Simple Celeriac Soup

Hello again folks! The holidays are over and I’m back in my little flat in Bath awaiting exams and the start of the next semester. Between a bit of revision I’ve been keeping busy in the kitchen as usual…

Simple Celeriac Soup

Keeping it simple today with an easy-peasy soup to warm you up from head to toe. What is it about soup that is just so wonderful? It’s a miraculous thing how a few unexciting vegetables thrown together in a pot can produce something so tasty and nourishing! This soup is definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Simple Celeriac Soup

This is celeriac. Hmmm, not so attractive is it? You might have seen it whilst doing your food shopping and ignored it, or else just stopped and stared at it, marvelling at its ugliness. Either way, I bet it’s not made its way into many of your baskets.

Well I’m here to change that!

It may be lumpy and bumpy but it’s got a great flavour, both delicate and nutty, and works a treat as a base for soup. All it needs is some onion, carrot and garlic to add some sweetness, the essential salt and pepper, and that’s it. Throw it in a blender and you’ve got liquid velvet. Silky smooth and comforting.

Simple Celeriac Soup

I topped mine with a drizzle of almond cream, a smattering of toasted almonds and a sprig or two of fresh parsley but it doesn’t really need any adornment.

Simple Celeriac Soup:

1T Olive Oil
1 Small Carrot, diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
Approx 500g/1lb Peeled and cubed celeriac
3-4C Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parsley, Toasted Almonds and Almond Cream* to garnish (optional)

* To make almond cream, blend together white almond butter OR blanched almonds with a little water and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

In a large pot over medium heat sauté the onions and carrots in the oil for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring for another minute or two. Add the celeriac and vegetable broth. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, covered for approx 15 minutes, or until the celeriac is soft. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes then, for best results, transfer to a high-power blender and blend until very smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.

Return to pot, add salt and pepper to taste and warm through again before serving.

Serves 3-4

Simple Celeriac Soup

What’s in your soup pot at the moment?

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Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

In case you didn’t see on Facebook or Twitter- the winner of “Super Healthy Snacks and Treats”, picked out of 101 entries using a Random Number Generator, was…number 7- Janet from The Taste Space! Congratulations to Janet and thank you to everyone for taking part. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you each a copy! If you want to buy yourself a copy or ask for it for Christmas, it’s available from Amazon.com, Amazon UK or through the author’s website.

Now on to today’s recipe!

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

So my plan to try all the different varieties of squash out there this winter rather failed. I haven’t made it to the Saturday morning farmers’ market as much as I’d have liked, and when I have picked up squash I haven’t been able to identify them anyway! Recently I spied one I did recognize but hadn’t yet sampled- Kabocha!

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

Kabocha is an Asian variety of squash, commonly called Japanese pumpkin. I think they’re rather cute, all short and squat, and cutting through the dull green skin revealed a brilliant orange flesh.

As I said, this was my first time trying it, and much as I’d read it described it had a very sweet, almost chestnut-like flavour and was softer and more starchy than other squash- quite similar to sweet potato in texture.

Considering its Japanese roots I thought I’d go that direction with it. I had seen a recipe in The Asian Vegan Kitchen for a side-dish of kabocha simmered with tamari and mirin, and turned it into a complete meal with chewy short-grain brown rice and greens in a soupy miso broth. A bowl of pure, nourishing, comfort food.

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth:

1/2C Short-grain Brown Rice
220g/1/2 lb Diced Kabocha Squash (approx 1 1/2” pieces)- Simply remove the seeds and stringy fibres from the squash and dice, leaving skin on.
1T Tamari
1” Fresh Ginger, finely minced/grated
1/2T Mirin
1T White Miso
2 1/2C Vegetable Broth OR Water
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
100g/4oz Spinach
Red Chili & Squeeze of Lime (optional)

Cook your brown rice first (You could also use other hearty grains like barley or farro) per package directions. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together tamari, ginger, miso and mirin until smooth and gradually whisk into the broth in a large pot.

Add the kabocha and simmer for approx 10 minutes (don’t boil) until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Add the brown rice to warm through and the green onions and spinach to wilt.

Finish with a squeeze of lime, and a little sliced red chili (optional).

Serves 2

Other squash recipes I’ve made this season:

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Linguine with Pumpkin & Chard

Warm Butternut & Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing

Miso Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

Chocolate Pumpkin & Cranberry Muffins

Pumpkin Pie

I’m keen to try spaghetti squash too but it sadly remains elusive…

Do you have a favourite variety of squash?

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Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Food is such a great source of memories. From big family feasts to a particularly pleasant summer’s day involving ice cream….

