Roasted Sweetcorn Chowder

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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!

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

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serves 4

  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 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

To top:

  • 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

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Curried parsnip soup

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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.

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

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Serves 3-4

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 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

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Courgette (zucchini) soup

 

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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!

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

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Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp per courgette used)
  • 3 courgettes, cut into fairly chunky slices
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of basil
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Seasoning

– 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.

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Terrific Tomato Soup

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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?)

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

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 stick celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes, good quality
  • 400ml or 1 tins volume of vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 branch of basil
  • Sugar, salt, pepper to taste

– 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.

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Mexican Taco Soup

 

IMG_7876It’s funny how you suddenly feel like eating a certain dish. Spring has suddenly hit, but I just really fancied some soup. I didn’t really feel like a warming wintery root veg based concoction, or one that was totally summery. Difficult!

So spurred on by a half eaten pack of tortilla chips, here is my resulting Mexican bean soup. It managed to tick all the boxes, being quite light and refreshing with the lime and coriander; but also hearty and warming with the beans and spice.

I would say the topping of crushed up tortilla chips, fresh coriander and an extra squeeze of lime is absolutely essential to bring a basic mexican bean soup into the realms of deliciousness. A classic ‘meal in a bowl’ type dish.

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

IMG_7877serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Splash of wine or water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1 small chilli, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tin mixed beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tin of sweetcorn, or 1 cob shaved of its kernals
  • juice of 1/4 lime

To garnish:

  • Fresh coriander
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • squeeze of fresh lime

– Saute the onions and peppers in the oil until soft and just starting to turn golden.

– Add the garlic and chill and cook until fragrant.

– Add the other spices and cook out for a minute or two.

– Pour in the splash of wine to deglaze the pan. Once the wine and reduced to almost nothing, stir in the tomato puree and again cook for a couple of minutes to get rid of any raw flavour.

– Pour in the beans, tinned tomatoes and stock. Season and cook for 10-15 minutes.

– Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the sweetcorn and lime juice. Cook for another 5 minutes.

– Serve garnished with crushed tortilla chips, fresh coriander and an extra squeeze of lime.

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Celeriac and Apple Soup

The celeriac in the shops are looking great at the moment, in their wonderfully gnarly glory. I do like celeriac, but it is a ‘grown up’ flavour, which I’m sure I would have hated as a child. So this soup is an attempt to make the knobbly old celeriac more child-friendly – whizzed up into a smooth soup and sweetened with apple. To my surprise my girls actually liked it! Definitely a winner of a winter’s lunch.

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

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  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large or one small celeriac, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme, fresh if possible but dried is fine
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

– Sweat the onion and celery in 1 tbsp oil until soften but not browned.

– Add the celeriac and apple, thyme and about 1/2 tsp salt..

– Pour over the hot stock and bring to a simmer.

– Simmer for 156-20 minutes, until the celeriac is thoroughly cooked through.

– Blitz in a blender or with an immersion blender until totally smooth. Taste and season. Serve scattered with herbs (chives are nice), black pepper and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

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