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.

 

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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.

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.

Simple Salad

Takes 10 minutes to prepare.

You will need:

1 cucumber, cubed

250g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (or salad tomatoes, diced)

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)

1/4 tsp Dijon, whole grain or French mustard

 

  1. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes and carrot in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad.
  4. Mix well.

 

Serve with rice, jacket potatoes, quiche, etc.

 

PIZZA WRAPS

A tasty, quick midweek tea inspired by my daughter’s school dinners. Serves 4.

You will need:

8 tortilla wraps

Olive oil (or vegetable oil)

100g frozen onions

75g frozen chopped peppers

Tin of chopped tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 ball of mozzarella (or cheese of your choice – I use lacto-free cheese or soya cheese)

1 courgette, chopped

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over a medium heat and add the onions, peppers and courgette.
  2. Cook through gently until soft and glistening.
  3. Add all other ingredients except tortillas and cheese.
  4. Heat through on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and piping hot, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 200°C (180°C fan) and put a large casserole dish in to warm up.
  6. Chop the mozzarella into strips or grate if using another cheese.
  7. Lay out a tortilla wrap and add 1/8 of the tomato mixture in a dollop just below the centre.
  8. Add a little mozzarella or other cheese on top.
  9. Pick up the left and right sides of the circle and fold inwards to create a rectangle.
  10. Fold the bottom up, and then continue rolling upwards.
  11. Take casserole dish out of the oven and lightly grease with oil (carefully as it is hot).
  12. Place pizza wrap into casserole dish, folded side downwards.
  13. Repeat with remaining seven tortillas until all of the tomato mixture is used up.
  14. Drizzle the wraps with a little olive oil.
  15. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  16. Serve with a green salad.

TOP TIPS

Why not try wholemeal, herb or garlic wraps

Chapatis would also work well in place of the tortillas, or indeed any other kind of soft flatbread

Sausages and Beans in Tomato Sauce

Preparation time 40 minutes, plus 8+ hours soaking time.

This healthier version of an old favourite came about because I wanted to experiment with pinto beans. With no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, these beans are also very low in fat and sugar. Everyone asked for seconds so it must have been tasty! Prices this time are Tesco and Aldi prices.

You will need:

100g dried pinto beans, 500g/£1.09

carton passata, 29p

400g tin chopped tomatoes, 31p

500g carrots, chopped, 46p/kg

1 red pepper, chopped, 50p

125g spring onions, chopped 5op/125g

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce £2.21/290ml

1 tablespoon paprika 95p/48g

2 teaspoons garlic salt 95p/90g

500ml water

Dash of olive oil (optional)

6 sausages** £3.00/10

Total 83p per serving

1. Rinse the pinto beans and leave to soak in a large bowl with plenty of water (1 part beans to 5 parts water) for at least 8 hours.

2. Drain pinto beans and rinse.

3. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil with a dash of olive oil. Add the pinto beans.

4. Bubble vigorously over a high heat for 10 minutes, and then leave to bubble gently for at least one hour.

5. Meanwhile, in another saucepan combine the passata, tomatoes, carrots, pepper, spring onions and seasoning.

6. Add 500ml water and stir.

7. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 40 minutes.

8. In the meantime, place the sausages on a baking tray (do not prick the skins) and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes.

9. Remove sausages from the oven and chop into bite-sized chunks.

10. Use a blender to whizz the tomato mixture to a pulp.

11. Drain the pinto beans and combine in a saucepan with enough tomato sauce to cover.

12. Add the sausage chunks and heat through until piping hot.

13. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or slices of toast.

TOP TIPS

Timing is everything. If you follow the instructions in the right order, it will all be a doddle.

Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated or frozen and then reheated. Add a little basil or dried mixed herbs for a tasty pasta sauce.

**I used a 10 pack of sausages. I cooked all 10 and then saved 4 sausages for lunch boxes the following day.