Minestrone-ish Soup

I made this soup today for my family actually because I wanted to use up some ingredients and it turned out so well that everybody had seconds! So I thought I’d share it here, with you:

Serves 6+

You will need:

1 onion, chopped (I use frozen, chopped onion)

200g red lentils, rinsed

splash of vegetable oil

2 carrots, finely chopped (use a food processor with slice attachment to chop if you’re a spoonie like me, or buy frozen chopped carrots)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tin reduced sugar baked beans

Generous handful of nutritional yeast

2 stock cubes

3 litres water

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp garlic powder

30g spaghetti, broken into 1-2cm pieces

 

  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot and add the onion.
  2. Heat gently until onion is waxy.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  4. Bring to the boil and bubble vigorously for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn down the heat and simmer for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

 

TOP TIPS

Use a slow cooker to cook this soup. Heat the onions for half an hour and then add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Get it going in the morning and by evening you will have a wonderful, tasty minestrone-type soup.

 

Moroccan-style Low-carb Stew

This is a vegetarian dish, but can easily be made vegan by replacing the Quorn with a tin of chickpeas or other non-meat mince. It serves 6 with leftovers, and is easily freezable.

 

You will need:

2 onions, chopped (I use my food processor’s chopping blade to chop things quickly and easily)

2 celery sticks, chopped

4 carrots (I used three ginormous carrots), chopped

2 red or yellow peppers, chopped

1 tin reduced-sugar baked beans (chickpeas would be better, but I didn’t have any in the cupboard)

300g Quorn mince

2 vegetable stock cubes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp asafoetida

2 tsp ready-chopped ginger (I used Batts Easy Ginger from Lidl) or a 5cm piece of ginger, chopped

5 tsp ready-chopped garlic (again, I used Batts Easy Garlic from Lidl) or 5 cloves of garlic

4 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

5 tsp paprika

4 tsp turmeric

100g dried apricots, chopped (you can buy chopped dried apricots if you’re a Spoonie, like me)

Water

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What a mess after I cook! I have to rest before I can begin tidying.

1. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan or in a slow cooker.

2. Add the onions and peppers. Cook on a medium heat until soft (around 20+ minutes on high if you’re using a slow cooker).

3. Add the remaining ingredients.

4. Add 2l water.

5. Give it a good stir.

6. Now you have several options:

a) bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

b) leave on the lowest hob (stove top) setting for four hours or more.

c) if using a slow cooker, cook on high for four hours or low for six hours.

7. Enjoy!

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TOP TIPS

Why not try some garlic bread or, for a low-carb vegetarian option try this recipe for Almond Flour Dumplings? It’s not my recipe but I am going to try it.

Sausage Pie (Vegan, Vegetarian)

I originally got this recipe from a cooking programme well over ten years ago and it has morphed over time into what you see here today. No photo because it was gone before I had a chance!

Serves 6-8

 

You will need:

10-12 sausages, cooked (to make this a vegan dish I used Linda McCartney sausages which I baked in the oven)

1kg potatoes, chopped into chunks

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin baked beans

150g frozen peas

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp dried basil or a handful of fresh basil, torn

1/2 tsp Herbamare or salt (optional)

Black pepper (optional)

1 tsp oil

100g cheese, grated (violife works well for a vegan version)

15-25g margarine or butter

1 heaped tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

 

1. In a large saucepan, place the potatoes and enough water to cover.

2. Bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes or until soft.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a separate pan and add the onions.

4. When the onions are soft, add the tomatoes, beans, peas and seasoning. Bring to a gentle bubble and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. While the potatoes and veggies are cooking, slice each cooked sausage in half lengthways and lay each slice in the bottom of a large, oven proof dish.

6. On top of the sausages pour the tomato mixture and spread evenly over the whole dish.

7. Drain and mash the potatoes. You will need a small amount of liquid to mash properly. Add margarine or butter and mix thoroughly. You may wish to add some salt or herbamare for extra flavour.

8. Layer the mashed potato over the sausage and tomato and spread to the edges.

9. Mix the grated cheese with the nutritional yeast (if using) and sprinkle over the potato.

10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the topping is golden.

