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ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH TOASTED SWEETCORN AND COCONUT

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 x small-medium sized butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded, chopped into 2cm cubes (800g)

1 x red pepper, de-seeded and diced (100g)

2 x red onions, peeled and diced (190g)

2 x cloves garlic, finely chopped (7g)

½ – 1 x red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped (8g)

250g sweetcorn, frozen or canned

1 litre vegetable stock (1 x 10g cube)

1.5 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (15g)

300ml semi-skimmed milk

20g dessicated coconut

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4
  • Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a deep baking tray. Add the cubes of butternut squash, sprinkle with a little salt and roast for 25-35 minutes, until soft and slightly browned.
  • Scatter the sweetcorn on an ungreased flat baking tray and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside for later.
  • Heat the rest of the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and fry for approximately 30 seconds, just to infuse the oil with some flavour.
  • Add the chopped onion and pepper and fry for 5 minutes or until softened and browned slightly.
  • Add the roasted butternut squash to the vegetables with the stock. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  • In a separate frying pan, toast the coconut for 2-3 minutes without adding any oil, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. When browned lightly remove from the heat and put coconut into a bowl. Set aside for later.
  • Add the milk to the saucepan of soup and then use a blender (I use a Billy-whizz hand-blender) to blend the soup until creamy.
  • Stir the cinnamon and nutmeg into the soup. Stir in the toasted sweetcorn and coconut.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes to thicken it up.

SPICY CURRIED CHICKPEA AND POTATO SOUP

Serves 6

**BE WARNED PEOPLE OF THE WORLD – THIS IS SPICY!!!  IF YOU PREFER A MILDER FLAVOR REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF FRESH CHILLI AND CHILLI POWDER AND MAYBE EVEN THE PEPPERCORNS TO SUIT YOUR TONGUE-BUDS! **

Ingredients

2 x cans chickpeas, drained (480g)

1000ml water

3 x medium sized waxy potatoes, peeled, chopped into 2cm cubes (450g)

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

*If you do not have access to the following 5 ingredients try using 1 heaped tbsp. of ready prepared garam masala*

1 cinnamon stick (7-8 cm long)

8 cloves

6 dried bay leaves

1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

15g coriander seeds

2 tsp. cumin seeds

…………………………….

1 x large white onion, peeled and finely diced (250g)

½ – 1 x red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

4 cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped (15g)

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. sugar (brown or white)

1 tsp. turmeric

1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • In a medium-sized pan bring 1 litre of water to a boil. Add the 2 drained cans of chickpeas and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for later.
  •  Boil the cubed potato for 15-20 minutes, until softened but still firm. Drain and set aside for later.
  • Heat ½ tbsp. of the oil in a saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the whole cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and 1 tsp. of the cumin seeds and fry for approximately 5 minutes, until browned, stirring constantly to prevent them from burning. Set aside until cooled and then grind to a powder – I use a coffee grinder from circa 1980 for this and it works just fine!
  •  Heat the remaining ½ tbsp. of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tsp. of cumin seeds and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent them from burning. Add the chopped onion and fry until softened and browned.
  •  Add the chopped chilli and ginger to the onion. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, chilli powder, sugar, turmeric and the ground spice mix.
  • Add the chickpeas and the water in which they cooked to the pan. Add the pre-cooked potatoes.
  •  Cover with a lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir in the chopped coriander and simmer for a further 10 minutes uncovered.

CHUNKY CHILLI BEAN SOUP

Serves 4

Ingredients

½ – 1 x green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (7g)

1 x white onion, peeled and roughly diced (140g)

1 x red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped (150g)

120g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 x sticks celery, sliced (70g)

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

2 tbsp. tomato puree (30g)

1 x can kidney beans, drained (240g)

400g can chopped tomatoes

600ml vegetable stock

1 tsp. cumin, powdered

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  • In a large pan heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add the onion, pepper, carrots and celery and fry for approximately 5 minutes, until softened.
  •  Add the tomato puree and fry this, stirring it in with the vegetables, for 1-2 minutes.
  •  Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, stock, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Mix all ingredients together.
  •  Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes until the sauce has reduced down.

