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)
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 vegetarian stock
1/3 cup rice
1/2 tin sweetcorn (optional)
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.
Stir in the tomato puree and chilli paste (if using) and cook for a further couple of minutes.
Pour in the tomato passata and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar. Taste and season.
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.
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.
Serve with a hunk of bread or a sandwich for a hearty and warming lunch.
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.
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) NB Contains gluten.
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
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 6. Oil and flour a baking sheet.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the oregano and the nutritional yeast.
Rub in the margarine with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Pour in the dairy-free milk and watery marmite mix. Bring together to form a soft dough.
Turn out and very lightly knead. A light touch is essential for light and fluffy scones.
Press out the dough to 2 inches high and cut out circles with a cookie cutter.
Place on the baking sheet and brush with the glaze.
Bake for 20 minutes until the scones have risen and golden.
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’.
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.
(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
Gently sweat the leeks in the sunflower oil until they’re unctuous and soft but not browned. Add the potatoes. Stir.
Pour over the hot stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer (covered) for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are well cooked.
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)
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
Toss the parsnips in 1 tbsp of oil, season and roast for 30 minutes until cooked through
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.
Whizz up in a liquidizer and add the mango chutney whilst e machine is still running.
Taste and adjust the seasoning or add more chutney if desired.
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.
Soup is perfect January fare – after all the Christmas indulgence, we turn to healthy food which suits the fresh start of the New Year and soup feels like protection from the cold, dark days. This chowder is even better because the sunshine yellow of the corn, spiked with jewel like red and green adds a bit of colour and light to these dreary days.
This is a slightly unusual chowder in that the soup is blitzed to a smooth velvety liquid and then pan roasted sweetcorn, pepper and if you like, chilli, is stirred in at the end. This was primarily because my children still don’t like ‘bitty’ soups much but it turned out to be a great plan, the best of both worlds in one bowl!
3 cobs of corn, kernels shaved off (you will need 4 in total for the recipe)
1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 glass white wine
500ml vegetable stock
100ml oat milk, or dairy-free milk of choice
Salt and pepper
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1 cob of corn, shaved off
1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)”
Handful of parsley
– Sweat the onion in the oil until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
– Stir in the fresh corn and thyme and continue to sizzle until it starts to look a little toasty and golden
– Add the potato
– Splash in the wine and scrape any residue off the bottom of the pan, reduce to almost nothing
– Pour in the stock and oat milk and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the potato is well cooked.
– Blitz to a smooth soup
– Meanwhile, gently fry the pepper, extra corn and chilli (if using) in a splash of oil until sweet and slightly caramelised.
– Stir some through the soup, then use the rest as a topping with some parsley
It’s time to get the roots out! The first frost has been and gone and it’s time to indulge in some serious warming food. In my opinion, you can’t get much more wintery than parsnips – well maybe Brussels, but they are more controversial (for the record – I like them when they’re done right).
The toasty, spicy curry flavour works so wonderfully with sweet, rooty parsnips and you end up with the smoothest, silkiest soup ever, no cream needed to achieve this. What could make a better wintery lunch or light supper with some fresh warm bread? Any one dimensional dish is made better with additions of garnish / texture, and I’ve used some vegetable crisps here for a bit of crunch.
5-6 medium sized parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 an apple, peeled and chopped
2 tsp curry powder of choice
750ml vegetable stock
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
handful of vegetable crisps
– Sweat the onion in the oil until just starting to get a hint of colour
– Add the garlic and cook until fragrant
– Add the curry powder and ‘cook out’ for a few minutes to remove any raw spice flavour
– Add the parsnips and apple and stir well to coat evenly with the spices
– Pour in the stock
– Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the parsnips are soft and well cooked
– Blitz with a hand blender or in a liquidizer for an even smoother soup
– Add the lemon juice and seasoning, taste and add more if required.
– Serve topped with vegetable crisps
If you grow vegetables or know anyone who does, then you might well be facing a glut of certain varieties right now (well in the Northern hemisphere anyway). Everyone I know who grows veg always seem to grow courgettes and runner beans in abundance. I have to say I’m a bit stumped over ways to make runner beans tempting and delicious, rather than tasteless, woody and stringy! But courgettes are another matter – cooked badly they’re the stuff of nightmares (watery, tasteless), but treated with the respect they deserve they can be wondrous.
This soup is perfect for a big harvest of courgettes, particularly less than perfect specimens, as it is really a recipe comprised of just courgettes and flavouring. You may think that there is no way you could enjoy a dish solely made from courgettes, but I promise you, as long as you treat them right you’ll end up with a wonderfully flavourful, silky smooth and unctuous soup. So next time you see that glut of courgettes, don’t sigh, think ‘mmmm, courgette soup for lunch’ instead!
– Sauté the courgette slices in the oil until nicely browned – Add the garlic and basil and continue to cook until fragrant but the garlic hasn’t browned too much – Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes – Blitz then taste. – Season to taste – Serve garnished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves.
I think most people have childhood memories of tomato soup – probably Heinz – and its comforting qualities. It must be the soup equivalent of a hug in a bowl. However most canned soups seem to contain milk or cream, so here’s my easy store cupboard version that packs a punch of flavour and will take you right back to those Sunday evenings in front of the telly! (Or was it just my family who ate a simple Sunday evening meal in front of the tv?)
– Sweat the onion, carrot, celery and pinch of salt in the oil until soft
– Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant.
– Stir in the tomato purée and continue to cook for a couple of minutes
– Pour in the tomatoes and stock
– Add the basil and balsamic vinegar
– Simmer gently for about 15 minutes
– Blitz with a hand held blender
– Taste and adjust the seasoning.