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

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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

Warming Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

img_2883This is a favourite in our house, it is so simple and quick to make and makes a very welcome lunch or dinner on a cold winter’s day. It takes less than an hour to make and you can make it as thick or thin as you like and spicy or not according to your tastes. We prefer to blend it with a stick blender to thicken it up, but leave it a little coarse. We steamed a little broccoli for garnish and extra nutrients.

Sweet potatoes and carrots are a good source of beta-carotene, for healthy eyesight, while sweet potatoes also contain Vitamin D, B vitamins, iron and magnesium – necessary for relaxation of mind and muscles; celery contains potassium, B vitamins and, like carrots, is a good source of Vitamin K, necessary for bone health; ginger is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Broccoli is a good plant source of calcium, B vitamins and protein. The yeast extract contains protein and B vitamins, including B6 and B12, important for vegans. So now you’re good to go!

All measurements are approximate and all ingredients are vegan, gluten-free and organic where possible. Hence, we scrub the veggies and leave the skin on for more nutrients and more flavour.

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Ingredients

1 Tsp Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

3-4 medium Sweet Potatoes, chopped

3-4 Medium Carrots, chopped

1/2 a Stick of Celery, chopped

1-3 thin slices of Ginger Root, depending how thick the root is and how spicy you want the soup, very finely chopped

1 Tsp Yeast Extract, we use Natex as is low salt and has a slight herbal taste.

1 Low Salt Vegetable Stock Cube

dissolved in about

500 mls of hot water (enough to cover the veggies)

Black Pepper

A few small florets of Broccoli to steam for garnish

Method

Melt the oil. When hot but not smoking, add the ginger and stirfry for a few seconds before adding all the other veggies except the broccoli.

Add some Black Pepper.

(Black Pepper aids absorption of nutrients as well as adding flavour).

Stirfry for a minute or so, mixing them up as you do, then turn down the heat, place a lid on the pan and allow to sweat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock and Natex, turn the heat up a little, but try not to allow it to boil. Replace the lid and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

Leave to cook for about 40 minutes, until the veggies are done but not falling apart.

Steam the broccoli.

Turn off the heat, remove the pan and blend with a stick blender.

For a more substantial meal, you could place some cooked orange lentils or organic brown basmati rice in the bottom of the bowl before ladling the soup over the top. 

Top with the broccoli or, alternatively, some bean sprouts.

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Serve with crusty bread.

PS. Look out for Zesty Orange Squash Soup, coming soon!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Quick, Easy & Tasty Vegan Mushroom Soup (& Not a Drop of Milk in Sight!)

I love organic mushrooms. They are one of my must-haves on every weekly shopping list. I like different types but especially chestnut mushrooms. I like the firm, ‘meaty’ texture.  This week we had a glut, 2 weeks’ worth, as I’d been doing a juice cleanse and we forgot to cancel them. Most of them were little button mushrooms.

I really fancied some soup yesterday and thought I would try using some of them. I swithered about whether or not to use coconut milk and make a creamed soup, but really I just wanted it plain and simple, the milk felt too rich for my stomach. So here’s what I came up with. It’s not for the purists – the real chefs – I’m sure, but I loved it.

It’s quick and easy with only 2 ingredients apart from the oil and the seasoning. The only thing that may need adjusting is the salt levels: there is salt in the celery, tamari, stock cube and miso. We used 1 Tbsp of Miso but I’ve reduced it to a teaspoon in the recipe. I’m not even sure it needs it at all, I added it for the nutrients as much as for the flavour.

Miso paste is made from fermented soya beans and is a good source of probiotics (to keep the gut healthy), Vitamin K for bone health, copper, manganese and zinc as well as dietary fibre.

Chestnut Mushrooms are high in copper and vitamin B5 and are a source of B2, B3 and folate as well as potassium and selenium.

Celery is also an excellent source of vitamin K, and is a very good source of folate, potassium, dietary fibre, manganese and B5. It’s also a good source of vitamin B2, B6, copper, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A.

So all in all, this soup is very good for you (adjust the sodium if you need to keep it low).

Serves 2.

All ingredients organic, vegan and gluten-free.

