I am a big fan of all vegetables. Well, most of them! There is still the odd one or two I’m not keen on. Globe artichokes is one mainly because they just seem to be a bit too complicated! The other is celery. Continue reading “Celery soup”
I love parsnip soup. And I love cauliflower soup. So it only seemed like a natural progression to try the two together. And it was definitely worth doing!
When cooked, parsnips are naturally ‘creamy’ – and so is cauliflower. When cooked and blended together, it creates a lovely rich and unctuous texture that is wonderfully comforting, perfect for those grey January days.
I’ve used both a curry powder mix that contains turmeric as well as a little additional turmeric. This is to ensure that as well as super tasty, this soup also gives the immune system a bit of a helping hand.
Turmeric is a beautifully golden yellow spice (or root rather) that contains some powerful medicinal compounds that have been well researched for their positive effects on both the body and the brain. The main compound studied is curcumin, although there are many more within turmeric that all work together as a team, so as always, trust nature and consume turmeric as a whole rather than an individual compound.
To maximise absorption of these helpful compounds, it’s best to consume alongside some black pepper (for the compound piperine that massively aids absorption) and a little fat. As you know, all my food is cooked without oil, but I have included some almond milk plus I like to garnish my soup with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil. This provides some healthy omega 3 fatty acids and helps absorption of the turmeric compounds.
This soup keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days plus it freezes well, so you can make a big batch and have portions on hand when you need a tasty lunch that will hug you from the inside out! Enjoy.
Parsnip and cauliflower soup
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 4 medium parsnips peeled and diced
- 1/2 medium cauliflower chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1.5-2 teaspoons medium curry powder
- 700 ml vegetable stock
- 100 ml almond milk or dairy-free milk of choice
- salt and pepper to taste
- drizzle cold pressed flaxseed oil optional
- Place a medium-sized pan on a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Tip the parsnips into the pan and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and garlic along with a little extra water to stop it sticking to the base of the pan. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the ground turmeric and curry powder and stir in to coat the veggies. Pour over the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
- Pop on the saucepan lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the veggies are soft.
- Turn off the heat and add the almond or dairy-free milk of choice. Using a stick blender, blend to smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently reheat if necessary then serve piping hot with a little extra black pepper and glug of flaxseed oil
Autumn has arrived, blown in on a cold wind that’s a bit of a shock after the warm weather of the last month. Chilly weather always makes me want comforting soup, something that will gives a big hug and warm me up right down to my toes.
This sweet corn chowder is perfect for that. Most corn has been harvested by now, but you might still find some fresh cobs in the shop, sweet and deliciously golden. If not, then frozen sweet corn is a close second best as, like peas, the kernels are harvested and frozen in super quick time to preserve both flavour and nutrient benefits.
I grew my first sweet corn this year in my new veggie patch. It was fascinating to see how quickly they grew, and how they developed. They also seemed very popular with the local ants, but they didn’t damage it. The biggest challenge was knowing when to harvest it. As you can see, not all the kernels had ripened at one end, although they were super ripe at the other. But it tasted absolutely awesome when freshly harvested.
There’s a surprising amount of nutritional goodies in sweet corn. Yes there is sugar (which of course makes it so tasty) but this is all bound up in fibre, so it’s released more slowly, meaning you get a more stable blood sugar. There’s also a lot of insoluble fibre in sweet corn kernels, the type the friendly bacteria in your gut just love to dine on – a tasty treat for you and your microbiome!
Eating yellow foods means you are consuming flavonoids, powerful phytonutrients that support your skin, mucous membranes and eyes. They also have strong antioxidant properties, as has ferulic acid, another phytonutrient that has anti-inflammatory properties thought to help with preventing cancer and slow the ageing process (something I think we’re all interested in 😉 )
Traditional sweet corn chowder recipes tend to include a load of cream, butter and even bacon – you’ll find none of those in my dairy-free vegan version! The creaminess comes from the sweetcorn and potato plus whatever dairy-free milk you choose to use. If you want a little kick to warm your toes, then add some chilli flakes both when cooking and as a garnish if you like. My ‘secret’ ingredient is celery salt. This is a fantastic ingredient to keep in the cupboard as it provides a lovely savoury flavour to dishes. It almost tastes like chicken soup. And so nourishing, it’s perfect if you’re feeling a bit under the weather.
I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s very easy and so tasty! If you give it a go, don’t forget to let me know.
