New Resolutions……

Happy New Year! 
I know its February-where did January go? January’s often a month that drags but this year my feet hardly touched the ground, with work, family commitments and the shared stresses of my daughters mock exams. One certainty in the New Year, is the threat of the common cold. I’ve made it my mission this month to eat super healthily, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of fresh air. It cant be good to be inside all of the time, even when its a bit chilly. So far, I’ve managed to ‘dodge the bullet’ and remained ‘cold’ free.
I’ve also been hoping for some snow. I love the way it’s so bright and muffles the sounds of the street. We had a brief flurry recently, but sadly it didn’t settle, still, there’s always next year.
Soup is the perfect thing to have when it is really cold outside. I have this romantic vision of clutching a mug of soup, standing outside in the snow. To date I’ve yet to do that, but maybe next time we have a winter wonderland I will.
Summertime is my favourite time of year, and I really love all the sunshine foods that available, but I don’t just confine them to the summer, and so on a dull grey February day, of which there is usually plenty, I make this colourful soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil Puree (serves 4 generously)
1.8kg ripe tomatoes (you need to feel them!), halved
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 medium onions, sliced finely
4 sticks of celery, sliced
1 medium head of fennel, sliced
1/2 fresh chilli, deseeded (more if you like it fiery)
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tsp honey
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper

Basil Puree
60g fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar

  • Preheat the grill.
  • Place the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet.
  • Grill until soft and darkening at the edges.
  • 
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  • Heat the oil and then add the garlic, herbs and the remaining vegetables.
  • Cook until the vegetables start to soften and then transfer to a roasting tin or baking dish and roast for 30 minutes until soft.
  • 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • 
Blend until smooth along with the grilled tomatoes, tomato puree, honey and lemon juice, until it is a smooth pouring consistency, adding water if needed.
  • Sieve the mixture to separate the pulp.
  • Heat gently and season to taste.
  • Garnish with a swirl of basil puree.

To make the basil puree

If you have a mini blender, puree the basil with the salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
If not use a pestle and mortar, crushing up the basil with the salt first before and the rest of the ingredients.

coll-ee-fl-ow-ah

Ok, I have to admit it- I’m not a massive fan of cauliflower. I’m not keen on the texture or flavour. It’s a brassica like cabbage (which I love) and broccoli (which is ok sometimes) and Brussels Sprouts (NO!)- One group of foods, but not one of them the same as the other, as far as my taste buds are concerned. That is not to say that I don’t eat Cauliflower. I do. It’s so nutritious.
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13,
It would be wrong not to. I just have to cut it into small pieces and add a different flavour (cauliflower cheese, anyone?) or blend it up and make it into soup. This soup is really spicy, which suits me, but if you really like the taste of cauliflower, then add less harissa paste.

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup– serves 4
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp. harissa paste
1 litre gluten free chicken or vegetable stock
50g toasted flaked almonds and a little extra to garnish.

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the spices and harissa paste for 2 minutes.
  • Add the cauliflower followed by the stock and flaked almonds.
  •  Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
  •  Allow to cool a little and then puree until smooth.
  •  Pour into bowls and top with a swirl of harissa paste mixed with a little water (otherwise it won’t swirl!) and a sprinkling of flaked almonds. And add a swirl of yogurt if you want to cool it down a bit!

Adapted from a recipe by BBC Good Food

Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Pesto- serves 4

“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.”

Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Continue reading “Spicy Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Pesto- serves 4”

Soup- again?

I always seem to be making and photographing soup. I love it. It’s a great way to get lots of nutrients and now that it’s finally turned cold here in England, it makes the perfect lunch, and this recipe is no exception. Not only does it taste great, it has a really interesting texture. I’m not sure how authentic it is; as I’m never been to the Caribbean, but I can always dream! Continue reading “Soup- again?”

