Easy vegan corn chowder

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

A simple and delicious filling corn chowder that can be made with fresh corn in season or frozen kernels all year round
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a large pan. Add the onion and potato with a pinch of salt. SautĂ© 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 pureĂ©d but leave a little texture. Season with salt and pepper then serve with a little extra chilli on top if you like it spicy!
Keyword dairy free, gluten free, healthy soup, OMS friendly, vegan

Vegetable and butter bean soup or stew

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 bean soup or stew”

Sweet potato and bean soup

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”

Comforting yellow split pea 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!

Roasted squash and barley soup

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
100g barley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
salt and pepper
To garnish:
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon fresh sage
salt to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 180ÂșC. 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. 

 

Chickpea and spring greens soup (aka ‘Sludge soup’!)

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.

Warming bean and tomato soup

Winter has definitely kicked in; the beautiful old oak tree that over-hangs our garden is unceremoniously dumping piles of leaves on the grass that takes a lot of energy and effort to clear. And the cold bitter wind dotted with tiny snowflakes fluttering around are a sure sign that it’s time to keep warm on the inside as well as the outside.

This is the time of year when thick, warming soups and stews are best, offering comforting and tasty nourishment that keeps the chills away. I love this bean and tomato soup as it’s incredibly easy to make and is packed full of healthy phytonutrients that help boost the immune system. And with a hefty helping of lentils and beans, it’s also packed full of plant-based protein. It’s rather lovely too!

So next time you’re shopping, make sure all these ingredients are in your basket and give yourself a ‘souper’ warming treat!

Bean and tomato soup (serves 4-6)
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 cup red lentils
750ml vegetable stock
400g tin mixed beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper

Put a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a large pan and heat until bubbling or spray the bottom with olive oil. Add the onion, leek, carrot and celery, and sweat with the lid on over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the veg start to soften. Add the garlic and  lentils and cook for another minute, stirring all the time so they don’t stick to the pan. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, smoked paprika, cumin and thyme and mix well, then add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, pop on the lid, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes until the lentils are mushy.

Turn off the heat, leave to cool for a couple of minutes then blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in the rinsed beans, season to taste with salt and pepper and gently heat through until the soup is bubbling and the beans are hot. Serve piping hot and feel instantly warmed from head to toe!

Portuguese pumpkin soup

It’s grey and damp outside, a dull October day. It’s only a few weeks since I returned from the sunny skies of Portugal, but it already seems like an age ago. But the memories are still bright and clear and all the photos transport me back to sunnier climes.

The fresh fruit and vegetables were gorgeous in Portugal. Blessed by the hot days, the flavours were intense after ripening in the bright sun. One of the things that surprised me about the local produce was the amount of squashes grown in home vegetable gardens. Driving along the narrow country roads, having a nose at people’s gardens, I could see the squash plants spread out over their patch, the bulbs nestling in the fading leaves; some were even grown as climbers, clinging to walls or trestle. I’m not sure why I was surprised, as there were plenty grown in India, but butternut squash and similar always strike me as something for a cooler, more Northerly climate.

But hey, what do I know? There are lots of Portuguese recipes using this lovely, nutrient-packed vegetable, including jam, fritters, cake (that one has to be tried!) and, of course, soup. This recipe is delicious and the veggies are the star, naturally plant-based and dairy free – perfect!

The ingredients are very simple, the technique super-healthy and it tastes gorgeous. The difference to the way I normally make soup is that none of the vegetables are sautéed at the beginning, everything is just simmered together. No oil is added, and nothing can get burnt (which can create potential toxins in altered fats, or excess carbon). With the right seasoning, it tastes clear and fresh.

And instead of throwing away the seeds hiding in the centre, use them as a garnish for the soup. These fresh seeds offer a good amount of fibre and healthy fats as well as minerals like magnesium and iron, plus vitamin E and K. On top of that, whole pumpkin seeds contain more zinc than the shelled variety. Zinc is vital for good immunity, perfect for warding off winter colds. Remove any excess flesh, rinse and pat dry, then pop on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or so in a hot oven. You can sprinkle paprika or chilli powder over the top to give an additional kick.

I made this out on my friend’s covered patio, cooking it on her trusty camping gas stove – simplicity all the way! Now back in the UK, it’s not really the weather for outside cooking, but give this lovely soup a go and let the sun shine on the inside even it it’s not out the window!

Portuguese pumpkin soup (serves 4 big portions)

1 large onion, chopped
1 small pumpkin or butternut squash
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 courgette, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 handfuls parsley
1 litre vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Peel, chop and deseed the pumpkin or squash – cut into medium chunks. Keep the seeds for decoration (optional, see above). Place all the prepared vegetables into a large pan. Cover with the stock, add a little salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so until all the vegetables are well cooked.