11. Enjoy with a green salad or on its own. Our family likes to add ketchup, mayonnaise or BBQ sauce.

 

TOP TIPS

This can be prepared in advance up to step 9 and then stored in the fridge until needed. Very useful for those of us with limited energy and/or spoon-counters!

Try adding a stock cube to the tomato mixture. Omit the herbamare from the tomatoes but not the mash.

Try different herbs in place of the basil, e.g. oregano, parsley or rosemary.

Try using 2 or 3 teaspoons of your preferred herbs.

Coconut Lemon Triangles

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Thanks to my new Kindle I can now photograph my creations! Hurrah!

 

A 21st century version of a recipe from the classic ‘Vegan Cooking’ by Eva Batt.

 

You will need:

85g coconut oil, melted if necessary (my kitchen tends to be rather cold as it has no central heating – for some unknown reason – so I do find that I have to pop the required amount of coconut oil in the microwave* for 30 seconds to soften)

85g plain flour (I use unbleached flour)

85g millet flour

85g ground almonds

Juice of one lemon, plus grated peel

2 tablespoons rice malt syrup

 

1. Mix all ingredients together using a food processor or wooden spoon (and hands) until a dough is formed.

2. Press into two round 7″ cake tins.

3. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25 minutes or until golden.

4. Remove from the oven and cut into triangles, then leave to cool, et voilà!

 

TOP TIPS

*From an environmental viewpoint microwaves are excellent because they use far less energy than a conventional cooker to perform the same task. This also lessens electricity bills, which is always good 🙂

Slow Cooker Bacon, Broccoli and Potato Soup

I have been experimenting with vegan cooking lately, but this is decidedly not veggie friendly. It is, however, very simple, inexpensive and spoonie-friendly.

Serves 6

You will need:

2 onions, chopped

2 tins potatoes

300g frozen broccoli

1kg cooking bacon

Handful of fresh rosemary

Handful of fresh thyme

Black pepper

1 vegetable stock cube

Water, boiled

Splash of vegetable oil

 

1. First, remove the fat from the cooking bacon with a very sharp knife, then place in a frying pan with a splash of oil. Heat over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. It will become a greyish pink when it is cooked thoroughly.

2. Meanwhile, place the broccoli, boiling water and potatoes in the slow cooker along with the herbs, stock cube and seasoning.

3. When the bacon is cooked, drain off the fat and and discard. Add the bacon to the slow cooker.

4. In the same frying pan heat the chopped onion until waxy, then add that too to the slow cooker. Top up the slow cooker with water to cover by a centimetre or two.

5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

6. When cooked, blend until smooth.

7. Serve with warm, freshly baked bread and a sprig of parsley.

 

TOP TIPS

  • Make use of all the functions of your food processor, if you have one. I used mine to chop the onions and later to blend the soup. For spoon-counters like me a food processor is a real blessing!

Sunny Salad

A mix of traditional carrot salad and Waldorf salad, this is quite hearty, if you can say that about a salad. Serve with jacket potatoes or rice.

 

You will need:

3/4 cup / 180ml mayonnaise (egg-free mayonnaise is to be found in many supermarkets and there are also many vegan mayonnaise recipes online)

2 tsp lemon juice

8 small carrots, grated

2 small, tangy apples, chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

1 handful sultanas

2 handfuls cashews

 

1. Mix together the lemon juice and the mayonnaise with a fork.

2. Add the chopped apples and mix.

3. Add remaining ingredients and stir well until everything is blended.

 

TOP  TIPS

To save time and energy I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the carrots, then I switch to the slicer attachment to slice the celery. I choose to chop the apples so that they still have some bite to them, but if you need to conserve energy you can use a slicer attachment on a food processor. There is a little washing involved in cleaning the food processor, but it’s still less than grating and chopping by hand.

 

‘Instant’ Hearty Veg Soup

This recipe is not ‘instant’ in the sense that it is immediately edible, but sometimes on a bad day (especially if you’re a Spoon counter) you need something that is both extremely easy to prepare and healthy.

