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

img_20161028_134108

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!

img_20161028_134156

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.

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!

‘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.

COCK-A-STRONE SOUP WITH GARLIC BREAD

This is not cock-a-leekie, nor is it minestrone, but it has elements of both. It is not too thick for a summer supper, but is chunky enough to be filling in winter. Serve with warm, crusty garlic bread. 

 

You will need:

3 leeks, washed and chopped into bitesize pieces (1-2 cm)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 carrots, chopped into chunks

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tin baked beans

2 teaspoons Herbes de Provençe*

125ml white wine**

2 stock cubes***

1 tablespoon cornflour

black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic granules

1 packet of instant noodles (see below)

Water

noodles

Packet noodle, not pot noodle.

 

For the garlic bread:

One baguette

1 teaspoon garlic granules

1 teaspoon dried parsley

50g butter or margarine****

 

1. Place the vegetable oil in a large saucepan with the leeks and cook over a medium heat until soft. Do not allow to brown.

2. Add the carrots, tomato puree, baked beans, Herbes de Provençe, white wine and garlic granules.

3. Without opening the packet, crunch the noodles with your hands until broken into small pieces. Open the packet, remove the flavouring sachet and discard.

4. Add the stock cubes.

5. In a teacup, mix the cornflour with a little water. Add to the saucepan and stir.

6. Add enough water to cover all the vegetables by 3 or 4cm. Stir well.

7. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.

8. Add the crushed noodles.

9. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the margarine, dried parsley and garlic granules using a fork.

10. Cut slices into the baguette using a bread knife but don’t cut all the way through, leave about ¼ uncut.

11. Scoop a teaspoon of garlic ‘butter’ into each gap using two teaspoons.

12. Place in the oven at 180ºC for five minutes to allow the garlic ‘butter’ to melt and the bread to warm through.

13. Serve the soup with the garlic bread and enjoy!

 

TOP TIPS

*If you don’t have Herbes de Provençe, or you are on a very tight budget, use generic dried mixed herbs.

**If you don’t have white wine, you can substitute apple juice, white grape juice, or even water.

***You can use chicken stock cubes or vegetable stock cubes. You could even use one stock cube along with the contents of the favouring sachet from the noodles.

**** As we have two family members who are dairy free, I use a vegetable margarine called vitalite. It has more flavour than other vegetable margarines, although I do use a cheaper version for baking.

vitalite

Yummy Soup!

Yummy Soup was named by my daughter, who declared it ‘the world’s yummiest soup’. It was the result of some experimenting which happened to work even better than I had hoped. I had about 450g of old carrots in the bottom of the fridge and, hating to waste food, decided to make some soup. It so happened that I also had a tin of cooked chickpeas in the cupboard, and was keen to experiment with the star anise. There was not a drop left when the meal was over! 

 

You will need

450g carrots, chopped

1 onion chopped

1 400g tin chickpeas, drained

2 stock cubes

75g red lentils

handful of sultanas

black pepper

1/2 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon garlic granules

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon asafoetida

2 star anise

water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion. Heat until the onion is waxy and softened.

2. Add the chopped carrots, lentils and chickpeas.

3. Pour over enough water to cover by about 1cm.

4. Stir in the stock cubes, spices and seasoning.

5. Add the star anise, asafoetida and sultanas.

6. Bring to the boil and bubble vigorously for 10 minutes.

7. Reduce heat and leave to simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.

8. Remove from the heat and scoop out the star anise with a spoon. Discard.

9. Whizz with a blender until thick and smooth (rather like baby food!).

10. Serve with dollops of natural yoghurt (we ate ours with home made soya yoghurt) and pitta bread.

 

Slow-Cooker Potato and Lentil Soup

What do you do if you have a spouse with toothache, a bag of potatoes and fresh coriander that needs to be used up?

Answer: You make soup.

What do you do if you think you won’t have much time or energy in the evening with which to make dinner?

Answer: microwave a ready-meal No, no! You use your slow cooker.

A thick soup like this warms you up on the coldest of winter days, and is also good as a light-but-filling summer dinner. With the potatoes for carbohydrate, lentils for protein and virtually zero fat it is good for those of us who need to watch our weight too. Time to prepare: about 10 minutes max.

 

You will need:

1kg potatoes, washed and chopped into chunks £1.90/2.5kg

1 onion, chopped 17p/each

150g red lentils £2/2kg

1 tablespoon fresh coriander 80p/31g

2 vegetable stock cubes 15p/100g

Approx. 2l water

black pepper

Total 30p per serving

 

1. After chopping the onion and potato, place into the bottom of the slow cooker.

2. Add the lentils, coriander, stock cubes and enough water to cover – there should be a gap of about 5cm between the top of the potatoes and the water line.

3. Sprinkle on black pepper, to taste.

4. Put slow cooker on high and cook for 3-4 hours, or on low and cook for 7-8 hours. Stir occasionally.

5. Using a hand-held blender, whizz to a creamy, thick soup.

6. Serve steaming hot with crusty bread.

TOP TIPS

This can also be made on the hob if you soften the onions first; just remember to boil the lentils vigorously for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Grated smoked soya cheese sprinkled over the top makes this even more delicious.

You can also sprinkle with some fresh coriander, if this is to your taste.

Curried Marrow and Lentil Soup

Our household is trying to be more environmentally-friendly. We have made the choice to try to buy local, in-season foods, and to increase the amount of vegan food that we consume. Marrows are in season right now in the UK, so I decided to have a go at something other than my usual stuffed marrow (which I shall post online another time). The marrow and lentils in this soup give it a beautiful smooth texture, and the curry flavour works really well with the delicate tastes of marrow. The following are current Tesco prices.

 

You will need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil £1.25/litre

1 medium onion, chopped 17p/each

1 marrow, seeds removed, chopped into chunks £1/each

100g frozen mixed vegetables 75p/kg

100g red lentils £2/2kg

2 vegetable stock cubes 15p/100g

1 tablespoon mango chutney £2.39/530g

3 tablespoons plain flour 65p/1.5kg

3 teaspoons mild or medium curry powder £1/80g

Water

Total 32p per serving

1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot and add the onions. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until they change colour.

2. Add the marrow.

3. Add the flour and curry powder, stir until the onion and marrow are coated in the oil/flour/curry powder mixture.

4. Leave to heat through for a couple of minutes over the same gentle heat.

5. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, lentils, stock cubes, mango chutney and enough water to cover.

6. Bring to the boil and bubble vigorously for 10 minutes.

7. Make sure there is enough water, if not, add some more, then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

8. Using a blender, whizz until smooth.

9. Serve with brown bread or chappatis.

10. Enjoy!

TOP TIPS

A hand-held blender is wonderful for making these kinds of soups and if rinsed immediately is ready to use next time without the fuss of cleaning a jug blender.

Soups like this can be frozen in individual containers and re-heated when needed. Easy and convenient, there is no need to rely on tinned or packet soups.