Recipe: Curried Carrot & Lentil Soup

The perfect soup – filling and hearty. Easy to make. Warming. Slightly spicy. Goes equally well with bread as it does by the spoonful. It also helps that it uses up some of the 5kg of carrots inadvertently delivered by ASDA. I made this at the same time as some cupcakes, which ended disastrously for the first batch of cupcakes. I reckon the soup was fine though, it certainly tasted as it was meant to!

 photo 73f0c241-104b-423f-89ff-c6f8975916e8_zps8f71671d.jpgNow, this soup is spicy. That obviously depends on the strength of your chilli – so if in doubt, leave it out. Dried chilli flakes are a good alternative as it’s easy to control the spice level. I like spice, so I welcomed the strong kick this gave. I’m not sure my colleagues agreed, as this soup smells strongly of curry. As does the microwave at work having eaten this a few days in a row…oops. But this is so cheap, so filling, and perfect for anyone on a budget. If your purse doesn’t allow fresh aromatics, a few spoons of curry powder works absolutely fine. Trust me, I did this in my first year.

 photo c2002620-4d2b-4b6c-adef-3ce63b56b2da_zpsd69a60fa.jpgIngredients – makes 6 big servings, but it freezes and reheats well (perfect for tight budgets!)

  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • 1″ piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin
  • 600g carrots – peel, top and tail around 700g of them
  • 150g red lentils (dried)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tin of coconut milk
  • Fresh coriander, to serve

 photo 971a2598-bd4d-4913-b8fd-79e11ef08150_zps9ca3a51d.jpgHeat a tablespoon of oil over a low heat, in a large pan. Fry the powdered spices until fragrant. Meanwhile, blitz the chillies, ginger, garlic and onion in a chopper, or dice finely. Add to the pan and sweat until soft.

 photo 03f3a9c7-d60f-4f53-adc4-695983ebbe8d_zpsbceebd31.jpg photo aa8089d5-44a8-4087-90b0-34fe9f5680dd_zps91d9a3b8.jpgNow, you want the carrot in small, small pieces. I used the food chopped again, or you could finely dice or grate. Up to you, but I definitely chose the easy option. Add the carrots to the pan, followed by the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 20 minutes – until everything is soft.

 photo 2bc6545c-72c7-4a44-beed-31abbcb73a69_zps42b62950.jpgPuree/blend until completely smooth. Return to a clean pan and stir through the coconut milk until heated through. Serve scattered with the fresh coriander.

 photo 0cea28c0-6af4-4339-bf6f-f8484a8b5a01_zps7073e9f8.jpgThis goes amazingly well with naan bread, but I served with homemade bread. Making bread has become a real passion in the last few weeks, and it’s agreeing with my tummy a lot more too! For surprisingly little effort, and very few pennies, I’m left with soft, fresh bread that doesn’t make me feel horribly bloated. A win all round!

I’ve posted a few soup recipes recently – do you have any other recipes you recommend? What’s your favourite soup?

Student Summer: Taking Your Relationship to University

My post on Long Distance Relationships remains one of the most popular posts on my blog; I’ve had a lot of positive comments and tweets about it, and I’ve loved hearing other people’s LDR stories too. Today I thought I’d concentrate specifically on taking your relationship to university, whether that’s going long distance or moving together.

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Side note – my boyfriend cannot pull a ‘normal’ face in photographs anymore…

As I’m sure you’re all aware, I was in a relationship for two years before starting university. We both live in the Midlands; I moved South to university, and he moved (slightly) North – good planning! We picked our universities completely independently of each other, although having said that there was nowhere offering both our courses, and so knew for a good while we were heading towards long distance. Other couples I knew ended up purely coincidentally heading to the same university, which really worked for them. Funnily enough, the majority of couples I know who ended up splitting actually went to the same universities because of each other.

If you’re ending up going to the same university, I recommend making sure you give each other space. University really grows you as an individual, and it would be a shame for your and/or your partner to miss out on that. Don’t plan to move in together straight away, have your own friendship groups – basically just carry on as normal just away from home. Of course, moving in straight away does work for some people, but it isn’t something I’d necessarily advise at 18.

 photo 2014-04-26123410_zps4e0140e9.jpgObviously I’ve already written a whole post about long distance love, so do go there for more advice, but if you are going straight into a long distance relationship when you start univesity, I do have a few more targeted tips.

