Category Archives: Vegan

Healthy Vegan Shamrock Shake

Healthy_Vegan_Shamrock_Shake

My friend Emily has been making (and enjoying!) my Shamrock Shake recipe from my book, Smarter Fitter Smoothies. And since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it was about time I share this healthy vegan smoothie on the blog for all the world to see.

I’m not sure what it says about me that I am so nostalgic for a milkshake made famous by a certain fast food chain whose name begins with “M” and ends with “s”. But there you have it. And there’s no need to feel bad about drinking this “milk”shake – it’s totally vegan, relatively low in sugar and full of healthy vitamin-rich greens (the smoothie gets its green color from spinach). Feel free to toss in some avocado for an extra dose of creamy green goodness.

Healthy_Vegan_Shamrock_Shake-2

Healthy Vegan Shamrock Shake

  • 1 ripe banana (preferably frozen, ~120g)
  • 1 cup spinach (~50g)
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint
  • 2 dates
  • 10 cashews (~10g)
  • a few ice cubes
  • water, nut milk or coconut milk for an uber rich Shamrock Shake experience

Combine everything a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9200) with enough liquid to blend and blitz until smooth. Garnish with a couple fresh mint leaves if you’d like.

215 Cals, 5g Fat, 44g Carbs, 4g Protein, 5g Fiber

Image credit: Emily L.W. Kern

Mango Chilli Sorbet

Mango Chilli Sorbet

I recently had the pleasure of going to the latest supper club at The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. The theme: Indian Thali, hosted and prepared by the VCS’s awesome chef divas, Rachel Demuth, Jo Ingleby and Helen Lawrence.

It’s been ages since I’ve been out for Indian, and this was some of the tastiest, freshest and most interesting Indian food I’ve had in a long time: masala dosa, sambar, chutney, homemade paneer, peshwari naan and some new discoveries such as masala vada and khadi. (Rachel Demuth’s blog has a full recap of the evening with some amazing recipes).

One of the meal’s highlights came at the very end, and made me feel super glad I saved room to enjoy dessert: mango chilli sorbet. Tart, refreshing and with just a touch of heat from the chilli, this type of dessert is my favourite way to end a meal.

Beautiful Dessert

 

I’ve tried making mango sorbet at home but have never managed to make it taste like the mango sorbets and ice creams you get in Indian restaurants. So I picked Helen’s brain after the supper club, and she told me her secret: Kesar mangos! This yellowish variety of mango is popular in India and is what gives the mango-sorbet-of-my-dreams its characteristic flavour.

Fresh Kesar mangos are not easy to find in the UK, but tinned Kesar mangos are. And so, Helen’s parting gift to me was a big ol’ tin of pureed Kesar Mangos, offered on the condition that I make mango sorbet at home and write about it. So here I am.

Kesar Mango Pulp

The tinned Kesar mangos did not disappoint. They’re already sweetened (ingredients: mango, sugar, citric acid – nothing scary), so all I needed to do was blitz it in the Vitamix with some lime juice and ginger juice, mix in a finely diced red chilli, then churn in the ice cream maker. Pretty awesome.

The result was everything I hoped for. Arguably, I could have chopped my chillies a tad finer as they were detectable as “bits” in the sorbet, but this effect sort of grew on me – I liked the texture, and the sensation, like little pockets of heat encased in frozen mango awesomeness.

Mango Chilli Sorbet

5.0 from 2 reviews

Mango Chilli Sorbet
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8
 

A refreshing sorbet, recipe courtesy of Helen Lawrence from The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. Kesar mangoes are the best in this, but if you can’t find fresh ones, use tinned (omit the honey and sugar if the tinned mangoes are sweetened). To make ginger juice, grate fresh ginger and then use your hands to squeeze squeeze out the juice.
Ingredients
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled & stoned (or 1 850g tin of sweetened Kesar Mangos)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger juice
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 100ml limejuice
  • 50ml honey

Instructions
  1. Place the mangoes, ginger juice, chilli, lime juice and honey into a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9200) and puree until absolutely smooth. Add the sugar and buzz again until mixed.
  2. Transfer the puree into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions. Freeze.
  3. When ready to eat, take the sorbet out of the freezer about ten minutes or so before you’re ready to eat it – this will make it much easier to scoop!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 85g Calories: 111 Fat: 0.3 Carbohydrates: 29.1 Sugar: 25.5 Fiber: 1.3 Protein: 0.5 Cholesterol: 0

 

I am submitting this recipe to the dairy-free Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge hosted by Kavey Eats.

