Recipe: Leek & Potato Soup

 photo 2014-03-09114308_zpsf5cb9baf.jpgNot quite the lightest of spring recipes, but I love a good soup! When the weather is warm I often crave lighter, healthier meals (I’m looking for some exciting and filling salad recipes, so if you have any please comment with a link!) but I also love my comfort food. Coupled with the fact that coming up exams the last thing I want to do is have to spend time cooking dinner, I’ve filled my freezer with homemade soup. A veggie packed meal on hand for lunches or dinners, all I need to do is heat it in a pan and stir for a little bit.

This is one of the easiest soups to make – I often find vegetable soups can be a little flavourless but this is always tasty. It just takes a little peeling and shopping, some simmering time, then a whizz in the blender. In less than half an hour you can have plenty of soup – this recipe made me six servings – for the freezer, which is time well spent in my opinion. My only point is to say that it needs vigorous stirring when you reheat, as it separates and looks rather unappetising for a bit. It does come back together though, I promise!

Ingredients for 6 Bowls of Soup

  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 3 leeks
  • around 800g of potatoes – 6 should do it!
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

Now Let’s Make Some Soup!

 photo 2014-03-09114947_zps8615282a.jpgFinely dice your onion and celery, then slice your leeks – just mainly the white part and discard the green ends.

 photo 2014-03-09115423_zpsdcf80161.jpgMelt the butter in your largest saucepan, and slow cook the onion, celery and leeks until soft. photo 2014-03-09120736_zps84757b55.jpg

 photo 2014-03-09120058_zps2a523737.jpgMeanwhile peel and dice your potatoes into roughly 2cm chunks.  photo 2014-03-09120744_zps4c5b18e4.jpg

 photo 2014-03-09121103_zps7a7e7e99.jpgAdd your potatoes to the pan, followed by the stock and some seasoning – I used a little dried thyme and a bayleaf. Simmer for around 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

 photo 2014-03-09132032_zpsb294b17d.jpgTransfer to a blender (you may need to do this in batches) and whizz until smooth. Leave some chunks if you like, but I like my soups completely lump-free. Pour the whizzed soup into a clean saucepan to cool for freezing, or serve.

I like to serve mine sprinkled with black pepper and some crisp bits of fried bacon. And plenty of bread for dipping…

 photo 2014-03-12194243_zpsca84869d.jpg

What’s your favourite soup?

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!

 photo IMAG1090_zpskpeulb9i.jpg

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!

 photo IMAG1095_zpsyxb4rrdy.jpg

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.

 photo IMAG1086_zpsl0rfm3rr.jpg

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

 photo IMAG1087_zpslsoijm8n.jpg

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.

 photo IMAG1088_zpsnmxs4ofp.jpg

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.

 photo IMAG1091_zpswsdznpsi.jpg

 photo IMAG1096_zpsmbiaijje.jpg

 photo IMAG1097_zps0oorflxx.jpg

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

 

 photo IMAG1098_zpsmwrulozq.jpg

 

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

Recipe: Fried Pea Sandwich (a.k.a. A Cheat’s Samosa)

2014-01-19 13.53.49

My boyfriend’s dad is currently taking part in an Indian cookery class, and luckily for me I was able to sample some of the things he made before I left for university. One of last week’s goodies was what I can only describe as a fried sandwich with a filling of spicy peas. I loved it – it was spicy, fresh, crunchy and warming with an almost summery hint coming from the peas. And of course I asked for the recipe.

Reading the recipe I came across a big problem. I’d never even heard of some of the spices (hing anyone?!) and I definitely knew that most students’ budget wouldn’t cover them. Mine definitely didn’t! So I decided to improvise. This recipe is what I came up with, and for about 10 minutes of work and some very cheap ingredients it was damn tasty! It makes a perfect snack or light lunch, so give it a go as something different!

I’m just going to go straight into it and give you the recipe, its so simple you don’t even need an ingredients list…

In the morning, get a handful of peas out to defrost. Get your bread out too – you want it slightly stale for this as it will go crispier.

2014-01-19 13.28.15Get some spicy out on a small plate. I used curry powder, cumin, tumeric and crushed chillies, but even just curry powder would do!

2014-01-19 13.32.44Tip your peas onto the spices, and crush with a fork. The original recipe said they should go like breadcrumbs, mine didn’t look that way! As long as they aren’t whole and they aren’t mush they should be fine…

2014-01-19 13.35.57Press the pea mixture into a slice of bread. Try and press it down as much as possible as this will prevent the sandwich from falling apart.

2014-01-19 13.39.23Top with the second slice of bread (pressing down well!) and then fry in a preheated oiled pan for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy.

2014-01-19 13.48.37This is delicious served on its own, but I’m thinking it will be even better with a cucumber-yoghurt dip. Watch this space!

2014-01-19 13.53.34

I never would have thought to try making a ‘samosa’ from a fried sandwich, but this really works. Let me know if you give it a go!

EDIT: by request, I’m adding this to Deena Kakaya’s Fabulous Fushion Food Challenge – a challenge which to be honest is right up my street! There’s already some great entries for this month, so please do have a look at them!