Holiday soup

Alex and I have just spent a few days in Glasgow, which is a great city for vegan food! We ate some delicious meals, more of which another time…

We had plans to eat out most of the time, but bought a few things in so that we had the makings of salads if we needed them. In the end though, a lot of the vegetables ended up in a soup!

The original holiday soup started with a base of butternut squash simmered in almond milk, with various salad leaves and vegetables added. As we had no stock, or herbs or spices, we used a little pot of lemon and mint dressing that came in one of the salads to flavour the broth!

It worked ever so well, so I’ve repeated the idea here. Holiday soup is absolutely delicious, if a little unusual!

Holiday soup!

Holiday soup!

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Two variations on guacamole

Normally I like my guacamole pretty plain, just avocado, lime juice and salt and pepper.

But on tv the other day there was mention of adding pomegranate, which I thought sounded gorgeous! So I bought two lovely ripe avocados from the shops, along with pomegranate seeds so I could give it a try.

In the spirit of experimentation I thought it would be fun to make one batch with the pomegranate, and one with something else. I’ve got some dill that I’ve been using in rice salads, so that seemed like a good option!

They both turned out to be delicious, and a really nice alternative to plain guacamole. And so so easy!

Pomegranate guacamole

Pomegranate guacamole

each batch serves 2

for the pomegranate guacamole

1 ripe avocado

2 -3 tbsp lime juice

a pinch of salt

4 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Dill guacamole

Dill guacamole

for the dill guacamole

1 ripe avocado

1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

a pinch of salt and pepper

2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

To make either of the guacamoles, cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Squeeze the avocado flesh out of the skin into a small bowl, if it’s ripe there’s no need to use a knife or spoon, it should just slip out.

Mash the avocado with a fork, and then mix through the rest of the ingredients. Start with the smaller amount of lime juice/ vinegar and add more to taste.

By E.


Shepherdless pie baked potatoes

I was just going to saute some mushrooms to have with my baked potato today, but then I thought surely I can make it a little more interesting!

So I made a shepherdless pie filling with lentils and mushrooms, which I used to stuff baked potato skins, piling the cooked potato on top before grilling until golden.

Delicious, and much more fun!

Shepherdless pie baked potatoes

Shepherdless pie baked potatoes

serves 1

1 large potato

1 tsp oil

a pinch of salt

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

for the filling

8 mushrooms, finely chopped

20 g lentils, rinsed

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 a carrot, grated

a pinch of dried thyme or a sprig of fresh thyme

a pinch of dried rosemary

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

100 ml water

salt and pepper

1 tsp oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c

Prick the potato with a fork and bake for 1 to 1 and a half hours, until the skin is crisp and the inside cooked through.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan and saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are releasing liquid.

Stir through the herbs, nutritional yeast, water and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the lentils are soft and the mixture is thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the grill on to medium.

Cut the potato in half lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Leave a little potato around the edge of the skins so that it doesn’t collapse when the filling goes in. Roughly mash the potato with salt and the wholegrain mustard.

Spoon the lentil and mushroom mixture into the potato skins, and then pile the mustard mash on top. Drizzle with the remaining tsp of oil. Cook under the grill for a few minutes, until golden brown.

By E.


Spiced fennel, red pepper and cashew fritter

Originally we’d thought of making a sort of onion bhaji using fennel in place of the onion. But as tends to happen when we cook together, the whole idea evolved into something quite different…

So in the end we went for a great mix of fennel, red pepper and cashews, bound together with batter flavoured with a beautifully fragrant spice mix.

We cooked one big fritter and served cut into wedges with potato slices which had been baked with herbs.

It was gorgeous! Definitely one to make again.

Spiced fennel, red pepper and cashew fritter

Spiced fennel, red pepper and cashew fritter

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Coriander carrots

So, I was going to make Canarian potatoes, whereby little potatoes are cooked in heavily salted water until wrinkly, and then dried in a hot pan to create a light salt crust. But my potatoes had gone off…
But I do have plenty of carrots! 
So I thought I’d use them to make something similar to the potato recipe. I’ve used less salt than would be usual for Canarian potatoes, and added crushed coriander seed and dried thyme to up the flavour. 
When the carrots are cooked they have a wonderful intense carroty flavour with a hint of spice, and tossed in lime juice and fresh coriander, they make a lovely, unusual salad! 
They’d be amazing with soy yoghurt cream cheese or Alex’s cashew cream cheese, that’s definitely what I’ll serve them with next time I make them…

Coriander carrots

Coriander carrots

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3 ingredient melt in the mouth chocolate coconut mousse

This was such an easy thing to make its barely a recipe, but it came out so nicely, it’s really tasty and just does melt away to nothing but a happy feeling in the mouth!

chocolate mousse

Ingredients (serves 4)

 440g tin of coconut milk

50g dark chocolate

30g agave syrup

Break up the chocolate into a glass bowl and add the agave syrup, melt the chocolate, either by placing the bowl over a pan of boiling water or by short blasts in the microwave. The agave syrup will help keep the chocolate a bit more pliable, and would make a great topping where you don’t want the chocolate to completely set. 


chocolate and agave


Empty the tin of coconut milk into a mixing bowl and whisk so that the solids and liquids combine and are smooth, the while still whisking pour in the chocolate mix a little at a time whisking thoroughly until it is all incorporated.