Grilled Leeks with Mustard Vinaigrette

Grilled Leeks with Vinaigrette, Served on Quinoa and wild Rice

The secret to tasty BBQ leeks is to blanch the leeks first so that they’re pretty much cooked before they go on the BBQ, then dress them in a tangy vinaigrette that compliments the sweetness of the leek. Almost any mustardy vinaigrette will do – I keep it basic with olive oil, white wine vinegar and dijon, then add fresh herbs like parsley, chervil or oregano to vary the recipes.

Serve the leeks over some whole grains like barley, quinoa or wild rice and you have a substantial side dish that’s perfect for a BBQ. You can also add other grilled vegetables – courgettes and asparagus work especially well. Too cold for an outside BBQ? Stay inside and cook this on a griddle pan.

Griddled leeks with quinoa, wild rice and mustard dressing. Nice recipe via the @riverford box.

BBQ Leeks with Mustard Vinaigrette

Inspired by Riverford’s Griddled Leeks with Wild Rice, Quinoa and Chervil.

Ingredients

  • 3 leeks, cut into 5cm lengths
  • a handful of fresh herbs like parsley, chervil or oregano, chopped
  • salad leaves and/or cooked grains to serve
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard

Method

  1. Boil the leeks for about 8 minutes, until tender. Remove from the boiling water and run under cold water until cool. Slice each piece in half lengthwise.
  2. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by whisking all of the vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the leeks and use your hand to slather the oil all over the leeks. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat up the BBQ (or griddle pan) on a high heat. Grill the leeks on each side to make ridge marks.
  5. Toss the salad leaves or grains with some of the vinaigrette and most of the fresh herbs. Arrange on a plate and top with the grilled leeks. Drizzle the rest of the vinaigrette over the leeks and sprinkle with the remaining herbs.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Recipe Review: Chia Pudding

Earl Grey Chia Pudding with Marmalade

Today my good friend Emily of sunroseclear.com is guest-posting on the chia pudding food craze. On Emily’s last visit (Imbolc 2015!), I gave her some top quality chia seeds from Naturya and sent her on a mission to experiment with chia pudding and report back on her results. Is it really worth all the hype?  

Monica and I are fashionably late to the chia party. Chia has been “so hot right now” for awhile actually, and Pinterest has long been trying to convince me of its virtues. When and why did our chia ambitions begin? My memory is fuzzy on this point (too much sloe gin?), but I think we started talking about chia as an option for smoothie enhancements. We both have a smoothie every day, and we both need more protein in our diet. So, why not? Chia ho! This is a short account of my early chia experiments:

1. Vanilla Chia Pudding

Vanilla Blueberry Chia Pudding

For my first chia pudding I looked to Choosing Raw for a basic recipe and used her 3 tbsp chia : 1 cup liquid as my pudding standard. For me this made enough for breakfast and an afternoon snack. Chia pudding is filling!

I found the basic chia, almond milk, vanilla, and honey pretty boring, even with blueberries on top. The texture is like tapioca pudding, which is not my favorite thing…but eventually I convinced myself they’re like the world’s smallest tea bubbles. That helped, but…onward!

2. Earl Grey Tea Chia Pudding

Earl Grey Chia Pudding with Marmalade

Pudding! Earl Grey! Cold! If you can use any liquid for chia pudding, why wouldn’t you use Earl Grey tea? This one went through a few test batches, and the ratio of milk to tea is a matter of taste, but here’s what I came up with:

Just mix it all up in a glass or jar and let it set for about 3 hours or overnight. I really squeezed the tea bag into my glass – and then used it again for tea! Sadly, while pretty, the orange marmalade garnish was too overwhelming a flavor.

3. Chia: Smoothie Ingredient

Strawberry Kiwi Beetroot Carrot Smoothie

As Monica has pointed out in her ingenious smoothie book (which I use all the time, seriously, she isn’t making me say this), bananas are a great smoothie thickener but also kind of a sugar bomb. Most of my daily smoothies still have a smidge of banana, but for a week I tried replacing it with chia. It definitely does the trick, especially if you let the smoothie sit for a few minutes. This is probably how I will use chia most often. More protein, calcium, and fiber for me!