**If you want a more meaty feast in your belly try the following**

Fry 250g lean beef/steak mince, cooking the meat through until browned (you can skim off excess fat if you want to keep it healthy) before adding the vegetables.

Fry 2 x chicken breasts, chopped into chunks (300g), and cook until browned before adding the vegetables.

MUSHROOM AND THYME SOUP (COUNTRY STYLE)

Serves 4

This is a really tasty and warming mushroom soup that makes me feel all cosy and snug on cold days. It’s also great for when you feel like pretending you live in a wintry rural English cottage, working the land, digging up your own veggies and cutting your own herbs for nutritious meals. Of course, I just went down to the Co-op store for my ingredients but you gotta have a dream!

Ingredients

½ – 1 x red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (5g)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped (3g)

1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped (6g)

1 x large red onion, peeled and diced (190g)

2-3 x sticks celery, sliced (85g)

400g mixed mushrooms, sliced (field, chestnut, portabello, etc.)

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

750ml boiled water

4 tbsp. miso paste (70g)

*If you can’t find miso paste then use 750ml vegetable/chicken stock made with 1 cube*

1 tbsp. thyme (fresh or dried)

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)

Black pepper to taste (personally, I add an embarrassing amount to give it some pep!)

 

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add the chopped onion and celery and fry for approximately 5 minutes, until softened.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and fry for 7-8 minutes until they are softened and smell…well…mushroomy!
  • Add the water and miso (or stock if you are using this instead), thyme, nutmeg and black pepper.
  • Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

CREAMY TOMATO AND ROASTED RED PEPPER SOUP

Serves 4

 Ingredients

2-3 squirts of spray corn/vegetable/olive oil or a few drops of olive/vegetable oil

1 medium red pepper (150g)

½ red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (3g)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped (5g)

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

1 x medium red onion, peeled and diced (150g)

2 cans peeled plum tomatoes (800g)

600ml vegetable stock (made with 10g vegetable stock cube)

130g reduced fat fromage frais

1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped (20g)

Black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  • Spray the whole red pepper with the spray oil and massage (sensually!) all over (the pepper, not yourself!) or put a few drops of regular oil into the palm of your hand and spread this all over the pepper.
  • Heat the oven to approximately 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and roast the pepper for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven and set aside until cooled.
  • In a large saucepan heat 1 tbsp.oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add the chopped onion and fry for approximately 10 minutes, until slightly browned and softened.
  • Deseed the roasted red pepper and chop into small pieces. Add to the onion and fry for approximately 5 minutes.
  •  Add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer for around 20 minutes.
  •   Add the fromage frais and stir into the soup. Use a hand blender to blend the soup until smooth.
  •  Return to a low heat and add the ground black pepper and basil. Stir into the soup.

FRAGRANT CARROT AND CORIANDER CHANA DAHL (YELLOW SPLIT PEA)

Serves 4

This is a chunky, warming, South Asian inspired soup that I made to use up a whole bag of carrots that I’d had for way too long!  It’s a cross between carrot & coriander soup and a lentil dahl and is sweet and herby.

Ingredients

600ml vegetable stock (made with 1 x 10g stock cube)

150g dried yellow split peas (chana dal)

¼ tsp. turmeric

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (5g)

1 inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped (6g)

1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped (180g)

2 sticks celery, finely chopped (75g)

500g carrots, peeled and chopped into small ½ cm2 cubes

800ml water

½ tsp. ground cumin

1 handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped (10g)

1 tsp. lemon juice

 

Instructions

  • Place the split peas in a medium-sized pan with the stock, turmeric and cinnamon. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  •  Meanwhile, heat the oil over a medium heat in another saucepan. Fry the garlic and ginger for 30-60 seconds.
  •  Add the onion and celery and fry for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft and browned. Remove from the heat and set aside until the lentils are finished.
  •  Add the lentils and stock mixture to the onions and celery, also adding the water, carrots and cumin.
  •  Return to the heat, bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the carrots and lentils are cooked.
  •  Blend half of the soup and mix the smooth back with the chunky.
  •  Add the chopped coriander and lemon and stir in.

