Beetroot and Apple Soup With Feta and Dill (25 mins)

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This unique, rustic Beetroot Soup recipe caught my eye in Ocado magazine and I gave it a go.  It’s based on the Eastern European soup called borscht, and is particularly delicious topped with feta cheese and dill.  Just what we need as autumn arrives!  Enjoy it with bread – I like those frozen baguettes that you can heat in the oven and pretend you baked yourself…

As an alternative to feta and dill you could have the soup with a swirl of creme fraiche and some fennel seeds.  You need a blender and a spare 25 minutes to make it : )

Beetroot and Apple Soup With Feta and Dill (serves 2 as a large main/4 as a starter)

1 tbsp oil e.g. vegetable/olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped very small

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

500g cooked beetroot, diced

1 apple, cored, peeled and diced

800ml hot vegetable stock

50g feta cheese, crumbled

Small handful of dill, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic, onion and carrot and cook for 7 minutes, until softened.  Stir in the beetroot, apple and stock.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Use a hand blender (or pour the soup in to a blender) to blitz the soup until smooth.  Add a little more water if it is too thick.  Season to taste.

Pour the soup in to bowls and scatter over the feta and dill.  Eat and feel warmed up!

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Gazpacho (Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAre you enjoying the sun but feeling super hot?  This Gazpacho (chilled Spanish tomato soup) is the best and most delicious way of cooling down!  I have tried to make the recipe as simple and quick as possible, so all you need to do is put the following ingredients in to a food processor, blitz well and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Even better if you top it with some finely chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber for a little crunch.  And a sprinkle of black pepper.

Gazpacho (serves 2 with bread as a light meal)

Tin of chopped tomatoes

1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove of garlic

1 tsp of vinegar e.g. red or white wine vinegar/sherry vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Blitz the above ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth.  Chill for atleast a couple of hours in the fridge (it will last a few days in there).  When ready to eat, pour in to bowls and serve with a little garnish of chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber.  Eat and feel refreshed!

 

 

 

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

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This is a really hearty, beautifully flavoured fish stew that hails from Brazil (they call it Moqueca).  The fish is simmered in a lovely tomato, coconut, pepper and garlic sauce and the whole dish is topped with fresh coriander, chilli and a squeeze of lime.  I have simplified it slightly so it only takes 25 minutes to make.  Next time I will eat the stew with a hunk of baguette to soak up the flavours!  Wonderful.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca) – serves 2

Oil, for frying

1 onion, sliced thin

1 red pepper, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Tin chopped tomatoes

Carton of coconut cream (160ml)

Salt and pepper

2 fillets white fish, chopped in to large chunks (I chose pollack as it is good value!)

Handful coriander, roughly chopped

1 red chilli, chopped small

2 lime quarters, for serving

Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the onion and pepper for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until softening.  Add the garlic and 1/2 the chopped chilli and heat for a minute, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, coconut cream, salt and pepper.   Heat for 2 minutes then add the fish on top.  Make sure it is mostly covered by the sauce.  Simmer for around 12-15 minutes, until cooked through, turning over halfway.  Spoon in to bowls then top with the remaining chilli, coriander, and a wedge of lime for squeezing.  Enjoy with crusty bread and a cold drink!

Veggie Tortilla Soup (20 mins)

We love this Veggie Tortilla Soup!  It is hearty, tasty and perfect to slurp on a cold day.  The soup is Mexican and traditionally made with chicken but there is plenty of flavour and texture without it, plus a hit of protein in the black beans.  Allow 20 minutes to make it.

If you are making this for kids too then you could leave out the chilli in the cooking and have it on the table instead.

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Veggie Tortilla Soup (serves 2)

1 tortilla, cut in to thick strips

Oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1/2 green or red chilli, chopped small

1/2 red onion, sliced

Can of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp cumin seeds/ground cumin

Tin of black beans, drained

Salt and pepper

2 lime quarters

1/2 avocado, sliced

1/3 block of feta, to crumble

Small handful of coriander

Heat the oven to 20 degrees/gas mark 6.  Put the tortilla strips on to a baking tray and bake them for a few minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

Separately heat some oil in a saucepan and add the garlic, chilli and red onion and fry for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Add the canned tomatoes, cumin, black beans and a little salt and pepper.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the mixture in to bowls then top each bowl with a lime quarter, avocado, feta, the coriander and the tortilla strips.  Slurp!

Pea and Mint Soup with Parmesan Crisps

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My favourite springtime recipe has to be pea and mint soup.  It is so fresh and flavoursome that I ate an unacceptably impolite amount of it at my friend’s house once.  You can make parmesan crisps to dip in to the soup for an extra impressive, yet surprisingly simple, dish.