Chili is another one of mine. I don’t think I’d ever had a proper chili until I visited New York a few years ago. It was a cold September’s day and we took a break from sight-seeing to grab lunch in the Grand Central Station Food Court. We opted for steaming cups of vegetarian chili and pieces of sweet, crumbly cornbread. I’ve been a fan ever since and often make chili dishes, accompanied by the obligatory cornbread, and think of our fun trip to NYC Smile

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

This is a simplified version of chili, blended up into a thick soup for maximum creamy comfort. It’s not too spicy, but even so I like to have a cooling contrast to go with it, and the tangy avocado-lime cream filled that role perfectly.

I took the opportunity to try a new cornbread recipe out as well. These muffins are from Isa-Chandra Moskowitz’s latest book “Isa Does it”. My favourite cornbread is still the Corn & Scallion version from another book by the same author,“Appetite for Reduction”, but these were still pretty good.

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

I don’t think I need to tell you how nice it was to come home to a big bowl of this after being outside in the cold and rain. A big thank you to whoever invented soup!

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream:

1/2T Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Medium Carrot, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1 Stalk of Celery, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1T Ground Cumin
1T Mild Chili Powder
1/2T Dried Oregano
1 1/2T Tomato Paste
3C Vegetable Broth
1 1/2C (1Can) Kidney beans
1/2t Salt

In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil for approx 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and spices and continue to cook for a further minute.

Add the beans, vegetable broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Use an immersion blender to blend until fairly smooth. I like a few chunky bits in mine.

Serve topped with a generous spoonful of the avocado-lime cream and cornbread on the side.

Avocado-Lime Cream:

1 Medium Avocado, scooped out
Juice of 1 lime (2T)
1T Olive Oil
Pinch of salt
1/8t Garlic powder
1/2C (loosely packed) Fresh Coriander/Cilantro

In a food processor combine all ingredients except for the coriander and process until smooth. Pulse in the fresh coriander.

Serves 4 (or 2 huge bowls, as pictured)

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly link parties, Wellness Weekends and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Do you have any vivid food memories? Please share!

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“Cheesy” Meals

If you caught my Lentil and Sausage Stew recipe post last week you’ll know that during Vegan MoFo I won a bunch of Vegusto meat and cheese “alternatives”. Until recently they haven’t been too widely available in shops, and this, along with actually never being a cheese fan pre-vegan, meant that I hadn’t bothered to seek them out. I’ve kept hearing more and more about them though and they seem to be taking the European vegan market by storm, so winning the giveaway I was actually pretty excited to try their stuff out for myself.

I thought I’d share my thoughts on the products and what I made with them today.

Vegusto Meat & Cheese Alternatives

Pictured above is the selection of products I won. They’re not too attractive in their packaging, but is uncooked meat and packaged cheese really particularly nice to look at?

-Farmhouse Sausage
-Mushroom & No-Moo Burgers
-No-Moo Melty
-No-Moo, Mild-Aromatic
-No-Moo, Piquant

Vegusto Mushroom & No-Moo Burger

I was really impressed with these burgers. I haven’t had many meat alternatives before so don’t have a lot to compare them with in that regard, but they certainly have a very meaty texture and flavour, as the sausage did. There are little flecks of cheese in the patty itself which makes them extra juicy. I ate them on homemade spelt/rye buns with rocket, avocado and salsa, and a side of carrot sticks Smile

Vegusto Mushroom & No-Moo Burger

Next up was the No-Moo Melty. This is the Vegusto product I’d heard most about so had high hopes. I certainly wasn’t disappointed and it melted like a dream. Tomato soup and cheese on toast are classic comfort foods so on a dreary day here I thought I’d have them together! I whipped up a quick tomato soup, grilled some nice seedy bread in the oven, then popped it back in with the cheese on top to melt.

Tomato Soup,Vegusto No Moo Melty Cheese on Toast

After my first melting success I had to make a cheesy pizza. I haven’t had a cheese pizza in a very long time. I do occasionally add cashew cheese or tofu ricotta to my pizzas but usually go completely cheese-less and just let the vegetables shine or sometimes add a different sauce like the pesto and romesco pizzas I made this summer.

Southwestern-style BBQ Pizza (with Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

I didn’t stick to classic cheese and tomato with this one either (you’ve probably realized by now that I can’t resist trying new things!). I opted instead for a “Southwestern” style pizza with a homemade wholewheat crust, BBQ sauce (I use Isa’s recipe which isn’t too cloyingly sweet like the commercial ones typically are), No-Moo Melty, peppers, red onion and creamy avocado. I really loved this and am not sure I will be able to stop myself adding avocado to all my pizzas in the future!

I didn’t go overboard on the cheese, and honestly don’t think I would have missed it here, but maybe should have given it a whirl on a more simple pizza.

