Spicy Tomato and Rice Soup

I don’t know about you but I find lunches the most difficult meal to cater for, especially right now where we’re all at home all the time, we have differing timetables and differing ideas over what makes a perfect lunch!

D and I generally have lunch and take the dog for a walk before the girls have even finished their morning lessons, so lunches have to be ready to be reheated or eaten cold. Right now, in mid-Winter slides and sandwiches seem rather less appealing and a hot option is preferred, but then there is the issue of keeping things warm for the lunches in stages. It has transpired that soup ticks all the boxes; it’s warm and nourishing, can easily keep warm and mostly all the family members like it. Also, there is something wonderfully homely about having a pot of soup on the hob and it makes me feel like I’m winning on the lunch front!

This soup is not only very easy to make from mainly store cupboard ingredients but also pleases the ‘bit-a-phobes’ (both children!) who only like smooth soups, but adds extra substance with the addition of rice to keep tummies full until supper time. I add chilli paste to mine as we all like slightly spicy food, but so feel free to leave it out if you’d rather have a more mellow soup for lunch.

Spicy Tomato and Rice Soup

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

1 tbsp oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp chilli paste

2 tsps balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

400ml passata

400ml vegetarian stock

1/3 cup rice

1/2 tin sweetcorn (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and sweat the onion  until soft and translucent – try not to get too much colour. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the tomato puree and chilli paste (if using) and cook for a further couple of minutes. 
  3. Pour in the tomato passata and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Taste and season. 
  5. Blitz if you want a very smooth soup and return to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  6. Add the rice to the simmering soup and cook for about 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked through. If using sweetcorn, add a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking.
  7. Serve with a hunk of bread or a sandwich for a hearty and warming lunch.

Savoury Scones

I don’t know about you but rather than stockpiling I’m just trying to have enough food in the house at all times to cover all meals and snacks everyday (wow, there is a lot of cooking and eating going on!) as well as having some essential free-from ingredients available should we go into a two week isolation. There are a few products such as dairy-free milks and margarine that we would really struggle without, so I’m making sure I’ve got a few on standby.

It really is amazing the difference it makes with all family members eating all meals in the house everyday. I normally make most things from scratch, but I’m still finding it hard to keep coming up with interesting and exciting free-flowing meals, snacks and puddings!

Snacks are always difficult when living with a restricted diet, there are so many everyday items that are out of bounds and you can’t just live on crisps! These tangy scones are deliciously savoury and are perked up with marmite, nutritional yeast, and herbs. Pow! Flavour punch. Need a savoury bite fill empty tummies or to accompany that steaming bowl of soup? These fit the bill nicely.

Savoury scones

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) NB Contains gluten.

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makes 10

200g plain flour (1 3/4 cups)

1 1/2 tsps baking powder, levelled off

40g dairy-free spread

1 tbsp marmite mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water

1 tsp oregano

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

120 ml oat milk

glaze: 1 tsp marmite mixed with 1 tsp boiling water and 1 tbsp oat milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 6. Oil and flour a baking sheet.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the oregano and the nutritional yeast.
  3. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Pour in the dairy-free milk and watery marmite mix. Bring together to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn out and very lightly knead. A light touch is essential for light and fluffy scones.
  6. Press out the dough to 2 inches high and cut out circles with a cookie cutter.
  7. Place on the baking sheet and brush with the glaze.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes until the scones have risen and golden.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

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Vichyssoise (leek and potato soup)

Brrr, it’s suddenly really really cold. A good excuse to make some soup, the perfect comforting winter warmer lunch option …

In my eyes, Vichyssoise is a French classic, although I understand there is some debate over whether it is French or American in origin. It is normally served cold but January isn’t really the season for cold soups and it’s also divine served hot. The classic recipe calls for plenty of butter and a ‘vat’ of cream, but I guarantee you won’t even notice that these ingredients are missing. You really don’t need them. The softly cooked leeks and potato give a natural luxurious velvety smoothness so why add butter or cream? Plus, who wouldn’t love a fantastic flavoured soup with just 4 ingredients as its base? It really is one to file under ‘simple’.

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You’ll notice the different colours in the photos, the greener soup has some of the green part of the leeks added, the cream one has just the white part of the leeks. The greener soup has more of a ‘leek-y’ taste, the white is milder – just go for whichever you prefer the look and taste of.

