Curried Squash & Leek Soup

FAE055D1-284B-457A-9C2B-29EAA17FEC71During the block of snowdays recently, we did a lot of baking and soup making (see Our Snow Days Became Baking Days – Is The Gym Open Yet?), the kitchen became a hive of activity, partly to keep warm and partly for something to do! I’m going to attempt to post some of the recipes; I hope I can remember, or at least decipher the brief notes we scribbled down at the time! I always think the photos will be enough, or my Instagram posts listing the ingredients, but then I forget the quantities. So bear this in mind and don’t take the recipes too literally if you try them.

This soup came about because we had a butternut squash from our organic veg box that had been waiting a while to be used, but it was small, and I had bought some much-reduced leeks that needed using, plus there were a couple of cauliflower florets left from Sunday, when we’d used the rest of it, and the middle bit of a bunch of celery. They turned into a lovely warming soup on a freezing, snowladen day. My husband also made bread rolls that morning, which you can see in the photo, but they weren’t gluten-free, so I’m not featuring them here.

This soup is full of healthy ingredients and is anti-inflammatory. (Butternut squash provides vitamins A and C, B6, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium, as do leeks). No cream or butter, just a little coconut oil.

As always, the recipes are vegan and gluten-free, organic where possible.

Makes enough for 4 servings.

Ingredients

Coconut Oil for frying

1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 Leek, trimmed, washed and sliced (keep as much of the greenery as is usable)

2 Cauliflower Florets, chopped

3 Large Carrots, scrubbed and chopped (peeled if not organic)

The middle stalks of Celery with leaves, chopped

Approx. 1.5 Pints Vegetable Stock, with 1 Tsp Yeast Extract dissolved in it

Half a Tsp each of Cumin, Ginger, Turmeric & Curry Powder

 Black Pepper

Pink Himalayan Salt if required for taste when cooked

D3C44198-2988-4D9D-A048-C401850C4360Method

Melt the oil until hot but not smoking

Add the spices and all the veg, mix well, add black pepper, place the lid on and sweat for a few minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally

2B810F41-36DB-40BA-8413-01CC69A4E2C3Add the hot stock with the yeast extract, enough to cover the veg

Replace the lid, and cook on a low heat until the veggies are soft but not mushy, stirring occasionally.

Blend with a stick blender, leaving some texture to it, taste and adjust the seasoning

Serve with warm rolls or flat bread

 

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

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Our Snow Days Became Baking Days – Is The Gym Open Yet?

4A91CBDC-D755-49B3-8CF1-F433031E30F4I spent an entire week confined to barracks because I can’t bear the minus temperatures and icy winds, or risk a fall on the ice. My husband couldn’t go out on his usual bike rides and we’d also chosen this week to have the hall parquet flooring restored, which meant open external doors. We had blizzard conditions here and the woodburner was our best friend. So was the oven. We spent the whole week cooking, but mostly baking, and if the weather doesn’t improve soon, I’ll be needing a bigger size in jeans!

This was just one day’s production line:

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D14E5C63-6F6C-4E66-A9C5-39B82C1583B2My husband made bread rolls (and next day a wholemeal loaf), I made a Mango & Raisin Crumble with Oaty Topping, some Scones from the leftover crumble and some Curried Squash Soup! The next day I made a Coconut Cake.

9D4DC69F-4FDA-467C-A5E2-65F1ED6E4392My husband, on finishing the cake said ‘We should do this every week,’ to which I replied ‘I don’t think so, there’s no more room for my waistline!’ We even had crumble with Coconut Custard for late breakfast one morning, very decadent.

At the beginning of the week, I’d attempted to make flapjacks. The mixture looked amazing in the tray. Tasted good, too. Unfortunately, I spent far too much time talking to the floor man and didn’t keep my eye on it, so it was a tad overcooked and I forgot to cut it up before it went cold. So it became granola!

(The floor turned out nicely, though:

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Thankfully, it was a much easier task than the other two rooms we’d had done in previous years as it didn’t have to be relaid. It was finished in two days).

My husband made some Welsh cakes – a bit like fruit scones – and our son jokingly said, send some down! So we did, with some granola. However, they were snowed in, there were no shopping deliveries and no mail deliveries until 5 days later! We were convinced they would go straight in the bin, but my son gave them the thumbs up and was very appreciative.

