Soups

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio (vegan, gluten-free)

This is an ideal soup anytime of year, but works so well in the summer because it can also be eaten hot or cold.  The best of both bowls!  It sits in the fridge and is an ideal, standby meal.  The potatoes add some substance and the wasabi, a delicious, mustard-y kick.  In Snowdonia, we need a flexible soup this time of year.  One day scorching, the next chucking it down and nippy.

But really, British summertime has taken off this year, even in North Wales!  We’ve had a summertime!!  All that sunshine has come with a few challenges for growers, but the produce we’ve been getting is delicious.  It’s not often we get to try British fruit and veg that’s been bathed in a load of sunshine.  Is it just me, or are the strawberries the best for a long while this year?

Peas are one of my favourite things about summer, so here’s a simple soup recipe, using local peas given a global twist.  I think that’s one of my favourite things about cooking, taking the best local produce to Tokyo or Tehran for a ride.

Which is pretty much what happens in this recipe, some traditional Japanese flavours light up organic veggies from Snowdonia.

Fan of chilled soups?

If you haven’t tried a cold soup in the summer, give it a whirl.  The Watermelon Gazpacho recipe I shared earlier in the summer was really popular, I just think this type of soup is the idea summer meal.  It’s delicious, light and when served chilled, a cooling lunch on a steamy day.  This smooth and satisfying recipe reminds me a little of a Vichyssoise, a traditional French chilled soup, I think its the creamy texture, given by the potatoes.

Wasabi and seaweed may be new ingredients to you, but most supermarkets stock them nowadays.  Wasabi is similar to mustard or horseradish, you can use it as you would mustard.  I love it mixed into mayonnaise, or in dressings, even thinly spread in a sandwich with pan fried tofu or tempeh, lettuce and other vegetables.

What’s Gomasio?!  A tastier, healthier alternative to salt

Gomasio (or Gomashio) is a lot like a Japanese version of the Hazelnut Dukkha that I posted recently.  It is a Japanese condiment, basically toasted sesame seeds, with a little salt, ground or blended.  It’s something that adds so much flavour to whatever you sprinkle/ stir it on/ into.  Have you tried toasted sesame seeds at home?  Trust me, they’re intense little things!

Gomasio can add real bite and a lovely toasty flavour to your favourite salads or pan fried greens and also goes well with a host of Japanese dishes (as you’d imagine!)  Gomasio is something that can replace salt and with the sesame seeds, adds a lot of nutritional goodness to our meals.

The ratio of salt can vary depending on the diet, macrobiotic diets follow a roughly 18/1 ratio, average gomasio is more like 5/1 (5 parts sesame to 1 part salt).   You’ll find your perfect balance I’m sure.

Gomasio keeps well in a sealed container.   I pop mine in the fridge, it lasts much longer that way.  This goes for all seeds and nuts, once they’re chopped or blended, all those lovely fragrances and oils are released and to take care of them, pop them in the fridge.  Gomasio is one of those recipes that is so much more than it’s ingredient list, only two, it’s a keeper!  Pop it on the table, use as a replacement for salt or pepper.  Makes a very nice change I find.

Lots of peas with a nice tickle of wasabi plus the flavourful seaweed gomasio.

Keep up to date with new recipes and news from the BHK……

I hope you get to try out this recipe.  If you like this and would like to hear more from us, we’re working on our new newsletter at the minute, which will be out soon.  Sign up here, it takes a few clicks, and we’ll send you all the up to date info from the BHK with recipes, pictures and special offers for upcoming events.  I’ve decided to focus on writing a new cookbook, I’ll share something about that, and I’ve some exciting things to share soon regarding new events and festival appearances.

If you’re in the UK, I hope you’re having an awesome summer, diving into lakes, forests, ice creams and BBQ’s, and are also enjoying these long sunny nights properly.  If you’re somewhere else in the world, how has your summer been?

 

Recipe Notes

You can add tamari/ soya sauce instead of salt, but it can affect the colour.  I prefer this soup very green looking.

Just like horseradish or mustard, if you put too much wasabi in your soup, you’ll get that overpowering experience that leads to ‘mustard face’.  That’s what we call it anyway.  That fiery, burning sensation in your nostrils and roof of the mouth, leading to a look of sheer panic and confusion.  Some people like this kind of thing, but to avoid it, just add your wasabi a little at a time.  You can even leave it out until the end and add it bowl by bowl depending on how much ‘mustard face’ you enjoy.

You can buy seaweed flakes, or make them your self.  Place a nori seaweed sheet (the type used for sushi) into a blender and blitz until a powder forms.  This seaweed can then be mixed into your gomasio, to taste.

I use new potatoes, so there was no need to peel them.  The skins are so thin.  If you’re using other types of potato with thicker skins, I’d peel them first.

I chose to keep my seaweed and gomasio seperate for this photo, the sole reason being that it looked better!

Pea and Wasabi Soup with Seaweed Gomasio (gluten-free, vegan)

 

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

425g garden peas or petit pois (fresh or frozen is fine)

200g or x6-7 new potatoes (scrubbed and chopped)

175g or roughly 1/4 white cabbage (sliced)

3 heaped tbs chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion (peeled and sliced)

1.25 litre hot vegetable stock

1-3 tbs wasabi

1 tbs cooking oil

Sea salt

 

Black sesame (optional, nice if you aren’t using gomasio)

 

Gomasio

3 heaped tbs unhulled toasted sesame seeds

1/3-1/2 teas sea salt

Sea weed flakes/ powder

 

Do It 

Boil a kettle and make a light vegetable stock.  In a large sauce pan on medium high heat, add your cooking oil, once warm, add the onions and ginger.  Fry them for 5 minutes, until soft.  Add the cabbage and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the vegetable stock and potatoes.   Bring to a gentle boil, put a lid on and cook until the potatoes are ready, around 10-15 minutes is normally fine.

Now add you peas and cook for 2 minutes. Leave the soup to cool slightly, then blend with a stick blender or leave to cool more and blend all in a blender/ food processor.

In a small bowl, add your desired amount of wasabi (remember you can add more later), add a few spoonfuls of soup and mix into a paste.  Add this wasabi paste to the soup.  Taste, check for seasoning, adding salt/ tamari or more wasabi, depending on how your taste buds feel.

Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with gomasio, seaweed and black sesame seeds.

To chill the soup.  Let it cool fully, place in a container and simply pop in the fridge.

For Gomasio – In a frying pan on medium heat, add the sesame seeds and toast them up to 10 minutes.   Tossing them or stirring them until they turn a darker shade of brown.  If you’re not sure how toasted you like them, take a few in a spoon, blow on them and taste.  Just be sure to keep moving them in the pan, they can burn quite easily.  Once you’re happy with them, pour into a bowl and leave to cool for a while.

Then add to a pestle and mortar and grind, or use a blender to blitz them up into a rough crumb.  Mix in salt and seaweed to taste.  Place in a sealable container and pop into the fridge.  It will keep well and can be used instead of table salt.

This summer has been incredible in North Wales. So much sunshine, the mountains are looking sensational!!

Foodie Fact

As a condiment that can replace salt, gomasio is full of nutritional benefits.  Very high in calcium for a start.  A good source of minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc.  I you are eating a vegan/ plant-based diet, sesame seeds are an excellent ingredient to incorporate into you diet.  Have you tried tahini drizzled over your breakfast cereal, or on toast?

The word ‘Gomashio’ in Japanese can also mean a person who has some white hairs mixed in with black hairs.  What we call the ‘salt and pepper’ look.  I’m getting there!

Here are some other dishes we’ve made recently high in sesame seeds:

Halva Choc Ices with Fig, Almond, Rose and Tahini  

Aubergine Fava Bean Fatteh with Tahini Yoghurt – Lebanese Party Food!

Beach House Dressing – One of our fav’s

Strawberry and Tahini Summer Tarlets

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Watermelon Gazpacho – Cooling, Raw, Vegan, Delicious!

Cooling Watermelon Gazpacho – Vegan

Chill out!  It’s getting to that time of year when we need something cooling and delicious.  We’re in Spain right now and this is exactly what we feel like, everyday, all day.

This is something like the classic zingy gazpacho given a twist of fruity sweetness with the watermelon and a tickle of chilli and not to mention avocado.  This soup cries out to be enjoyed on a beach, or at least in a sunny spot/ garden.

This is the kind of light, tasty, no-fuss food that I love come summertime, making the most of the awesome summer fruits and veggies on offer.  The thermostat is being cranked up all over and we need something that’s going to tantalise our tastebuds, hydrate our bodies and not overload our stomaches.

Some people are still a little off with chilled soups, this may be the one that turns them!  Because it’s high in nutrion and things that make us shine, we only need a small bowl and our body gets all we need, we’ll be sated and energised.

You probably know that Jane and I are nomadic sorts.  We like to wander, and nibble while we go.  We were passing through the local port, over here in Spain, and decided on lunch in one of our favourite little spots, a place called Bar Fizz, where they cater nicely for vegans and the cooking is really good.  Jane had this soup for starter and we all loved it, everyone wanted a spoonful, I think its just the little twist of watermelon that makes things interesting here.

I’ve re-created it in the BHK, with a little help from some of my favourites; ginger, garlic, avocado and red pepper.  Not to mention the radiant, fruity, local tomatoes (the BHK has nipped over to Spain for a while, like Dr Who’s tardis but laden with blenders, pots and many kilos of random spices/ seeds).  We figure, whereever we are, wherever we lay our chopping boards, that’s our BHK!  Could be the Himalayas or a Thai beach, streetside Mexico City, in fact, wherever we’re invited/ allowed, we cook and bring the BHK love!

Perfect bowl of summertime chill! Watermelon Gazpacho with a tickle of chilli, peppers, cucumber and avocado

We hope you love this colourful soup, let us know below in the comments, and keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter here (only takes a couple of clicks).

Stay cool and enjoy the summer sun!

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Recipe Notes

Instead of bread or croutons, why not try serving this with fresh, crisp salad leaves to dip in.

Add as many chillies as you like, we made it very mild.  Jane’s tongue is anti-chilli.

Add a little sweetener maybe if your tomatoes are not gorgeous and ripe.

You”ll need a decent blender to get this nicely smooth.  It’s ok a little chunky, but silky smooth is best.

If  there are lots of black seeds in your watermelon, takes as many out as you can.  You don’t need to be mega picky here.

This is a flavourful soup, if it tastes bland, just keep adding pinches of salt until the flavours erupt.

The toppings can vary here, avocado is nice, but use what you have.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho – Vegan, Low-fat, Sugar-free
For 6 large bowls

1.5 kg ripe tomatoes
1 large red pepper (deseeded and sliced)
½ cucumber (peeled)
350g watermelon
1 inch fresh ginger (finely chopped)
1 small onion (peeled and sliced)
½-1 red chilli (deseeded and chopped)
4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
3 tbs red or white wine vinegar
1-2 teas salt
Several twists of black pepper

 

Topping

Broccoli sprinkles (aka finely chopped broccoli florets)

Chia/ pumpkin seeds

Herbs – Basil or Coriander

Chill, fennel, pepper, cherry toms, sliced radish, cucumber shavings, sprouts, edible flowers

Tofu feta or avocado

 

Do It

Place all the soup ingredients into a blender and blitz until the soup is smooth.  This may take a couple of batches which is fine.  Pour into a large bowl and taste, adjusting the seasoning as you like, a sprinkle more salt, a tickle more chilli.

Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving topped with colourful, delightful things.

 

Foodie Fact

Watermelon is hydrating, low in calories, plus high in Vitamin C and A.  It helps to keep our skin and hair healthy.  Some nutrients in watermelon even help to protect us from sunburn, it’s the ideal summer snack!

This soup goes very well with beaches…………..

Categories: Detox, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Summer, Superfoods, Vegan | 13 Comments

Creamy Parsnip & Coconut Soup – A bowl of winter sunshine!

Creamy Parsnips and Coconut Soup – Vegan

Ginger, turmeric, sweet parsnips, creamy coconut….yes please!  This is just the kind of bowl I like to see at the cold end of the year.  Bursting with colour, big flavours and bags of healthy giving goodness.

Thick frost this morning in Snowdonia and grey, as grey can be (with a pinch more grey for luck).  When the frosts are here, I always think of parsnips.  They love this time of year!

To combat the dark skies, I felt like adding some sunshine to lunch time.  This soup is creamy, with the coconut and parsnips, sweet and spicy, and with a little fresh coriander on top, is a real winter time treat.  Just the colour makes me feel warmer inside!

Most of you know that I’m quite partial to a parsnip every now and again.  The ones I used here were huge, gnarled things, they look like they’d had a rough winter.  There’s not much seasonal produce about at the minute, so I cherish these parsnips.  A friend was here and tried the soup, and was surprised that she liked it.  Not a parsnip fan you see.  I think we have a convert!  There are parsnips and then there are parsnips, try and get some good organic if poss ones and the difference is mega!  I eat these ones happily raw, so sweet, in fact parsnips contain more sugar than bananas.

I’m going to keep making soups until I finally defrost this winter, probably sometime in June at this rate.  Still, I’m not complaining, I love these crisp winter mornings and having a warm bowl of soup waiting for lunch is real food for the mind, body and soul.

Recipe Notes

Go wild with the turmeric if you like, its beautifully golden, turn it up to 5 (teas) if you really love it.  It can only lead to lovely flavour and it amazing for our health.

I peeled the parsnips here, because the skins on mine were very funky, all kinds of nobbles and bashes on them.  With veg like parsnips, much of the flavour and nutrients are just below the skin, scrubbing them is really best.

If you are not a parsnips fan, you could try it with other sweet roots like potato or sweet potato.  Let us know how it goes!  This recipes is a platform really for many great variations with veg.

A twist of lime brings it all to life.  Highly recommended.

This soup freezes well, so feel free to double the quantity.  I would check the balance of the spices though, maybe add 75% and then taste.  Sometimes multiplying recipes can throw them out a bit.

If you do freeze it, taste it once it’s reheated, the spices may need jazzing up a bit.  Add more, or a really nice idea would be to fry up a little more ginger in a pan, than stir in the spices, warm through and add to soup.  Freezing can kill flavours.

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Creamy Parsnip & Coconut Soup

The Bits – For 4 Bowls
1 kg parsnips (peeled and chopped)
2 small onions (peeled and sliced)
3 inch ginger (peeled and finely chopped)

3-5 teas turmeric
3 teas cumin
1 teas cinnamon
½ teas cardamom

800ml light veg stock
1 tin coconut milk

Salt (to taste)

Topping

Tomato (chopped)

Coriander (chopped)

Toasted coconut or cashews (optional and very nice)

Sprinkle more of ground cumin

Lime wedges

Do It

In a large saucepan, warm 1 tbs cooking oil and fry onions and ginger on medium high heart for 5 minutes.

Then add spices and parsnip, stir and cook for a minute, before adding the stock and coconut milk.  Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the parsnips are soft.

Blend until smooth with a stick blender.  Season with salt and serve.

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Foodie Fact

Parsnips are the same family as carrots, celery, dill and cumin.  They are a good source of vitamin C and fibre, plus have good levels of vitamin K and manganese.  Not just a pretty, knobbly root!

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COME AND JOIN US IN THE SUN!!

COOK VEGAN, GET HEALTHY, BE HAPPY:)

Only two rooms left for our Taste of Bliss Vegan Cooking and Yoga Holiday in beautiful Murcia, Spain this May.

More details and bookings here.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: | 2 Comments

Leek, Potato & Kale Soup – Organic, Classic, Seasonal

A simple classic.  I realise I’m doubling up with soup posts here, but let’s face it, no one is complaining with this chilly start to the year.

There’s something in my bones that calls for this kind of soup in January, in the depths of winter.  Many of us in the UK have had loads of snow recently, and at the very least have been facing freezing days and nights.  It always feels a little colder and darker at this time of year, the warm glow of Christmas seems long gone.

What we need is warming, nourishing bowls of yum!  We all know this soup, it’s a classic, but will never get tired.  It makes the very best of British produce at this time of year, when not much else is growing and the land is resting.

We are so lucky to have a group of brilliant people down the road, at Tydnn Teg organic farm, who are soldiering on and still growing sensational produce.  I am blown away by their veggies and this soup uses what has come from the heart of wintertime.

It seems right to be eating dishes like this, seems like I’m tuning in to the season and giving my body exactly what it needs.   I love simple recipes that take a few ingredients and make them shine!

Recipe Notes

Use any winter herbs you like in this soup.  A herb mix or fresh herbs would also be very nice.  Just not too much, I think it’s nice just lightly flavoured with herbs, let the other ingredients come through.

Use any kale, you can see we went for curly.  Spring greens and savoy cabbage are good alternatives.

The single cream is a luxurious extra really, you might also like to use vegan creme fraiche, which is available in supermarkets nowadays.

Try to get the very best, organic if you can, produce for this soup.  It will really make the difference.

You don’t need to blend this soup, I sometimes like it chunky.  Try to cut your veggies into smallish pieces.

This soup freezes well.

Winter warmer – Leek, Potato and Kale Soup (Vegan)

Leek, Potato & Kale Soup

The Bits – For 8 Bowls
1.25kg potatoes (peeled and chopped)
750g leeks (cleaned and sliced)
200g kale (sliced)
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 teas dried sage
1 teas dried rosemary
1 teas dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper (to taste)

250ml vegan single cream (available in shops and supermarkets)

Do It
Add 1 tbs cooking oil to a large saucepan and warm on a medium high heat.  Add the leeks, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the potatoes, stock and herbs to the pan, cook 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Add the kale and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pick out the bay leaves and blend using a stick blender until smooth.

Stir in the single cream and season well with salt and pepper.

I quite like kale! Taken in the Trigonos veg farm

Foodie Fact

I added kale to this classic soup combo because its seasonal and delicious, but also because it is one of the healthiest things we could ever, ever eat. It’s just outrageous how good kale is for us!

It’s off the charts high in Vitamin K, is ridiculously amazing for vitamin A and C, also high in minerals like manganese, copper, is a good source of fibre and even has some Omega 3 fats thrown in there.  The list goes on really, but the more we can incorporate kale into our diets, the better, especially at this time of year when our bodies need a real healthy kick start.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Local food, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce, Winter | Tags: | 2 Comments

Moroccan Bessara with Harissa Oil – Nourishing Fava Bean Soup/Dip

 

Bessara – Nourishing Moroccan Soup

We’re getting 2018 started with a simple and nourishing dish from Morocco, a country I love and where I first tried this delicious soup.  We’re not long back from Spain, where we sit on beaches looking towards North Africa.  A tenuous link, but its awesome to be back here and blogging!!  After our little break in the sun, we’re topped up with fresh ideas for 2018.

This comforting bowl is ideal for new year, so easy and light, nutritious and flavourful.  It’s also inexpensive and the basic soup only has a handful of ingredients.  It also happens uses fava beans, which as you might know, were one of my favourite things about 2017.  Couldn’t get enough of them.  You can thin this out, or serve it as a dip.  Either way, it’s a dish I cook all the time, a great staple and something I’ve been meaning to put on here for years.  Finally, Bessara!

MOROCCAN MEALS

My favourite memories of Bessara was around 15 years ago (food lives long in my memory) when I was travelling all over Morocco and eventually found a little home in the Rif Mountains.  It was chilly, icy winds whistling through all the buildings, my favourite cafe’s door kept blowing off and was missing a window (but the mint and gunpowder tea and tunes were bang on).  I was lucky to be staying right beside the Hamam (steam baths), which was hewn from a hillside, so the whole area was warmed by the huge wood fires which heated the water.  The same wood fires where people would bring their clay pots of food to be cooked.  Great system there, plus the Hamas are the perfect place to meet people, like a pub really, without the booze and with the heating turned up to Gas Mark 2.  Oh, and the clientele are mostly naked.

Every morning I met some friends and went for Bessara, it makes for a lovely breakfast, and we sat on little rickety benches with all the djellaba wearing locals and morose Mohammed (cook and propietor) sat before two giant vats of bubbling Bessara.  His joint was basically a corrugated steel roof between two wonky buildings, but it was always buzzing and cosy.  It’s a warming soup in more ways than one.  Mohammed’s Bessara was very cheap and served without glee but with fragrant local olive oil and small bowl of fresh cumin and salt on the tables.

The bread man would occasionally whistle past on his push bike and we’d score some fresh bread straight from the bakery, that flat Moroccan bread that you may have tried.  If you’re from the North East, it’s basically stottie cake (more stottie here).  I’ve never been able to find out if there is any relation between the two, my romantic side which easily eclipses any of my other sides, says that yes.  There is.  In the middle ages some sailors from Seaham were blown of course and found themselves sahara bound.  Or maybe it was the crusades?  Either way, great bread and highly recommended with this soup.

PUNCHY DRIZZLE

I love harissa, especially with traditional Moroccan food, so I’ve come up with a zesty and punchy little oil to drizzle over the soup.  You’ll have a little bit leftover no doubt, but I love dipping bread into it to finish it off.  Just keep leftovers sealed in a fridge for a few days.  It’s perfect I think after one day in the fridge, all the spices and flavours settle and mingle.

LOVE THY FAVA

I have some organic Hodmedod split fava beans, they actually have a Bessara recipe on their site!  Great minds!!  Hodmedods were kind enough to send me some of their range, which is awesome, so you’ll be hearing from them more this year.  We love to give shouts out to producers who are doing brilliant things in enlightened ways.  Hodmedods are all about incredible pulses basically and are bringing back many traditional British varieties.  Fava beans are actually traditional in the UK, but I think more of them as a Middle Eastern/ North African ingredient.  We have used them to make traditional Egyptian Falafels (Ta’amia) in the past and they make a delicious hummus.

So a big shukran to Mohamed the mirthless in the Rif Mountains for warming my belly each morning with this classic soup, I wrote his recipe down one day, but it got lost along the way, I’m sure this is a reasonable attempt.  Proper mountain Bessara.  Travelling around Morocco changed my life, my world view and my feelings about stottie cake.  Bismillah!

 

Recipe Notes

By adding 750ml of hot water to the finished Bessara, you’ll have a soup.  As the soup cools, it thickens.

My favourite garnish for this soup is the harissa oil and black olives, maybe a sprinke of dried mint.  Toasted almonds are tasty too, as is fresh mint and you might like a lemon wedge on the scene…..the soup is really like a blank canvas for flavours, simply delicious but easily embellished.

If you are using split fava beans, there is no need to soak them beforehand.

Stirring a few handfuls of greens into this soup just before serving will be delicious and add a health twist and different texture, try spinach, chopped kale or spring greens.

 

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One of my favourite simple Moroccan dishes

Moroccan Bessara Soup with Harissa Oil 

The Bits – For 4 bowls

400g dried fava beans (split broad beans)

6 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

1.5 ltrs water

2 tbs cumin seeds

1 tbs paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon (juice)

Sea salt (to taste)

 

Garnish (optional)

2 handfuls nice black olives (destoned) or toasted almonds (roughly chopped)

Sprinkles dried mint or chilli powder

Extra virgin olive oil (if not using the Harissa oil)

Fresh coriander (chopped)

 

Harissa Oil

The Bits – For one small bowlful

1-2 tbs harissa paste (how hot do you like it?!)

1/2 teas cumin seeds

1 teas coriander seeds

1/2 teas dried mint

1 garlic clove (peeled and crushed)

100ml olive oil

1 lemon (juice)

½ teas sea salt

 

Do It

Rinse the beans well in a colander with cold water.  Place in a large saucepan and cover with 1.5 ltrs of cold water, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and place a lid on.  Leave to cook for around 45 minutes, until soft, stirring occasionally.

Place all the ingredients for the Harissa Oil in a blender and blitz until smooth.  Check the seasoning.

When the beans are about cooked, grab a small frying pan and warm on a medium heat, add your cumin seeds and toast them for a minute, tossing them gently in the pan.  They should begins to release their aroma and change colour slighty.  Place in a pestle and mortar and leave to cool a little, them grind them.  Enjoy the smell!  Taste a smidgen, if they are very bitter, they’re burnt, give them another try.  It’s easily done!

In the same frying pan, add the oil and then the garlic, fry until golden, should take a couple of minutes.  Add the cumin, garlic and paprika to the pan, stir in and simmer for a few minutes, then add the lemon juice and salt.  Check the seasoning, this soup will need a good amount of salt to bring the flavours out.  You might prefer it chunky, but when blended, this soup is velvety smooth.  I prefer it that way.  Use a stick blender.  It’s easiest.

Ladle the Bessara into bowls and top with olives, dried mint and harissa oil, or any of the other options above.  Best with flatbread.

 

Foodie Fact

Fava (very similar to Broad) beans are like all beans, they’re brilliant and protein powerhouses!  Nutritionally, they’ve no cholesterol or saturated fats, have plenty of fibre, vitamin K, B1 and B6, loads of minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium and zinc, they even have some calcium.

Some tests have even claimed that fava beans can help with depression, they contain dopamine.

 

 

Categories: Budget, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Soups, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

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At this time of year, I’d quite happily live on soup.

I just have time to squeeze this post in before driving to Durham and the sparkling NEVFest (North East Vegan Fest).  The first time that Jane and I have not been to a food festival this year together.

Durham is where all of my family are from and I’m very much looking forward to cooking and doing a talk in the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC.  For my sins, I support the red and whites.  It will be quite surreal.  I never imagined talking and cooking vegan in a football stadium but learnt recently that at least one professional football team in the UK has gone totally vegan, so maybe its not so strange.  Lentil pies at half time with some miso broth.  Yum!  The future…..

You may think that the life of a food blogger is all hanging out by the fire, sipping a cheeky Oolong whilst leafing through a mountain of cookbooks, but it ain’t.  We all have busy lives these days and posts are normally squeezed in somewhere or other.  Janice (over at the sparkling Nourished by Nature blog) and I were just chatting about this the other day.  Blogging is a labour of love for many of us and we are just crazy about food and sharing our foodie inspiration.

This is not helped by the fact that I am a complete luddite.  I still do not have a phone (hence the lack of Instagram action) and only have a bulky laptop.  I’m trying.  But in reality, I am a techno caveman at heart.  I like paper and pens, books and postcards.  The occasional stapler.  I do love sharing things online though and hope you enjoy these little recipes.  I’ve met such a wonderful global community via the BHK.  The internet is an AMAZING place!

I’ve been cooking with loads of squashes and pumpkins (actually pumpkins are members of the squash family) at Trigonos and at home.  Our local organic veg farm Tyddyn Teg has been growing a wonderful variety of squashes; spaghetti, the mighty crown prince and even little acorns.  Some are even larger than my head.

Squashes are perfect winter fuel, high in energy with loads (I mean loads!) of antioxidants and beta carotene.  Just what our bodies crave and thrive on come the wintery months.  In darker times, eat brighter foods!  Squashes also store well, but I doubt they’ll be lasting very long around these parts.

COCO!

When I say coconut cream I mean the cream in a tin of coconut milk.  If  your coconut milk contains emulsifiers and the like, it will not separate and therefore you cannot extract the cream.

To extract coconut cream from a tin of coco milk, simply place it in a fridge for a couple of hours, turn it over, open the tin and pour out the coco water.  You are left with at least half a tin of very creamy coconut cream to play with.  Try whipping it up with some lime zest and juice or just add a little sweetener to make delicious, vegan whipped cream.   Use the leftover coco water in smoothies, on your morning cereal, add it to stews or even cook rice with it (one of our personal favs).

You may also like to use the hard, block variety of coconut cream.  Just follow the pack instructions.  Don’t worry about adding too much coconut cream to this soup, it will only make it even richer and more delicious.

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven....

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven….

ROAST YOUR OWN PUMPKIN SEEDS

I never waste my squash/ pumpkin seeds.  I always pick them out and quickly roast them in the oven with a drop of oil and salt.  Delicious!  Just place them on a baking tray and bake them for 8 minutes on 180oC.  Stir them and keep baking them for 5 minute intervals until they are dark golden and crisp.  Its so easy and each type of squash seed will taste slightly different and have their own texture.  Pumpkin seeds are nice and light, very crispy when roasted.  Perfect as a soup-topper.

...and after. YUM!

…and after. YUM!

I love adding ginger to soups and a little kaffir gives a vibrant fragrance to the rich, sweetness of the pumpkin.  You can use any type of squash here and you may like to half the recipe or freeze the leftovers.  I think cooking in big batches makes loads of sense.  We’ve also been experimenting with pumpkin smoothies and they are a real treat.  A pumpkin chai latte smoothie is a thing of beauty and I’ll hopefully get around to sharing it soon.

Enjoy and stay cosy,

LeeX

Recipe Notes

As I mentioned, experiment with different squashes, they are all wonderful and have properties of their own.  Some sweet and firm, some lighter and slightly blander, others intense and wonderful roasted.  There are so many varieties and this is still (just about) the time to enjoy them in season here in the UK.

You’ll need an extra big pan for this one.  As I said, half the recipe for something a little more manageable.

Pumpkins are ace!

Pumpkins are ace!

The Bits – Makes 10 large bowls
1 medium pumpkin – 1.75kg (peeled and cut into rough 1 inch chunks)
1.5 litres water/ light vegetable stock
7 kaffir lime leaves
50-60g fresh ginger (peeled and finely diced)
2 onions (finely diced)
200g coconut cream

2 teas salt

Do It

In a very large pan, add 2 teas cooking oil, warm and then add your onions and salt.  Fry on medium heat for five minutes until softened and then add your pumpkin, ginger and lime leaves.  Stir well and cook for another two minutes, then add the water/ stock.  Bring to a boil and pop a lid on, lowering the heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the coconut cream, stirring well and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding more hot water if needed.  The pumpkin should now be nice and soft.

Pick out as many lime leaves as you can.  Taste the soup, checking for seasoning.  Now give the soup a blend until creamy and smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor.

Serve

In warm bowls, scattered with freshly chopped chillies and some roasted pumpkin seeds.  A little fresh coriander would also be a delight!

The flavours here do lend themselves to sesame and I have been serving this at Trigonos with sesame bread rolls.

Foodie Fact

Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which means they are cousins to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squashes.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and minerals, they even contain a good amount of iron and of course, plenty of protein.  Surprisingly China is now the worlds largest pumpkin seed producer.  Who knew!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

 

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat

Roast Squash and Pepper Soup with Bharat – bowls of sun in The Beach House Kitchen

I’m conscious that on a day like today, Monday, time is more precious than at other times of the week.  I am very much, in the same boat.  I made tonight’s soup as easy as possible, but did not want to compromise on deliciousness!  The roasting part here adds unmistakeable sweetness and the bharat brings a spicy edge to the soup.

You may ask the obvious question, “but Lee, you are in a hurry and yet you take pictures of your food and write a blog piece?!”  It does seem like a strange way to behave, I admit this, but such is the ways of the food blogger.  We are those people in the restaurants who unabashedly whip out their camera when presented with a particularly nice slice of cake while the rest of the table pretend they aren’t with you.  Its a passion/ affliction.  Once you blog, you can’t stop……

We are in the middle of some very stormy and chilly days up here in the Beach House and soups seems like a very good idea.  I love the bright colour of this soup, with added radiance from the turmeric.  Its sunshine in a bowl and is a real lift when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

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We’ve been celebrating a little after the release of ‘Peace & Parsnips’.  Jane and I took a trip down to Criccieth, a local beach and went down to Black Rock Sands for a proper bag of chips.  There is an amazing chippy in Porthmadog that we frequent on rare occasions.  Chips = celebration!  We sat on the flat sands, a rare place where you can actually drive cars around on a beach without the imminent danger of sinking like a stone.  Black Rock Sands reminds me of beaches in Australia, or what I imagine the tip of South Africa to look like. You can look out over maybe a kilometre of flat sand before you see the sea.  A truly beautiful place to scoff chips!

Us.  Catching some well earned rays...

Us. Catching some well earned rays on Criccieth beach

BAHARAT

Is basically a spice mix from the Middle East, as well as Turkey and Iran.  Although the ingredients may vary, some usual suspects are: black pepper, cardamom seeds, cassia cark, nutmeg, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds.  The baharat we use is very much a Middle Eastern style, in Turkey they add a lot of mint and in Tunisia they make a mix with rose petals, cinnamon and black pepper.  There are an almost infinite number of combinations of spice mixes, but most of the baharat sold in large shops in the UK is similar.   More a warming spice mix than a turmeric or chilli driven one.

If you don’t have any Baharat around the kitchen, use the same amount of Rae El Hanout or Garam Masala.  They will add a similar spice kick to the background of the sweet peppers and squash.

This soup is as easy as roasting a tray of very roughly chopped vegetables and blending.

The Bits – For 4 small bowls

1 medium butternut squash – 1kg (cut into 1/4 lengthways)

1 head garlic (skins on)

2 yellow peppers (deseeded)

1 large onion (sliced)

3 teas bharat

2 teas turmeric

2-3 teas salt

Olive oil (for roasting and frying)

 

Do It

Preheat oven to 190oC.

Grab a large baking tray and rub a little oil over the squash and peppers.  Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rub a little oil into the garlic cloves and take the tray out of the oven and scatter the garlic cloves onto the tray.  Pop back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.  Take the garlic and pepper out, check to see if the squash is nice and soft, if not, put back in for another 10 minutes.  Set the garlic and pepper aside to cool, do the same with the squash once it is lovely and softened.

In a large sauce pan, add 1 tbs olive oil and fry the onion on a medium heat for 6 minutes, until translucent and soft.  While the onions are on, peel the skin off your peppers, garlic and squash.  Chop them all roughly.  Add the spices to your soft onions and stir for a minute, then add the squash etc.  Pour over 1 ltr of hot water and check seasoning (add salt as needed).  Leave it to simmer for 5 minutes before blending the soup with a stick blender or using a food processor (leave the soup to cool a little beforehand for this).

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup with Baharat

Serve

A nice idea, for added richness is to stir some tahini into the soup.  Tahini is also packed with goodness, so nutritionally the soup becomes a real shiner.  If you are going all out tonight (it is a Monday after all!!!) chop up some coriander leaves and finish with little sprinkle of baharat.

Foodie Fact

Butternut squash is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat.  It is much lower in calories than potato and leaves you feeling nice and full after eating it.  Calories are of course only one part of the dietary picture, counting calories is definitely not our thing (big bags of chips and all!)  You can tell by the colour that its loaded with some good carotenes, which are ace anti-oxidants.  Squash is also good for vitamin C and is high in dietary fibre.

Our car off in the distance, Black Rock Sands, North Wales

Our car off in the distance at Black Rock Sands, North Wales

And who can forget......CHIPS!

And who can forget……the glorious CHIPS!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Seed Oil


Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup

A simple and hearty soup to get this year of the B.H.K kicked off in substantial style. Sweet, nutty, with a good mustard poke in the oil.  Jane is inexplicably, sunning herself on the beaches of Spain (she’s back now actually) and has left me her to hold the windswept fort. Granted, in her last email she did seem apologetic. I realise I live the life of riley, but Jane is at least matching me with her Spanish countryside retreats. My Dad has popped over from Durham to make sure that I am behaving myself and filling me in on all the woes of Sunderland AFC this season (this is a pathetic football team that is constantly flirting with relegation and spends vast sums of money on very pants players) and the combined and glaring failures of England Rugby and Cricket. Sport is so dramatic! At least it is in our family.

Wales has welcomed me back into its arms with plenty of rugged weather, but it’s been lovely to have walks again though in the hills and catch up with some of our wonderful friends. North Wales in an amazing place to be, but it seems that winter is still very much here and making its icy presence felt. Snow is predicted over Easter (!?) It was 5oC this morning in the garden, with a cross wind biting my bones. I am now unable to cope with this kind of glacial behaviour. I have just landed from the downtown 35occ heat of Delhi. It’s quite a shock to the system. Still the fire is blazing away and there’s soup on the hob to thaw me out. Life is grand. Summer is coming…………..(or just a sight of the sun would be more enough!)

Some proper British veg

Some proper British veg.  We’ve missed a bit of parsnip

Anyway, enough of the engrossing weather update, let’s move onto the more weighty issue of thick soups that warm things up from the inside out. Soup that coats the ribs and tickles the taste buds. This is a bowl of hearty sup which only has a few ingredients and an interesting combo of flavours going on. With the millet and parsnips, there is plenty of carbs there to get things motoring. Dad and I had this for dinner with some toasted flat breads and it was nicely filling. We eat like horses, so there will be plenty for leaftovers.

Black Mustard Seeds - small, but packed with flavour

Black Mustard Seeds – they may look small, but packed with flavour

WE (heart) MILLET (muchly)
When are they going to start making keyboards with the heart symbol on them? Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing, a huge, evolutionary leap forward. The ability to spread loving symbols at the push of a button.

They love millet in India, it used to be more popular than rice and has been eaten in many tribal areas for millennia. There are so many types over there; red, blue, white, big, small and slightly green-ish, they seem to change constantly from region to region (I show a keen interest in subtleties of millet variation when on holiday such is my dedication to the BHK cause!!!!!) Millet is superbly nutritious and naturally gluten-free. It also grows well in most places in the world and is cheap as chips to buy. We like to use it as a replacement for things like cous cous or bulghur wheat. More and more people are realising their intolerance to gluten and millet is a great replacement for other gluten-y grains. Millet is now getting wide spread support in India and is being planted instead of rice in many areas, which is good news, as rice is very thirsty and uses loads of water, plus the tastiest rotis (flatbreads) on the subcontinent are made with majority millet flour. I’ve tried black roti’s (see below) and recently had a deeply ochre puri (fried flatbread) that blew my marbles. Very different flavour and texture.  Like a dark and delicious frisbee.

Delhi 30-odd degrees, whizzing around in a Rickshaw with Dad and Jane, April '15 (A long way from he Beach House!)

Delhi 30-odd degrees, whizzing around in a Rickshaw with Dad and Jane, April ’15 (A long way from he Beach House!)

NAVDANYA
There is a fine lady name Vendana Shiva who we became aware of this trip in India, a fabulous environmental activist who travels the world and pioneers many new and visionary approaches to saving our poor Mother Earth. Vendana set up Navdanya an environmental education centre and farm which promotes the movement for biodiversity and organic farming methods. This is only one of the projects that the incredibly industrious Vendana has started, she is a real force of nature! We visited her restaurant in Dilli Hart, a market in South Delhi. The food is all organic and it acts as a huge store for organic seeds, pulses and spices. We brought a load of spices back to play with, many of them seeds so they last alot longer in the cupboard. Vendana is also very active in global seed harvesting which is becoming hugely important in many parts of the world in order to protect the diversity of crops and guard against the spread of GMO’s.  Read more about it here. This will increasingly become a major issue as indigenous species of plants all over the world are wiped out by unnatural GMO varieties, sold by multi national corporations, that are actually barren and wholly alien to nature. These GMO seeds work in tandem with poisonous pesticides and fertiliser tailored to enhance the growth of these specific seeds only and do not enhance the soil or local ecosystem in anyway. This is a hugely narrow minded approach to farming and nature in general. Nature is a vastly complex system of tiny systems working together in harmonious fashion, or it should be without our interference. GMO’s are a huge threat to the future of food and nature in general.  See Vendana Shiva talk more about this topic below and Navdanya’s hopes for 2015:

Back to soup-ville……I don’t feel the need for stock in this soup, cauliflower, millet and especially parsnip are packed with sweet flavours. The stock they make is seriously nutty and flavoursome, a little seasoning goes a long way.  Parsnips can be a little tricky to store, they have a habit of going slimy. I’d recommend sticking them in the fridge in a plastic bag.

Potatoes would be nice in this soup, but cauliflower is much lighter

Potatoes would be nice in this soup, but cauliflower is much lighter

Buster Watch – no sign of the little guy yet, a friend was feeding him in our shed a.k.a ‘The Buster Suite’. He has obviously found a better deal, but when he smells the kitchen kicking out curried aromas and clouds of fresh bread wafts, he’ll know we’re back. (PS – If you are new to the B.H.K, Buster is a semi-wild, punk of a cat that occasionally lives with us and brings us too many joyous cat based shenanigans). We hope he says ‘hello’ very soon. Little grey furball that he is.

I don’t know when we stopped putting music on the B.H.K, but we’d like to start again. Below is a tune that sums up the feeling up in our little windswept village, Carmel, at the moment. ‘Ghost Town’. One of Dad’s favourites by ‘The Specials’.

So we are back (well one of us is anyway) and the Beach House Kitchen in back in the flow and ready to bash some pots and pans together, make up some interesting food shapes with strange, fresh and appetising angles. I hope you all had a magical winter, I’ll be posting some pictures of our trip around Turkey, Spain and India soon. I’m off for a cup of Brickie’s tea with soya milk in it, a supreme luxury that I have deeply missed.

I think this summer is going to be rosy!

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

3 tbs cooking oil

100g millet

2 small onions (finely sliced)

2 medium sized parsnips (finely chopped)

½ medium sized cauliflower – roughly 250 grams (finely chopped)

2 teas Dijon mustard

2 teas black mustard seeds

1.5 ltr veg stock/ water

Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Do It
In a large frying pan, a 1 tbs of your oil and when warm, add the onions. Fry for 5-7 minutes on a medium heat until they begin to caramelise, then add the parsnips and fry for another 5 minutes. Now for the cauliflower, add to the pan, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the millet, Dijon mustard and stock/ water. Stir, pop a lid on and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the millet is cooked.

In a small frying pan, warm 2 tbs of cooking oil (rapeseed oil is nice) and add the mustard seeds, toss the seeds in the oil and fry gently for a minute, until they are popping. Set the oil aside.

Blend the soup in a food processor or use a trusty stick blender. Blend until smooth.

Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Oil- sorry about the naff photos, they will hopefully improve 

Serve
Serve piping hot, spoon over the mustard oil and serve with lashings of smiles.

Foodie Fact

Parsnips are actually indigenous to the Mediterranean and are normally harvested after the first frost.  It is a funny time of year in Britain, there is not much available from the land, so I have no idea how these parsnips came to be.  Soon the local organic farms will be back in bloom and fruit and we will be rich in delightful veggies.  For now, we scrape by.

Parnsips are high in sugar, up there with bananas and grapes.  They do however have great levels of dietary fibre, which lowers GI and are packed with anti-oxidants (poly-acetylene).   Parsnips are also rich in vitamin B’s, K and E, as well as minerals like iron, copper and potassium.

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Swede and Sorrel Autumn Soup

Bigger than a football, our giant swede (3kgs+)

Bigger than a football, our giant swede (3kgs+)

Swede is a root star!  You may call it a neep, a rutabaga or a yellow turnip.  Whatever the name, not many people agree with me!  Swede is a wonderfully flavoursome vegetable with a real kick of secret mustard-iness that I appreciate (think a concentrated cabbage stem for first time users).  Mashed swede was always my favourite part of my Mum’s traditional Sunday dinner and this soup is like a Sunday dinner in a bowl.  I’ve added a hint of mint here, because our Sunday dinners always came with mint sauce.

Swede is always very cheap, probably the cheapest veggie in town and can be used in so many different ways, check out our Swede, Pear and Tahini Salad to name just one!  Swede has long been known as the ‘poor mans turnip’ which is surely some form of an insult!!!  On my travels around this great globe, I have normally preferred the alleged ‘poor mans’ pickings to the lavish platters of the rich (rich by means normally results in rich OTT foods).

 

rsz_p1080855

Bigger than my head (that is quite huge!)

This is proper traditional fare, which is perfect as autumn has arrived with a stormy bang in North Wales.  The Beach House is clinging onto Tiger Mountain as the gales and storms (apparently hangovers from some distant hurricanes) are battering us.  We’re inside, eating soup mainly and venturing out in the mornings to see if our new apple tree has blown over and to check that our roof is still all there.  Soup like this, thick and substantial; using things that grow in the garden and veg patch, are what we love to eat when the nights draw in.  Packed with extra nutrition and the antioxidants we need to fight things like colds and other early winter bugs.  As ever, trying to keep things simple and local is a great challenge for me!  I love food from all over the world and cannot help but lob a little spice and a smidgen of chilli into most of the dishes I cook.  This swede soup is stripped to the stem and given a frilly sorrel lining.

The sorrel here grows like wildfire in our garden and we are ever attempting new ways to use it up.  In soups and stews it does lose its vibrant green hue, but maintains that lovely punchy, bitter apple like flavour.  We stir the leaves in at the end to maintain all their vitality and potency.  Use alternate leaves like spinach if sorrel is not growing in your garden or local area.  If you’re in the UK, Im sure you’ll find some hanging around hedgerows or woodlands.

Prepare yourselves, for a classic British Sunday dinner, it a bowl!

Fresh garden rosemary

Fresh garden rosemary

The Bits – Maks 6 decent bowls

1 tbs oil

750g swede (a mere small chunk out of our behemoth)

3 potatoes

2 large celery sticks

1 onion

2 carrots

(All cut into rough chunks)

2 large sprigs rosemary

1 teas dried mint

4 big handfuls of sorrel (keep a few smaller leaves to make it look nice at the end)

750ml warm vegetable stock (with hot water ready as needed)

Salt (if needed, stock is normally salty to start with)

 

Nutritional yeast flakes (optional – for added vegan savoury fun)

Simmering Swedes

Simmering Swedes

Do It

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, warm the oil on medium low heat and add all the veggies at once. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the stock and rosemary, covering the veggies by roughly 1 inch with liquid.  Pop lid on and simmer for 45 minutes until the carrots are soft (they take the longest to cook).  Add the dried mint, pick out the rosemary sprigs and blend smooth with a stick blender or pour in batches into a food processor.  Stir in the sorrel leaves and pour into bowls immediately.

Serve

Scatter a few little sorrel leaves on top to look nice and serve to empty bellies and full hearts.  I f you like easy to make bread recipes, try Jane’s Wonder Loaf, preferably toasted and drizzled with rapeseed oil.

Swede and Sorrel Soup

Swede and Sorrel Soup

Foodie Fact

Swede comes from guess where?…….its a tough one I know, but the answer is Sweden.  It was traditionally grown to feed cattle, lucky cows!

Swede is a member of the cabbage family.  It is a great source of nutrients, especially vitamin C and A, making it a perfect autumn boost.  It also contains plenty of fibre, potassium and even calcium.  It also happens to be low in calories, probably due to its cabbage connections.  For all these reasons and because it tastes great, we should all be eating swede like happy cattle.  Its just not very cool is all!

Our neighbourky horses didn't think much of the swede

Our neighbourky horses didn’t think much of the swede

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Soups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

There is just the hint of winter in the air as we move through autumn and this slight chill always gets my soup bells ringing.  Here is a soup that ticks all of the autumnal boxes, tasty and utterly loaded with healthy things, even (almost) locally made Welsh Miso.

This recipe takes care of all of our seasonal fare on Tiger Mountain, all of them green and when simmered together for a time, transform into a tasty health elixir.  The flavours are hearty and comforting with a tinge of ginger and miso in the background to keep things interesting and offer a little Japanese style twang.

My Dad, John (aka the big yin, aka ‘heed’, aka Johnnie Boy) has been visiting for a week and he knows how to enjoy himself, Jane and I struggle to keep up!  We’ve had a week of wonderful times but lets just say that many of them were not exactly beneficial to the health.  Our wine rack is bare (a very grim sight) and our ale stores seriously depleted.  After waving Dad off at the station, we both decided that our bodies needed some kind of green wake up call and nothing comforts and revitalizes more than a decent bowl of soup.

The 'Big Yin' at Aber Falls, near bangor

The ‘Big Yin’ at Aber Falls, near bangor

Cabbage is the backbone of this soup, and a good cabbage is essential late autumn behaviour.  Not the most glamorous of ingredients but when handled with care, one of the tastiest and versatile veggies.  I love wrapping things in cabbage leaves and baking them, or even blanching the leaves and using them as an alternative to something like a spring roll.  One things for sure, in north Wales, we’ll never be short of cabbages, they love it up here and at work the other day (I cook in a retreat/ alternative learning centre), I had the privilege of tackling the largest cabbage I have ever seen.  Judy (farming genius and very much more) wandered into the kitchen bearing a green globe at least 2 feet across!!!!  I swear there must be something magical in the soil over there, we can hardly eke a Brussel sprout out up here!!!!  If you can’t get hold of a good organic cabbage, you may need to add a little more stock to the mix, your taste buds will be the guide…….

We have been building up to making our own miso for a while now, but are fortunate to have Welsh miso being produced almost on our own doorstep, give or take a few hundred miles, in the same country at the very least.  They guys at Source Foods seem like a very decent bunch and their products are top. We recently got hold of a pot of their hemp miso (thanks for forgetting it Helen!) and its a wicked addition to their fabulous fermented offerings.  They use all organic ingredients and without sourcing bits from Japan, which has been very unfortunately effected by the Fukushima tragedy.   Welsh Miso, quite randomnly, is our amazing stuff!

Miso adds unmistakable vitality and deliciousness, but comes with bags of sodium.  If you are serious about making this a detox soup, give your kidneys a break and take it easy on the miso, 2 tbs is enough.  There is however new research coming out that highlights the difference between salt and miso, they are handled differently and have different effects on our bodies.  Salt leads to higher blood pressure and for some miraculous reason, miso does not.  This is backed up by the rate of heart problems in Japan, where high levels of miso is consumed regularly.  We used light miso here, but you can use a darker variety, just use less.  See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below for more info on marvelous Mr Miso.

This soup falls into the bracket of ‘a meal in itself’ and we regularly eat it like a stew, without much liquid and plenty of lumps.  In this state, it will be wonderful with brown rice, but we find it filling enough by itself.

The Bits – For 6 good bowls

1 teas olive oil

1 teas toasted sesame seed oil

1 leek (finely sliced)

1 1/2  inch fresh ginger (finely diced or roughly grated)

2 celery sticks (finely sliced)

1/2 medium savoy cabbage

1 cup green/ puy lentils

1 small head broccoli (cut into small florets)

6 handfuls spinach leaves

600ml warm organic vegetable stock (use only water if you trust your veggies to be amazing)

1 teas dried rosemary

2-5 tbs light miso (to taste)

sea salt (if needed)

 

Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

The Bits all prep'd

The Bits – pre-prep

Do It

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, drizzle in the oils and when warm add the leeks, ginger and celery.  Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft.  Add the cabbage, lentils, stock/ water and rosemary to the pan.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a steady simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Add the broccoli and spinach, stir into the soup and pop the lid back on, cook for a further 5 minutes on a low simmer.  Stir in the miso to taste.  Pulse a few times with a stick blender, or add a quarter of the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pop a lid on and leave the soup to stand for a couple of minutes.  Miso is really like salt with benefits, it will enhance and deepens the flavours.

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Serve

Straight away, add a little splash of olive oil for added richness.  If its a very special occasion (or a Tuesday) you could stir in 2-3 tbs of hazelnut butter to add silky creaminess.   Inevitably, Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf, lightly toasted would be a belter of an accompaniment.

Foodie Fact

‘Miso’ is Japanese for ‘fermenting beans’ and miso can be made with any grain/ bean.  We used soya based miso here but you can find barley, rice, buckwheat, wheat, hemp seed….the list goes on.  Obvious what the miso is made of will alter the nutritional benefits but soya beans are normally used as a base in the process.

Miso involves fermentation, which of course means funky mould (or fungus if you will).  The fungus in question is the brilliantly named  ‘Aspergillus oryzae’ and its highly magic!  The key discovery made in the production of miso was how to keep these spores alive and transportable.  Miso on the move.  People have been fermenting foods in Japan and China for thousands of years (its also traditionally made in Indonesia and Korea), it was referred to as ‘Koji’ and they were well aware of the health benefits brought about by these amazing moulds.  This is the same process used when making sake, soya sauce tamari etc.

To make miso, you basically add the Aspergillus (or other sometimes other bacteria’s/ micro organisms are used) to soaked and cooked soya beans to get things started, this is in turn added to soaked and cooked grains/ beans and the miso is left to mellow and mature.  Miso comes in all sorts of shades and colours, normally white, red and dark brown, the fermentation process dictates the depth of flavour and colour.  Normally the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour, red and brown miso can be matured for three years and ‘Hatcho’ Miso, which is famous in Japan, is matured in 200 year old vats for three winters.

Buy organic miso when you can and ensure that no MSG has been added, cheaper makes will do this.  Miso is very nourishing and is a good source of fibre and protein, it is a very tasty way of adding legumes to your diet, 2 tbs of miso normally contains the nutrition of 2 cups worth of legumes.  The fermentation process of miso means that some of the beneficial chemicals present are already broken down by the magic fungus, giving our digestion a break and allowing our bodies to easily absorb all the goodness.   Misos main attraction, from a health point of view, is its outrageous list of beneficial anti-oxidants, our free radical scavenging friends.

We also just like the word ‘Miso’ and have decided that if another cat decides to move in with us, there are few appearing round our way, we’ll name it ‘Miso’.  Could we get away with calling a child ‘Miso’?!  Hmmm…..

Somethings we’ve cooked with our friend mighty Miso:

Mug of Miso

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sava’s Elephant Garlic Flower Salad

Miso and Tahini Dressing

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup (Raw)

Soup on the hob

Soup on the hob

Categories: Detox, Fermentation, Recipes, Soups, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A 10 Minute Meal – Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussels Sprout

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth - On the hob

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth – Bubblin’ away

Here we have a delicious 10 minute meal.  5 minutes chopping, 5 minutes cooking and it won’t last long in the bowl either.  So simple, yet tastes so amazing and dare I say it, complex.  You have to love that!

Nothing says British winter more than a bowl of Soba Noodle Broth….or is that just me!  I love a noodle broth anytime of the year and this one is wonder, putting the years first brussels sprout to good use.  I could eat this by the bucket full, bowls just aren’t big enough.

The first winter chills are definitely visiting the Snowdonia hills at the moment, the winds blows a gale and we’ve kissed goodbye to what was a lovely summer of warmth and light nights.  Sitting in the garden at 10pm in the sun is surely a thing all Britons cherish.

The Beautiful Nantlle Valley - just behind the Beach House Kitchen

A view from the beautiful Nantlle Valley – just behind the Beach House Kitchen, where we walk when not eating like Tokyo-ites

As are brussels sprouts.  They’re like little cabbage hand grenades and add a punch to all they grace, we love ’em! So, so, so very wasted on your average Sunday Roast (traditional British Sunday Lunch containing roast meats and unfortunately over cooked vegetables), boiled to death and flaccid. A quick blanch in this broth and they are a revelation of crunchy texture and potent flavour.

This is an ‘Asian’ broth, which I know covers a large chunk of global cuisine.  Its a hybrid of flavours that meld and work.  Some Japanese, some Chinese, but all super tasty.

In the Beach House we condone slurping in all its forms.  Food should be eaten with gusto and vigour, slurping is an essential part of the noodle broth experience.  We like to attack a bowl of noodle broth armed with a large spoon and some chopsticks, on occasion we resemble koi carp, such is our commitment to the cause.  Jane is a particularly good slurper, we put it down to being raised with a koi carp named bonehead.  Bonehead still lives with Jane’s Mum and Dad and is a big fish in a small pond.  He can also be stroked like a dog.

Jane, is that you?!  Koi carp – like jaws in a pond

This type of broth is best served piping hot, with all ingredients cooked for the minimum length of time.  Freshness and crunch is imperative.  The gulping and slurping actually helps the noodles cool down on the way to the mouth.  At least that’s our excuse!  It also happens to be alot of fun.

We’ve added plenty of colour here, essential in these gradually greying months, by using the last of the years red peppers and some brazen red cabbage. This broth is also nice and warming, fresh ginger and Chinese five spice take care of this.  For even more of a restorative slurp, I added some wasabi to mine which really got my juices flowing.

SOBA NOODLES

Soba noodles are always a highlight, soba meaning ‘buckwheat’ in Japanese, the noodle choice of most Tokyo-ites.  Traditionally in Japan buckwheat can be harvested four times a year, a wonder crop for sure.

Soba Noodles have a lovely bite to them, a hearty noodle ideal for my rapidly diminishing wheat intake as they are made with a large amount of buckwheat (not a wheat even though it is called a wheat!?) This means less gluten all around. For some bizarre reason, soba noodles are normally a tad more expensive than your average joe noodle, but they’re well worth the extra pennies.

Soba Noodles

We use tamari because we prefer the flavour, it contains no wheat and is always made to a certain standard. Meaning no strangeness and dodgy health issues with the soya used.

There are alot of ingredients in the broth here, really, some good stock, ginger and a splash of tamari will suffice, the other ingredients just make it extra special. Most of them can be found in any decent Chinese-style food store.

As can the Hazelnut Tofu.  It’s basically tofu mixed with hazelnuts, and a few toasted sesame seeds, pressed back together.  It is delicious and has plenty of flavour, unlike normal tofu.  It seems to be springing up in some supermarkets, but as with most of these niche veggie/ vegan bits, a health food shop is your best bet.

Makes two massive bowlfuls (or four medium sized):

The Bits
300g soba noodles, 125g hazelnut tofu (chopped into little cubes), 1/4 red cabbage (finely shredded), 1 red pepper (finely chopped), 6 brussel sprouts (finely sliced lengthways)

For the broth – 1 inch fresh ginger (minced), 2 teas chinkiang vinegar (balsamic will do), 2 tbs tamari (soya sauce is a close sub), 1 tbs rice wine (or dry sherry), 1 tbs good stock powder (or fresh if you are brilliant) – to taste, 1/2 teas Chinese five spice, 1.5 ltr boiling water

Taste the stock, make it right for you.

Wasabi stirred in to taste (if you like things spicy)

Topping – 2 spring onions (finely sliced)

Do It

Boil a kettle with enough water.

Chop your vegetables thinly.

Add boiled water to a large, warm sauce pan and get a steady boil going.  Bubblin’.

Add all of your stock ingredients in no particular order, give it a stir (no stock powder lumps, they are the enemy).

Now add your cabbage, brussels sprout and peppers, boil for two minutes, then add your tofu and noodles, simmer for a further two-three minutes and prepare to serve.

By the time you’ve got bowls and ladles and all that jazz together, your noodles should be cooked nicely.  Overcooking soba noodles is a huge sin.

Serve
Piping hot and topped with a handful of sliced spring onions.  If you have a small flask of warm sake available, well done!  Have extra tamari, wasabi and vinegar on the table so people can play with the flavouring or their stock.

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts

Hazelnut Tofu and Soba Noodle Broth with Red Pepper and Brussel Sprouts – Camera in one hand, large spoon in another…….

We Love It!

Soul slurping of the highest order and buckwheat noodles to boot.  Lucky us.  So quick and satisfying, we could eat this for dinner every night!  A soulful soup of the highest order.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is high in Thiamine and soba noodles were regularly eaten by wealthy  Japanese folk to balance their large intake of white rice (very low thaimine) thus avoiding what was called ‘beri beri’.

As we all know by now, buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb!  A berry and not a grain, a wonderful gluten-free substitute.  Buckwheat is full of flavanoids which are very good for the cardiovascular system.  In fact, some folk say  that buckwheat is better for you than any fruit or vegetable.  Quite a claim!

Categories: Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Rainbow Chard & Red Lentil Harira

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Harira on the hob

We regularly have an identity crisis with dishes, turning traditional fare on its head, ‘Beach House-ing’ things you could say.  We don’t mean it, no offence to the original recipes and food heritage in question, its just we like to play in the kitchen.  Here’s another traditional recipe we have messed about with, thankfully the results were rather delicious.

The best harira I have ever had was for breakfast (regularly) in the village of Chefchaeoun, known to many a traveller for its exceptional soup, jalaba (hooded cloak garment worn by most Moroccans) production and wonderful mountain location.  Its small winding streets hide many a wonderful eating experience, rows of blue houses (yes blue!) make this one of the most distinctive and stunning villages in that vast old land.

I moved there for a while, took up residence in a room situated on the walls of the Hamam (the communal bath), the warmest room in town.  You see its high up there and you wake chilled to the bone and needing a serious bowl of spicy sustenance.  Abdullah provided.

He was a wonderful cook, in nothing more than a space between two buildings, a few squat tables and two gas burners with huge steel pots, Abdullah created the authentic Moroccan dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was like a French Bistro without the pretense and price tag.  My kind of joint for sure.

For a few pennies, Abdullah would dish you up an epic bowl of full-on morning ammunition, sometimes with a tooth-less smile that shifted the early morning fug.  This hearty soup fuelled me on many a hike around the Rif Mountains and also on days spent lounging around playing card games with other punks holed up there. It came with a wedge of steaming flat bread, fruity olive oil and a small bowl of freshly ground cumin to use liberally.  I sat wearing my Jalaba (the over enthusiastic tourist that I am) eating with the local men in silence, canteen style.  No women.  In Morocco cafes and restaurants seem to be a male only thing.

Chefchaouen

I like cooking soups, its a soulful pursuit.  You don’t have to be to precious, there are rules, but not many, a little like Morocco itself.  This is the situation where I feel nice and comfortable.

Recipe Notes

Add just  2 cups of water to make this a hearty stew.

As with all soups/ stews, depending on the quality of your veggies, you many need to add some vegetable stock if the flavour is thin on the ground.

Here’s to you Abdullah.  Peace be with you.  Hamdullah!

P1220315

Rainbow Chard and Red Lentil Harira

The Bits – For 4 bowls

1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (soaked and cooked)

750ml fresh water (or vegetable stock)

1 tbs olive oil

1 1/2  inch fresh ginger (finely diced)

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1 large onion (finely diced)

1 yellow pepper (diced)

3 ripe tomatoes (with flavour)

3 cups chopped rainbow chard (stems separated from the leaves)

1 teas ground turmeric

1 1/2 teas smoked paprika

1/2 teas ground cinnamon

2 teas cumin seeds

3 tbs tomato paste

1 lemon (cut into wedges)

2 tbs gram flour (or flour of your choice)

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (leaves picked, stems chopped)

1 cup red lentils

3 dates (finely chopped)

1 teas fresh ground pepper

2 teas sea salt

 

P1220292

Harira bubblin’ away

Do It

Soak your chickpeas overnight in a saucepan.  Drain and refresh with new water, well covered.  Add 1/4 teas bicarb of soda (this makes them soft and cook quicker), bring to a boil and lower heat.  Vigorously simmer for 20 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.

Warm the oil in a thick bottomed sauce pan, add your onions and cumin seeds and saute the onions for a few minutes until glassy, add garlic, pepper and ginger, stir for a couple of minutes and then add all chard stems (add earlier if they are a little tough), flour and spices, stir and warm through for a minute and now add your tomatoes, dates, lentils, tomato paste, warm through for a minute then add your water/ chickpea juice. Bring to a rolling boil and turn down heat to the lowest setting, add your chickpeas and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, bring back to just about boiling, add your chard leaves and coriander stems.  Re-cover and allow to cook for a few minutes.  Check seasoning.

Serve

A lemon wedge, topped with coriander leaves and a good glug of good olive oil.  Add green olives and brown rice to the table if you’d like to make this dinner.

For a special touch, we have it sprinkled with roasted and chopped almonds.

We Love It!

With winter lurking up the hill, we are getting back to our hearty soups.  Harira is definately one of our fav’s and it is very cool when you have pleasant memories attached to a dish.  Food has amazing transporting properties, the sights and tastes so evocative and alive in memories.

Foodie Fact

Spices are much more than just incredible tasting, the vast majority boast some quite brilliant health properties (as long as we don’t burn them in the pan).

Turmeric is a root similar to ginger and in its raw state has very potent flavour, its wonderful stuff.  Dried is the best we can normally do on this island.  It is peppery and sweet, warm and bitter and has even been likened to orange peel (if very fresh indeed).

Now the nitty gritty and real magic.  Turmeric is anti-microbial, anti-flatulent and strongly anti-bacterial. POW!

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Heavy plate version with rice, olives, fresh coriander and lashings of olive oil

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Cool Cucumber, Basil and Cashew Soup (Raw)

Cucumber, Basil and Cashew Soup (Raw)

Cucumber, Basil and Cashew Soup (Raw)

This soup is a real summer cooler, not something you can regularly say about a soup.  Its creamy (without cream) and hearty (without potatoes and butter), all down to our raw friends the cashew nut.  What a wonderful thing they are.  They make great cheese, milk and add wonderful richness to all things they grace.

Raw soups can be very hearty actually, adding sprouted grains helps and a few nuts or seeds go along way to building a full texture, bags of veggies also make a big difference.  It always impresses me how much goodness you can squeeze into a soup/ smoothie/ juice.  My juice this morning had around 10 different fruits and vegetables (beetroot, carrot, orange, lemon, parsley, basil, spinach, apple, ginger, sweet potato YUM!)  I have to say, afterwards, I was feeling quite high on the stuff.  High on food!  Juice on an empty belly is a magical thing and gets the ZING going in the AM.

This mornings super juice

This mornings super juice

This soup has so many good flavours in there (we love the horseradish especially) as well as being superbly nutritious.  We have been using olives a lot this month instead of adding more salt, they add a natural saltiness to dishes.  So this is a salt-less soup.

COOL AS A CUCUMBER

Cucumber in anything is cooling, it has that lovely quality which is perfect for a sweltering summers day.  I am a hot blooded creature and therefore the British summertime is a little tepid, but yesterday did  seem quite steamy. This soup made for a perfect dinner.

The cooling effect of cucumber is put down to cucurbitin and fatty oils found in the seeds that has a soothing effect on the body.  Cucumber is great for sunburn and can also have a cooling effect when made into a juice.   So drinking cucumber juice is just like putting coolant into a car!

THAT ‘RAW FOOD’ FEELING

Now that we have been eating raw food for over two weeks, our appetite has generally decreased, more accurately our cravings for sugar have decreased.  I find myself better balanced and not snacking hardly at all, certainly not craving coffee or alcohol or sweet things.  I forgot how powerful the raw diet is and how it impacts much more than just what you eat, you feel very different also.  Its like your charged with loads of clean energy and your brain is working at its optimum level and your body is thanking you all the time for being some damn good to it.  Its a pleasant place to be.

RAW FOOD EQUIPMENT

The only thing about getting started with a raw food diet is that you need the equipment.  We’ve gathered ours over a period of two years and are still short of a few bits and pieces.  We have added a dehydrator recently, which we have been enjoying.  A juicer is fairly essential and a food processor is important for all those soups and smoothies.  You could be raw without these gadgets, that is probably the next step for us!  Eating things that fall from trees and gathering berries from hedgerows.  That would be a really natural existence!  Without this equipment, I’d imagine it would be difficult, especially in Britain, to get a decent variety of textures and keep things interesting.  Munching on a raw carrot does have its limits.

Raw food equipment

Raw food equipment

Having said that, one of the best bits of equipment that we use is a humble peeler.  Known as a French peeler, it is vital in sorting out all these fruits and vegetables quickly and makes almost perfect ribbons of produce that can then be popped into salads or made into a raw pasta-style dish.

French Peeler – The Best!

Makes two big bowlfuls:

The Bits

1 1/2 cucumbers, 2 garlic cloves, 2 small green apples (cored and chopped), 1 lime (juice), 1 cup cashews (soaked for 2 hours or longer in filtered water), 1 cup green olives, 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, 1 tbs horseradish, 2 tbs nutritional yeast flakes, 2 cups filtered water (more if needed)

Do It

In a food processor, blend your cashews first, until a thin paste is formed (add soaking water a little at a time), add the rest of the ingredients and a cup full of water.  Blend for 30 seconds and check consistency, it should still be a little chunky in places, add more water and blend again if required.

Serve

With a splash of brilliant, fruity olive oil and a pinch of cracked black pepper.

Foodie Fact

Cucumber has many beneficial properties, it is anti inflammatory and moisture regulating, as mentioned above, it also has cooling properties.  These are the reasons that cucumber is used in beauty products and the like, it smooths the skin and gets rid of dead skin cells.

Cucumber is also full of dietary fibre and is great for people suffering from heartburn, ulcers,acidity etc, for this reason it also helps with constipation.  It’s good for the joints, the kidneys and helps in the digestion of proteins.

Cucumber also has plenty of vitamin C and folates and like the vast majority of veggies, it contains a vast amount of other nutrients.  Overall, cucumber is a serious superfood!

Homemade Cucumber Pickles

Homemade Cucumber Pickles

Categories: Raw Food, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Parsnip Mulligatawny

Secret sweetness here - raisins

Secret ‘Mulllleee’ sweetness here – raisins

There’s a mini tornado blowing around the Beach House today, that can only mean one thing, the soup pan is making an appearance.  It’s the kind of day when you want to ignore the inclement weather and get cosy by the fire with lashings of soup and preferably a cat and loved one (not in that order of course).   So we’re staying in and making a spicy soup.

‘Mulllll-eeeee-gahhh-townnnn-yyyy ‘ is such a great word, it’s a meal in itself.  For many years I’ve preferred the word to the soup, it always seemed like a half-hearted attempt at spicing a bland soup up, but always had the potential to be a real star.

We wanted to give the tired old Mulligatawny a touch of Beach House lovin’, add a little tickle and zing to predictable proceedings.  The spices here make it rock and warm with a zestiness and aromatic tinge that tingles the palate (coming mainly from our pal the coriander seeds), there is also the lovely sweetness of the raisins and parsnips paired with the warm flavours of the garam masala.  The mushrooms here were a late addition and do tend to make soups a little on the grey side.  I don’t think they added a great deal here and could easily be omitted.

However, the highlight by far of this little number is our own leeks making an appearance.  The Beach House Garden is hardly prolific, but it has given us some gems to savour and these little leeks were wonderful.

Beach House Leeks

Beach House Leeks

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

The name ‘Mulligatwany’ actually comes from two Tamil words (a state in the south east corner of India) meaning ‘pepper’ and ‘water’.

If you don’t like coriander husks, try and pick them out before blending (this goes for the bay leaves also).  They can be a little tough and catch in the throat, which doesn’t really bother us.

Once more for luck and laughs, ‘Mulllll-eeeee-gahhh-townnnn-yyyy’.  

MORE BEACH HOUSE SOUPS

If you like this, here are another couple of Beach House soups (we eat alot of soup up here in the windy hills of Wales):

Beetroot Leaf Soup

Raw Green Thai Soup

Roots Soup

Makes one big pan full, enough for  four with possible leftovers.  Hoorah!

The Bits

5 medium parsnips, 1 leek, 1 onion, 1 small sweet potato, 3 small potatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 4 large mushrooms, 1 apple, 3 bay leaves, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 ltr good veg stock

Spices – 1 tbs garam masala, 2 teas turmeric, 2 teas ground cumin, 5 cardamom pods, 1 teas coriander seeds

Parsnip Mulligatawny on the hob

Parsnip Mulligatawny on the hob

Do It

In a large saucepan begin to soften your onions for 3 minutes, then add your leek and garlic, fry gently for 3 more minutes then add the rest of the vegetables and spices, stir in and heat for a couple of minute to get the spices warmed, then add your stock to a lovely low hissing noise.  Bring to a gradual boil then cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the veg is nicely tender.

Blend soup (taking out bay leaves and as many of the cardamom pods as you can fish out) and serve warm.

This soup keeps well in the fridge for days and should be nice thick texture, it may need a little thining out with water.

Parsnip Mulligatawny

Parsnip Mulligatawny

Serve

Warm but not too warm (too much heat hides the flavour a little) and plenty of rough brown bread (recipe here).  A drizzle of yoghurt/ sour cream is always a pleasant addition, a vegan cashew cream would also be quite amazing.

We Love It!

Proper rustic, hearty soup with a warm spice underbelly and punnet loads of aromatic flavours.  Most definitely a meal in a bowl.

Aforementioned cat doing what they do

Aforementioned cat doing what they do when Tornados blow outside.  We have so much to learn from these fur balls.

Foodie Fact

The great thing about parsnips, living in Wales, is that they actually need a good frost to grow well!  No shortage of that up here.  Parsnips are high in sugar, similar levels to that of banana and they are a great source of dietary fibre.

 

Categories: Recipes, Soups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pimiento, Noras and Potato Soup

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A soup with a kick and a tickle that is bound to get you buzzing this winter. A real Sopa de Espana here, all ingredients coming from the Mazarron area.

Many people have asked what the heck we are doing going on a three month holiday. Who one earth do we think we are?!!!!!etc….. Well, we’re making soup; and other things. This soup sprang up from a little potter in the kitchen and rifle through the veggie box.  It’s not snowing in the bay, but it can get slightly chilly some night fall.

Here in Murcia, people are wrapped up warm, scarves wrapped around their faces and big thick coats are all the rage. It’s 18-24 degrees! It makes me smile and also admire the resilience of the good folk of Britain and other cold parts of the world. This soup is an offering from the Beach House Kitchen to all those shivering and sniffing their way through with a smile.

Noras are little dried red peppers sold all over Spain and normally used when preparing stews and soups. They add a lovely sweet, peppery tang to all they touch and remind me of the wonder food of Mexico, where the dried chilli is king. Dried peppers come in many shapes and sizes, some large black and sticky, some dark red and spicy.

Pimiento is another word for pepper, red pepper, we love it because it sounds so Spanish! We are lucky (we know this!) to have wild thyme growing in the ramble (dry river bed) below our home.  Splashing a little olive oil on the top of a soup really adds richness to proceedings, olive oil is of course ubiquitous with all things Spanish food. It’s crops up in biscuits, cakes, shower gel and even amazing crisps (crisps fried in olive oil seems so decadent!). We need alot of calories and fat in winter months when the body is trying to keep us from perishing! Olives lend a hand here. My friend Chris, who lives here swears by it and claims bread is ‘merely a vehicle for olive oil’.

The veg. stock we used here came from last nights dinner, the water used for cooking potatoes. Such a shame to throw it away, it is packed with flavour. Back in Wales, we’d blend this together with a hand blender, soups with potato in always blend amazingly well. They go very creamy and full. Here, we enjoyed the texture of the lumps and chunks, listening to Ravi Shankar (r.i.p. Ravi ji) and toasted our friends and family on the grey island, hoping they were all cosy and shiny.

Gorgeous Spanish Tomato

This recipe makes one big panful, enough for approx, 6 decent bowlfuls.

The Bits

1 onion (sliced), 1 stick celery (sliced), 2 large potatoes (firm variety/ cubed), 3 noras (finely sliced), 2 large tomatoes (skin them if you have the time), 2 heaped teas smoked paprika, ½ teas chilli powder (we used a fresh green chilli named ‘Pimiento Padron – Shepherds Peppers’. Que rico!), 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 teas fresh thyme, approx. 1 1/2 -2 litres good veggie stock, 1 big handful coriander, good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Do It

In a large soup/ saucepan heat a little oil, begin to sweat off your onion. After the onion becomes glassy and soft add your noras and cook for 2 minutes, then add your paprika, thyme and finally your balsamic vinegar. This will begin to bubble and evaporate, stir well and get all the ingredients nicely involved with each other. If things get a little sticky and dry, add a splash of veggie stock to loosen things up. Season nicely.

Now for the potatoes and peppers, cook for 5 minutes until softened, then add you tomato and cook until the tomato has broken down and formed a sauce like consistency. Then add your stock and stir, bring to the boil and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are very tender.

Pimiento, Noras and Potato Soup

Serve

Piping hot, topped with a handful of coriander, a splash of olive oil (a la Espana) and big cry of ‘Buen Provecho!’ My thing with soups is, not too hot! Firstly you’ll burn your poor mouth and secondly the flavours come out a little better when the soup has cooled a tad.

We Love It!

Even though we are not freezing and are wearing our shorts, we know this soup would hit the spot in our little wintery cottage back home in Wales. A lovely tangy soup with all the joys of a fiery chilly kick.  Wicked winter warmer.

Foodie Fact

Paprika (or Pimenton) is a superb, bright red spice used in traditional Spanish cooking.  There are several different types of Paprika; namely spicy, sweet, smoked or combinations of the above.  Paprika is made from dried and ground red chillis, traditionally peppers were dried under the sun.  One of the finest areas for Paprika in Spain is Murcia, the region that we call home.

Jane under Spanish skies

Jane under Spanish skies, Puerto Mazzaron

Categories: Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Black Prince Tomato & Coriander Soup (Raw)

Something like a Black Prince Tomato

These little toms are mind-blowingly tasty and light up this fabulous raw soup recipe.  We believe they are called Black Princes, but cannot be sure.  If they are Black Princes, they originated in Siberia but we picked them up from the wonderful John and Pippa in the small village of Bethel (a couple of valleys away). They are stunning tomatoes to look at, purple and dark green inside and mottled with emerald patches on the outside.  The most surprising thing about these tomatoes is that they have been grown organically in Wales (the land of the shy sun).  How is this possible?  I put it down to great expertise and poly tunnels, 20 years of growing experience also helps!  We are so very grateful to the brilliant Pippa and John for eeking out the best of the conditions of this, the wettest and worst summer on this grey island for over 100 years.  Can you imagine what they’d do in Spain!  Jane and I are almost addicted to these little gems, even scoffing them like popcorn whilst watching a samurai movie recently.

So whats all this about a Black Prince anyway? 

Well, the Black Prince (apart from just having the most epic name of any tomato we have encountered) is one of the most popular black tomatoes in the world (more dark green than black to be honest).  These toms are classed as an heirloom variety in the U.S. (see the foodie fact below) and have a wonderful deep, rich and fruity flavour.  The Black Prince is known as a ‘true Siberian tomato’, which makes it perfect for growing in cooler climates like our little grey island.

They say an Indian summer is coming to these parts, having experienced a couple of these myself in India, I am not sure that this is an accurate description of the potential weather situation.  We can however hope for some late summer sun which makes for a perfect raw soup climate.  But raw soups are not just for the summertime.

One of the things we both struggled to imagine prior to our month of raw food eating in June, was sitting down in front of our fire in mid-December, all wrapped up warm with thermals on and tucking into a cold soup with a salad.  We now know that this would work out just fine.  Although the temperature outside is chilly, the effect this kind of soup has on body and mind is seriously rejuvenating and they are absolutely jam packed full with the vitamins etc. that your body needs come the darker months.

This soup really does the black prince toms justice, it’s refreshing and not shy of a few flavours.  Whether you feel like sparkling some more, or are getting over a good old-fashioned beer garden adventure, this soup will get you zinging in all the right places.

Recipe Notes

The juice in the recipe replaces a traditional stock.  We have been experimenting with this juicy method and have had some brilliant results in mainly raw soups and stews.  No stock can live up to the vibrancy and freshness of a raw juice, especially for a chilled soup like this one.  We picked only the freshest flavours here and the combination of the tomatoes, peppers, oranges, chilli, coriander and ginger……well you can imagine!  With all those colours in a bowl, expect fireworks!

We like to use a little of the orange zest, it gives it even more pizzazz. The dates are essential to balance the saltiness of the miso.  You could use agave syrup or the like if you fancied, but there is something wonderful about adding dates to savoury food.  Avocado is perfect in soups, but does mean that it must be eaten within a day.  The avos add creaminess without the cream and are a great little raw food trick.

If you don’t own a juicer, just buy some fresh carrot juice instead.  You could also use the same quantity of water, but it would be slightly lacking.  You may also omit the sprouted mung beans and still produce a wonderful bowl of happiness, we just had a glut of them to hand.

Black Prince Tomatoes

This recipe is enough for two big bowlfuls with ample seconds.

The Bits

10 ripe black cherry tomatoes (or the best cherry tomatoes you can get your hands on)

3 ripe tomatoes (the bigger variety)

1 avocado

1 big handful mung bean sprouts

250ml carrot and celery juice (that’s roughly 4 large carrots and 1 stick celery)

1 big handful chopped coriander

1 yellow pepper (chopped)

1 tbsp flax oil (or good olive oil)

2 tsp miso paste

2 cm cube ginger (finely chopped)

1 clove garlic (mashed)

1/2 red chilli (or 1/2 teas chilli flakes)

Juice of 1 orange (with half the zest)

3 finely chopped dates

 

Do It

Make your juice first and then placed all ingredients in a food processor.  Blitz and add the juice gradually.  We think a minute or so is enough, maintain a few chunks, a longer blitz means a smoother soup.

Pre-blitz

Serve

Just not quite chilled and with a good handful of freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) as a topping and a scattering of sprouted mung beans.

We Love It!

Our favourite raw soup yet!!

Black Prince Cherry Tomato and Coriander Soup

Foodie Fact

In America ‘heirloom’ veggies are all the rage.  The Black Prince is an ‘heirloom’ fruit, which basically means that they are pure seeds and have not been touched by any GM crops.  At local markets in Britain, it is great to see people growing our indigenous varieties again, all mis-shapen and knobbly, with real flavours and textures.  Many people are single handedly keeping these varieties in existence and passing on these heirlooms to future generations.

Categories: Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Summer, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

Beetroot Leaf Soup

The Beet Leaves

With beetroots like these who needs spinach?!  Or something like that anyway.  With a regular supply of these beauties almost year-round you can expect alot more beetroot dishes on the BHK!  Really though, it is my favourite veg.  I know that is a bold statement for a veggie lover.  The ‘root is such a magnificent purple thing, but the leaves are just as good and this soup recipe puts them to good use.  We normally chop them up and put them into salads, so this is a nice change.

Now, the vast majority of Beach House readers are from over the pond, that is to say the USA.  We love you guys and must translate a little here, you may know these leaves as beet greens and beetroots are of course beets.  I like the name beets and beet leaf has a much better ring than beetroot leaf, but I must stay true my small island roots.

The beetroots we are buying at the moment from the farm all come with at least five crisp leaves and beautiful crimson roots.  You can really see the similarity with chard, especially swiss chard, they are all one big happy family.  As with most plants, the leaves contain more nutrients than the roots, one more reason to never, ever throw them away (I hear of people doing this).  What a waste!

This is a basic soup recipe and the beetroot leaves can be substituted for beetroots themselves, or most other veg.  This is a classic soup base that allows you to use up any veggies that you have hanging around.

As with most soups, its better the day after.  The flavours really come together and the piquant tomato flavour really comes through with the balsamic adding a lovely sweetness.

I decided on oregano here, because it is blooming at the minute in the herb garden.  You may prefer to use thyme or even rosemary would go nicely.

We made a big vat of soup here, feel free to half the quantities for a more modest pan full.

Makes one big pan full (eight bowls)

The Bits

1 tbs veg oil

2 sticks celery (chopped)

1 carrot (chopped)

4 cloves garlic (minced)

1 big white onion (chopped)

2 teas ground cumin

Leaves of 12 beetroots (well washed and roughly chopped)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 stems of fresh oregano (leaves only, 2 teas dried oregano otherwise)

1.5ltr veg stock

5 ripe tomatoes (roughly chopped)

2 tbs organic tom puree

sea salt and cracked black pepper

 

Do It

Heat veg oil on medium in a suitably large pan, add onions and soften for a couple of minutes, add celery and carrot and continue cooking and stirring for a couple more minutes.  Then add cumin, garlic and balsamic, allow the vinegar to evaporate (getting rid of most of the acidity) then add you beetroot leaves and season with salt and pepper, stir in well.

Beet leaves wilting

Cook for a few minutes and when the leaves are wilting add the tomatoes, the oregano leaves and the puree, stir in and heat through, then add your stock and bring it all to the boil.  Lower heat and cover, cook for 20 minutes, until all veg is tender.  Then blend together using a hand blender or in batches in a food processor.  The soup should be smooth, no lumps, check seasoning.

Blitz it up!

Serve

In warm bowls, topped with some oregano leaves and fresh cracked black pepper.

Beetroot Leaf Soup

We Love It!

A great summer warmer (needed in these climes), we love the combination of balsamic and beetroot, sweet and tangy coming together nicely with the deep and hearty tomatoes.  A lively, zingy soup, jam packed full of flavour and goodness.

Having a good slurp. YUM!

Foodie Facts

Beetroot leaves are full of fibre, protien and vitamin C, which we need constant supplies of because our bodies cannot store it.  One cup of beetroot leaves gives you 60% of your daily dose of C.  The best news is the vitamin A content, one cup contains 220% of your daily intake.  Cor!  They also contain alot of calcium, most people think that calcium comes from cows, but there are so many other ways of getting your calcium.

Categories: Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Rich Tomato and Basil Soup (Raw)

Tomato and Basil

Here’s one for when you are in a little bit of a hurry and you need something quick and tasty. Cold soup is a funny one for most people, it can be difficult to get your head around. Cold soups are served all over the world and I can think of many delicious recipes from Spain. It is very much a cultural thing, in Britain we have diabolical weather, which means we normally need a little warmth in our bellies. Soup is so sustaining and comforting, I don’t see why cold soup cannot have the same effect.

We managed to get our hands on a decent amount of lovely tomatoes, rare in these parts and this soup really did them justice.  The tomatoes really make this dish and without gorgeous tomatoes, you will struggle to get much flavour.  It’s all about tomato here!

Raw food is nutrient dense, which means alot of ingredients.  It is not your average soup, which normally relies heavily on a decent stock, its really just one big savoury smoothie!

This is a recipe that has the added richness of an avocado. I love the way that raw food uses things like avocado to add creaminess to dishes, surely better than a blob of clotted cream (no!?). But I must admit, clotted cream is definitely better on a scone.

We added on green chilli here, to add a little mexican style zing to proceedings.   It is optional of course.  If you’d like it richer, add more avocado, you can never get enough!

So dust off the blender and give this one a whirl. The perfect summer soup, refreshing and filling.  You can heat  this if you like, it will be nearly as nice!

Makes two big bowlfuls:

The Bits

8 tomatoes (medium size, chopped into 1/4’s), 1/2 sweet red pepper, 8 sun dried tomatoes (finely chopped/ mashed), 2 cloves garlic (minced, crushed etc), 1/2 medium sweet onion (Spanish are good, finely chopped), 1 big handful of chopped basil leaves, 1 avocado, pinch of good quality sea salt, 1 green chilli (very optional), olive oil for a drizzle

Tomato and Basil Soup (Raw)

Do It

All in a blender and pulse until a nice chunky texture is formed, add water if needed to thin out slightly.

Serve

We topped ours with sprouts (no surprises there then!) and a couple of basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil maybe?

We Love It!

Nice and rich and refreshing, a great way to use glorious toms!

Foodie Fact

Basil is regarded as the ‘king of herbs’ and is a holy plant in many cultures.  Basil originated in Iran and India.  Basil has many anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties, it contains exceptionally high levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, iron and a whole host of other good stuff.

Categories: Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Mug of Miso Soup

 

Mug of Miso

A really quick one here, one for a busy body that needs a happy mind.  I have just indulged in a steaming mug of miso and I thought it worth sharing, mainly due to the ease of making that is far out balanced by the enjoyment and sustenance you get from this mug.

I love miso in all its many forms, colours and prep styles.  This however is my favourite, plain and simple.  I was raised in the Philippines and we used to go to a Japanese restaurant called ‘Takayama’s’.  My Dad has always been a very cool chap and he used to let me order.  I was 10ish.  I used to love this responsibility and normally order a decent concoction of bits and pieces.  I still remember the fist time I had a bowl of miso, the thing I thought for many years was egg (tofu), the thinly sliced spring onions and of course, the intensely flavoured stock.  I love stock and miso makes the worlds finest stock.

This is a little something you can rustle up in less that a minute, it is very nourishing and makes the perfect snack for the fleet footed modern lifestyle.

If you’re lucky, you have a bag of dried seaweed in your cupboards.  If not, no worries, its great without it.

Fills one of our big mugs, about a pint.

The Bits

Per mug- 1 tbs of your favourite miso (we used brown rice miso, it has a lovely earthiness), 2 finely chopped mushrooms, 1 finely chopped spring onion, 1 teas chopped ginger, 2 teas dried seaweed, dash of soya sauce, boiling water.

Do It

Add the miso to you mug, add a little just boiled water, stir in.  Then add the rest, add a dash of soya sauce, taste, add more if it needs a little more a salty tang.  Cover with a saucer and leave for a minute to get itself together, and cook the mushrooms a little.

Serve

You could even add some thin rice noodles here, just make sure they’re cooked!

We Love It!

A revitalising and nourishing cup of happiness.

Foodie Fact

Miso is a Japanese condiment, a paste normally made soybeans or barley, rice or wheat.  It has magical properties, that it gains from the fermentation process.  The colour and flavour depends on the ingredients and techniques used.

Miso contains high levels of sodium, so bear that in mind before you start ladling it in!  Miso is low in saturated fat but rich in vitamin K, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamin-B complexes, protein, copper, manganese and zinc.

Miso can help to detoxify the body, the microbes present line the intestines and it also contains many enzymes (which we are always going on about!).

Categories: Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Raw Green Thai Soup

Thai soup – in the mix

Here is a classic Thai soup, only this time served cold.  This is without doubt the finest chilled soup I have ever tasted.  You just have to look at what goes into it to realise that it is going to be a taste sensation!  Coconut, lemon grass, chilli, lime and ginger.  That’s the taste of food heaven.

If there is any food which mirrors a country, it is Thai.  Vibrant, colourful and unique. The combination of ingredients and fresh, fresh flavours make my mouth water.

Jane and I met not far from Thailand (well the Philippines, but close enough!) We both love Asia for many reasons, but the people and food really stand out. Thailand cannot be beaten for food. A bold statement, but anyone who has visited and trawled the street food and markets will agree. Great food made simply but with super fresh ingredients. The soups alone are almost alchemical, their vapours can revive the soul and the flavours dance in your mouth like a dragon.

Thai’s love food. In a way that us Europeans cannot comprehend. For example, my friend Toum took me to a local market in a suburb of north Bangkok and I have never seen such care taken in the selection of produce. I was reprimanded for holding some green leaves the wrong way round, and soon realised that I had much to learn in the respect and handling of food… we carried our vegetables home as if they were newly born babies.

You can see the real identity of countries and cultures coming through in what they eat. Most Thais eat very well, regardless of social standing.  In fact, they seem to eat the same things, in the same places. Namely the street. There is a movement towards a more westernised capitalist culture in the upper and middle classes, but it’s all done in a very Thai way.  I can never see the big mac taking over from the pad thai.

This will be very refreshing come summer (it is coming I hope), the flavours are as intense and fragrant as you would expect from things Thai.

Bangkok Street Food

The Bits

There’s lots of bits in this one, but that’s what makes it so very tasty!

6 mushrooms, 6 tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 1 cm fresh ginger (or 1cm galangal if you can), 1 lemon grass stick, 1 red chilli, 4 dates, 6 lime leaves, juice of 2 limes, bunch of coriander, 120g fresh coconut chopped, 125g spinach, 1 apple, 2 tbsp tamari

Do It

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender and keep your finger on the button until all the herbs have been blitzed.

Serve

In a big bowl with a few sprouts and coriander leaves on top, a whole heap of love, and the biggest spoons you have!

We Love It!

It is such a taste explosion and takes us back to happy memories of a wonderful land (just one spoonful of this and we now want to go back!).  This is authentic thai, without the jars of paste.

Thai Lotus Flower

Foodie Fact

So essential to Thai cookery, coriander (celantro to some) is actually native to the Mediterranean and is rich in anti-oxidants that help against heart conditions.  It also contains high levels of vitamin C and many different minerals.  It  is one of the richest sources of vitamin K and has a very high vitamin A content.  Quite a herb!

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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