Easy vegan corn chowder
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 medium potatoes cut into small chunks
- 2 fat cloves garlic finely chopped
- 400 ml vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
- pinch celery salt
- 400 ml dairy free milk of choice
- 2 cobs sweetcorn, kernals removed or 300g frozen sweetcorn
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a large pan. Add the onion and potato with a pinch of salt. Sauté on a low heat with the lid on for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute before pouring in the stock. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes and celery salt and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on until the potato is soft.
- Add the sweetcorn and dairy free milk. Bring back to the boil then simmer for another 5 minutes until the sweetcorn is cooked. Keep an eye on the pan though as the dairy-free milk might boil over.
- Turn off the heat. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until half is pureéd but leave a little texture. Season with salt and pepper then serve with a little extra chilli on top if you like it spicy!
If you’re reading this sitting in the hot summer sun, you may wonder why I’m posting a soup recipe in the middle of summer. But if you’re used to a British summer, then you’ll know that any day at this time of the year can be a soup day, as the weather is somewhat unpredictable. Continue reading “Red pepper and white bean sunshine soup”
One of the outcomes of lockdown for us is we have had time to create new raised beds to start growing our own veggies. This is actually the third time we’ve done this (we kept moving!) and these ones are by far the best. For a start, we have much more space (oh boy do we have space!) rather than squeezing them into a small corner of a small garden as before. That’s not to say that growing veggies in a small space is not worth it. It definitely is. We also spent more time researching and learning how to grow in tandem with nature. Less impact, more output.
Not that I can really take much credit for our lovely new beds! My hubby spent more time and energy researching and building them. After much debate he chose to use a technique called hugelkultur. A centuries old technique from Germany and Easter Europe, it uses garden debris as the source of nutrients needed for new plants to grow. It’s basically a big compost heap!
We wanted to build up a structure to our beds, so we used wood to create an outline and dug down a little into the soil, taking off the grass layer and a little more. This gave a large area that needed filling – fortunately we have a lot of garden debris to use! A few logs on the base were covered with more tree cuttings, then grass cuttings, stuff from the compost bins, more grass, some sand, then the top grass layer we cut out, the soil dug out and finally finished with some bought organic compost (as we wanted to use them now). We buried so much! Covered up, the debris will break down, releasing nutrients into the soil providing nourishment for our fresh produce. Well that was the plan – we were not too sure how well it would work year one…..
I am pleased to say, so far so good! The squash in particular are going crazy and the beans are prolific. And the courgettes that were planted rather late are just beginning to flourish. So much so, I see a glut coming in a few weeks time!
Courgettes are funny vegetables. I love them now, but used to hate them as a kid. Their high water content can make them tricky to cook. In soups and stews they have the potential to make them too watery, fritters and veggie cakes too wet and steamed they can go from firm to a horrid mush in the blink of an eye. But on a good day, with the right treatment, they are a delight.
Nutrition wise, courgettes are excellent sources of vitamin C, potassium and phytonutrients like betacarotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. You’ll also find a reasonable does of B vitamins, manganese and vitamin K (which is in the news at the moment relating to the Covid 19 virus). Vitamin C and phytonutrients play an antioxidant role in the body, quashing damaging free radicals. Betacarotene, zeaxanthin and lutein all support eye health which is good to know if you are at risk of macular degeneration or other age-related eye conditions. Potassium is important for good blood pressure control and is a key player in cell health. It’s easily lost once food is processed, so eating courgettes raw or lightly cooked can really support your health. If you’re interested in how to manage your blood pressure or health issues with food, we discuss this in much more detail in my online course.
If you are heading into a glut of courgettes – lucky you! There’s so much you can make with them. Here are a few ideas:
- Make summer soups. This courgette and cumin soup is particularly tasty
- Add them to pasta sauces, veggie chillis, stir fries, fajitas or risotto. This red rice risotto works well with courgettes.
- Stuff them! One of the recipes on my Eat Well Live Well course is a gorgeous aduki bean stuffed courgette boat (another good reason to take the course 😉 )
- It’s getting a bit retro now, but use them to make courgetti. Here’s a BBC Food article about what to do.
- If you squeeze out excess water, courgettes make tasty fritters and veggie cakes.
Make cake! Oh yes, courgettes provide moisture and nutrients to cake – it’s a great way to get courgette haters on board! Try this easy courgette loaf cake.