719CAC7A-861A-4A48-8CAE-9F7A86FDE4F0On Friday morning, my husband walked the mile to the gym in snow and icy winds for a spin class, but the only exercise he got was the walk there and back and the half hour in between, clapping his arms around his body trying to keep warm! The class was cancelled due to the snow, but the instructor was unable to contact him. He did get a free session out of it for the next week, though.

As for me and my waistline, well, I surprised myself when shortly after the thaw, and despite the still chilly temperatures, I managed to walk My First 10,000 Steps.

*Since I wrote this, the snow decided to pay another visit at the weekend, and this was the result:

From left, clockwise: Chocolate & Coconut Tarte, Gingerbread Ducks & Chicks, Vegan, Gluten-free Pizza.  There has to be an end to snowdays soon, surely?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Nourishing Green Vegetable Noodle Soup with Basil & Puy Lentils

0A5AA3AF-CA63-4E1E-A365-7FFDAF6282EFWe are in the middle of some arctic weather, with snow, hail, icy winds and below zero temperatures, so I thought I’d post a recipe for a nourishing soup to warm us up, rather than the frozen smoothie bowl I had planned!

This doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes great and is very filling, having plantbased noodles as well as lentils in it. It’s a good way to use up small amounts of green vegetables that you have left over. In my case, I also had some precooked puy lentils in the fridge from the previous 2 days’ meals as I had seriously over-bestimated how many lentils to cook!

Lentils are such a good source of complex carbohydrates which boost metabolism and can help to control weight. They contain a large amount of dietary fibre, which helps to control cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar. They provide protein, folate and magnesium, are heart healthy, and keep you fuller longer.

We all know we should eat our greens, and this is a good way to do just that. You can use any lentils, or mung beans.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairyfree)

Amounts are very approximate.

Precooked Puy Lentils – reserve some of the cooking water

Coconut Oil

Half a head of Broccoli florets

Small amount of White Cabbage

 Handful of Celery Tops & Leaves

Fresh Basil

1 Leek

Stock cube + water, plus a cup of lentil cooking water

Some Organic Endamame Spaghetti* or other good quality plantbased thin noodles, broken up

Method

Chop and sweat veg and celery leaves in coconut oil with black pepper

Cover and simmer on low heat until just cooked

Add broken up Endamame spaghetti or any other thin noodles

When done, blend slightly with stick blender to thicken a little

Place a few spoonfuls of cooked lentils in the bottom of a warm soup bowl and cover with soup

1BE925F2-9489-46AF-9620-9262C9AFA287Serve with fresh basil leaves and warm bread or toast, or you might like to try Savoury Vegan Glutenfree ‘Cheese’ & Herb Scones

or Vegan Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Scone Recipes: 1 Sweet, 1 Savoury

*I got mine from Aldi UK

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Ginger-Spiced Squash & Apple Soup

30200640_UnknownWe had a small squash in our veg box last week and this afternoon I was cold to the bone after venturing outside for a short walk – I think it was 5C – so I decided to use the squash in some soup. The squash had been sitting chopped up in the fridge for a couple of days and needed to be used. My husband does it for me and leaves it in the fridge so it’s available when I want to use it.

I didn’t exactly know what I was going to put in with it, but automatically reached for some carrots and saw the baking apples on the shelf. We still have a few left from the tree, but they are starting to go a bit soft and the freezer is already overflowing with stewed apple and crumbles, I thought I’d try one in the soup.

While I was chopping, I mused over what herbs or spices would go with it and decided on ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. I was feeling cold, tired and achy, a friend had been coughing over me while recovering from a nasty flu-like virus and I felt the need to protect myself: these three spices are not only warming but also anti-inflammatory. The squash, carrots and celery are rich in anti-oxidants, while the humble onion has long been used in Ayervedic medicine to relieve coughs, fevers and flu as well as to reduce pain and inflammation in joints. I was leaving nothing to chance! I had a big bowl of it for dinner that night, I thought the combination worked really well and I would certainly make it again.

Here’s the full recipe – you might need to adjust the spices, I just guessed and I loved it. I could feel the ginger warming my insides and the one apple was enough to give it a fruity flavour, almost sweet and sour.

