A tasty but unphotogenic soup

This is a quick, easy soup with a nice autumnal combination of flavours. Sadly though, its beige colour makes it decidedly unphotogenic, so I’ve declined to include an unflattering photo!

Ingredients for parsnip, apple and peanut soup (serves 2):

  •  2 smallish onions
  • 2 medium apples
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • A good splash of olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut butter

Method: 

  1. Peel and chop the onion and parsnips, and peel, core and chop the apple (the beauty of soups is that the ingredients can be as messily chopped as you like!).
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan for a minute or so, then add the onion. Sautee gently, stirring frequently until the onion has softened (but before it goes brown). Add the apples, parsnips and sage, and continue to sautee for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the stock and peanut butter, bring to the boil, then simmer until the parsnips are tender (around 10-15 minutes).
  4. Blend until smooth, adding more water if you prefer a slightly thinner consistency. Serve with some crusty bread.

 

 

Advertisements

How to help your guacamole look its best

Breakfast

Sesame seed bagel with peanut butter, banana

001

This is always a nice breakfast if you feel in need of a good energy boost to start the day.

Lunch

Mini falafels, veg, hummus, wholegrain crackers

005

This was essentially an extension of yesterday’s buffet type lunch, as the falafels and hummus needed finishing. Cauliflower is surprisingly nice  raw, and I’d say tastier than when it’s boiled. In fact, all kinds of raw veg go well for dipping in hummus. Whilst the plate may look a little spartan, it had several refills of crackers, veg etc.

Dessert

Grapes, flapjacks

006

These were the last of the amazing black treacle flapjacks that my Nan baked. An amazing end to any meal!

Dinner

‘Super Green’ soup, guacamole, pitta breads, mini pretzels

007

The ‘Super Green’ soup was reduced in Marks and Spencer. It’s not normally somewhere that I’d shop (out of my price range), but there’s a mini ‘M&S Food’ at Oxford Station so I thought I’d stop off on my way back to London to avoid hauling my luggage into the Co-op on the way home. My visit was well timed, as I arrived just as they were distributing the yellow ‘reduced’ labels, and the ‘Super Green’ soup was one of the chosen items. It featured various vegetables including leeks, peas and edamame beans, so should hopefully have provided a fairly comprehensive dose of goodness.

When I arrived back in London, the avocado that I’d left behind was really soft, so guacamole seemed like the obvious solution. I literally just mashed the inside with a fork and sprinkled with seeds, but this does seem like quite a nice way to serve it. The mini pretzels weren’t strictly necessary, but I had a few that needed finishing in the interests of creating space in the cupboard.

008

Dessert

Banana, apricots, chocolate

The chocolate was a lovely Fairtrade bar that was included in the amazing goody bag that my grandparents brought over when they came to Sunday lunch last week. It really was delicious, and clearly kind to people as well as animals.

Snacks

Nakd cocoa orange bar, nectarine, dried fruit/nuts

It’s nice to take advantage of the odd piece of summer fruit while it’s in season, and once nectarines have finally ripened they really are delicious.

How to disguise some fruit

Breakfast

Weetabix type cereal (Sainsbury’s economy version) with strawberries, soya milk

001

Strawberries and weetabix are definitely a classic combination and give a great boost for starting the day.

Lunch

Watercress, roasted pepper and butternut squash salad, pitta, grapes, a couple of oaty biscuits

006

The salad sounds a lot fancier than it actually was. I had some roasted veg left over from last night and just added it to a bowl full of watercress with some olive oil drizzled over the top. The whole thing only took a few minutes to prepare, including pitta  toasting time. It made a really satisfying lunch but wasn’t too heavy for a midday meal. If you’re roasting some veg, I would definitely recommend doing double quantities (oven space allowing). That way, you have a great resource for salads and something to make a hummus sandwich really special.

005

Dinner

Lentil and veg soup, focaccia, a few coconut peanuts

Dessert: Grape, strawberry and chocolate pot

008

After a fairly hearty lunch,  tonight’s dinner was only going to consist of a sandwich. As so often happens though, I was hungrier than expected so opted for soup and bread as a compromise. Making soups is one of my favourite kitchen based activities, as they’re so quick, tasty and nutritious. Unfortunately though, a blender is a fairly essential piece of equipment for soup making and not something that I have with me in London. In actual fact though, there’s no shortage of animal free soups in supermarkets, although there is still a bit of a tendency to add cream to those that could otherwise join the purely plant based range.