4. Chia Smoothie Pudding

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chia Smoothie

I know I’m not the first to think of it, but making a chia pudding using a smoothie as your liquid is pretty great. It completely replaced the simple pudding of my affections. You still get the tapioca texture from the chia, but with lots of healthy fruit and veg – and no additional sweeteners.

That said, it also has dessert potential. I made a Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding from a peanut butter, banana, oatmeal, and almond milk smoothie. Chill for a few hours and swirl some strawberry jam through. A nice dessert version of the sandwich classic.

Verdict: I’ll certainly keep adding chia to my morning smoothies for the nutrition boost and possibly explore some other chia desserts.

Monica’s Notes on Nutrition: I felt compelled to add some commentary on the nutritional value of Chia Pudding. As an example, a chia pudding made with 3 Tbsp chia, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 2 tsp honey and 1/2 cup of blueberries has 333 Calories, 19g fat, 18g fiber, 42g carbs and 11g Protein. Compare this to, say, 50g of porridge with the same amount of almond milk, honey and blueberries: 308 Calories, 7.5g fat, 8g fiber, 58g carbs, 7.8g Protein. Those who are fat-phobic might scoff at the chia pudding, where ~50% of the calories come from fat. Chia has been praised as being a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, but research shows that the body isn’t very good at converting these types of plant-based omega-3s into something the body can be used. Still, they are a source of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals so they’re not going to do you any harm. I like how Katie Trant (nutritionist and author of the Muffin Myth blog) puts it in her well-researched article Chia Seeds: Healthy or Hype? – “Chia seeds are without question very healthy, but they’re not a miracle.” And probably not even life-changing.

Follow Emily’s chia antics – among other things – on Instagram, Twitter and her blog. And look out for more chia experiments to come: chia trifles, chia parfaits, chia jam… what else? Share your chia inspiration in the comments!

Recipe Review: The Really Hungry Burger by Anna Jones

Anna Jones' Really Hungry Burger

I have a love-hate relationship with veggie burgers (see this post from 2008: Wanted: A Veggie Burger That Isn’t a Mush Burger). The best veggie burger I’ve ever had was the beetroot burger from Mildred’s in London. I’ve since tried many veggie burger recipes, but most fail on various merits: too mushy, no texture, boring flavour, crumbly, and most commonly, made with so many breadcrumbs as to totally negate the need or desire for a bun.

I’ve even gone so far as creating a website entirely devoted to my search for the Ultimate Veggie Burger. But after so many experiments I was starting to think that veggie burgers were a total misnomer and that it was impossible to recreate the visceral joy of eating a tasty burger (with your hands, please, none of this British knife-and-fork stuff) without going back to the basic meaty principles.

It’s been a while since I’ve ventured back into veggie burger territory but I was inspired by my friend, CrossFit buddy, and fellow veggie burger enthusiast Jane to give them another go. Anna Jones’ recipe for The Really Hungry Burger caught both of our eyes. It helps that the picture of the burger looks awesome, but the ingredients sound really interesting too: mushrooms, dates, tahini… this burger was speaking my language. And Anna Jones’ own notes address some of my core concerns about veggie burgers:

Please be assured that this is not the breaded sweetcorn and mushroom mush excuse that usually shows up between two white buns. This is a hearty health-packed wonder that makes no apology to anyone…I’ve played around with a lot of recipes before settling on this one, some full of bright herb freshness and grated veg, some packed with protein-rich tofu, and all were good, but what I look for in a burger is a deep moreish flavour, savoury and complex, so this is the one.

Anna Jones' Really Hungry Burger

Jane and I made these burgers two ways: one with cannellini beans, the other with black beans. Both were awesome. The burgers hold their shape exceptionally well and they have great texture from the brown rice. The flavour really IS savoury and complex – I probably wouldn’t guess dates and tahini from the burger alone, but they combine perfectly with the rest of the ingredients to make a really tasty burger that’s totally worthy of being called “The Really Hungry Burger”.

As to toppings, Jane and I both liked Anna’s suggestion to serve the burgers with avocado and a quick cucumber pickle. We also felt that the burger benefited from a good dose of cheesy goodness. And of course, everything is better with giardiniera.