Made enough for 3-4 servings

Ingredients

(Organic where possible, vegan and gluten-free)

1 Tsp Coconut Oil

1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped

1 Small Onion, chopped

2 Carrots, scrubbed and chopped (peel left on)

1 Thin Stick Celery, from the inner part of the bunch, not too strongly flavoured, with leaves, chopped

1 Medium Baking Apple, peeled and chopped

Approx. 750 mls Vegetable Stock (I used a Kallo stock cube) – enough to cover the vegetables

Ground Ginger, Turmeric and Cinnamon

Black Pepper

Sprig of Watercress or Spinach or Rocket to serve (optional)

Method

Melt the oil and sweat the vegetables with half a tsp of ground ginger, a couple of shakes each of turmeric and cinnamon and some black pepper for a few minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.

Add the apple, mix well.

Add stock and slowly bring to a simmer.

30200544_UnknownCook on the lowest heat for about 25-30 minutes, until everything is cooked but not mushy.

Blend to the thickness you like – I like to leave a little texture.

Serve with a twist of black pepper, a sprig of watercress and some warm seeded bread.

(When I had a second bowl the next day, I added a small handful of mixed watercress/spinach/rocket when I served it and I really liked it).

Please note: there is no added salt in the recipe because the stock cube had salt in it.

We had it with Savoury Vegan Glutenfree ‘Cheese’ & Herb Scones

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Dairy-Free Curried Cauliflower Soup with Sweetcorn

29398608_UnknownCauliflower is my favourite vegetable, but for some reason it doesn’t appear regularly on the family food order, so I find myself making a special request when I realise we haven’t had it for some time. Our local Waitrose isn’t too hot on organic foods and there’s no farmers’ market, so if we forget to include cauliflower in our weekly Ocado order, we have to wait another week.

Cauliflower is high in Vitamin C and a good source of protein, B Vitamins, Omega Oils, Vitamin K (for good bone health), Magnesium, Iron and many other minerals.

I am always thinking of new ways to eat this versatile veg and recently tried a curried cauliflower soup which turned out really well.

This recipe made enough for a large bowl for one as a main meal or two small bowls as a starter. It was ready in next to no time and is simple to make.

Not too spicy.

And the secret ingredient? Peanut butter! I love peanut butter and will use any excuse to include it.

Ingredients

(Organic where possible).

1 Heaped Tsp Coconut Oil

1 Small Onion, chopped

Approx. One third of a medium organic Cauliflower, washed and chopped, including any stalk

One and a Half Cups Sweetcorn, fresh or frozen – reserve the half cup until the end

1 Heaped Tsp Curry Powder

1/2 Vegetable Stock Cube

A Good Squeeze of Tomato Purée

Approx. 500mls Boiling Water

Heaped Tsp of Smooth Peanut Butter

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt

*

Melt the coconut oil until it is hot but not smoking.

Add the onion, stirfry for a few seconds, add the cauliflower and sweat for a few minutes with the lid on over a low heat.

Add the curry powder and stir well.

Add 1 Cup of the sweetcorn, dissolve the stock cube and tomato purée in the water and add to the pan.

Add a few twists of black pepper.

Replace the lid and simmer gently on a low heat until the veg is cooked.

When it is nearly cooked, lightly steam the remaining sweetcorn or cook gently in a little simmering water for a couple of minutes and strain. Set aside.

Blend the soup with a stick blender until most of it is quite smooth but leaving some unblended bits for bite, if liked.

Stir the peanut butter in well, adjust the seasoning, add the remaining cooked sweetcorn and serve.

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You might also like to try Fruity Vegetable Curry with Lemony Almond Cauliflower ‘Rice’ or ‘Couscous’

See also: Warming Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Zesty Orange Squash Soup – Yes, Really!

Cumin and Have Some Soup!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot, Beetroot & Basil Soup

Sweet & Sour Vegetable Soup

Thick and Chunky Winter Soup with Green Lentils

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot, Beetroot & Basil Soup

28865984_UnknownWe just had one of those midweek days when you have some bits of vegetables that are less than fresh and there’s not quite enough to use each on their own. When this happens, we don’t discard them, we make soup. In this instance, the weather had gone from scorching hot to wet, windy and distinctly chilly, so soup would be very welcome.

We never know how it’s going to turn out beforehand, we just cross our fingers and hope for the best! This is one of those experiments. The spring greens were beginning to turn yellow at the edges, there was about 2″ of white cabbage – mostly stalk – 3 pods of broad beans, 3 spring onions and half a small head of broccoli, the middle of a bunch of celery that was mostly leaves – but there were plenty of carrots! In the pan they all went, with some stock and some lovely fresh basil from the plant my husband had just brought home from the bargain section of the supermarket.

