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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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.

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)

Bolognese Pasta Bake


We went out last night, and had one too many cocktails. We’re not so bad today that it’s a takeaway pizza night, but even so we are craving carbs and simplicity.

Pasta bake is the tonic we need; it’s comforting, familiar and has a delicious, cheesy topping which I can’t get enough of.

As I say, this is a very simple recipe and you probably have your own version. However, if you only ever use Bolognese sauce with spaghetti, think about mixing it up a bit; I promise you will enjoy this.

I like using mushrooms in my Bolognese; it compliments the deep, earthy taste and means you can get away with using less meat. In fact, thinking about it, it may be possible to make a Bolognese switching the meat for mushrooms – keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks, I’m going to try to find time to try this out!

This will serve 4, more if you have garlic bread on the side (we did, guilty). It’ll take an hour to make but only 20 minutes of actual work.

Bolognese Pasta Bake 1

Bolognese Pasta Bake

400g penne pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

500g beef mince

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 small glass red wine

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

2 sprigs rosemary

250g chestnut mushrooms

200g mozzarella

50g breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic and saute in a saucepan with the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the mince and allow to brown.

4. Pour in the red wine and allow it to reduce, then tip in the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, basil, oregano and sliced mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the pasta and mix well, then transfer to an oven proof dish. Cover with a layer of the mozzarella and breadcrumbs, and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes (the longer the better) until golden, bubbly and crispy.

Bolognese Pasta Bake

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn


I saw a recipe online recently – I don’t remember where – which featured pork chop served with mac ‘n’ cheese on the side. Whenever I make macaroni cheese, I serve it as a main dish by itself (throwing a few veggies in there too to make it a bit healthier – see here). I think this is because the way I usually make it, it takes quite a long time and so I don’t want to over complicate matters.

I’ve changed the recipe this time, and I’ve used cream rather than making a bechamel which, although not particularly good for you, is quick, easy and delicious and is surely fine every now and then as a treat.

The pork chops are coated in a delicious sweet and spicy marinade which cuts through the mac ‘n’ cheese and, taking inspiration from the USA as this dish does, I decided to serve it with sweetcorn. I would have gone for full corn on the cobs, but couldn’t find any in my supermarket – so, a tin had to do and it did the job well! Frozen sweetcorn would be fine too.

This is the final of my first series of Cheap Eats – I hope you’ve been enjoying them and welcome any feedback you have!

This will serve 2 very greedy people and will take 45 minutes to make.

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Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn

For the pork:

2 pork chops

2 tbsps runny honey

2 tsps dijon mustard

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

For the mac ‘n’ cheese:

250g macaroni

200g mature cheddar

150ml double cream

1 onion

1 small handful breadcrumbs

To serve:

300g tin of sweetcorn, cooked according to instructions

1. For the pork, mix together the honey, mustard, vinegar and oil in a bowl and drizzle over the pork chops on a plate, making sure they’re well coated. Put them in the fridge while you cook the mac ‘n’ cheese.

2. For the mac ‘n’ cheese, cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Grate the cheese and chop the onion.

3. Drain the macaroni and stir in most of the cheese, cream and onion. Season with salt and pepper, then tip into an oven proof dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs. Either pop under a hot grill or bake in the oven at 200 degrees until golden and bubbling.

4. For the chops, put a griddle pan on a high heat. When hot, place the pork chops in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, then tip in any remaining marinade from the plate. Let it boil up, then remove from the heat.

5. To serve, pop the chops on plates and drizzle over the glaze from the griddle pan. Pile mac ‘n’ cheese and sweetcorn on the side. Delicious!

Chicken Casserole with Parsley Dumplings


Today, the weather has been atrocious. I spent the 30 minutes walking home from work getting drenched – it was too windy for me to put my umbrella up – and I got home feeling miserable and cold.

I soon cheered up, because I remembered this was on the menu tonight! Mmm, a nourishing chicken casserole packed full of veg, as good for the soul as a classic chicken soup, and topped with soft, pillowy dumplings. What’s not to like!

