please do make this soup. It is so simple, quick (after you have dealt with the squash) and really delicious. I know what I will be doing with the other sweet mama squash sitting in my vegetable box...

THAI FLAVOURED PUMPKIN SOUP
Any rich flavoured squash or pumpkin will work well in this recipe, even orange sweet potatoes (yams). Some of the squash gets pureed into the soup, some stays in pieces for texture.
I used cashew milk, quickly whizzed up from half a cup of cashews and a cup of water. Or use coconut milk.
This soup is thick enough to be served with some Jasmine rice for even more satisfying meal. I have added tofu pieces for extra protein.
If doubling the recipe I would double everything but the cashew milk.

Makes enough for 2 (big main dish bowls)

thaisweetmama

ingredients
about 500g (1lb2oz) roasted sweet mama squash
500ml (2cups) water (or l
ight vegetable stock)
1 Tbs Thai red curry paste (or 2 depending on the strength of your curry paste)
1 stalk of lemon grass (optional), bruised with back of knife
1 cup cashew nut milk
100g (3.5oz) silken tofu cubed (optional)
lime juice
fresh coriander

method
  1. In a medium sauce pan, combine the squash flesh with the water, curry paste and the lemon grass stalk.
  2. Bring to a boil, cook on gentle heat for about 5 min, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the cashew nut milk a heat.
  4. Add the cubes of tofu and just heat through. If too thick add more water.
  5. Fish out the lemon grass stick and discard. Add lemon juice to taste, chopped coriander and serve.
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WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP


Yesterday we had our first and probably last snowfall of the season. Kids got excited, dogs were running mad in the rather thin snow cover. I was thinking soup, hot, comforting, chunky bowl of soup.

My kids like tomato soup; smooth, sweet, uncomplicated. I knew I was taking a risk by putting a bowl of chunky vegetable soup in front of them. Adding pasta to it was meant to soften the blow.

To my surprise they ate it, cabbage, peppers and all. Ok I did promise them they can choose a treat from the oriental supermarket if they chomp their way through a bowlful. Whatever works I say.

As most of my soups, this one also has no added oil. I am not against using a olive oil altogether but I have cut down its usage to bare minimum. When I cook an oil free recipe I use the water-saute method. Just heat a small amount of water (about 60ml or 1/4 cup) and cook the veggies in it. It takes a bit longer than oil sauteing, you may have to add additional water, but the veggies soften beautifully. You can also use vegetable stock or wine to saute your vegetables.

wintersoup


WINTERY VEGETABLE, BEAN AND PASTA SOUP

Try to cut your onion, carrots, celery and pepper into same size pieces, about 1cm.

This is an Italian inspired soup, minus the olive oil and Parmesan. Instead of Parmesan I use the Nutritional Yeast Flakes, they taste great and are great source of B vitamins.

Serves 4 as a main meal

ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, de-stringed and chopped
1 carrot, chipped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped Tbs tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin borlotti beans (drained)
1.24l (5cups) vegetable stock (I used 2 veggie stock cubes)
1/4 medium green or white cabbage (2cups), shredded
100g (3/4 c) small pasta
chopped parsley or basil for garnish
Nutritional yeast flakes for garnish (optional)

method
  1. In a large stock pot heat 60ml (1/4) cup of water and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and pepper, saute until softened, about 10min. Stir occasionally, to prevent sticking, add more water if needed.
  2. Add the tomato puree, stir around for about 1 min.
  3. Add the oregano, tinned tomatoes, beans and vegetable stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 30 min.
  5. After 30min, add the cabbage and pasta. Cook for about 10 min or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta sticking to the bottom.
  6. Garnish with herbs, nutritional flakes if using and serve with crusty bread (wholemeal of course)
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MULTI ROOT SOUP WITH RED LENTILS


My weekly organic vegetable box delivery is usually marked by frantic attempt to use up what is leftover from the last one. Even if the temperatures and budding daffodils tell otherwise we are in the middle of winter and root vegetables seem to be the bulk of what gets left in my veg drawer. Now that calls for a warming root vegetable soup.

A very dirty knobby, wouldn’t win a beauty contest, celeriac was pleading to me. I must say I am not a big fan of celeriac, I like it raw, thinly shredded in salads or blended in soups, but that is it, don’t serve it to me mashed or gratineed or in a chunky stew. Celeriac is however very low in calories, good source of Vitamin K, some B vitamins, phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper and manganese. Of course, as all veggies, great source of dietary fibre. Recently few studies have shown its anti-cancer qualities due to its antioxidant content which makes me think it is time I started to love the awkward root a whole lot more.

Root

MULTI ROOT SOUP WITH RED LENTILS

This soup is made with no added oil making it very low fat, low calorie and highly nutritious. Red lentils raise the protein content. The soup is blended so there is no need to be precise with the chopping of the vegetables. The amount I made serves 6 people easily.

serves 4-6

ingredients

1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tbs mild curry powder (or your favourite curry blend)
1 celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 large parsnip, tough middle core removed, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled, chopped
125 ml /1/2 cup red lentils
1 litre or more of vegetable stock

method

  • In a large stock pot , on medium heat , saute the onion in 1/4 cup of stock (or water) till soft. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the soup pot add more water. This will take about 10 min.
  • Add curry powder and garlic and heat till fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add rest of the ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Blend, check for seasoning and serve. You may need to add more water if the soup is too thick.

Soup 1

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