This is a mineral-rich meal, with protein, fibre and healthy carbohydrates.

Basil is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, promotes good cardiovascular health and contains Vitamins A, C, K, iron, manganese, copper and healthy omega oils.

Apologies for no photos of the prep or cooking, I didn’t think it was going to be a blogable meal! However, it turned out well and there was enough for me to have a serving and freeze two others.

Ingredients

Organic, vegan, gluten-free. All measurements very approximate.

1 Tsp Coconut Oil

3 Medium Carrots, unpeeled, scrubbed and chopped

1 Small Beetroot, unpeeled, scrubbed and chopped

3 Spring Onions, washed and chopped, including green part

A few Sprigs of Broccoli and stalk, washed and chopped

Small piece of Celery Stalk and a good few Leaves, washed and chopped

 Cabbage/Spring Greens, washed and chopped

3 Pods of Broad Beans

Handful of Fresh Basil

1/3 Cup Puy Lentils, rinsed and soaked while the veg are prepared and sweated, to make them more easily digested. Discard the soaking water before adding them to the soup.

Approx. 600-700mls Vegetable Stock (enough to amply cover the vegetables)

Good Squeeze of Tomato Purée 

A Little Tamari

Black Pepper, Pink Himalayan Salt.

In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil. When hot but not smoking, add all the vegetables, stirring thoroughly as you add them. Add some black pepper. Put on the lid and allow to sweat on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Make up the stock if using a stock cube. Add to the pan with the lentils, tomato purée, tamari and basil. Add more black pepper if liked. Gently bring to a simmer, replace the lid and cook for about 45-50 minutes until the lentils are cooked.

Adjust the seasoning.

Remove fom the heat and cool enough to blend a little with a stick blender, just enough to thicken a bit but leave much of the soup chunky.

Serve in hot bowls with extra fresh basil. I had it with some homemade gluten-free bread with peanut butter! (See Vegan Gluten-Free Tiger Nut Bread Mark ll and Vegan Gluten-Free Tiger Nut Loaf/Bread Mk III and watch out for Mark IV coming soon!

(There’s a clip from The Marx Brothers’ ‘Duck Soup’ at the end of this post for your entertainment, enjoy).

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Zesty Orange Squash Soup – Yes, Really!

img_3106We had 2 butternut squash, several oranges and a lot of dried lemonbalm from our garden queuing up, begging to be used, so I decided to try some of them together. I’ve had squash with nutmeg, squash with cumin and squash with ginger, I wondered what squash with orange would be like.

Lemonbalm is traditionally a calming herb, used to reduce anxiety and stress, promote sleep and good digestion.

Squash, like carrots, have a large amount of Vitamin A and C, and it is a good source of B Vitamins, Vitamin K for bone health,  various minerals and dietary fibre.

So here goes:

 Vegan, Gluten-free and Organic where posssible.

All measurements approximate and substitute what you don’t have.

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Ingredients

1 Tsp Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped

1 Large Carrot, if organic wash and leave peel on, chop

1 Stick of Celery + leaves, chopped

Handful of Sugar Snap Peas, washed, topped and tailed, chopped

1/2 Courgette, washed and chopped

Dried Lemonbalm

Black Pepper

1 Low Salt Vegetable Stock Cube

dissolved in

Approx. 600 mls hot water, enough to amply cover the veg

with a good squeeze of

Tomato Puree

Splash of Tamari

1/4 Small Orange, juice and zest

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until the vegetables sizzle when added, but not smoking.

img_3100Add a handful at a time, starting with the squash and carrots, then celery, stir-frying as you go until all are added.

Place the lid on and sweat the veggies on a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I omitted ‘the veggies’ the first time around and it read a bit funny! I could hear the sniggering at the back of the gallery).

Add a good amount of lemonbalm, about 2 tbsps of crunched up leaves, and a few twists of black pepper.

Pour in the stock, tamari and tomato pureeimg_3102

Place the lid on and lightly simmer (not boil) on a low heat for about 45 minutes until the veggies are cooked enough to blend.

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Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning. Cool a little, then partially blend with a stick blender, leaving something of a bite to the soup.

Add a good squeeze of orange juice and a little zest. Stir in and serve.

I had it with lentil sprouts and a toasted slice of Vegan Gluten-Free Tiger Nut Loaf/Bread Mk III spread with tahini, my husband had his with crispy white rolls.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan