Recipe: Vegan Chickpea Soup with Lemon & Tahini

When I first posted a picture of this on Instagram and described it as ‘warm hummus in soup form’ it pretty much instantly became my most-requested recipe. And I can’t say I’m surprised. This is beyond a doubt my favourite recipe of 2019 so far.

 photo Chickpea Soup_zpsbtqintk1.jpg photo Chickpea Tahini Soup 22_zpsbcynipvx.jpgOriginally a “this is vegan, let’s make it for lunch” decision from one of my soup books, I’ve twisted up the recipe a bit and it’s become something we make every few weeks, something I crave if we go too long without it. It also freezes well, so I quite like to have a couple of portions stashed away too. It’s every bit as addictive as I find hummus to be, but even easier to eat a giant bowl of it. Creamy and comforting enough for winter, yet it’s citrus-y and bright enough that I’d happily eat it in warmer months too. The lemon and mint adds freshness, the tahini makes it so moreish, and there’s just a small hint of chilli heat. Whether you’re vegan or not, this soup is a one I highly recommend you try out.

The recipe here makes around 6 really generous portions. Yes, it’s a *lot* of chickpeas but this really is a meal in a bowl. You could add some pitta on the side if you wanted, but personally I find a steaming bowl of this good enough.

 photo Chickpea Tahini Soup 2_zpsnczdpbhq.jpg photo Chickpea Tahini Soup 5_zpsmhclfgmz.jpg photo Chickpea Tahini Soup 8_zps4lmabukg.jpgRecipe

  • 250g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 large carots
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 litres of vegan-friendly stock
  • 3 tbsp tahini, or more/less to taste
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tins chickpeas
  • Spring onions, to serve

First up, roughly chop your onion, celery and carrots and allow to sweat in a very large casserole dish with some olive oil until starting to soften. Drain your soaked chickpeas, briefly rinse and add to the vegetables along with the garlic. Cover with as much stock as you can fit into the pan, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer over a low heat for around 2 hours, topping up the stock occasionally. When the vegetables and chickpeas are soft allow to cool slightly, then whizz with a stick blender until thick and creamy.

Stir in the mint, spices and tahini, then taste and adjust seasonings. Drain the tinned chickpeas and add to the soup, then reheat before serving scatted with some sliced spring onions. You could also stir through some chopped fresh herbs – mint, coriander and parsley all work well.

 photo Chickpea Tahini Soup 6_zpsopjkfaak.jpg photo Chickpea Tahini Soup 18_zpsxwnxtpg2.jpgBlending up the chickpeas makes this SO creamy and rich, it’s hard to believe that it’s completely dairy-free. In fact I’m already working on ways I can adapt this recipe for other flavour combinations, so watch this space…

Are you a soup fan?

Food: My #YearofVeganLunches Challenge

I’ve mentioned this more on my Instagram grid that on here, but one of my goals for the year is to aim to make all of my lunchboxes vegan throughout the year. I’m doing this for a few reasons – but mainly to prove a point after someone mockingly bet me I couldn’t eat many vegan dishes. I’m stubborn, me. It’s also to cut down on the amount of meat I eat, although a lot of my lunchboxes were veggie anyway, and to remove the unnecessary cheese. Lunch looks a bit boring, add a generous helping of feta. Pasta? Grate half a block of Parmesan on it. You get the picture.

 photo Vegan Lunches_zpsdg4bkab1.jpgThat said, I’m not being overly strict. I don’t want to end up dreading lunchtime and craving the canteen’s chips instead. I don’t want to give up on this challenge a few months in. And so it’s onto the self-imposed ‘rules’…

  • The challenge is for lunchboxes only, which means eating out, weekends and study days tend not to fall under the challenge. I’ve actually found myself picking more vegan options on these days anyway, but I needed to lift the restriction when eating out as vegan + tomato allergy ain’t as easy as you’d imagine!
  • Ignore pasta, as long as the sauces and accompaniments are vegan. I know you can get vegan pasta, but we have so much of it anyway (as we buy in bulk) so I’m not sweating it for this challenge. As long as I don’t serve up a mac’n’cheese (with proper milk/cheese!) I kinda feel that’s okay! Though I do have some vegan chickpea pasta to try out from my latest Degustabox (gifted) so we’ll see how that goes…
  • Avoiding waste trumps this challenge. Whilst I’m no longer creating my lunchboxes around planned leftovers (they go into dinners instead) I will still refuse to see waste just because ‘its not vegan’ if it can otherwise be thrown into my lunchbox. Case in point was a delicious yoghurt based dressing from a Taco Salad (this recipe) a few weeks ago. It went wonderfully over the bean mix I had in my lunchbox that week, but would have ended up down the drain if not. Likewise if there’s a bit of feta going to waste in the fridge (because it comes in packs that are generally far too big) then I would sooner eat it in a lunch than throw it out!
  • No meat substitutes (and I’m not crazy about the amount of sugar in the Oatly cream and creme fraiche substitutes either…). Though I have to say I’m curious about pulled peas…

And so far, this approach is working out really well for me. I’ve had some damn tasty lunches – highlights have been a mushroom and lentil stew/soup combo (I’ve since re-made this as more of a stew with borlotti beans and leeks and have five portions stashed in the freezer), an amaaaazzzzing chickpea soup with tahini and a surprisingly tasty throw-together salad of lentils, kale and roasted broccoli. The sort of thing I’d have thrown feta on top of without a moments thought, but actually was all the better without it.

Have you tried going vegan, or eating more vegan options?

Recipe: Vegan Lentil & Mushroom ‘Stoup’

What makes the difference between a stew or casserole and a soup? I like to think it’s a fine line, and this ‘stoup’ kinda sits in the middle. You can add more stock or some vegan milk to thin it down for a soup, or blend it up more and reduce it for a stew-type dish. Whichever you choose, it’s absolutely delicious and I think one of my favourite winter lunches.

 photo Mushroom Lentil Soup_zpslbz1od61.jpgIt’s creamy, it’s comforting, real soul food. It’s garlick-y and slighty herby. There’s a kick of black pepper and a slight tang from a splash of vinegar. It’s not vinegar-y as such, but it helps to add a little bit of complexity that makes this really feel like a meal, and not just something you’ve thrown together. Add some toast or a bit of sourdough bread and this is a real hug in a bowl.

It’s also vegan! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve set myself a challenge in 2019 to make as many of my lunchboxes as possible vegan. I’m not constraining myself too much by this, and if I’ve got meat or dairy that needs using then it will be thrown in, but I’d like to keep the majority of them vegan. And frankly, if they all taste as good as this it will be an easy job. If you’re not vegan, however, additions which could work well would be bacon (always), or simmer with a parmesan rind to add some extra flavour.

 photo Vegan Mushroom and Lentil Soup 10_zpsethbwgep.jpgIngredients (makes 4 lunch-time servings)

  • 150g dried Puy lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 pack of mushrooms mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup vegan-friendly stock
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened plant-based milk—I used Oat milk

First up, cook your lentils. I tend to add boiling water and bring to a rolling boil, before reducing the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add plenty of salt, cook for another five minutes and then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pan and cook the shallots until slightly softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot, turn up the heat and stir fry for a few minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and continue to try for 1 minute before adding the vinegar. Stir until evaporated, then add the drained lentils, vegetable stock and  milk to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil, before using a stick blender to whizz to your desired consistency. Add more milk or stock if you want a soup, or reheat and simmer until thick and stew-like. Check for seasoning, adding plenty of black pepper.

Serve hot with toast or bread. I also like to stir through some spinach – for lunchboxes I add a cube or two of frozen spinach in the morning before I leave the house.

 photo Vegan Mushroom and Lentil Soup 8_zpsdzcibo5b.jpgFor something so quick the result is so flavourful and cosy – it does taste as though it’s been simmering away for hours. It also makes my flat smell super good, so I’m down with that…

Do you have any lunchbox friendly vegan recipes?