  • Have a talk. Realistically, if you aren’t sure about being together for a significant period of time, going long distance is unlikely to work. You need to sit down and have a serious chat – are you committed to each other? How often will you visit? We sat down several times over the summer before university and ultimately decided that we were sure we were ‘it’ for each other – and that was enough for us to know that we needed to make it work.
  • Sort out visits in advance. Whilst we have graduated from a calendar to a spreadsheet (I AM a trainee actuary!) its so helpful to know when we’ll be seeing each other over the coming months. Gives us something to look forward to, and it means we won’t accidentally arrange things and then be unable to see each other. We see each other roughly every fortnight, any more and we both get moody – it works for us as its often enough to avoid missing each other loads, but far enough apart to give each other space to get out with friends and get on with work.
  • Make some ground rules. What do you class as unacceptable behaviour?
  • Arrange time for each other. Have specific nights where you chat on the phone or Skype. Let the other know in advance if you can’t make it. Making time for each other when you’re apart is key to lasting long distance.
  • Get to know each others friends/housemates. I won’t lie, it is very easy to get jealous when your partner is making new friends. One of the best things for me was running into them whilst visiting and them saying ‘we’ve heard so much about you” – it honestly made me so much more relaxed.
  • Make plans for visits. Even if its just try that nice cafe for lunch, or making a yummy dinner, its important to make the most of your time together. You want to look back on the last visit and know you had fun, and not just sat waiting to say goodbye.

 photo 1157450_10151785402043516_1823432763_n_zps74278bb0.jpgI have had friends ask me whether I’ve felt that I have “missed out” on university or felt “held back” due to my relationship – but really I feel the opposite. I’ve moved away from home and really, really grown up, and I have had the support of a lovely young man to help me. Yes I sometimes turn down invites as its a weekend I’ll be away visiting, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I’ve managed to do everything I want, do fantastically well in my degree so far, get offered not one but two work placements, all whilst keeping a long distance relationship going. And because I work out all my assignments and revision so I don’t do any when I’m with him, it works out that I get a mini-holiday every fortnight!

 photo 2014-07-08110119_zpscd552875.jpgStarting a serious relationship at a young age doesn’t mean it won’t last, and likewise it doesn’t mean that you say goodbye to other life opportunities.  I wouldn’t change any part of my life; its not easy, its not perfect, but its right for me. Going to university in a relationship is something to be proud of, and it is entirely possible. So don’t worry if that’s what you’re about to do this month.
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What happened to your relationships when you went to university?

Recipe: Vegetarian Bean Chilli

 photo IMAG1098_zpsmwrulozq.jpgA quick and easy recipe for you today, something that’s become a staple with me over this winter as its warming and comforting without taking hours to cook. I love stews and casseroles, but they aren’t exactly convenient when I leave the house at half 8 and get back at half 6, even with a slow cooker. This takes about 20 minutes from start to finish (less if you have an electric chopped, but then there’s more to wash up…) and I’d like to say it’s relatively healthy.

The best thing about this recipe is that its cheap. As long as your spice cupboard isn’t totally bare (at a minimum you should have cumin, chilli powder, salt and pepper) and you aren’t allergic to tomatoes it shouldn’t cost you much at all!

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Now a point about beans. I buy dried beans (with the exception of kidney beans) all the time as they are ridiculously cheap, and I use a lot of them. Generally I cook them in my slow cooker every once in a while and freeze in portions – to do this just add to slow cooker, top with twice and much water and cook on low for 5-7 hours, keeping an eye on the water level. If you don’t eat beans often, I would use a can of mixed beans here.

My favourite combination of beans is predominately black beans (thanks to Wahaca I am addicted to these!), with some pinto beans. I’ll then add a small can of kidney beans too. On the tomato free front  – I use Wahaca’s smoky chipotle sauce in my chillis, and don’t miss the tomatoes at all – its definitely the best ‘substitute’ I’ve found for this kind of dish!

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Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 pepper
  • Beans (see above, or use a can of mixed beans like this one)
  • Spices – I use 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder, a sprinkle of coriander and cinnamon, and some garlic powder
  • Tomato Puree (or chipotle sauce for tomato-avoiders like me!)
  • Vegetable Stock

Start by dicing the onion. I prefer my onion pretty small and well cooked, so I start to fry in a little oil before doing anything else.

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Then slice up the pepper, and add to the pan. Fry for a few minutes, then add the spices.

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Add the spices, and fry whilst stirring all the time, before squeezing in your tomato paste. If you are making this tomato free, add some chipotle sauce when you add the stock.

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Add the beans and around a mugful of vegetable stock, then simmer. Just simmer until it gets to the consistency you want – thick or thin. I found I only needed 5-10 minutes on a very low heat.

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Serve with rice, or if you are really lazy (like me) with tortilla chips and a little grated cheese.

 

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What’s your favourite vegetarian recipe? Let me know if you want me to provide rough costs of my recipes!