I’ll be experimenting with more recipes over the next few months by the looks of it, so no doubt you’ll see more ideas on the blog soon as we work our way through them. What are your favourite courgette recipes? I’d love to know.
As for our veg garden, it has a lot of room for development. I can see many more beds being built over the next couple of years as we learn more about growing our own food in a way that supports and sustains our local ecosystem. We’re not aiming for self-sufficiency, but being plant-based we certainly hope to grow more than we buy. Let’s see what happens!
This winter seems to have been very long! The wet, grey days are beginning to take their toll, although any time the sun does manage to make an appearance is a wonderful moment to behold! March is the beginning of spring; the crocuses and daffodils have bravely popped their colourful heads up, but I definitely don’t feel it’s time to move from comforting soups and stews to lighter, more spring-like meals. Continue reading “Vegetable and butter stew”
Autumn is definitely here. Crisp mornings with air that tingles the end of your nose, leaves turning an array of colours before they drop to the ground in a pile ready to be jump in. Or, more sadly, stormy grey days with enough rain to send you into the back of the cupboard to hunt out the wellies. But whatever the weather, autumn is also time for thick, soul-soothing soup. Continue reading “Sweet potato and bean soup”
I’m always amazed by people who manage to be ready for Christmas way before the actual big day arrives. I used to be, but then when I was pregnant with my son he decided to arrive one week before Christmas, 4 weeks early and it’s all been chaotic ever since!
It’s easy to become frazzled in the busy run up, so for day 21 of my Sensitive Foodie Advent Calendar, I give you a gorgeously warming and comforting yellow split pea soup.
This soup is packed full of healthy nutrients and healing spices, perfect to help keep the seasonal bugs at bay and soothe frayed nerves. Yellow peas are grown specifically for drying; their natural break in the middle allows them to be split than stored. In India they’re used for dal and traditionally in the UK for making pease pudding, something I remember being fed as a child but seems to have gone out of fashion.
Yellow split peas contain fabulous amount of fibre, perfect to promote gut health, a key part of our immune system. And it’s yellow, so another addition to rainbow phytonutrients that support the body’s metabolism. In fact, this soup is a cacophony of rainbow colours and flavours and will bring a little sunshine to a dull December day.
So why not take a moment to sit and enjoy the wonderful flavours and switch off from all the craziness going on around you. Your body and mind will love you for it, that I guarantee.
Comforting split yellow pea soup (serves 4-6)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium leek, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 large celery stick, diced
- 1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 100g yellow spilt peas]
- 400g tinned tomatoes
- 800ml vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- flaxseed oil to serve (optional)
Heat a couple of tablespoons of water to a large saucepan and add the onion, leek, carrot and celery. Stir well and sauté for 5 minutes until the veg starts to soften. Add the garlic and tomato and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the spices and yellow split peas to the pan, stir well to combine and cook for a minute, then add the tinned tomatoes and stock. Stir well, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and pop on the lid. Simmer for 35 minutes or until the yellow split peas are soft and the veg is mushy. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for a minute.
Using a stick blender, blend the soup, but not completely to leave a little texture. Season with salt and pepper, and serve steaming hot in bowls with a glug of flaxseed oil if desired. Enjoy!
Day 5 of my Sensitive Foodie Advent calendar and it’s a gorgeously warming soup recipe. Perfect for chilly winter days, its comforting and restorative after the stresses and strains of Christmas shopping. Packed full of nourishing rainbow veggies, it is ‘souper’ filling with a large dose of fibre from the barley.
Barley is one of those grains more likely to be found in processed foods than eaten as an every-day grain. Overshadowed by rice and wheat, it actually has a surprising amount of beneficial properties. It’s also fairly cheap unlike other more trendy pseudo-grains like quinoa and buckwheat. The downside for sensitive eaters is it does contain gluten so if you follow a gluten-free diet it has to be avoided.
If you can tolerate barley, it’s definitely worth adding to your repertoire of foods. Containing both soluble and insoluble fibre, it’s can help look after your gut health by aiding good digestion and providing sustenance for the beneficial bacteria hidden deep away in the microbiome. And in a time of over-indulgence, it’s a good idea to take extra care of the microbiome, particularly when seasonal viruses are rife.
As with all grains, it’s best to use wholegrain rather than refined. Pearl barley has been polished, effectively removing some of the beneficial fibre and nutrients. In the UK, look for pot barley; it may take a little longer to cook, but your body will love you for it. Soaking reduces the cooking time; it also helps to remove enzymes that may prevent all the nutrients from being released, so worth doing if you think ahead.