You will need:

500g no-soak soup mix (this will typically consist of red lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas, dried onion, dried carrot, dried pasta, etc.). It’s vital that this is a no-soak soup mix otherwise you’ll make yourself very poorly. If you buy a soup mix in the UK that needs soaking, it will say so on the packet.

2 tbsp powdered onion

2 tbsp dried mixed herbs

2 tsp garlic powder

2 stock cubes, crumbled

2 handfuls small dried pasta (or larger pasta, crumbled a bit)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Serves 6

 

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a large jar. Twist and turn the jar so the ingredients all mix. Make sure the lid is tightly sealed.

2. Put a label on the jar, then stick it in the cupboard and forget about it.

3. When you need a tasty, easy family meal, put the contents of the jar in a large saucepan with the two tins of chopped tomatoes and add about 2 litres of water (you will need plenty of water because the dry ingredients will swell and absorb a lot).

4. Bring to the boil and let it bubble vigorously for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve with bread and grated cheese (I wonder if a sprinkling of nutritional yeast would work well here, for a tasty vegan option?).

 

TOP TIPS

You can adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes and that of your family. If using half, or less than half, of the dry mix, add only one tin of tomatoes and adjust the amount of water. Cook for exactly the same length of time. If more than half, follow the instructions above.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

I found some asparagus in the reduced section of the supermarket and came up with this very tasty soup. Tis the season for asparagus, so I like to make the most of it.

You will need:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g silken tofu

680g asparagus spears

2 onions, chopped

2 vegetable stock cubes

1 tsp garlic powder

250ml white wine

2l water

1 handful fresh rosemary, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook until waxy.

2. Snap off the bottom of the asparagus spears, discard (or save to make homemade vegetable stock) and chop the remaining spears.

3. Add asparagus to the pan along with all the remaining ingredients, except the tofu.

4. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for thirty minutes or so.

5. Spoon the soup into a blender with the tofu and whizz until it is smooth.

6. Serve with fresh, homemade bread.

 

TOP TIPS

Spoonie friendly tip: I use the food processor with the chopping blade attached to save energy and time when chopping veggies.

Carroty Cheese & Potato Pie

You will need:

5 carrots, chopped

1.5kg potatoes, chopped

250g cheese (or vegan alternative), grated

3 tbsp natural soya yoghurt (I like to make my own but today I used a store-bought version)

2 medium, ripe tomatoes, sliced

 

1. In a large saucepan, place the carrots and potato. Cover with water.

2. Bring to the boil and cook until tender.

3. Remove from the heat and drain, retaining the liquid.

4. Add 2/3 of the cheese along with the yoghurt and enough of the drained water to mash.

5. Using a potato masher, mash until soft and creamy.

6. Place into a casserole dish and arrange the tomato slices on the top.

7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.

8. Place under a grill until the cheese has melted and the tomatoes have softened.

9. Serve immediately with a green salad.

Apple, Onion and Potato Parcel-Pies

2 packets ready-made puff pastry (dairy free)

1 tin potatoes, drained and crushed (not mashed)

3 red onions, finely chopped

2 dessert apples, chopped

100ml red wine

300g grated cheese (or vegan alternative)

1 egg, beaten (you can use soya or almond milk instead)

Handful fresh thyme, chopped

Handful fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbsp oil

 

SERVES 6

 

1. Put oil in pan over medium heat.

2. Add red onion and apple.

3. When the onion is translucent add the red wine and potato.

4. Heat through for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat and set to one side.

5. In a roasting tin or baking tray, roll out one of the pastry pieces. Do the same with the second piece of pastry in a second tin.

6. Place half the onion mixture onto one half of one of the pieces of pastry. Do the same with the second half of the mixture onto the second piece of pastry.

7. Sprinkle half the cheese over one and half over the other.

8. Sprinkle half the thyme and rosemary over each.

9. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and fold the pastry over to make large parcels. Press the edges together all the way round.

10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (fan), 200°C (no fan), for 30 minutes or until risen and golden.

11 . Serve slices of ‘pie’ with baked beans and a green salad.