The mixture will be very liquid at this stage, don’t worry, pour into dishes and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight and it’ll firm up into a light lovely desert.


By A


Baked mushroom and spinach risotto

I do love a mushroom risotto. Of course there’s no butter or cheese in a vegan version, but that means that we don’t rely on dairy to add richness!

Instead the flavours are layered with delicious seasonings and herbs, with the rice itself giving the creamy texture and flavour. The resulting risotto has a lovely depth of flavour, and roasting the vegetables first really helps with this.

Here I’ve chosen to bake the risotto rather than using the stirring method, it works very well as long as the water is hot when you mix it with the rice.

Baked mushroom and spinach risotto

Baked mushroom and spinach risotto

makes 4 servings

200 g risotto rice

3 sticks of celery

2 large flat mushrooms

300 g white or button mushrooms

1 tbsp oil

salt and pepper

50 ml vermouth

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

50 g frozen spinach, defrosted

2 tsp mushroom and fennel powder (or stock powder)

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

10 g fresh basil, shredded

800 ml hot water

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.

In a large roasting tray, toss the celery with the oil, and a little salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Add the mushrooms (stirring them around in the oil), and roast for a further 20 minutes, turning once. After this time the celery should be browned and the mushrooms cooked through and wrinkly and concentrated in flavour.

Turn the oven down to 170.

Cool the vegetables a little and then slice the celery and flat mushrooms, and halve or quarter the white mushrooms. Leave a few whole if they’re small. Tip the roasting pan juices into a large ovenproof casserole pan on a medium heat. Add the vegetables, and vermouth, and bubble for two minutes. Add the rice, and stir to coat.

Vegetables ready for the rice

Vegetables ready for the rice

Next, add the oregano, mushroom and fennel powder, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, nutritional yeast and 700 ml of the hot water to the pan. Mix well, bring to a simmer and then cover the pan and pop it into the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir the last 100 ml of hot water into the risotto.

Cook for a further 15 minutes. By this point the liquid should have been absorbed, and the rice will be lovely and soft. Season with salt and pepper, and stir the basil through just before serving.

By E.


Beetroot, carrot and almond salad with caper and parsley dressing

I made this salad as a quick side dish, but it was so lovely I thought I’d share the recipe!

It’s sweet and earthy from the root vegetables, creamy and nutty from the almonds, and the dressing of tangy salty capers and parsley finishes it off beautifully.

Also, it’s immensely pretty!

It’s best to let it sit for at least half an hour before eating to let the flavours come together.

Beetroot, carrot and almond salad

Beetroot, carrot and almond salad

serves 2 as a side dish

2 cooked beetroot, diced (I buy the ready cooked type that come in a vacuum pack)

1 carrot, grated

40 g roasted almonds

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp capers, chopped

2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

Mix the beetroot, apple cider vinegar, capers and parsley together in a bowl. Then fold in the carrot and almonds.

If you mix it all together at the same time everything will be pink from the beetroot!

By E.


My go to mushroom and coconut milk soup

This has become the soup I make when I can’t think what other soup to make 🙂 it’s everything I like in a soup, creamy, comforting, satisfying and mushroomy, it’s also slightly sweet which is fun!



The coconut milk is the stuff sold to go in cups of tea, it’s thinner than the tinned coconut milk, although the tinned variety would work just as well, and make it even creamier!

I tend to use a bit of potato starch to thicken it slightly, but any flour would do, it’s also great just as it is.

125g of mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

150ml water

100ml coconut milk

1 teaspoon oil

A splash of tamari

A teaspoon of potato flour slaked.

In a small pan heat up the oil then add the sliced mushrooms and tamari, cook until nicely softened and browned, this takes 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the water, coconut milk and herbs, bring to a simmer then turn to a low heat and leave to reduce, as I’m typing this the gorgeous smells have made it to me in the front room, mushroom and coconut go so well together.

After the soup has reduced down by about a third stir in the potato flour if using and cook for a few minutes.

Remove about half of the mushrooms and blitz the rest of the soup, pop the mushrooms back in and serve.

By A.


Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables

For the last few days water in my area of Lancashire has been contaminated, and has had to be boiled for drinking and food prep. I really can’t complain, as in the grand scheme of things I’ve got it easy, hospitals and care homes have had a very difficult time of it. And of course the hotels and cafe’s of nearby Blackpool are at their busiest time of year!

But having to boil and cool water before using really does take the fun out of cooking, particularly when you’re used to using, and therefore washing, lots and lots of herbs and vegetables! I’ve eaten a lot of tinned soup…

But today I need to cook.

So with the theory that baked polenta won’t be such a pain to wash up as if I’d cooked it in a pan (wet polenta is almost akin to porridge in its ability to glue itself to saucepans I think!), I thought I’d give this method a try.

I’ve added smashed butterbeans for a bit of protein, and because I love them!

As the oven was on for the polenta I thought I’d bake the vegetables too, to make a thick, spicy, flavoursome sauce. I’ve been wary of baked sauces since years ago (when I still believed timings in food magazines…), I made an all in one oven baked ratatouille. It took three times as long as it should have to cook, and was still pretty awful!

So here I’ve staggered the cooking time for the vegetables so that they all cook through and the flavours meld. It does take a while, but hey, while things are in in the oven you can get on with other stuff!

Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables

Baked butterbean polenta with spicy vegetables

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