Tag Archives: lentils

Healing lentil and vegetable soup

30 Oct

At the start of every university term all sorts of bugs and diseases spread round campus. All the students come in from all over the world with their different germs, which they give to each other and the academic staff, who then pass them on to the admin staff. It’s now three weeks in to term and all of the support staff in my department are either just recovering or just coming down with something. In honour of everyone who works in a university, college, or school, and is feeling grotty right now, here is my get-well-soon soup. The lentils will give you enough protein to make all of those extra white blood cells you’ll need to fight the infection, and the vitamins from the veggies will boost your immune system so you can beat anything. It’s simple enough to make when you’re feeling at your absolute worst. On top of that, it’s both warm and comforting AND fresh and zingy all at the same time. I’ve used a mix of lentils for a varied texture, you could use just split peas to make it chunkier or just red lentil to be smoother. Here it is:

Chunky lentil and vegetable soup, the best cold remedy I know #vegan

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

 

Recipe (serves four):

  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped as chunky or as fine as you like
  • 1 stick of celery, also chopped as chunky or as fine as you like
  • 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs
  • 100g yellow split peas or chana dal
  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Sweat the onion and celery in the oil, covered, for about 10-15 minutes without colouring.

Add the herbs, split peas, lentils, stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then simmer for 45 minutes, until the split peas are cooked through but still retain a little bit of bite.

Add the parsley and season to taste.

Curl up in your duvet and eat the soup out of the biggest mug you can find. Get well soon!

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A very veggie Christmas

21 Dec

“So, what do you eat for Christmas dinner?”

It’s the one question all meat-eaters want to ask vegetarians and vegans at this time of year. It’s no surprise they’re curious, food seems like one of the most important aspects of Christmas, and for many people the idea of Christmas day without a massive dead bird in the oven seems a bit weird. To answer their question, and to make a few suggestions, here are a few things I’ve had for my veggie Christmases over the years.

Nothing

I don’t mean nothing at all. What I mean is nothing extra. Pile your plate high with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings, and drown the whole lot in some lovely vegetarian gravy. I’ve read comments from other vegetarians complaining about being forgotten at Christmas meals and being given a plate of side dishes, but when the side dishes make the meal you don’t really need anything else!

Nut roast

The mainstay of the office Christmas lunch has a terrible reputation, but when it’s done right it’s a fab choice. It’s tasty, satisfying and super healthy, and it’s brilliant for leftovers. Don’t go for a dull, brown packet-mix. Instead, scour the internet for a festive recipe that has things you like in it. To name just a few:

Pie

I’m the only vegetarian in my immediate family, so when I spend Christmas day with them I tend to make my own meat alternative, usually a pie of some sort. Making something different for just one person does sound kind of lonely, but I see it as a real treat, a chance to have whatever I want. Unfortunately I am a creature of habit and tend to always want the same thing – a brie and mushroom parcel. I’ve recently cut out dairy completely, so next time I’m with my parents for Christmas I’ll probably make a mushroom and something else parcel (pine nuts would be lovely). As a rough guide, 100g of puff pastry to 100g of filling makes a generous pie or pasty for one person.

Speaking of mushrooms, one of the nicest meals I ever had was a beautiful mushroom strudel. It was probably nothing more than wild mushrooms cooked with garlic, wrapped in filo pastry, but despite its simplicity it was so special.

Fake meat

I don’t eat an awful lot of fake meat. It’s high in protein but nutritionally it doesn’t have a lot else going for it. I prefer whole foods. However, it is a fun option if you fancy a nostalgic treat, and you can use it to make a very traditional-looking Christmas dinner. A fake meat extravaganza is the usual choice for Christmas dinner in the Veg household, where the vegetarians (me, Mr Veg and his little bro) outnumber the one meat eater (my mother-in-law, AKA Southern Mum). There are several brands of vegetarian chicken-style roasts now, we normally have a couple of these so there will be plenty of leftovers.

I love making veggie pigs in blankets to go with it. Just brush some vegetarian bacon slices with a little oil, and wrap around your favourite vegetarian sausages, hold together with cocktail sticks and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

A slightly unusual alternative to this that I’ve tried very recently is a shiitake and leek stuffed seitan roast from Isa Chandra Moskowitz: http://www.theppk.com/2011/11/seitan-roast-stuffed-with-shiitakes-and-leeks/. It’s dense and chewy and really tasty, and the best thing is you can adapt the stuffing and other flavourings to suit you.

The only bad Christmas meal I ever had

I’ve written more than once about chefs who don’t have a clue about what to cook for vegetarians and this is probably the worst experience I’ve had in that respect. The vegetarian option for the office Christmas lunch a few years ago was described only as a vegetarian suet pudding. It could have been lovely, but sadly it was suet pastry wrapped around unseasoned, mealy lentils. It probably would have been ok if there was some gravy or other sauce but sadly there wasn’t. It was dry and bland and a real disappointment.

I’d love to hear what other vegetarians and vegans have for Christmas dinner, please let me know your best and worst experiences.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!

Two-soup Sunday, part two – vegetarian lentil and not-bacon

18 Aug

Soup can be many things: from chunky to smooth, from elegant to “throw it all in and see what happens”, from creamy to spicy, from a delicate starter to a full-on main course. One of soups most important roles is that of a comfort food. As a child, whenever I was ill my Mum would feed me tinned lentil and bacon soup, and no matter what was wrong it would always make me feel better. I’ve now been a vegetarian for a very long time, and while you can get plain lentil soup in a can that is just as comforting (if not more so), I’ve been on a bit of a mission to create a vegetarian version of the meaty kind from my childhood.

The key to this is liquid smoke. It’s quite expensive in the UK, and you have to buy it online, but a little bit goes a long way. It’s probably not going to fool a meat eater, but a hint of smoke in a soup or stew is just enough to trick a vegetarian brain into tasting bacon. Even without the liquid smoke it’s still a tasty soup though, and just as comforting.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium carrots, grated
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good sprig each of rosemary and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional, we put chilli in pretty much everything in the Veg household, whether it’s appropriate or not)
  • 2 cups of split red lentils
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (1.75 litres)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or more if you want it, but be careful!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.

Add the carrots, garlic, herbs, cumin, and chilli, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for a further 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and starting to go mushy.

Add the liquid smoke, then check for seasoning. Serve and enjoy!

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