I have to admit that the bought soup I resigned myself to was actually pretty nice. I opted for a lentil and veg one from Waitrose (the essentials range) and found some rosemary focaccia to go with it. I’d never really shopped in Waitrose before but I have to admit that they seen fairly vegan friendly and the ‘essentials’ range isn’t too far beyond all purchasing possibility. The focaccia was nowhere near as good as its Italian counterpart but was still a nice bread in its own right, especially dipped in the soup.

Dessert  is where the disguised fruit comes in. I wasn’t going to photograph tonight’s pudding, as I thought it just looked like a bowl of chocolate sauce and no one would see the grapes (and lone but fairly large strawberry) underneath. But then I had second thoughts, as I realised that this could be a positive thing- a way to eat some healthy fruit without even seeing it. In fact, what initially appears an indulgent dessert is actually a pretty healthy one. Fruit is presumably still good for you even if it has a sweet topping, and the chocolate sauce is an Alpro Soya dessert, so completely free from cholesterol. Kind to animals and kind to your health, just maybe not so kind to your teeth!

009

Snacks

Pears, piece of flapjack

Pears seem to make quite a good snack as they’re really sweet and you feel like you’ve had a good sugar boost after eating one.

A reunion with marshmallows

Breakfast

Fruit and oat bagel with strawberry jam, mango pieces

This was a really lovely start to a Saturday morning. Bagels are definitely at their best while still hot from the toaster so the soya spread melts and soaks in satisfyingly.

Lunch

Purple nut roast, couple of oaty biscuits, pineapple

The nut roast was purchased at the V-delicious veggie/vegan food festival in London. Needless to say, my morning there was thoroughly enjoyable (minus the two hour journey as the London Underground had decided not to cooperate). Being there really helped you to get a feel for the diversity and scope of vegan food. It was also great to see Viva! (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals), providing some really good info booklets about both the health and ethical reasons to go animal free (available to buy for a tiny price at http://www.viva.org.uk/guides/index.htm).

Moving on to less serious matters, there was a huge range of vegan sweeties, including the wonderful Freedom Mallows. It had been many years since I’d eaten a marshmallow, as the presence of gelatine had put me off long before going completely animal free. To be fair, my local health food shop does sell vegan marshmallows, but I’ve always found the pricing a little outside my budget and the large slabs don’t seem to lend themselves to a hot chocolate topping. The Freedom Mallows only cost £1.99 per packet though, and they’re beautifully light and fluffy. They’re also a perfect size for hot chocolate and if you’re like me, you may also appreciate the cute bunny packaging. Fortunately they weren’t exclusive to the veggie event and you can buy them on Viva!’s website. Here’s a link that will (hopefully) take you straight to these revolutionary sweeties: http://www.vivashop.org.uk/catalog/viva/food/confectionery

028

Dinner

Leek, potato and celery soup, bagel, pistachio nuts

Dessert: A vegan cupcake

This is a really nice version of the classic leek and potato soup as the celery adds an extra layer of flavour. It’s also seriously quick to prepare.

Ingredients for leek, potato and celery soup (serves 2):

– 2 large leeks

– 4 medium sticks of celery

– A little rapeseed oil

– 2 smallish potatoes

– Around 1 litre veggie stock

Method:

1. Chop the leeks and celery (I find it works best if you chop the leeks lengthways rather than in round slices). Peel and chop the potatoes.

2. Heat a good splash of rapeseed oil in the pan and add the leek and celery. Saute for around 5 mins, stirring almost constantly.

3. Add the potatoes and saute for another couple of minutes.

4. Add the stock, cover and simmer for around 15 mins or until the potatoes are soft.

5. Blend and reheat if needed before serving. Be sure not to let the soup boil though, or it will lose some of its flavour.

The cupcake was from Ms Cupcake’s beautiful stall at the veggie fest. I bought a box of  four cakes to share with my family (resisting the temptation to sample one on the way back to Oxford) and we opted for cutting them in half so we could try more than one flavour each. I went for half a strawberry and chocolate cupcake and half a plain chocolate one. They were every bit as delicious as they look and it’s surprisingly easy to get through the generous topping.

024       027

026    

023