Southwestern-style BBQ Pizza (with Vegusto No-Moo Melty)

The Vegusto website described the No-Moo Mild-Aromatic as a “Cheddar alternative” so I had a think about how I remembered cheddar being used in the past. It’s a very English cheese so I decided it had to be a very English recipe! Afternoon tea is perhaps what England is know best for in food terms, so with this in mind I came up with cheesy scones, more than fit for a fancy afternoon spread!

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

Bath, the city  where I’m now living, has dozens of tearooms, and cheese scones seem to feature on most of their menus. They were very easy to veganize using oil instead of butter, flax instead of eggs and Vegusto instead of dairy-cheese. Despite the changes they turned out beautifully. Lovely and flaky with a prominent cheese flavour.

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

I like the sweet/savoury combination and served mine fresh from the oven with raspberry jam, but they’d be lovely all on their own just with a cup of tea.

I also liked them as an addition to a little brunch I put together- along with sautéed balsamic mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach.

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

I don’t really remember the taste of cheddar but the smell of this was exactly the same! Although I was never a cheese-eater, my Dad (and dog!) loved the stuff. When I opened the Vegusto packet it took me right back to childhood lunches and the moment the lid was lifted off the cheese box!

Vegan Cheese Scones (with Vegusto No-Moo Mild-Aromatic)

I’ve only tried the No-Moo Piquant on oatcakes so far but surprised myself in enjoying it just like that! The flavour has been compared to a French Gruyère so I’m thinking it would be nice in a simple tart or for a kick of flavour in a potato gratin…

Other than the products I tried there are lots more- a Blue cheese, a Herb cheese and a Walnut cheese (maybe nice for a cheeseboard?), various other sausage and burger flavours, sandwich slices, steaks, schnitzels and mince, as well as roasts, dips and sauces!

Vegusto definitely place an emphasis on quality ingredients, something which is important to me. All their cheeses are made with a base of organic nut butter and for salts and oils they only use rock salt, and cold pressed oils, including coconut, sunflower and rapeseed oil in their products, unlike most dairy cheese alternatives which rely on soya and palm oil.

I would definitely recommend these products and think they’d be especially useful for those transitioning to a vegan diet and looking for more familiar foods. I enjoyed trying them and can see myself buying them on occasion, even if they’re not going to be new staples for me.

Do you like any meat or cheese alternatives? How would you use the Vegusto products?

Disclaimer: I won these products in a giveaway but was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.

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U is for…

Udon Noodles!

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

Udon Noodles are chewy, soft and silky-textured and tied with soba are my favourite noodles to use. You can find them in their dried form and boil them like pasta, and the pre-cooked type which can go straight into your wok or soup pot.

Either way, they’re a fabulous option for a whole variety of dishes, from piping hot noodles in broth to satisfyingly rich stir fries, and succulent salads. Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

This hearty bowl of slurpy noodles was inspired by Wagamama, a Japanese restaurant and noodle bar, and one of the few restaurant chains over here that I really love.  I went a few weeks ago and had a delicious vegetable udon stir-fry but was very tempted by all the warming soups on the menu.

This recipe for Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup takes just minutes to put together and is great for cold-weather lunch option when salads and sandwiches are less appealing.

Don’t feel constrained by the listed ingredients either. It’s very much one of those dishes which works well with any number of vegetables. Don’t have spinach on hand? Try bok choy or broccoli. No shitake mushrooms? Use a different type. I sometimes also add seaweed for a different flavour profile.

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one):

3 Dried shitake mushrooms (or use fresh)
1 1/2-2C Water
1/2t Grated ginger
50g Dried udon noodles (or use fresh)
1/2 Large carrot, julienned
Large handful of spinach
1/2T White miso
1t Tamari
75g Silken tofu, cubed
1 Green Onion, thinly sliced
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil (optional)

If using dried mushrooms, soak in boiling water for at least 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain (reserving water) and slice.

Cook noodles according to packet instructions, drain and set aside in a bowl

Boil 2C Water (including the reserved mushroom soaking water), add ginger, sliced mushrooms, carrot and spinach and cook for 1 minute to wilt the greens. Remove from heat and stir through miso and tamari.

Pour vegetables and the broth over the noodles. Top with silken tofu, green onions and sesame oil (if using)

Serves 1

PRINT RECIPE HERE

pasta please (200x143)

I’m submitting this recipe to the Monthly Blog Challenge, Pasta Please

Tofu, Miso, Udon Noodle Soup (for one)

A few other Udon noodle recipe ideas from the web:

Udon Noodle Salad with Peanut-Lime Sauce

Gingered Sesame-Coconut Udon with Roasted Broccoli

Curried Udon Noodle Stir-Fry

What’s your favourite type of noodle?

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend, and that those who’ve finished their Vegan MoFo posts are having a good break!

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