Creamy Tomato Soup-serves 4

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1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
150g carrots chopped
250g potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
2 ½ tbsp. tomato puree
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
250g passata (freeze the leftovers)
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 ½ gluten free stock cubes
500ml boiling water
200ml whole milk
Salt and pepper to season

  • Put the oil, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and bay leaves in a large pan.
  • Cook gently until the onions have softened.
  • Stir in the tomato puree, sugar, vinegar, chopped tomatoes and passata, chilli flakes then crumble in the stock cubes.
  • Add the boiling water and bring the soup to the boil.
  • Simmer for 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Cook for a further 10 minutes if it needs its so it purees properly.
  • Remove bay leaves and cool slightly. Puree with as stick blender or in a food processor until it is very smooth, and pop it in a clean pan.
  • Add the milk, being careful not to boil it. (If you are not going to use it straight away don’t add the milk at this point, add it when you are reheating it prior to serving)
  • Season to taste, adding another pinch of sugar if it needs it.

 

This soup is best made the day before it is needed to allow the flavours to develop.

It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. (Add the milk when reheating)

Carrot and Coriander Soup- Serves 4

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This is a very delicious soup and is very simple to make. Perfect for a cold winter lunch, eaten in front of a roaring fire. Why would you want to buy ready-made?

25g butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
550g Carrots

450g roughly chopped
110g coarsely grated

1 litre vegetable stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. fresh coriander, chopped
100ml single cream

Salt and pepper to season (I use My Secret Kitchen Lemon & Chipotle 
Spiced Sea Salt, instead of salt

http://www.mysecretkitchen.co.uk/products/lemon-chipotle-spiced-salt.html)

Pinch of chilli flakes (if you like it spicy, otherwise leave them out, it still tastes good!)

To garnish: Natural yogurt 2tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

  • Melt the butter and cook the garlic and onion very gently until soft, but not coloured in a covered pan (about 10 minutes, but do check regularly).
  • Add the chopped carrots, stock and nutmeg.
  • Bring to the boil and cover pan.
  • Simmer gently for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Cool a little and then blend until smooth.  Return the soup to a clean saucepan with the chilli flakes, if using.
  • Stir in the grated carrots, coriander and cream. Season to taste.
  • Garnish with a swirl of yogurt (don’t worry if it sinks like mine did- add a little water to the yogurt, to thin it, and then it should stay on the top in a pretty pattern!).
  • Sprinkle with the coriander.
  • Serve in warmed bowls.

Pea Soup – makes 6 servings

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2 tbsp. oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
975g frozen peas
1.5ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp. cream to garnish

  • Cook the onion gently in oil until softened but not coloured.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in the peas, followed by the stock.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 12 minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly and then blend in a food processor in 3 batches, until smooth or use a hand blender.
  • Return the soup to the pan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Season to taste and the pour into warmed bowls.
  • Swirl a teaspoon of cream into each bowl of soup to garnish.

Red Pepper, lentil and rice soup- Serves 4

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Another warming soup. Adding the rice makes it very filling.

200g red lentils
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp. chilli flakes
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
4 red peppers, deseeded and diced.
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp. caster sugar
200g cooked rice
4tbsp. natural yogurt
Horseradish sauce to taste (approx 2 tsp.)

  • In a sieve, rinse the red lentils and then leave them to soak in a bowl of cold water. Set aside.
  • In a large pan, heat the oil gently and fry the onion until it is soft.
  • Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  • Add the smoked paprika, with a splash of water (to stop it burning) and cook gently for a further minute.
  • Add the peppers to the pan and pop the lid on. 
  • Cook gently for 10 minutes until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain the lentils and add to the pan with the stock. 
  • Cover and bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  • Remove a piece of pepper, cut into slithers, and set aside for garnish.
  • Leave the soup to cool a little before blending in a food processor (or use a hand blender) until smooth.
  • Reheat the soup and then add the vinegar and sugar.
  • Add the cooked rice to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes to make sure that the rice is cooked through thoroughly.
  • Mix the horseradish into the yogurt.
  • Divide the soup between four bowls and swirl with the yogurt mixture.  Top with slithers of pepper.
  • Serve with crusty bread.