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!

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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.

Cooking with kids – sweetcorn soup with garlic bread!

Here is a simple, budget cooking activity that has a good chance of success with kids! I find they tend to enjoy the sweetness of sweetcorn and the tastiness of garlic bread.  And by the way, when I say ‘cooking’ with kids what I actually mean is ‘maybe getting your kids to join in for 2 minutes before running off’!  I never get long out of mine, but I believe every minute counts…

garlic bread sweetcorn soup

garlic bread sweetcorn soup

This cooking activity is a good way to introduce kids to both soup and garlic/parsley, and all ages can contribute – young children can spread the bread with the garlic butter and tip in the soup ingredients and older kids can help with the chopping and (supervised!) stirring.

garlic bread sweetcorn soup

garlic bread sweetcorn soup

If you want to tart the soup up a little for your adult portion top it with some chopped fresh parsley and chilli flakes.  Allow at least 30 minutes to prepare and cook this meal!

sweetcorn soup garlic bread

Sweetcorn soup and garlic bread (serves 4 as a light meal)

For the soup

2 tbsp butter

2 small tins sweetcorn (I used value sweetcorn)

1 onion, chopped

280ml milk

2 veg stock cubes, crumbled (I like OXO as it crumbles easily)

Salt and pepper

For the garlic bread

tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

50g butter, slightly softened for about 10 seconds in the microwave (you only want it soft – it still has to be solid and spreadable!)

Small baguette, chopped in to rings

For the soup, fry the onion in the butter for about 5 mins, until soft.  Add the sweetcorn (putting aside a tbsp of sweetcorn if you want the soup to have texture) and then the milk and simmer for 5 mins.  Crumble in the stock cubes.  Use a hand blender for a good while to make it smooth.  If you want, add the remaining sweetcorn afterwards so there are a few bits visible in the soup.  Otherwise blend all the sweetcorn.  Add a little hot water if you think it is too thick.  Season the soup if you like but remember there is salt in the stock cubes so you may wish to leave salt out of your kids’ portions.

For the garlic bread, mix the softened butter with the parsley and garlic and spread it on to the rounds of baguette (you may have some garlic butter leftover).  Bake in the oven on gas mark 6/200 degrees for approx 7 minutes (maybe longer), until the bread is lightly browned and the garlic butter has melted in to the bread.

Serve the soup, topping the adults’ (or adventurous kids’) portions with fresh parsley and chilli flakes  for extra flavour and effect!  Eat along with the garlic bread, dunking it in to the soup if you fancy!

The People’s French onion soup with cheesy toasts – ready in 30 minutes

easy french onion soup

I love a stocky soup, especially when it starts to feel cold outside. Slurping up onion soup and dipping bits of cheesy toasts in to it is deeply satisfying. Traditionally this soup is topped with small rounds of baguette and melted gruyere cheese but I had to budget hard with shopping this week so used regular bread and cheddar cheese, and dried herbs. Still delicious and a simple dish to make as long as you don’t mind chopping and stirring a bit!

Plus you have the added bonus of finishing off the wine with your meal.

The People’s french onion soup (serves 4)

Olive oil
4 largish onions, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
A large knob of butter
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
A good sprinkle of dried herbs
Salt and pepper
180ml dry white wine (cheapest is fine)
3 cubes veg stock, crumbled (I like OXO)
2 – 4 pieces of any bread (allow half to one slice per person depending on how hungry people are)
Approx 80g cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add all the onions, stirring regularly to avoid burning. You may need to add more oil. After about 10-15 minutes they should be soft and a little sticky. Add the butter, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, continuing to stir. Add the wine, cook for another 5 minutes to reduce it down and then add the stock cubes and some boiled water until you are happy with the consistency. It should be be pretty watery. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile place the toast under the grill on one side until browned, take out and top the other side with the grated cheese and then finish off grilling that side until the toast is brown and the cheese is melted. Cut each slice of cheesy toast in to 4 pieces. Ladle the soup in to bowls and top with the pieces of toast. Eat greedily.

My spiced roast parsnip soup with parsnip crisps

This is a beautiful, warming winter soup that marries the sweetness of the roast parsnip with the mellow flavours of the spices.  Top it with a swirl of cream and homemade parsnip crisps and it looks proper snazzy.  Both the soup and crisps are easy to make but unless you are lucky enough to have two ovens you will need to cook them separately as they need different temperatures.  You could prepare the soup in advance and make the crisps just before serving if need be.  Or if you are not keen on parsnip crisps you could top the soup with shaved parmesan instead – just as gorgeous.  Allow about 50 mins in total if you have two ovens or 1 hour 15 mins if you have one.

roast parsnip soup parsnip crisps

You will need to buy a few spices if you don’t already own them but this is worth it as they are staple spices in Indian style cooking.  As the soup is quite subtle you could even try it out on kids..!

For more winter soup and topping ideas check out this previous post https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/fantastic-variations-on-a-roast-autumnwinter-soup/.  And for straightforward and delicious recipes using similar spices click here https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/category/indian/.

Roast parsnip soup with parsnip crisps (serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

Ingredients

700g parsnips, 600g chopped in to small chunks plus 100g put aside for the parsnip crisps

1 onion, cut in to 8 chunks

Olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 veg stock cubes e.g. Oxo

Put the chopped parsnip and onion in a non-stick baking tray and coat in plenty of olive oil.  Shake over the spices and garlic and mix everything together so it is evenly coated.  Pop in the oven at gas mark 6 for approx. 30 mins until lightly browned and softish.  Ensure you shake the tray a couple of times during roasting to prevent burning.

Meanwhile/afterwards set the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3.  Peel the remaining 100g parsnips (approx. one or two) in to thin strips, mix with plenty of olive oil and salt and pepper and spread evenly over a baking tray.  Cook in the oven for 20-25 mins until browned and slightly crispy but not burnt.  Keep a close eye on this.

Put the spiced roast parsnips and onions (not crisps!) in a saucepan and add a glass of hot water along with two crumbled stock cubes.  Blend in a mixer or with a hand blender and then add water gradually until you get the right consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.  If you accidentally make the soup too watery just simmer it until it thickens.

Top with a swirl of single or double cream and the parsnip crisps and serve.

Provencal tomato soup

tomatosoup

Here is a lovely summery soup full of goodness.  It takes about 5 minutes to chop the veg and then 40 minutes to cook on the hob.  You could eat it with a dollop of creme fraiche for extra Frenchness, and add some basil leaves on top for a sophisticated look.  My kids didn’t scream ‘no I want something else’ when I gave it to them, so that’s good…

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

2 tsp tomato puree

1kg ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 bay leaves

Good pinch of sugar

Veg stock (I used one pint of veg Oxo)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, carrot and celery for 1o minutes until softened.  Stir in the tomato puree.  Tip in the tomatoes and add the bay leaves and sugar.  Stir well and cook gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes reduce down slightly.

Pour in the stock using your judgement as to how much to use.  Be careful not to pour in too much or it will be too watery.  Cook gently for approximately 20 minutes stirring a few times.  Remove the bay leaves then puree the soup.  Continue heating it in the pan and season.  Add more stock if need be or cook for longer to reduce it down if it is too watery.  Serve with creme fraiche and basil leaves!

Recipe from the excellent GoodFood 101 One-pot dishes