Apart from fibre, barley contains a whole range of nutrients including magnesium and chromium and special compounds called lignans that have been associated with reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Maybe now you can see how this soup really is souper!
If you can’t tolerate gluten in any form, swap the barley for wholegrain rice, buckwheat or millet. It will have a different texture, but still taste delicious.
Let me know if you give this a go; you don’t have to add the pumpkin sprinkle for the top by the way, but it’s lovely if you do.
Roasted squash and barley soup (serves 4-6)
1 medium butternut squash
1 red onion
1 medium leek
1 medium stick celery
1 fat clove garlic
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon fresh sage
salt to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Wash the outside of the squash, chop into chunks and remove the seeds. Cut the onion into quarters. Place both on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until soft and lightly caramelised.
Tip the barley into a large non-stick frying pan and toast for a few minutes until the aromas are released. Remove from the heat.
Heat a small amount of the stock in the bottom of a saucepan and add the leek and celery. Sauté for a couple of minutes until they start to soften then add the garlic. Add three quarters of the toasted barley, mix well then add 750ml of the stock, the sage and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
The squash will be ready so remove from the oven, cut off any tough bits of skin. Keep a third of the squash to one side and add the remainder to the pan with the onion and simmer for another 15 minutes or so until everything is soft. Remove from the heat, blend until smooth then return to the heat and add the remaining barley and stock.
Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally add the remaining squash, cook for another 10 minutes and it is ready to serve.
To make the pumpkin sprinkle, place the ingredients in the small bowl of a blender and pulse until it has a breadcrumb texture.
Serve the soup in a large bowl with a glug of flaxseed oil and pumpkin sprinkle on top.
It’s day 4 of my week of recipe blogging (to make up for the weeks I haven’t had time to write). So it must be time for soup! There’s not many days that go by in the year that I don’t eat soup. Even when the weather is boiling hot (which to be honest in the UK doesn’t happen very often!), there’s still so many soup options, although I have to say I still prefer mine hot rather than chilled.
My soup is often inspired by whatever I find in the fridge. It’s a great way of using up odds and ends of veggies (like broccoli stems and celery leaves) and cutting down on food waste which can only be a good thing. Sometimes though, what’s left in the fridge can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to creating a soup that not only tastes fab but looks attractive too. Anything that includes a vibrant red or orange like tomato or squash is easy. But when you’re left with greens and carrots the visuals can be a bit more challenge, as once they’re combined you’re entering the visual sludge zone!
Whenever I’ve served up a green/brown tinged soup, my kids have always groaned and said ‘oh, sludge soup’. But once tasted the bowls always end up empty, so unless they’re been depositing it on the house-plants it’s still a hit!
Spring greens, or any greens, are fabulous. Yet another member of the powerful cruciferous family, they are fresh, vibrant and vary slightly throughout the year depending on the season. I usually steam or stir fry shredded leaves with some garlic, but they taste equally amazing when added to soup. Combine them with chickpeas and a little hit of chilli and it’s a bowl of super-tasty, nutrient packed warming sludge soup. If you don’t have any greens in the fridge, use a dark green cabbage or even some chard or spinach – it will taste slightly different but still make it awesomely green!
Often I blend soups until their smooth, but this one definitely benefits from having half the mix left chunky. Blending half makes the background texture creamy with some awesome green lumpy bits, which possibly could make it look more swamp-like than sludge, but it really works. A little dairy-free yoghurt added at the end really does finish it off, especially if your chilli powder is a bit frisky and it ends up being more fiery than you expected!
So if you’re feeling brave, go for sludge – it’s surprisingly tasty!
Chickpea and spring greens soup (serves 4)
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium sticks of celery including leaves, chopped
1-2 broccoli stems, trimmed and chopped (if available)
1 fat clove of garlic, finely chopped
150g spring greens, rinsed and shredded
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon chilli powder
400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
750ml water or vegetable stock
soya yoghurt and lemon juice to serve
Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and broccoli stems for five minutes or so until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the greens, chickpeas and spices. Cook for another minute stirring all the time then pour in the water or stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes or so until the veggies are cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Ladle half the soup into a blender and blitz until smooth. Return to the pan and re-heat gently until steaming hot. Check the flavour and add more seasoning if required then serve with a dollop of dairy-free yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.