Carrot and Cumin Soup

Carrot and Cumin Soup LR

Serves 6

This is a quick but delicious vegetarian soup that I like to have for lunch on its own or for dinner with lots of crusty bread and butter. There are some classic flavour combinations that have stood the test of time and carrot and cumin is one of them. If you haven’t tried it before, what are you waiting for?

3 tablespoons butter
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 to 4 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
6 to 8 carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
Salt
Pepper
2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 litre vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Cover and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat. Stir in the cumin and chillies and allow the spices to cook off for one minute. Add the stock, bring it to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

Leave the soup to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender. Bring it back to a simmer and you are ready to go.

This soup can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

Vegetable Curry in a Slow Cooker

Curry powder

Serves 4

This dish is fab! It’s simple to make, full of goodness and tastes divine. It is vegetarian and vegan too if you make sure the coconut milk and stock are vegan. Why eat meat when vegetables taste this good?

For the spice blend…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cayenne
2 tsp garam masala
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods crushed in a pestle and mortar

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
Spice blend (as above)
2 vegetable stock cubes or stock pots dissolved in a little boiling water
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of reduced fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt
3 peppers – 1 each of red, yellow and green – deseeded and cut into bite sized chunks
2 large courgettes cut into bite sized chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
5 large celery sticks trimmed cut into bite sized chunks
1 small purple turnip peeled and cut into dice

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion until softened and well browned. This will take 20 to 30 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice blend and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock, tomatoes, coconut milk, vinegar and salt and bring to a simmer.

Add all of the vegetables and bring to a good simmer.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

The vegetables may throw off a lot of liquid. After the 5 hours are up, if there is too much liquid, ladle it off into a small saucepan and boil it uncovered to reduce its volume, then return the thickened liquid to the slow cooker. Cover and bring the curry back to a gentle simmer before serving with plain white boiled rice.

Vegetable Curry

Spice mix

Serves 3 to 4

This is a tasty, quick-to-cook vegetarian curry. It’s great if you are on a diet as it is very low on the naughty stuff!

For best results, make this curry the day before you intend to eat it. Storing it overnight in the fridge gives the flavours time to develop.

For the spice mix…
12 cardamom pods, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
A pinch of cayenne
Salt to taste

Simply mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 portion of spice mix, as above
250g low fat natural yogurt
500ml vegetable stock
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 large celery sticks, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 large courgettes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large green pepper. Deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a large oven-proof pan and cook the onions until softened and coloured. This will take 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice mix and continue to stir-fry for 30 seconds, adding a splash of stock if the mixture starts to catch.

Add the yogurt a tablespoon at a time, bringing the mixture to a gentle simmer after each addition. Pour in the stock and return to a simmer. Finally, add the chilli, celery, carrots, turnip, courgettes and pepper. When everything is bubbling, cover the pan and cook the dish in the oven for 30 minutes. You want the vegetables to have a good bite to them at this stage, so don’t stretch the cooking time.

The curry should now be cooled and stored in the fridge overnight.

When you are ready to serve, gently reheat the curry on the hob.