My other seasonal springtime favourites are: charred lettuce and spring onions with goats cheese; potato, onion and fennel tortilla; asparagus with tomato salsa and crumbled cheese; and watercress pesto (all recipes are on this blog and can be made in 30 mins or less!)

Allow about 25 minutes to make the soup and crisps.  You will need a food processor or hand blender and baking/greaseproof paper.
Pea and Mint Soup with Parmesan Crisps (serves 4 as a starter or light main)

1 tbsp oil
Large knob of butter
1 medium potato, diced small
700g frozen peas
2 vegetable stock cubes (ideally OXO as they crumble well)
Large handful mint, roughly chopped
65g parmesan, very finely grated (or use double this if you want two crisps per bowl of soup)

Heat the oil and butter in a pan and when bubbling add the diced potato. Fry for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden and cooked through. Add the peas then add water so they are only just covered. Simmer for a few minutes, until the peas are tender, then crumble in the stock cubes and stir well. Add the mint then then use a food processor or hand blender to whizz everything together until smooth. If the soup is too thick then gradually add water until you are happy with the consistency.

To make the parmesan crisps, heat the oven at 220 degrees/gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with baking/greaseproof paper and on to this divide the grated parmesan into 4 long strips, in a thin layer. Bake for around 5-7 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Leave to cool a little, for about 5 minutes, then while still a little warm carefully peel the crisps off the baking paper. Cool until firm.

Serve the soup in bowls with a parmesan crisp on the side to dip in!

My Easy Veggie Ramen

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I LOVE RAMEN.  A big slurpy bowl of goodness which is particularly enjoyable when it is cold outside.  You can eat lots, safe in the knowledge it’s pretty good for you.  Feel free to experiment with what veg you use, or add cooked prawns, meat or tofu to the vegetables for extra substance.  In fact, this is a great soup for using up leftovers so almost anything goes.  Also you could cheat a bit and get a pack of instant miso soup and use that as the water/stock base.

Allow 15-20 minutes to prepare the ramen, and remember the garlic, ginger and chilli amounts are only a guide – you may wish to use less or more, according to taste.

My Veggie Ramen (serves 2)

2 eggs

2 tbsp oil (any is fine)

3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed

Small thumb of ginger, chopped very small, or minced

1 red chilli, chopped very small

4 mushrooms, sliced

4 large cabbage leaves, sliced thin

1/2 red pepper, sliced thin

4 spring onions, chopped small

1 litre hot water (or 1.5 litres if you want the soup more watery)

1 vegetable stock cube

2 tbsp soy sauce

200g noodles (any is fine – I use fine noodles which cook in 3 mins)

4 radishes, sliced thin

1 avocado, sliced in to small chunks

Small handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Chilli garlic sauce (or whatever sauce you fancy)

Boil the eggs in water for around 6 minutes, then drain, put them in cold water and set aside.

Fry the garlic, ginger and chilli for 1 minute in the oil in a saucepan.  Add the mushrooms, cabbage, red pepper, spring onions and fry for another few minutes, until softened.  Add the water, crumble the vegetable stock cube in, add the soy sauce and noodles and simmer for a few more minutes until the noodles are cooked.  Ladle in to bowls then top each bowl with the radishes, 1 egg chopped in half (hopefully it will be a little soft in the middle!), avocado slices, coriander and chilli garlic sauce.  Slurp then go back for more!

10 min brothy tortellini and mushroom soup

tortellini and mushroom soup
I discovered the recipe for this brothy soup (based on one in ‘Veggie Food’ by Murdoch Books) years ago, and have made it dozens of times, especially when I want a one-pot 10 minute dinner!  I love slurping it up, hunched over the bowl, and often getting a bit messy in the process (sorry, that was a bit Nigella wasn’t it).

The soup is full of tortellini, sliced mushrooms, spring onions, vegetable stock and a little garlic, and is a bit special.  We have also made it as a starter for friends, who are always impressed and intrigued by a soup with tortellini in it.  If you like you can grate some cheddar or parmesan over the top.  It really is brill.

tortellini and mushroom soup

You can save some soup for the next day but will probably need to add more stock as the tortellini plumps up overnight.

10 min brothy tortellini and mushroom soup (serves 2 hungry people or 4 people as a light meal)

300g tortellini (any flavour)

4 closed cup or chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced

6 spring onions, chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed/finely chopped

Approx 700ml Oxo vegetable stock (I dissolve 2 cubes in 700ml boiled water)

Small shake dried mixed herbs

Pepper

Fry the mushrooms and garlic in oil or butter for about 5 mins, until the mushrooms are cooked but a little tender.  Add the tortellini and spring onions, pour over the hot stock and cook as per the pack instructions (normally around 3 mins).  Add dried herbs and pepper.  Eat happily.