Autumn is drawing in, and as far as I am concerned that equals soup weather (and pie weather of course!). This one I find particularly warming, I think partly due to the mace which I very much associate with autumn and winter cooking. Mace is a truly wonderful spice; if you do not have any in your store-cupboard I highly recommend that you get some. Mace comes from the same tree as nutmeg but has a rather more savoury taste, it is fantastic in all sorts of wintry stews and I recently put it in a rather delicious beef pie.
This mushroom soup recipe is vegan; I put soy milk in it rather than cows milk because I had some in the fridge which needed using. I have to say that I don’t like soy milk in tea or on cereal but it is really good to cook with. I am also rather fond of almond milk – it’s great to cook with and rather good in hot chocolate.
- Mushrooms! I used quite a big bowl full (see picture below) which were left over from Punk Night – I don’t like to waste things! Mushrooms shrink more than you think they will, so don’t worry if they fill the whole saucepan because they will reduce.
- A small red onion
- Half a teaspoon of Mace
- A teaspoon of mustard seeds
- A couple of grinds of black pepper
- A tablespoon of cornflour
Heat some oil in a frying pan and then add the onion, mustard seeds, mace and pepper.
When the onion is nicely softened, add the mushrooms. Give it all a stir, turn the heat down and put a lid on the pan allowing the mushrooms to ‘sweat’.
Keep an eye on it; you probably won’t need to add any liquid because a lot will come out of the mushrooms, but if it looks like it is drying out then add a splash of hot water from the kettle.
When the mushrooms are cooked, put them in the blender along with the cornflour. Give it a good whizz, adding the soy milk (or other milk) a bit at a time.
Put the mixture back in the pan and heat slowly, allowing the cornflour to thicken.
Taste, and add further seasoning if required. More milk can be added, depending on how thin or otherwise you like your soup.
I love late summer and autumn, not least because it is pickle and chutney time!
A few weeks ago I had lots of surplus beetroot and so I went hunting around for a pickled beetroot recipe. I decided to wait until I had tasted it to share it with you, and I can now confirm that it is indeed yummy. It has been only a couple of weeks in the jar, consequently it is still rather vinegary – which is fine if you like it like that but it will mature more with patience.
I (mostly) used the above recipe; one of the things I like about it is that no preparation of raw beetroot is required and so it isn’t too messy. I still managed to get rather red hands though!
For twice the amount of beetroot I used the same proportion of vinegar to sugar, plus approximately 3 tbsp pink pepper corns, a few cloves (all that was left in the jar), 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp pickling spice and 1 tbsp juniper berries.
I ended up with a couple of extra jars-worth of pickling vinegar, which I used to pickle some little cucumbers from my garden. I haven’t tried the gerkins yet but I’m looking forward to it; I am going to try to be more patient because I only have one jar of them.
Bring on Autumn!
This was rather good. I made it up on the spot but it was based on numerous other curries that I have made in the past.
As usual, there are things that you can add/ substitute if the contents of your fridge is a bit different from mine; I wouldn’t play around with the core spices too much though.
If you want this curry to be vegan then use coconut milk instead of the coconut yoghurt; the only reason that I had coconut yoghurt is that someone brought me a pot to go with a yummy pudding (thanks again Penny – I’m making it go a long way!).
These amounts would serve 2 to 3 people; I ate two portions last night (couldn’t resist seconds!) and then had the rest for brunch this morning.
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 or 2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon Vegetable stock/ 1 vegetable stock-cube
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 6 small new potatoes, halved
- 1 large mushroom, chopped
- 1/2 tin of chickpeas
- 1/2 tin tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons of coconut yoghurt
- Rice (1/2 cup per person)
- Cardamom pods (approx 1 per serving of rice)
- a pinch of Saffron
Fry the onion, carrot, potatoes, garlic and spices in a high smoke-point oil (groundnut or rapeseed/canola); you need to be reasonably generous with the oil and keep a good eye on it.
After a few minutes add the tinned tomatoes, the chickpeas and about 1/3 pint veg stock. When this is bubbling nicely turn it down to a low simmer and leave until the potatoes and carrots are cooked (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Next add the chopped mushroom and coconut yoghurt; at the same time put the rice on, I use 1/2 cup per person and add a little veg stock, cardamom pods and saffron if I have it. A good rule of thumb for cooking rice is for the ‘height’ of the rice in the pan and the ‘height’ of the water above the rice to be approximately the same; then, when the water is gone the rice should be cooked (I’m sure that some of my Asian friends would contradict me there, but that’s how I do it).
When the the rice is cooked take it off the heat and taste the curry, seasoning with a bit more salt and chilli if required.
It’s time to use up the rest of the carrots before my next shop, so it’s soup time again! This particular pot of soup fed me for two meals.
- 1 large onion/ a couple of small ones
- 5 carrots (approx)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- Olive oil
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 pint vegetable stock
- approx 1 cup of cider (I used some frozen home made cider; made into ‘ice-cubes’ in the same way as the turkey stock mentioned previously)
- almond milk (you can substitute in any other type of milk)
Peel and chop the onions and carrots and cook in some olive oil (just enough so that they don’t stick) along with the spices for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring occasionally.
Add the cider and cook on a medium heat for another 5 minutes.
Add the lentils and stock and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, adding more liquid if required.
Transfer to a blender and whizz until smooth, adding almond milk until the soup is nearly the right consistency. Pour the soup back into the pan, using some more of the almond milk to swill out the rest of the soup from the blender so you don’t waste any.
Bring the soup slowly up to temperature. Taste. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
I have to say that I am usually pretty rubbish at making myself eat breakfast, so I am rather pleased with this little number which I made up last week when I realised that buying a pastry on the way to work wasn’t an option with my £5 a week budget! The apples I used came from my parents apple trees – hence the winter wrinkles.
- One cooking apple
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup sultanas
- 1/2 tsp dried ginger
This can be made either in a pan on the hob, or in the microwave. The first time I made it I (somewhat miraculously) had time to make it on the hob before I left the house. The following morning was a bit more ‘situation normal’ however, so I took all the ingredients with me and made it in the microwave at work and had a number of rather jealous people peering over my shoulder.
Chop and peel the apple and put it in either a small saucepan or a microwave-proof bowl. Add a splash of boiling water, the fruit and the dried ginger and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the oats and chopped nuts, stir, and cook for another couple of minutes adding a splash more water if it looks a bit dry.
Taste and add a little sugar if necessary (depending on the sweetness of the apple and your tastebuds) and enjoy with a steaming mug of coffee.