As has been the case with the rest of my recipes this week, this is sort of healthy – in that it is healthier than a beef stew with dumplings, and if you really wanted to, you could leave off the dumplings and just eat a gorgeous chicken casserole. I don’t understand why anyone would do this though, the dumplings are the best part.

This is part 4 of my Cheap Eats project, I hope you’re enjoying it!

This recipe will serve at least 4 and takes approximately 1 hour to make.

IMG_1068

Chicken Casserole with Parsley Dumplings

1 tbsp olive oil

460g chicken thighs (skinless and boneless)

1 onion

1 carrot

4 celery sticks

1 fennel bulb

10g flour

600ml chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 sprig fresh thyme

150g button mushrooms

200g self-raising flour

100g beef or vegetable suet

1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

1. Chop the chicken into bitesize pieces. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and add the chicken. Brown briefly (don’t cook all the way through), then remove from the pan.

2. Tip the chopped onion, carrot, celery and fennel to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, then return the chicken to the pan. Stir in the flour, then pour in the stock. Add the bay leaves, thyme and mushrooms, season, and bring to the boil.

3. Put a lid on the dish and pop in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.

4. For the dumpings, tip the self-raising flour, suet and parsley into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add cold water a little at a time – you’ll probably need 150-200mls total – until it forms a pliable dough.

5. When the casserole has been in the oven for 20 minutes, take it out (leave the oven on). Form little balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) with the dough and place evenly spaced on top of the casserole. This mixture made 14 dumplings.

6. Put the lid back on and return to the oven for another 25 minutes. Yum!

IMG_1070

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!

Slow Roast Lamb with Dauphinoise Potatoes


I have to firstly make an apology for my absence for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been moving house and have only just regained internet access so I hope I can be forgiven.

Due to moving house, I was very keen to test the capabilities of my brand new (to me) oven – and what better way of doing this than having it on for five hours. It passed the test!

I’ve always loved slow-cooked, pull away from the bone with a fork, lamb (who doesn’t!) and so I thought it would be a fantastic recipe to christen my oven with. I’ve served it with some cream and calorie laden dauphinoise potatoes, seeing as it’s Sunday, and peas to give the recipe at least the illusion of health.

Be warned before you start – this recipe really does take 5 hours, however there is very little effort for the chef (the potato peeling can, of course, be delegated to your sous) and you will be delighted with the results. This will serve 4.

Slow Roast Lamb with Dauphinoise Potatoes

For the lamb:

Approx 2kg leg of lamb

2 large onions

1 bulb garlic

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

200ml red wine

For the potatoes:

3 large baking potatoes

300ml single cream

4 cloves garlic

25g gruyere

For the gravy:

2 tbsps plain flour

2 tbsps madeira

100g frozen peas, cooked, to serve

1. For the lamb, preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Take a large casserole dish (large enough to fit the whole leg of lamb and put the lid on) and place on the hob on a medium heat. Brown the lamb on all sides – you shouldn’t need any oil, but if it starts to stick add a little olive oil.

2. Throw in the thickly chopped onions, peeled (but not sliced) cloves of garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme and red wine. Put the lid on and put in the oven for 5 hours, cheking every so often that it’s not catching.

3. For the potatoes, peel and thinly slice the potatoes and garlic cloves. Layer potato and a sprinkling of garlic until all are used, then pour over the cream and top with the cheese. This is best cooked at 180 degrees for an hour, but if you don’t have a separate oven section you can put it in with the lamb for 1 1/2 hours.

4. When the lamb and potatoes are done, remove from the oven and set aside. You can cook your peas now. To make the gravy, carefully remove the lamb from the casserole dish (it will try to fall apart!). Put the casserole dish containing all of the cooking juices on the hob and stir in the madeira. In a small cup, mix the flour with a few drops of cold water then stir into the gravy until it thickens. Enjoy!