SPICED PEANUT AND BAKED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Serves 6

Ingredients

1.5 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (15g)

1 x medium-large sized butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded, chopped into 2cm cubes (850g)

4 x cloves garlic, whole and peeled (13g)

½ – 1 x green or red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped (8g)

1 x white onion, peeled and diced (165g)

2 x sticks of celery, thinly sliced (70g)

1.4 litre vegetable stock (1 x 10g cube)

200g canned tomatoes

100g peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

½ tsp. ground allspice

Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
  •  Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a deep baking tray. Add the cubes of butternut squash and the 4 whole cloves of garlic. Roast for approximately 15 minutes.
  •  Add the garlic cloves, stir round and bake for a further 20-30 minutes, until soft and slightly browned. Set aside for later.
  •  Heat the rest of the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chilli and ginger and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour.
  •  Add the chopped onion and celery and fry for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are softened and browned.
  •  Add the roasted butternut squash and garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  •  Add the stock, peanut butter, tomatoes, allspice and pepper.
  •  Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.
  •  Puree the soup using a hand blender.

CURRIED PARSNIP AND APPLE SOUP

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 medium-sized parsnips, peeled and chopped (400g)

600ml water

½ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

½ – 1 x green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (4g)

1” piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped (7g)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (4g)

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 white onion, peeled and chopped (140g)

2 tsp. honey

1100ml water

3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (280g)

2 tsp. garam masala

150g low-fat fromage frais

½ tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  • Put the parsnips, turmeric, cumin and coriander in a medium-sized saucepan with 600ml of water.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  •  In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat. Fry the chilli, garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add the mustard seeds and fry for a few seconds, until they start popping.
  •  Add the onions and honey and fry for 5-10 minutes, until they are softened and browned.
  •  Add the parsnips in their cooking liquid to the onions. Add the rest of the water (a further 1.1 litres) and the apples also.
  •  Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes.
  •  Add the garam masala, fromage frais, salt and pepper.
  •  Use a hand-blender to blend the soup until smooth.

MINESTRONE VERDE or GREEN MINESTRONE SOUP

Serves 6

Ingredients

1.5 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (15g)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (6g)

1 large courgette, ends trimmed, sliced and quartered (260g)

1 leek, ends trimmed and sliced (150g)

1 x small white onion, diced (85g)

2 x sticks celery, sliced (100g)

½ head broccoli (flowers and stalks), diced into small chunks (185g)

1.5 cans peeled plum tomatoes, chopped (600g)

1000ml vegetable stock (made using 1x10g stock cube)

210g green beans, topped and tailed, sliced into ½ inch pieces

200g macaroni or broken pasta

150g frozen peas

120g butter beans (½ can, drained)

195g broad beans (1 small can, drained)

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped, (12g)

Handful of fresh basil, chopped (10g)

2 tbsp. green pesto (52g)

Black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan – make it really large because I had to transfer mine into a wok halfway through because there was no room for beans! – heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with flavour.
  •  Fry the courgette, leek, onions, celery and broccoli for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them burning. Cook until they are softened but not browned.
  •  Add the canned tomatoes, stock, green beans and pasta. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  •  Add the peas, butter beans, broad beans, parsley, basil, pesto and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the green beans and pasta are softened.
BELLY BUSTING BLACK BEAN, CHICKEN AND SPINACH STEW

Serves 6

I was once a resident, for a fabulous 18 months, of Framingham, Massachusetts.  If you don’t know Framingham, well, it’s ok as towns go – they conducted the Framingham Heart Studies there, people were super friendly, there are some lovely places to visit around there like the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dorchester, Conchord and Walden Pond and I seem to remember a story about the first arrest of a man for wearing a beard taking place in Framingham!  The Chicken Bone bar was fantastically welcoming and fun too but on the whole there wasn’t much of note to shout about, although I should mention that it was 11 years ago that I was forced back to the UK so I can’t speak for current day Framingham!