 

Vichyssoise

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 2 hungry people or 4 as a starter

4 leeks, whites only, finely sliced

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 large or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

600ml vegetable stock

salt and ground white pepper, to taste

  1. Gently sweat the leeks in the sunflower oil until they’re unctuous and soft but not browned. Add the potatoes. Stir.
  2. Pour over the hot stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer (covered) for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are well cooked.
  4. Liquidise. Taste and add seasoning as required.
  5. Serve with fresh bread or savoury scones.

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Curried lentil (Dhal) Soup

curried lentil dhal soup, dairy-free

Lentil soup reminds me of being off school as a child and eating a steaming bowlful, balanced on a tray whilst watching trashy daytime TV – pure cosy comfort!

I’d also call this recipe a ‘nifty thrifty’ recipe – packed full of spicy flavour and goodness but costing pennies to make. You can’t argue with that.

Ideal served with my tasty cumin and mango chutney crackers (recipe very soon) or a naan, roti, chapati or whatever your bread of choice.  Enjoy.

Curried Lentil Dhal Soup

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan curried lentil soup

Serves 4

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp curry powder of choice

140g red lentils, washed and picked through

1 small potato, peeled and roughly chopped

1l vegetable stock

  1. Sauté the onion in oil until translucent, add the carrot and continue to cook until starting to colour
  2. Add the garlic and stir until you can smell the fragrance. Stir in the curry powder and briefly fry to cook out any rawness
  3. Add the lentils and potato. Pour over the stock and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils and potatoes are cooked through
  4. Liquidise as desired, I prefer to leave a little texture. Serve piping hot.

vegetarian lentil soup

Punchy parsnip soup

punchy parsnip soup, dairy-free

It’s all about the roots! Winters equals root vegetables, and as Chritmas approaches the parsnips are filling the supermarket shelves, begging to be used. This soup is super punchy, using curry powder, plus dried chillies ( if you like heat, if not simply leave them out) plus a somewhat surprising but essential dollop of mango chutney to balance the spice and sweet of the curried snips. It might seem unnecessary to roast the parsnips first but it does all a depth of flavour and fuller dimension to the soup. You may think the gloriously crispy roasted parsnips would prevent a silky smooth soup, but once they’ve been immersed in the stock and simmered for a while, they soften nicely and the resulting whizzed up soup will be a smooth, creamy and silky as imaginable.

Perfect garnished with some root veggie crisps.

Punchy Parsnip Soup

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan spicy parsnip soup
500g parsnip, topped and tailed and peeled

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 tsp curry powder

2 dried chillies ( optional)

1 medium potato, peeled and chopped

700ml vegetable stock

2 tbsps mango chutney

Salt and pepper

  1. Toss the parsnips in 1 tbsp of oil, season and roast for 30 minutes until cooked through
  2. Fry the onion in the oil until golden. Stir in the curry powder and chilli ( if using) and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add the roasted parsnips, potato and atock and simmer until the potato is cooked through.
  3. Whizz up in a liquidizer and add the mango chutney whilst e machine is still running.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning or add more chutney if desired.
  5. Serve

 

Mexican Pinto Bean Soup

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Sometimes some purse friendly, super cheap food is what you need – this is the perfect recipe for that week before payday when you’re trying to use up the contents of the cupboard rather than yet another pricy trip to the supermarket. A great comfort soup, as hot as you want it to be, perfect for these colder than expected early spring days. The blitzed beans give a smooth silky texture to the soup, but like many Mexican dishes, it’s all about the garnishing touches. Crunchy tortilla chips are great for texture, and I wouldn’t do this kind of soup without some lime, hot chilli sauce and coriander. The beauty of this is you can tailor each bowl to just how each person likes it.

Mexican Pinto Bean Soup (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 4

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serves 4

  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Chilli flakes, to taste, I added a pinch so everyone could enjoy
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 cups soaked pinto beans
  • 500ml stock

– Sweat the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary and garlic until softened but not browned

– Stir in the cumin, chilli flakes and smoked paprika and cook out for a couple of minutes

-Pour in the tinned tomatoes, beans and stock

– Simmer for 15-20 minutes until totally cooked through.

– Blitz to a silky smooth soup, then taste and season as desired.

– Serve topped with tortilla chips, fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime and a good dash of hot sauce.

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