So maybe my quest for the Ultimate Veggie Burger is not fruitless after all. I will definitely be coming back to this recipe again, which means I can turn my attention to solving other problems, like what is the ultimate drink pairing to go with a veggie burger? To this end I had some help from Sir Neil of the France wine experience, whose top pick was a white Rhone. I got hold of a Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne, which I swear I didn’t pick just for the name. This was way more fruity than the white wines I usually go for (NZ Sauvingon Blanc is my usual default, which probably says a lot about my knowledge of wine!), but I really enjoyed something new and I thought the wine’s peachiness stood up well to the hearty burger, and the total flavour explosion that came from all the wild toppings!

Finally, it should be noted that Jane fed the leftovers to a couple of meat-loving dudes who thought the veggie burgers were outstanding. The recipe features in Anna’s new book A Modern Way To Eat, probably worth picking up if you’re looking for satisfying vegetarian recipes designed to please ALL lovers of good food, veggies and omnivores alike.

Get the recipe: The Really Hungry Burger [annajones.co.uk]

Edamame Hummus

Edamame Hummus

This is my favorite way to make hummus at the moment, using edamame soy beans instead of the traditional chickpeas. It’s an awesome high-protein, high-fiber snack that also travels well making it perfect for packed lunches and long hikes.

I buy shelled edamame in the frozen section at Waitrose and make this in a blender (a food processor will work, too). I like to mix in a small handful of whole edamame at the end for a texture sensation.

Hummus is always better with garnishes so I’ve included some suggestions below.

Edamame Hummus

  • 2 cups shelled edamame
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt
  • water

Combine everything in a blender (I use an Optimum 9400) and add enough water to get the machine blending away. Blitz to a smooth consistency and serve with garnishes of your choosing.

Garnish ideas: Cilantro, paprika, berbere, piment d’Espelette, olive oil, argan oil, pumpkin seeds, dukkah, more edamame beans

More alternative hummus recipes:

 

Raw Orange and Cacao Energy Bars

Ridgeway snacks to power us from Ogbourne St George to Uffington. Trying out a new raw bar blend with orange zest and cacao nibs. See you at the White Horse!

As part of my 2015 Adventure Goal to complete the Ridgeway this year, I’ve been experimenting with raw snack bars to power me through the miles. This is the latest, receiving a 10/10 rating from my walking buddy. I make these in my Froothie Optimum 9400 which does a great job of grinding the nuts into a fairly fine powder and makes it easier to bind together the ingredients in the bars, but you could also use a food processor or other blender to make these.

Raw Orange and Cacao Energy Bars

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 cups cashews
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 heaped tbsp of cacao nibs (I recommend Naturya Organic Cocoa Nibs)
  • a small pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or blender pulse cashews until coarsely chopped.
  2. Remove half of the cashews. Continue processing the remaining cashews until finely ground. Combine with the coarsely chopped cashews.
  3. Add the prunes, dates and orange zest to the food processor or blender and blitz into a paste.
  4. Add the cacao nibs and the nuts to the food processor / blender (don’t add all of the nuts at once – you might not need all of the nuts to bind theses together; it depends on the moisture content of your dried fruit). Blitz until everything has congealed together. Check the consistency – if it’s super sticky, add more nuts.
  5. Line a small container with cling film (I used a 4′ tupperware). Press the mixture into the dish with your hands.
  6. Refrigerate for half an hour and then cut unto pieces.

See also:

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

This is some well-traveled guacamole. It started at a cocktail party in Berlin. Or rather, in the hours before the cocktail party began. The hosts were my friends Rachel and Dave who I were visiting for Thanksgiving – me, Rachel and Dave go way back and have a happy history of expat Thanksgivings together. And on this particular Thanksgiving, they had the genius idea of having a Thanksgiving Eve cocktail party.

But back to the guac… pre-party, we went to the Turkish Market on the bank of the Maybach for provisions, and somewhere amongst the spices, pomegranate, dolmades, and traditional Turkish Heisser Apfel Ingwer Punch, an avocado score was found. A gentleman at one of the vegetable stalls sold us a whole box of avocados for a mere 2 euros. An idea was forming…

Requisite avocado...

One of my visions for the cocktail party was guacamole to pair with the Mexican Martinis I planned to make. The challenge in Berlin – and many parts of Europe – is that it’s really hard to find fresh coriander. Maybe it was the Turkish influence but in my mind I started to evolve my idea of guacamole to use other herbs. I also needed an alternative to tomato which is woefully out of season in wintertime Germany. There at the Turkish market, stalls laden with bright red pomegranate and big bundles of parsley, the solution was practically screaming at me.

When we got home, we realized that the aforementioned gentlemen was eager to dispose of his avocados because they were insanely ripe. But even after discarding the truly worst of the bunch, we were still left with an ample supply of avocados to play with. The guacamole was assembled as all guacamole should be… throw your ingredients into a bowl, mix, taste and adjust as you go. Our ingredients were avocado, red onion, lemon juice, pomegranate, parsley, salt and lots of pepper. The icing on the avocado cake, however, was the final flourish of dukkah sprinkled on top.

Dukkah

In case you’re not on the dukkah bandwagon yet, it’s basically just a mix of toasted spices, nuts and seeds that have been coarsely crushed. You can buy dukkah in the shops now, but it’s so much better when you make it yourself. There are an infinite number of ways to make dukkah, but I personally like Ottolenghi’s dukkah recipe. If you don’t feel like making the whole thing, even a pinch of freshly toasted cumin seeds, or a sprinkle of toasted chopped pistachios, will take this guacamole to otherworldly dimensions!

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

This concoction – guacagranate? pomemole? – was so successful we made it again the next day. And it made a reprise again this last winter solstice at our tamale party in France where, again, cilantro was impossible to come by. But even back in the UK, where cilantro is readily available (a reminder of how lucky we are to live amongst such food abundance), I still go back to this, especially as we’re still in the midst of winter, and tomatoes aren’t even worth buying at the moment.

Also, for the record, the Mexican Martinis were wildly successful and went down perfectly with the guacamole – and the games, which went on until nearly 5am! Total success!

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

When I’m making guacamole, I typically allow for one avocado per person, so scale this up appropriately to your group size!

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • dukkah for garnish (I like Ottolenghi’s dukkah recipe)

Method

  1. Mash the avocados in a bowl – don’t go too crazy, try to keep some chunks in there for texture.
  2. Stir in the pomegranate seeds, parsley, red onion, lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and a hefty grind of fresh black pepper.
  3. Mix together and taste – at this point I often end up adding more salt, pepper and lemon. But you could also add more of everything as you wish!
  4. Serve in a bowl garnished with the dukkah.

Winter Guacamole with Pomegranate and Dukkah

With thanks to my awesome friends Rachel and Dave for entertaining my avocado fantasies (and treating me to the most amazing weekend in Berlin!).

Kadawe champagne stop

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Homemade Raw Bars with Agen Prunes

https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacekadet/15602952264/

I first became acquainted with Agen prunes when I went to Gascony in 2012. As my friend Mardi (the venerable blogger at eat live travel write) puts it: “if someone thinks they don’t like prunes, give them one of these and they’ll change their mind.” It’s totally true.

Agen prunes (pruneaux d’Agen) have been developed to have the perfect balance of sugar and acidity. They are moist, delicious and very addictive. I always bring some back with me when I go on my France road trips.

Agen prunes

Speaking of road trips, while I was cruising along the autoroute last December from Gascony to the ferry terminal in St Malo, snacking on prunes and daydreaming about car snacks (and Armagnac, also good with Agen prunes), I got to thinking that these prunes would make a great alternative to dates in a homemade raw snack bar recipe. I’m talking about snack bars of the Larabar / Nakd bar variety; basically a nut and dried fruit mush, expensive to buy, delicious to eat, and actually really easy to make at home.

Dates are the default fruit binder in homemade raw bars, but they are SO sugary that it makes me wonder if these raw bars are any better for you than a Snicker’s bar (for your reference, a “Cashew Cookie” Larabar has 230 Calories and 18g of sugars while a Snickers bar has 250 Calories and 27g of sugars – food for thought!).

Agen prunes

Not long after I got home I tested my Agen prune theory. It turns out that the prunes are even better than dates for binding the ingredients together, and they have almost half of the sugar as dates. I love their flavour, less cloyingly sweet than dates and with a character all of their own.

In this recipe I’ve combined the prunes with walnuts, a nut which I’ve always found a nice compliment to prunes, and are also purported to be “the healthiest nut” for their high level of antioxidants. I also added cinnamon (I love cinnamon) and coconut flakes (I love the texture), though you could keep it pure and simple and omit these ingredients, or get creative and add your own spices and add-ins.

