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.

Cucumber and Rice Noodle Salad

I don’t know about you, but when we’re all at home (and obviously thanks to Covid-19 that is ALL the time right now) I struggle with lunch ideas the most. The other meals and snacks I find I can think up ideas, be creative and non-repetitive, but for some reason lunches often stump me. I guess it’s just one meal too many each day.

However, as I now have plenty of time to get creative with the contents of my fridge and pantry I’m trying to have at least part of each lunch as an exciting, fresh, healthy new idea.

This rice noodle salad is loosely inspired by an Ottolenghi dish; it’s fresh, tasty, easy to make with mainly store cupboard ingredients. Perfect for these days when popping to the shops is a dim and distant memory.

Cucumber Rice Noodle Salad

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

serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

100g rice noodles

1 tbsp olive oil

30ml vinegar

15g caster sugar

1/2 shallot, finely chopped

thumb size piece of ginger, julienned

3 mint leaves, finely shredded

1/4 red chilli, finely chopped

small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)

1/4 cucumber, sliced in half, seeds removed and cut into half moons

  1. Place the noodles in a bowl, pour over boiling water and leave to sit for about 15 minutes
  2. In another bowl combine the sugar, vinegar and shallot. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add the julienned ginger and finely sliced shallot to the vinegar mix and leave to infuse
  4. Drain the noodles once soft and mix with the olive oil so they don’t clump
  5. Add the chilli, cucumber and noodles to the vinegar mix, stir well and leave for 10 minutes for the flavours to mix
  6. Add the herbs and poppy seeds if using, toss and serve

Green Goddess Sandwiches

Green Goddess Sandwich

Do you get bored with sandwiches too? I get so fed up with sandwiches, always faced with the same old fillings. This sandwich is different, a class above, a ‘Gosh, I really must have one of those again’ kind of sandwich, the kind of sandwich which would feature in your dreams!

Even D who eats everything except fish and would normally head for cheese in his sandwich declared it delicious – high praise indeed! Basically it’s not much more than a layering of green and herby ingredients, but the icing on the cake (or should I say the spread in the sandwich!) is the basil mayo, which adds a punch of flavour to those fresh green ingredients. Although a quick word of warning, I’ve enjoyed these so much I have them all the time now!

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

constructing a Green Goddess Sandwich

you will need:

  • wholewheat bread
  • salad leaves such as little gem
  • parsley leaves
  • garden cress
  • spring onions
  • gherkins
  • cucumber
  • avocado

for the basil mayo: [serves 2]

  • 3 tbsp egg-free mayo
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Dash of vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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To layer in the sandwich, in order from top to bottom:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Basil mayo
  • Grind of black pepper
  • Salad leaves
  • Garden cress
  • Parsley leaves
  • Sliced spring onions
  • Sliced gherkins
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced avocado
  • Basil mayo
  • Whole wheat bread

Green Goddess Vegan sandwich

Broccoli Fritters

20140803-080614-29174016.jpgFritters are such a useful recipe, an easy, tasty and filling meal that can be whipped up in seconds. You may have come across my egg and dairy-free sweetcorn fritter recipe, indeed it is still the recipe or post of mine that attracts the most interest worldwide.

But since my girls eat rather a lot of sweetcorn anyway (they seem to love those sweet little yellow kernels) I thought how about a change? We also seem to consume shed loads of broccoli, and since there was already some sitting in the fridge, it’s what I went with. I didn’t add chilli as my girls only like minimal spice, but if you’re a heat fan, a good dose of finely chopped red chilli would be a wonderful addition.

The key to these little tasty green beauties is to pack them full to overflowing with broccoli – definitely more broccoli than fritter, so you get that wonderful colour and goodness.

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

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Makes about 8-10

  • 1/2 head of broccoli, cooked to taste and fairly finely chopped (about 1 cup once chopped)
  • 80g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 105ml water (7 tbsps)
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)

 

 

– Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, stir in the water to make a smooth but thick paste

– Stir in the chopped broccoli and chilli (if using)

– Fry spoonfuls in hot sunflower oil, until golden on both sides.

– Serve whilst piping hot!

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