Tomato and Mascarpone Soup

Mutti Passata low res

Serves 3

Soups are a Godsend for vegetarians because they offer such a range of different flavours, textures and colours and, usually, they are healthy too.

Tomato with mascarpone is a classic flavour combination. I add sun dried tomatoes to my recipe to make this soup quite luxurious.

2 tablespoons of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely diced
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
700g passata
2 tablespoons tomato puree
4 to 6 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
125g mascarpone

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano and give everything a good stir. Cover and sweat on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Stir in the passata, tomato puree, sun dried tomatoes and stock. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, approx. 20 to 30 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly then puree with a stick blender. If you want a very smooth soup you can pass it through a sieve it but I prefer not to as I like some texture in it. Gently reheat the soup and whisk in the mascarpone until it is completely melted in and incorporated. Check the seasoning and serve.

The cooked soup can be chilled and stored in the fridge until needed.

Mexican Mushroom Chilli

White button mushrooms

Serves 3

This recipe gives vegetarians and vegans a delicious, fresh and spicy Mexican chilli that’s full of flavour. It’s easy and quick to prepare and it can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer until needed. It has quite strong flavours so I like to serve it with plain white rice.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Mexican chilli seasoning mix made up of: 1 tsp ancho chilli powder, 1 tsp chipotle chilli powder, 1 tsp mulato chilli powder, 1 tsp pasilla chilli powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, ½ tsp ground black pepper and ½ tsp salt
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (use Mutti tomato pulp if you can get it)
150ml stock made with vegan stock powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
10 to 12 quite large white button mushrooms, stalks removed, wiped clean and cut into bite sized pieces
1 red or green pepper, deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and sauté the onion until softened and starting to brown at the edges. This will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute. Add the Mexican chilli seasoning mix and stir fry for 1 minute. Add a splash of stock if it starts to catch.

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and vinegar, stir to mix well and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Add the peppers and kidney beans, cover and continue to cook for a final 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needs be.

The dish can now be cooled and stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen until needed. To serve, return to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Beetroot Bourguignon

Beetroot bourguignon lr

Serves 4

“Bourguignon” is normally a beef dish. But it doesn’t have to be. The rich flavours of wine, mushrooms, onions, garlic and thyme work wonderfully well with the muskiness of beetroot to give an earthy flavour that even meat eaters rave about.

This dish is vegan heaven, and I defy anyone not to love it! It is quite rich so needs a carbohydrate to go with it. Virtually any sort of potatoes work well but I particularly like it with puff pastry, to make a deconstructed pie.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 rounded tablespoons flour
½ bottle (375 ml) vegan red wine
400 ml vegan stock
60ml balsamic
1 rounded tablespoon tomato puree
1 rounded tsp Marmite
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Salt to taste
1 rounded tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 beetroots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
5 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
5 to 6 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
12 or so quite large white button mushrooms, stalks removed, wiped clean and cut into bite sized pieces

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and add the onions and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to colour at the edges. That will take about 15 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine a splash at a time, making sure the mixture stays at a simmer. Stir in the stock, balsamic, tomato puree and Marmite and return everything to a gentle simmer. Leave to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. This helps to cook off the alcohol.

Add all of the other ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the vegetables are softened. Check the pan from time to time. The sauce shouldn’t be too loose but add a splash or two of boiling water if it looks like it’s getting too thick. At the end of the cooking time check the seasoning.

At this stage the dish can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

When you are ready to serve, reheat gently in a pan on the hob.

Egg Curry

Egg curry lr cropped

Serves 2

This is another quick and delicious vegetarian dish. I like to serve it with small roasted potatoes. Potatoes with curry is a match made in heaven!

You may notice that I say to use organic turmeric. Organic turmeric is more intensely flavoured than non-organic. If you don’t have organic, just bump up the amount of turmeric a bit.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp organic turmeric
1 ½ tablespoons tomato puree
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1 x 400 g tin coconut milk
6 hard-boiled eggs, halved

Heat the oil and sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the chilli and continue to sauté until the onions have softened. Stir in the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the ginger and stir-fry for another minute.

Stir in the salt, black pepper and turmeric and cook off for 30 seconds. Add the tomato puree and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the tamarind and sugar, then pour in the coconut milk. Bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer and stir to mix well. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until you are happy with the consistence of the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you prefer a completely smooth sauce, pass it through a sieve.

The sauce can now be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

To finish the dish, bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer, add the eggs and serve as soon as they have heated through.

Celery and Stilton Soup

Celery

Serves 2 to 3

This classic vegetarian soup is strong and rich and – here’s a bonus – dead easy to prepare.

45g butter
5 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
45g flour
700ml vegetable stock
300ml milk
Salt (not too much as the butter, stock and stilton are all salty too)
Ground black pepper
200g to 250g stilton, crumbled

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and when it is foaming add the celery. Sauté until softening, approx. 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and slowly stir in the stock and milk. Return to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the celery is soft, approx. 15 minutes.

Once the celery is soft, take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for 10 minutes. Use a stick blender to blitz the soup to a smooth, creamy consistency.

Return the pan to a gentle heat and stir in the crumbled stilton. Keep stirring until all the stilton has melted and been incorporated into the soup. Check the seasoning.

At this stage the soup can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

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.

Puy Lentil Curry

Puy lentil curry lr

Serves 4 as part of an Indian meal

If you are pushed for time and you want to cook a delicious curry, look no further. What’s more, this is a vegan and vegetarian recipe that even carnivores will love.

For the spice mix…
1 ½ tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger, garam masala, fenugreek and turmeric
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
12 cardamom pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
250g Puy lentils, rinsed under running water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 portion of spice mix, as above
250ml vegan stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Optional – a pinch of cayenne and/or a pinch of sugar

Place the lentils in a large pan of unsalted water. Cover and simmer until just cooked, approx. 35 to 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wide based pan and sauté the onions until softened and well coloured, approx. 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic and chillies and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for a further minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock, tomatoes and red wine vinegar and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, cayenne and/or a pinch of sugar if needs be.

Stir the cooked lentils into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning again; lentils gobble up salt!

Spiced Chickpeas

Spiced Chickpeas lr

Serves 4

This is a delicious and wholesome vegan dish. It’s quick to prepare too, which is always a bonus.

Serve the chickpeas with vegetables, leaves or roasted potatoes, whatever takes your fancy.

For the spice mix…
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the finished dish…
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 portion of spice mix, as above
125 ml water
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Splash of vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed under cold running water
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

Sauté the onions in the oil until softened and slightly coloured, approx. 15 minutes. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for 1 minute, adding a splash of water if the mixture starts to catch. Add the water and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add a pinch of sugar or a splash of vinegar, depending on the sharpness of the tomatoes.

Add the chickpeas and mint and gently simmer, covered, for a further 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning again if needs be.