Recipe: Vegan Coconut & Lime Ice-Cream

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been HOT in London over the last few days weeks months. It certainly feels like months now! The heatwave well and truly set in around June time, and it seems as though it’s here to stay. Luckily we’ve had a bit of rain and a few days of cooler weather just to remind us we are in the UK, but otherwise it’s been a solid few months of sunshine, sweaty Tube journeys and hiding in each shady spot we find. And eating ice-cream. Lots of ice-cream.

 photo Vegan Coconut IceCream_zps5tu770nn.jpgI’ve been trying to make homemade ice-cream a little more often this summer. I mean, given we have an ice-cream maker (the KitchenAid attachment) we have no excuse! We’ve found it so fun creating our favourite flavours, including an amazing brown-butter caramel drizzle (so, so good!) – but this is the first non-traditional one we’ve tried. We usually make an egg-custard base and go from there, but this is a cheat which involves no heat at all (which is wonderful, really, given it’s been too hot to consider cooking and baking recently). It’s super-simple, super-easy and only takes a few ingredients. Add in some of your time (most of it is spent waiting at the freezer until it’s ready!) and you’ve got some delicious vegan ice-cream that’s the perfect combination of indulgently creamy and refreshingly lime-y.

I’m not at all claiming that this is ‘healthy’ ice-cream, it’s still got heck of a lot of sugar and fat in it, but it does make my tummy happier than your standard dairy ice-cream whilst still being just as creamy and delicious. I also find the zingy-ness of the lime makes it super-refreshing and thirst-quenching, ideal on a hot day!

 photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream6_zpsnexmaszs.jpg photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream10_zpsddzzwabm.jpgRecipe (makes around 6 greedy servings)

  • 400ml coconut milk, shaken well
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 60g sugar, caster is best here as it dissolves easier
  • Optional – some vegan yoghurt, just to increase the creaminess slightly

This recipe is really easy – simply mix all of the ingredients together, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Chill for thirty minutes, then churn in your ice-cream machine until frozen and ice-cream-like (around 20 minutes). Freeze until needed, and serve with extra lime zest. It’s also great served with gingerut biscuits!

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, chill for around 3-4 hours, whisking every half an hour, then freeze until needed.

 photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream7_zpswdltgpal.jpgThis has become a real favourite recipe, and now I’m itching to try other coconut milk ice-creams. Next I’ll be doing a chocolate version, which I’m hoping will be like a frozen Bounty bar!

Have you tried making your own ice-cream?

Recipe: Vegan Keralan Curry with Cauliflower, Chickpeas & Pineapple

This is one of my all-time favourite curry recipes – full of fragrant flavours, packed with nutrients and veggies, and (best of all!) ready in around half an hour. It’s adapted from one of Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, though I don’t have the equipment nor the brain speed to make it in that time.

This is a pretty typical Keralan Curry, although I make no claims that it is authentic. It is lighter and fresh in flavour, and more vibrant in texture than a North Indian curry – and as such it is less complex to make. It does need a couple of spices that might not be in everyone’s cupboard, but actually we find that we do use these quite often in curries.

And if you fancy skipping the vegan/veggie element, this curry sauce is amazing made with prawns or white fish – though I’d fry off an onion or a couple of shallots for a bit more texture. I’m also tempted to play around with different veggies, I can imagine it would be delicious with some sweet potato!

Recipe – 2 dinner portions plus 2 lunches, or 3 for dinner (easily scaled up, we’ve made for 8 before)

  • ½ cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 handful of dried curry leaves
  • 7 cm piece of ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 big bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin (400g) chickpeas
  • 1 tin (227g) pineapple in juice
  • 1 lemon

Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower, then chop into small chunks and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little vegetable oil, then roast at 180C for around 10-15 minutes, or until lightly charred and starting to go tender.

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan, then quickly stir in the mustard and fenugreek seeds, turmeric and curry leaves. Peel the ginger and garlic , and trim the spring onions. Pulse these, together with the chilli and coriander stalks in a food processor (I used a mini chopper) until they form a rough pasta, then stir into the spices. Add the coconut milk, drained chickpeas and the pineapple chunks (plus the juice from the pineapple).

When the cauliflower is cooked as above, add this to the curry and bring the whole thing to a boil for a few minutes. Season to taste, adding in around half the juice of the lemon. Serve sprinkled with the coriander leaves, alongside rice – I love it with brown basmati.

This has become such a staple in our house, it’s perfect for a Meatfree Monday meal, and is also great for lunches throughout the week. I can imagine it would be perfect if you’ve got a cold too, with the chilli and ginger being perfect for perking you up. Definitely one we’ll be making again and again throughout the year!

What’s your favourite vegan recipe?