Homemade Raw Bars with Agen Prunes

And so, from my Gascony road trip, a new road trip snack is born! And this isn’t only for road trips – I’m going to be bringing these on hikes and bike rides, too.

Lastly, if you think you have to go all the way to Gascony to get their delicious prunes, fear not – Waitrose now stocks them, and no doubt a Google search will reveal more online stockists. (Even so, you should go to Gascony, because it’s amazing!)

Prune, Walnut, and Coconut Bars

This is a good basic template for making all manners of homemade raw bars. Sub all or some of the prunes for other dried fruit; the walnuts for cashews, almonds or a mixture; add other spices like nutmeg, ginger or cocoa; experiment and have fun! For more raw bar inspiration, check out my previous post on making homemade Larabars.

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 cups walnut halves or pieces (depending on the prunes, you may need more or less nuts to get them to bind)
  • 1 cup pitted Agen prunes
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (or shredded coconut)
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded / desiccated coconut
  • a good pinch of cinnamon
  • a small pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse walnuts until coarsely chopped.
  2. Remove half of the walnuts. Continue processing the remaining walnuts until finely ground.
  3. Add the prunes to the nuts along with the salt and cinnamon. Process a few more seconds until everything is combined.
  4. Empty mixture into a bowl and stir in the reserved walnuts and the coconut flakes.
  5. Line a small container with cling film (I used a 4′ tupperware). Sprinkle some of the shredded coconut on the bottom of the container. Press the mixture into the dish with your hands. Top with the rest of the shredded coconut and press down gently so it sticks to the top.
  6. Refrigerate for half an hour and cut unto pieces.

Homemade Raw Bars with Agen Prunes

I traveled to Gascony from Wiltshire, UK, by car and by ferry, using Brittany Ferries to cross the channel from Portsmouth to St Malo. Brittany Ferries also sails to Caen, La Havre, Roscoff, Cherbourg Santander and Bilbao, all perfect launch pads for your road trip to Gascony, for prunes, Armagnac and whatever other Gascon goodies strike your fancy.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Curry Powder

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Curry Powder
This time of year we’re all craving food that will lift us from the winter doldrums, excite the tastebuds, and negate the effects of holiday indulgence. This spiced pumpkin soup ticks all of the boxes, while still remaining true to the season and totally comforting.

Of course, curried pumpkin soup is a classic, but this recipe takes it up a notch by using homemade curry powder which is such a huge step above from the shop-bought stuff. Freshly ground whole spices are intensely more fragrant and flavoursome than pre-ground spices, which quickly go stale while sitting on the shelf.

The soup itself is very simple – you need little more than pumpkin (or other winter squash), onion, oil or butter, water and of course, the curry powder, which itself isn’t spicy so if you’d like a bit more heat in your pumpkin soup, feel free to add some cayenne or a chopped red chilli. I love this soup garnished with Greek yoghurt and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), but a good vegan standby is coconut milk and chopped coriander.

I do my soup-blending and spice-grinding in my Optimum 9400 blender which conveniently blends both wet and dry ingredients. But you could also use an immersion blender, spice grinder, coffee grinder, and so on to get the job done.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Curry Powder

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter, coconut oil or a neutral oil like grapeseed
  • 3 pounds of pumpkin or other winter squash (crown prince, butternut, kabocha, etc), peeled and cut into 2-3cm cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (see below)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 cups vegetable stock or water

Optional garnishes

  • Greek yoghurt
  • Coconut milk
  • Toasted seeds
  • Sliced spring onions
  • Chopped coriander

Method

  1. Put the butter or oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. When hot, add the pumpkin and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
  2. Add the curry powder, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, give it a stir and cook until fragrant (a minute or so). Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is totally soft (about 30 minutes).
  3. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or jug blender (if using a jug blender, let the soup cool a bit as hot liquids can be explosive when blended!).
  4. Serve hot with garnishes if you’d like.

Homemade Curry Powder

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg pieces
  • Seeds from 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 dried curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients except the fenugreek in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant. During the last few moments, add the fenugreek.
  2. Let everything cool and then grind to a fine powder (you can use a high powered blender for this, or a spice or coffee grinder). Store in a well-sealed container. This will keep nicely for a few months.

For more healthy blender recipes, check out my fellow #jumpstart15 comrades: