Rich Mushroom Soup


My husband is a proud Yorkshire man and was brought up on a diet of all things Yorkshire, all of which he was delighted to introduce me to when we started dating. One of the foodstuffs he most loves is Hendersons Relish. I’d never heard of this before I met him, so there’s a good chance you may not have either. It’s like Worcester Sauce (don’t hate me, Yorkshire people), in that has an intense, savoury richness which adds an incredible umami flavour to any dish. Yorkshire people particularly like their pies slathered with it – and with good reason.

When we decided to try out the plant based diet, deep, savoury flavours were the ones I thought I’d miss the most. However, on making a mushroom soup, I have discovered that this does not necessarily need to be the case. I found, quite by chance, that Hendersons Relish (unlike Worcester Sauce) is vegan friendly. Woo!

This earthy soup is a wonderful warmer for lunch, as a starter, or with a fat hunk of sour dough, a satisfying dinner. Enjoy!

Rich Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 – takes 30 minutes 

3tbsp olive oil

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

600g mushrooms 

1 vegan stock cube

600ml water

3 tbsp Hendersons Relish

2 slices whole grain bread

Handful chopped chives

1. Roughly chop the onion and add to a large casserole dish with two tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté gently for 5 minutes.

2. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan, then roughly slice the mushrooms and add these too. Cook (without stirring) for 3-4 minutes, then add the stock cube, water and seasoning and cover. Simmer for ten minutes.

3. Meanwhile, put your oven on to the highest temperature. Cut the bread up into rough squares and toss with the remaining oil and some salt. Put in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until golden and crisp.

4. Whizz your soup with a blender or food processor. If it’s too thin, add some more water to your liking, then add the Hendersons Relish. Check your seasoning and add more if necessary.

5. To serve, top each bowl with a handful of croutons and chopped chives. Yum!

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Chicken and Lentil Soup


Happy hump day everyone!

After pancake day yesterday, I’m sure you (like us) need an injection of health to counterbalance the over indulgence.

Chicken and Lentil Soup (1)

Now that lent has started, I can’t think of any ingredient in this soup that anyone will have wanted to give up (apart from meat perhaps?) so it’s a fairly safe bet.

This soup contains tonnes (not literally) of protein, and it uses my leftover lentils, so is packed full of vitamins, minerals and other good stuff too. It is truly an angelic recipe!

This will take you 20 minutes to make, and will serve 4.

Chicken and Lentil Soup (2)

Chicken and Lentil Soup

200g smoked bacon lardons

300g chicken breast, diced

600ml chicken stock

1 tsp ground coriander

400g leftover lentils

Natural yoghurt, to serve

1. Put the lardons in a large casserole dish. Cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until golden.

2. Sprinkle the coriander over the diced chicken breast, then add to the pan with the lardons. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

3. Tip in the chicken stock and lentils and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Blend about half of the soup with a hand blender – you still want the soup to be fairly chunky, but blending some of the lentils will thicken it.

5. Serve each bowl with a dollop of natural yoghurt in the centre. Enjoy!

Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew


Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew (1)

Chicken and chorizo is a fantastic combination – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. To celebrate the swiftly approaching weekend, I decided to treat my husband to this – one of his favourite dishes.

Hubby loves chorizo. When I buy and slice up a chorizo ring, I always give him the raw ends attached to the string to chew on. Typing does make it sound a little as though he is a dog, but I promise he is human.

This is a really warming stew; the broth is flavoured almost entirely by the chorizo – so make sure you buy a fairly decent one, if you can afford it. The spinach and chopped tomatoes add a nice bit of health, and the butter beans make it very hearty. We had a nice loaf of ciabatta on the side of our stew, but you don’t really need it – we used it simply for its juice mopping capabilities.

This will serve 4, and take about 40 minutes to make.

Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew (2)

Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew

250g chorizo ring

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

200g button mushrooms

1 small  glass red wine

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins butter beans

100g spinach

1. Slice the chorizo and add put in a large casserole dish over a high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the whole chicken thighs. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often, until the chicken is browned.

2. Add the sliced mushrooms, then tip in the red wine. Let it boil down, then add the chopped tomatoes. Fill the chopped tomato tin with water, and add this too. Put a lid on the dish, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the drained butter beans and cook with the lid off for a further 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, stir through the spinach, and when it’s wilted, you’re done!

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup


Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (1)

Wow, what a weekend! I had such a wonderful, spoilt birthday filled with meals out, drinks and general revelry.

We had 4 meals out and 2 takeaways in total, and who knows how many glasses of wine/prosecco/cocktails.

Therefore, tonight we needed an instant injection of the vitamins and minerals we are sure to be lacking now. Spinach soup is the perfect way to do this. Not only is it desperately, desperately easy (look how short that ingredient list is!), it is also delicious and packed full of vitamins k, a, c, b2 (almost the whole alphabet!), not to mention iron, magnesium and folic acid. Surely this will aid our bodies’ recoveries after a heavy weekend.

I love the flavour combination of spinach and nutmeg. I got the idea for using nutmeg in this soup from a nettle soup I once made many years ago, which used nutmeg. I was quite young when I made the nettle soup, and remember so vividly the fear that it would sting my tongue! Of course, it didn’t; it was wonderfully flavourful and with spinach and nettle being fairly similar in taste, the nutmeg works beautifully in this recipe too.

The dish is completely vegetarian, and would be vegan too if you omitted the feta, which I just couldn’t leave off.

This dish is ready in 15 minutes, and will serve 4 with some crusty bread on the side.

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (2)

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 litre vegetable stock

450g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

20g feta, crumbled

1. Chop the onion. Add to a large saucepan with the olive oil and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the spinach, handful by handful, until it is all wilted.

3. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, then whizz the soup in a blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the crumbled feta.

English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons


English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons (2)

I can’t pretend that the weather here has been as bad as it is in Northern USA at the moment – but it is still chilly, dark and miserable as it will undoubtably remain until April. And as such, it is another soup night tonight; this time my take on a classic, and one of my all time favourites.

Usually, a French Onion Soup contains onions, beef stock, wine and very little else. This is my version, and so it includes ingredients that a typical French Onion Soup usually wouldn’t – like bay leaves, and thyme. I also used vegetable stock rather than beef stock (and brandy rather than white wine) – not only does this make it vegetarian, it also makes it lighter and fresher. I really enjoy this version, and I hope you will too.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore the original version, but I think it tastes better when the onions are cooked for a long, long time – and I don’t have time for that tonight. I’ve used comte (a hard, French cow’s milk cheese) on the croutons as a nod to where the original came from; however any hard cheese such as gouda would work equally well. With French Onion Soup, you also tend to put the croutons in the soup, but I prefer them nice and crispy so I leave them on the side.

This will take about 40 minutes, and will serve 4. The leftovers get better with time, so make great lunches!

English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons (1)

English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons

10g butter

3 large onions

2 bay leaves

1 pinch thyme leaves

10g plain flour

1 small glass brandy

750ml vegetable stock

4 large slices French baguette

1 tbsp olive oil

40g grated comte

1. Finely slice the onions and add to a large saucepan with the butter, bay leaves, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick, for about 20-25 minutes until golden.

2. Add the flour, mix well, then add the brandy and bubble down. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Taste, and add more seasoning if necessary.

3. For the croutons, put the grill on high, the drizzle the olive oil onto a baking tray, then rub the bread in the oil to ensure an even coating. Put under the grill for 3-4 minutes until beginning to turn toast, then pile on the grated cheese. Put back under the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Smoked Fish Chowder


Smoked Fish Chowder (2)

I love smoked food – be it cheese, bacon, fish or anything else. There’s something about the flavour which makes you feel as though you’re being given a big hug.

I’ve made a summer version of a chowder before (here). This particular dish is very different – it is a winter classic and there are variations of it all over the world. I suppose it used to be made as a cheap dish to stretch the smoked fish throughout the long, cold winter by bulking it out with potatoes. With the addition of a few exta ingredients – spinach and the classic sweetcorn – it is transformed into a delicious, warming dish to look forward to.

I remember eating a Scottish version of the dish once in Edinburgh (if anyone remembers the name of the Scottish version, please remind me!) – it was very similar to this one but with no sweetcorn, and was the perfect tonic to warm me up on the bitterly cold day. I think I enjoyed it with a moreish mulled cider that day, but no such luck today!

This has the benefit of being dead easy to make, and is ready in half an hour. This recipe will serve 4.

Smoked Fish Chowder (1)

Smoked Fish Chowder

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

4 rashers smoked bacon

1 baking potato

1 litre fish stock

300ml milk

250g skinless, boneless smoked haddock

325g tin of sweetcorn

100g spinach

1. Chop the onion and add to a large saucepan with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chopped bacon. Cook until the bacon is starting to brown.

2. Peel the potato and chop into 1 inch chunks. Add to the saucepan along with the stock and milk. Simmer with a lid on for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft (make sure it doesn’t boil).

3. Chop the fish into chunks the same size as the potato chunks. Add the fish and the sweetcorn to the saucepan and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, until the fish has turned opaque.

4. Add the spinach and cook until it is wilted. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with some nice, warm bread on the side.

Leek and Potato Soup


Everyone is cooking soup at the moment. It’s exactly what we crave when the temperature plummets. I wanted to make a veggie soup, but also wanted one which is wholesome and filling so, naturally, I went for leek and potato (brocolli and stilton would have been a close second).

I’m not going to try to sell this soup as a healthy option – it contains too much butter and cream for that sort of thing. But that’s what makes it so delicious! I think that we must use up so many calories trying to keep warm in this horrid weather that we deserve a little cream sometimes.

Leek and potato is a classic and will guarantee bowls licked clean. It’s a lovely colour and could easily be prettified for a dinner party.

This will take 30 minutes and will serve at least 4 (there will likely be leftovers which freeze beautifully!)

Leek and Potato Soup (1)

Leek and Potato Soup

50g unsalted butter

1 onion

450g potatoes

450g leeks

1 litre vegetable stock

140ml double cream

140ml milk

1. Peel your potatoes and chop them into 1 inch chunks. Trim the ends off the leeks and slice them. Chop your onion into 1 inch chunks.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. When it starts to bubble, and the veg. Turn down the heat and put a lid on. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring fairly often so that the veg doesn’t stick or colour.

3. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Put the lid back on and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

4. Whizz your soup up with a blender until smooth then put back on the heat. Add the cream and milk and bring to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper.

5. Serve large bowls or mugs with thick wedges of warm bread. Delicious!

Leek and Potato Soup (2)

Mussels with Cider Broth


Mussels are in the peak of their season at the moment (in the Northern hemisphere, anyway), so what better time to enjoy them. They’re cheap, and tasty, so pick some up when you next see them.

We went for a long walk in the wet and cold today, and what better way to recuperate than with a steaming bowl of mussels cooked in broth. I love mussels cooked any way really, but I prefer the traditional French/English versions where there is a big bowl of moreish sauce to mop up with a doorstep of bread.

Some people are squeamish about preparing mussels, but they’re very easy. They take some time, because you want to take care that you’re not eating any that are off, but if you don’t rush them it’s actually quite a relaxing job.

I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions about preparing mussels, just comment below.

This will take approximately 45 minutes to make and will serve 3-4.

IMG_1044

Mussels with Cider Broth

1kg mussels

160g cubed pancetta

1 onion

500ml cider

150ml single cream

1 large handful parsley

Bread, to serve

1. Start by frying the pancetta in a large casserole dish over a high heat. Finely chop the onion, and when the pancetta is starting to turn golden, add the onion to the dish. Turn the heat down and sweat the onion for 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in the cider and 200ml water, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer while you prepare the mussels.

3. To prepare your mussels, take each mussel from the bag one at a time. If the mussel is closed, pull off the ‘beard’ (the hairy strands which poke out from the shell) and gently scrape off any barnacles. Place in a large colander. If any are open, tap them gently. If they don’t close, discard them. If they close, again remove the beard and add to the colander. If there are any with smashed or cracked shells, discard them.

4. When you have sorted the mussels, rinse the ones in the colander under the tap.

5. Chop the parsley and add it, along with the cream, to the cider sauce. Gently tip in the mussels, stir gently, then put a lid on and turn up the heat. After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid – the mussels are cooked when they have opened.

6. To serve, ladle into bowls and serve with bread on the side. If any mussels haven’t opened during cooking, don’t eat them.

Enjoy this delicious winter warmer!

Pancetta, Mushroom and Spelt Broth


In the run up to Christmas, I always like to try to eat fairly healthily during the week (beetroot and fried egg burger aside). There’s always so much eating and drinking going on at the weekends that I like to make sure we get at least some vitamins and minerals throughout the week. The serious comfort eating starts anew in January!

You’d be correct if you pointed out that this particular recipe isn’t packed that full of veg – however, swapping a stodgy carbohydrate such as pasta or bread with spelt adds a boost of health to the dish.

If you haven’t eaten spelt before, it’s a seriously underrated little grain which works beautifully in a broth such as this. It holds its own with the deep, earthy flavours of mushroom and pancetta and adds just a little bite to an otherwise fairly liquid broth – think pearl barley.

This recipe is ready in 30 minutes and will serve at least 4.

Pancetta, Mushroom and Spelt Broth

200g pancetta, cubed

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 small glass white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

5 or 6 dried porcini

2 tomatoes, chopped

150g button mushrooms, sliced

250g ready to eat spelt

1 small handful parsley

Parmesan, to serve

1. Put the pancetta in a large casserole dish over a medium heat, cook until golden.

2. Add the onion, bay leaves and garlic, sizzle for two minutes then pour in the white wine. Bring to the boil then add the stock.

3. Add the porcini and tomatoes, put the lid on the dish and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms and spelt, put the lid back on and cook for another 6-7 minutes. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper.

5. Take off the heat, stir in the chopped parsley and serve each bowl topped with a generous grating of parmesan.

Pearl Barley, Vegetable and Bacon Broth


This is a real winter warmer. It would be perfect on a wet, stormy day when you come through the door shivering and soaked to the bone. The weather was actually fairly still and dry today, but this broth was still like a wonderful hug in a bowl when we got in.

‘Broth’ is such a lovely wintery word anyway isn’t it? It’s comfort food but without any of the unhealthy connotations. This one is packed full of autumnal vegetables, which can’t help but make you feel better – especially if you’ve managed to pick up a cold.

I served this with wedges of crusty bread, but it’s easily substantial enough to have by itself.

This will serve 4 and be ready in about 40 minutes.

Pearl Barley, Vegetable and Bacon Broth

1 tbsp olive oil

300g smoked bacon lardons

2 leeks

2 carrots

2 cloves garlic

250g pearl barley

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 glass white wine

650ml chicken stock

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

1 small cabbage

1. Put the oil in a large casserole dish/saucepan and put on a high heat. Add the bacon lardons and cook until starting to crisp.

2. Add the sliced leeks and carrots and turn down the heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t catch.

3. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Tip in the pearl barley and mustard, stir, then add the wine. Let it simmer down for a few seconds, then add the stock, rosemary, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Stir well, cover, and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

4. Taste the broth – add a little more seasoning or mustard if it needs and extra kick, then add the thinly sliced cabbage. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 5 minutes. Done!