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Ingredients

1 Tsp Coconut Oil

Approx. 350g/13oz Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and skin left on

Celery Stalk, scrubbed

Tamari

Mushroom Stock Cube + approx. 450-500mls Hot Water

2 Tsps Cornflour + a drop of Cold Water to mix

1 Tsp Miso Paste + a drop of the soup to mix

 Black Pepper

Method

Chop the celery finely and most of the mushrooms roughly, reserving a few small whole ones for garnish.

Dissolve the stock cube in the water.

Melt the oil till hot but not smoking.

Place all the celery and mushrooms in the oil, a little at a time, stirring to keep them moving.

Add a couple of splashes of tamari and a few twists of black pepper.

Stir again.

Place the lid on and leave to cook on a low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the whole button mushrooms and leave them aside.

Add the stock, stir, replace the lid and cook for about 35-40 minutes, making sure the celery is cooked. Stir a couple of times. Don’t boil it, just let it cook gently.

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Add a little cold water to the cornflour and stir until smooth, add a spoon of soup to the mix then add it into the pan and stir on the heat until the soup is slightly thickened.

Add the miso paste then blend with a stick blender.

Add more black pepper if required.

Serve with a few button mushrooms on top.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Sweet & Sour Vegetable Soup

After a week where I actually developed tan lines and pink knees (quite a feat for my lilywhite skin), the weather did a major volte-face: the temperature plummeted, the skies glowered like thunder and the heavens opened. The raindrops were so huge and heavy and sounded so loud I feared for the resistance of the utility room roof!

Soup! I must have soup!

I had swapped my shorts for jeans and donned my long socks (my mum thought I said long johns, but I didn’t want to jump the gun, we have a whole other season to get through first!) Soup was definitely called for and there were a few veg needing to be used up.

I have to confess, I don’t like dark leafy greens such as kale, chard and cavolo nero or black kale. I know, they are a must-have from the veg world providing so many essential nutrients including protein, calcium, A and B vitamins, Vitamin C and K (essential for bone health), iron and Omega 3 fatty acids, and I do have them often but generally in juices. I find them bitter and chewy when cooked. (I do like cabbage and spring greens).

We had been juicing some cavolo nero but there were a few leaves left that were in a use-by state and I didn’t want to have them again in my next juice. Our neighbour with the allotment had generously given us some runner beans and a giant marrow (huge zucchini), so these formed the basis of the soup. I wanted to try something different as these last in particular are a bit bland.

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Look at the size of this marrow! It was about 35cms or 14″ long! It is so heavy and will last ages. We’re going to have to get creative to do it justice.

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This is what we came up with – you might be surprised by a couple of the ingredients:

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Ingredients

All measurements approximate.

(All organic, so any peel left on – except for onion!)

About 1/2 Cup Puy Lentils soaked while rest of veg prepared to make more digestible

1 Tsp Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

A few leaves of Cavolo Nero, washed and chopped with any thick veins removed

1 Onion, chopped

2 Cloves of Garlic, pressed

2 Large Carrots, washed but with peel left on, chopped

About 3-4″ Large Marrow, washed and chopped

About 6-8 Runner Beans, washed and chopped

About 1/4 -1/2 medium head of Broccoli, washed and chopped, including stem

3 small Bramley Apples (from our tree, early windfalls) peeled and chopped

1/2 Tablespoon Coconut Palm Sugar (Unrefined and retaining minerals, it has a low GI, meaning it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels or insulin production like refined sugar, much less sweet).

2-3 Tsps Vegetable Bouillon Powder in approx 3/4 Litre of Hot Water (or enough to just cover the vegetables)

or 3/4 Litre of Vegetable Stock

A Small handful dried Sage Leaves (from our garden)

Splash of Tamari

Lots of Ground Black Pepper

I was going to add a pinch of Cinnamon, but chickened out at the last minute!

Method

In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil until a piece of onion starts sizzling but not smoking hot.

Add onion and garlic and stirfry for a minute then add the rest of the vegetables, gently stirring them about. Put the lid on, turn down the heat and let them sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on a low heat for about an hour or until the lentils and cavolo nero are thoroughly cooked.

I like soup to be blended a little to thicken it and bring together the flavours, so we whizzed it a little with a stick blender before serving, but left most of the vegetables whole.

Adjust the seasoning.

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This made enough for 3-4 servings, depending on your appetite and whether having it for a light lunch or main meal. It was even better the following day when the flavours had blended. I had it for dinner the second day with some brown basmati rice in the bottom of the bowl.

Extremely satisfying, tasty and different.

And I didn’t mind the cavolo nero at all!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Thick and Chunky Winter Soup with Green Lentils

It’s been blowing a gale and raining cats and dogs, one of those days when you want to batten down the hatches and tuck into a bowl of something hot and sustaining. (Think that’s my quota of meteorological metaphors for one post! What I really wanted to say was: ‘It’s been raining for days in Pigeon Street!’ Anyone remember that?)

So, combined with the fact that I am mid dental treatment and have to be careful what I eat, soup is going to be on the menu quite a bit over the coming evenings.

This one is thick and hearty enough to have as a meal rather than a first course or soup in a mug.

Makes enough for 3-4 servings.

The main thing is to cook it on a low heat, very gently and slowly, so as to maximise the nutritional content.

As always, all veg, oil, etc are organic where possible (the sage is from our garden), carrots have skin left on, all measurements and timings approximate.

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Ingredients

Pre-soak 1/2 Cup Rinsed Green Lentils to make them more easily digested, discarding the soak water before use

Splash of Olive Oil

1 Leek rinsed thoroughly and sliced into rings

3 Medium Carrots, chopped

1 1/2 Sticks of Celery with Leaves, chopped

Half a head Broccoli, chopped, including stalk

1/4 to 1/2 Cauliflower, including stalk, chopped

8-10 Brussels Sprouts, peeled and chopped

Dried Sage + Black Pepper

Optional: 1 Dsp Nut Butter

1 Vegetable Stock Cube + 1 Tsp Yeast Extract and Squirt of Tomato Puree dissolved in approx 600 – 700mls hot water, then cooled a little

Method

Slowly heat oil in large saucepan, don’t let it overheat

Gradually add vegetables, stirring and moving about as you add each handful.

With the lid on, and on a very low heat, gently sweat the vegetables for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally

Add Sage + Black Pepper + Nut Butter, if using

Add the water, enough to just cover the vegetables

Add Lentils

Stir well.

Replace lid and on lowest heat leave to cook for about an hour or until vegetables and lentils are tender.

Do Not Boil!

When ready, allow to cool a little before blending just enough to thicken the soup but leaving chunks of vegetables for colour and bite.

Test seasoning.

I haven’t included any salt because the stock cube, yeast extract and tomato puree all contain salt. If salt is required at the table,  Pink Himalayan Salt is recommended as it retains most of the minerals lost in the processing of normal table salt and no added nasties.

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Bon Appetit!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Cumin and Have Some Soup!

A spicy, satisfying and nourishing soup to warm your cockles – and everywhere else!

This is my favourite when it’s cold and dark and I’m hungry but don’t know what to have and there isn’t much in the fridge anyway – you know, that day before shopping day?

Serves 2

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It takes about an hour from start to finish.

Ingredients

(All veg, oil and spices are organic, so the peel is left on the carrots and sweet potatoes, if not scrub and peel. All measurements approximate.)

1 Tsp Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Large Onion, sliced thinly

1 Large or 2-3 Small Cloves Garlic, crushed

2 Medium to Large Carrots, scrubbed and sliced

2 Medium to Large Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed and sliced

Half Stick of Celery, scrubbed and sliced

1/3 Cup Orange Lentils, rinsed

1 Vegetable Stock Cube dissolved in approx 600 mls boiling water

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Couple of Splashes Tamari (dark gluten-free soy sauce, a staple in our kitchen)

Fresh Coriander to serve – optional

Method

Melt the oil

Gently toast Cumin Seeds, stirring around so they don’t burn

Ditto Garlic and Onions

Add rest of Vegetables, stir a few times, then add some black pepper

Cover and allow to sweat gently for about 15 mins. stirring once.

Add Lentils, Stock Cube & Water, Tamari.

(Be sure to have enough stock to easily cover the veg as the lentils will soak up some of it)

DON’T BOIL

Simmer very gently on a low heat for about 30 mins. until lentils cooked and vegetables are soft.

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Blend as little or as much as you like – We use a stick blender as we like to leave some whole, but the liquid quite thick

Taste and add more pepper if desired.

You’ll notice there is No Salt on the list. This is because the Stock Cube and Tamari already have it in and the soup can be a little salty if you put extra in. Add it at the table once you’ve tasted if need be. (Pink Himalayan is best as it still contains all the minerals and has no added nasties).

Add Fresh Coriander to serve.

Copyright: Chris McGowan