garlic

Recipe – Healthy Vegetable Korma


Okay, so the healthy thing I mentioned last week is still ongoing. As is my continued love of tasty food. It’s a dilemma.

Fortunately, things are made somewhat easier with a vegetarian diet (n.b. Ash, not me). It removes a lot of the fat and “stodge” from food, and opens up a world of experimentation with vegetables. For example, it’s rather weird how delicious broccoli is in curries.

And following on from that… Here’s my vegetarian korma recipe. And, of course, not just for vegetarians.

Read on…

Soup of the Week – Asparagus and Spinach


asparagus and spinach soup

Blimey, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

We’re back at the New Year period traditional for nascent and short-lived health regimes. And our house is no exception! So roll on the greens and anti-oxidants and other magical crap which sounds suspiciously like marketing fluff.

Except, I’m kind of bad at this. I like food. Particularly, I like food which tastes nice. So my take on health food has that as an added requirement. I’m not willing to suffer for my health.

So here we have it, a healthy but delicious soup full of green vegetables. It’s probably good for you, too.

Read on…

Soup of the Week – Indian Spiced Root Vegetable


indian spiced root vegetable

You may have noticed that my soup of the week blogs have taken something of a hiatus the last few weeks. Part of that is down to a combination of laziness and busyness. Returning home at eleven on a Sunday evening, I find it’s not the best time for cooking. And if the week is busy, it becomes harder to find a time to make soup. Also, eating the same thing week after week is the path to food apathy and ultimately madness.

But we’re back now! Yes, this last week I have been enjoying a soup with a subcontinental twist. Well, nominally. This is one of those rare recipes which makes use of celeriac —  a swede-like root vegetable which tastes kind of nutty and smells of something I can never quite recall.

Ingredients

  • 250g celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 850ml vegetable stock

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 180 degrees (for a fan oven — does anyone not have a fan oven any more?). In a roasting tin, drizzle the celeriac and parsnip with olive oil, and sprinkle over the ground corriander, cumin seeds and chilli powder and season, tossing to coat. Roast for 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sweat down the onion, garlic and celery in olive oil for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Once roasted, add the celeriac and parsnip to the sweated onion mixture, and pour over the stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, before blending until smooth

As root vegetable soups tend to be, this is quite thick, so you might find you need to add a few tablespoons of water to each bowl to reach the desired consistency.

I was, if I’m honest, a touch disappointed with this soup. It was nice enough, but with the spices I was hoping for something a bit more different from the previous root veg soups I’ve made. I think, were I to make it again, I would probably use more chilli powder. I’m not much of a chilli fiend, but the extra kick might have given it a bit more distinction.

However, having said that, this was still a delicious soup. Thick and filling, with a slight edge due to the celeriac, and the warm flavours of the cumin and chilli.

Soup of the Week – Tomato and Mascarpone


tomato and mascarpone soup

Now here’s a classic! It doesn’t get more Italian (in soup terms) until you get to minestrone, which although I will almost certainly attempt it eventually still seems like too much effort at the moment.
This, however, couldn’t be further from difficult. It’s basically various different forms of tomato, blended up with some onion, herbs and a bit of mascarpone.

Ingredients

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 320mls passata
  • 5tbsp tomato puree
  • 400mls water
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1tbsp dried oregano
  • 1tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1tsp sugar (or more, to taste, depending on how sweet you like your soup)
  • 1tbsp (heaped) mascarpone

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion and garlic for 10 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato puree, rosemary, oregano and water. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the chopped basil, and blend in a food processor to a fine, smooth consistency (you can’t really over-blend it). Return to the heat, and stir through the sugar and the mascarpone. Season to taste, or allow to cool for storage.

It’s that simple. And that delicious. This is the kind of soup which is great with a hunk of crusty bread to dip into it.

It is a good idea to make sure when you’re stirring in the mascarpone make sure it has all been stirred into the soup — to keep the beautifully smooth consistency.

Soup of the Week – Winter Vegetable Soup


Another week of my soup-for-lunch diet comes to an end, and this week’s flavour has been a variation on winter vegetable soup a recipe from The Hairy Dieters. It features a whole lot of vegetables, and makes rather a lot of soup. One good thing about the Hairy Bikers is that they always give you nice food, and plenty of it.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Knob of butter
  • Seasonings

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and gently fry the garlic and onion until softened. Add the vegetables, and cook for a few minutes before adding the stock. Cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and tender.
  2. Remove from the heat, and spoon into a food processor. Blitz until smooth and liquid. You may need to do this in several stages, as there is a lot. Once it resembles soup, season to taste, and either serve or allow to cool.

This soup is excellent reheated, and has that winter warming effect which makes it perfect when you’ve just come in from the cold. It is also some 200 calories, and is essentially just vegetables and stock. I got six portions out of this, which lasts the week and a bit more. And with slightly more reserved portions, it could well stretch further.

Soup of the Week: Tomato and Green Pesto


image

I know, I know, I said that I wasn’t going to do New Years resolutions. But working at a desk, frankly, is not conducive to good health or a trim figure, so one of the things I’m aiming to do in 2o13 is give my lifestyle a bit of a shake up.

This includes joining a gym — actually, not as ridiculous as it might seem; I visited the gym almost daily when I started university — but also changing how I eat. As you might have guessed, I like food. Specifically tasty food. So healthy eating is going to take the form of low-fat, freshly-cooked food heavy on the vegetables.

I’m also going to make soup to take with me to work for lunch. Made fresh each Sunday evening, my hope is to have a different soup each week. At the end of the week, I’ll then share the recipe and my verdict with you.

This week, we have a tomato and green pesto soup which I adapted from a recipe on the BBC GoodFood website (an excellent resource for cooking generally, actually). If you want to make my version, here’s how:

Ingredients

  • Knob of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5 sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • 3 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml stock
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 4tbsp soured cream
  • Green pesto, to serve

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and soften the garlic over a low heat for a minute or two. Then add the sundried tomatoes, the chopped tomatoes, the stock and the sugar, and season. Simmer the mixture for ten minutes, until the chopped tomatoes are softened and falling apart.
  2. Blend the still-hot mixture in a blender (you may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your blender) until smooth. Then decant into a bowl and stir in the soured cream. Taste and add seasoning as required.
  3. The soup can either be served immediately, or allowed to cool and chilled for later. When serving, mix a heaped teaspoon of pesto into each portion.

This recipe gave me five portions, lasting all week, and tasted lovely when reheated in a microwave. I used chicken stock, but all it would take to make it vegetarian is a switch to vegetable stock (also, check the pesto you’re using; they aren’t all vegetarian). Also the original recipe was only some 200 calories, so with half the soured cream this should be even less.