However, Framingham has excellent rail links to the wonderful Bean Town, or Boston to non-residents and residents alike! I hung out there…A LOT…and I miss it terribly.  Having recently been catching up on my U.S. TV series, namely ’30 Rock’ and ‘American Horror + Asylum’, I have been having a terrible lusting for ol’ Bean Town (there are some convincing and not so convincing Boston accents going on in both programmes!) and having found some black beans in the back of the cupboard – one of my favourite beans in the world – I had to make something in homage.

This is a non-vegetarian soup as I realise that I have posted an awful lot of veggie soups on the blog so far and, although I am a pescatarian (that’s not my religion – it means I eat fish but not meat!) I know that not everybody is and so….tada…concession!  To make it vegetarian just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and quorn chucks instead of chicken.  If you don’t like or have never heard of quorn – not sure how global its reach is – just leave it out. There’s plenty of protein in the beans and this soup is low fat and full of fibre too.

Ingredients

350g soaked, cooked and drained black beans

1 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil (10g)

1-2 x cloves garlic, peeled, finely diced (7g)

½ – 1 x green or red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (6g)

250g chicken breast, fat trimmed, cut into mouth-sized chunks

**or**

250g quorn chunks, defrosted

1 x white onion, peeled and diced (155g)

1 x red pepper, de-seeded, chopped into small pieces (125g)

2 small carrots, topped and tailed, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes (120g)

½ tsp. powdered cumin

½ tsp. smoked or regular powdered paprika

½ ground black pepper

800 ml chicken or vegetable stock (1 x 10g cube)

400g canned tomatoes, chopped

300g frozen spinach (about 10 balls)

1 tsp. powdered cumin

½ tsp. smoked or regular powdered paprika

Black pepper to taste

4 cloves (optional)

Instructions

  • Soak the black beans in cold water overnight – unless you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you can buy ready-cooked black beans in cans – I’m well jell of you do! Cook in boiling water for approximately 1 – 1.5 hours until soft. Drain and set aside for later.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chilli and ginger and fry for 30-60 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour.
  •  If using chicken, add to the pan with ½ tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. paprika and ½ tsp. ground black pepper. Stir regularly until browned on outside.
  •  Add the onion, red pepper and carrots and the quorn chunks, if you are using this instead of chicken.  Fry for approximately 6-8 minutes, until softened.
  •  Add the stock, tomatoes, spinach, cooked black beans and the rest of the cumin and paprika. Add more black pepper if desired.
  •  Add the cloves to the soup. I got creative and put them into one of those loose leaf tea strainer things so that I didn’t have to fish around for them or risk chomping down on one halfway through eating my stew!  If you don’t have one then you may just need to take this risk!
  •  Bring to the boil then reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

 

SEAFOOD AND DILL RISOTTO

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil (10g)

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 small red chilli (fresh or dried) – remove seeds if you don’t like spicy heat

2 small red or white onions, finely chopped (120g)

1 stick of celery, finely chopped (30g)

1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped (160g)

300g Arborio (risotto) rice

1 litre fish stock (made with a 10g fish stock cube)

150ml white wine

Juice of one lime

150g peeled prawns (fresh or frozen)

150g mussels, out of shell (fresh or frozen)

100g squid, chopped into bite size pieces (fresh or frozen)

10g fresh dill, chopped

Zest of one lime

Ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Prepare and chop all vegetables. Zest and juice the lime and set both aside separately for later.
  • Make the fish stock and mix in a large jug with the white wine and lime juice.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Fry garlic, chilli, onion and pepper for 8-10 minutes until slightly browned, stirring all the time to prevent burning.
  • Add the Arborio rice and fry for a further 2 minutes.
  • Add a little of the stock mixture at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more stock.
  • When you have added about ¾ of the stock, add the seafood and stir through.
  • Continue adding the stock liquid a little at a time until the rice is plumped up and the liquid starts to form a creamy consistency. This may take 15-20 minutes, from start to finish.
  • Stir in the lime zest and dill and black pepper to taste.
  • Serve with a side of green salad, garden peas or steamed mange tout.
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