Leave to cool. Remove a couple of ladles full of vegetables, then blend the rest until smooth. Add more stock if too thick. Return to the pan with the reserved vegetables, season and reheat. Serve with a glug of flaxseed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Nettle and wild garlic soup

There’s nothing like getting free food; even better when getting that freebie involves a walk outside in the fresh spring air. Foraging for seasonal goodies gives you just that – but you do need to know what you’re looking for, as there’s no labels on leaves!

I love the idea of going out and picking freshly foraged food, but also rather hesitant as I’m not sure what I’m looking for. I even went on a foraging course a couple of years and learnt loads, but never followed it up so forgot it all! So I tried again, and spent a fabulous few hours in the company of fellow foraging enthusiasts organised through The School of the Wild and guided by the super-knowledgable and passionate Alice Bettany, a herbalist practicing in East Sussex.

We wandered around an area at Stanmer Park and learnt about the benefits of plants which are generally viewed as weeds like dandelion, daisy and cleavers (sticky willies!), then learnt how to make nettle sauerkraut, medicinal balms and even made our own tonic.

I left fired up and enthusiastic, and more than a little sunburnt! As soon as I was home, I grabbed a bag and a pair of gardening gloves to protect my hands and disappeared off into my local countryside, literally two minutes away from my house. I’d been thinking about making nettle and wild garlic soup for ages – now was the time to do it!

New nettle growth is everywhere at the moment, so they’re not hard to find! I disappeared off the beaten track a bit to avoid potential dog pee and car pollution problems and found loads of lovely new patches sprouting up, just collecting the tip and top leaves as these are the freshest and easiest to digest. Nettles have some amazing nutritional properties: Alice had explained they were full of iron, so really good for anaemia or even if you’re a bit run down. They also have lots of vitamin C, so not only a great anti-oxidant by will help get the iron absorbed into the body – a great partnership! Despite the inflammatory reaction we get from the tiny hairs on the nettle stems (their natural protection against foragers!), nettles are really good at reducing hay fever and can help reduce joint pain in a similar way to NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen) but without the side effects. Pretty good for a weed!

If you want to know more about the marvellous properties of nettles, here are two good article to have a look at https://draxe.com/stinging-nettle/ or https://morningchores.com/stinging-nettle-benefits/

I had discovered a patch of wild garlic after my previous foraging session, and despite some initial difficulty eventually found it again. As it’s getting popular with chefs, these patches are being coveted in some areas! Wild garlic has long shapely leaves with noticeable lines going through it. When you rub or break the leaf, it smells just like garlic. It has beautiful little white flowers growing proud in the centre of the patch – these are really what tell me where the wild garlic is! They too can be eaten and have a strong, pungent flavour. Patches are often found by streams and running water in the shade. Be careful though and don’t get the leaves confused with something called Lords and Ladies; poisonous if eaten and can give you a very nasty allergic reaction. So if you’re not sure, don’t pick it!

Wild garlic can be a super healthy addition to your diet whilst it’s in season (Spring). It’s an antibacterial and has lots of vitamins A and C along with an array of minerals and phytonutrients. It’s particularly good at reducing blood pressure, so if you already have a really low blood pressure, be careful how much you consume!

This is super easy and surprisingly tasty, and so vibrantly green and packed full of wonderful nutrients, it makes you feel better just looking at it! Seasoning is definitely needed, so make sure you taste as you go along to get the best flavour for you. If you can’t find any wild garlic, just make it with nettles, it will still taste fabulous and give you a seasonal spring in your step!

Nettle and wild garlic soup

1 large onion diced
2 smallish medium potatoes, diced
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
4 handfuls of fresh nettle leaves
2 handfuls of fresh wild garlic leaves
750ml water
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Flaxseed oil, toasted pumpkin seeds, wild garlic flowers (optional garnish)

Heat a little oil or water in the bottom of a medium sized saucepan and sautĂ© the onion and potato until they start to soften. Add the chopped garlic and sautĂ© for another minute. Pour in enough water to cover the veggies, bring to the boil then pop on the lid and reduce the heat for 10 minutes or so until the potato is partially cooked. Add the fresh nettles (don’t forget to have rubber gloves on!) and the wild garlic leaves and enough water to cover. Pop the lid back on and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until everything is cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Leave to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender. Add the lemon juice and serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds, wild garlic flowers and flaxseed oil (if you so wish). Enjoy the fresh, green goodness.