Roasted Tomatoes

Jamie Oliver’s Tomato Soup

If you didn’t know, I’m a lover of soup. Proper homemade soup is the best, there’s nothing better than it when you’re feeling cold and tired. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me.

I think because my memories of it were the tinned stuff that was too sweet, I’ve always been a hater of tomato soup. However, I’ve recently become a convert and started to like it, not the tinned stuff though, homemade is always better. I’ve tried this really simple recipe from Jamie Oliver for tomato soup a couple of times now, it’s the one that made me like tomato soup. But me being me, I have to meddle with a recipe!

The first time I made the soup I followed the recipe as it is. Making the soup last night, I decided to roast the tomatoes with some oregano, salt and oil, before popping them into the soup. Turned out to be a worthwhile added step, I love roasted tomatoes, I definitely think it added more flavour to the soup.

Leftovers to look forward to for lunches this week! I might even experiment and use some as a pasta sauce too.

Don’t reach for that tin opener! Give homemade soup a try. It’s easy, healthy and tasty. Try Jamie Oliver’s tomato soup, meddle with it or don’t, it’s good either way!

Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Veganuary is going well for me again this year, I’ve been cooking lots of my usual favourites and, as usual, trying out some new ideas.

You might know I’ve got a bit of a problem with cookbooks, I have lots, I bought six since Christmas… oops! To be fair they were secondhand and four of them were bargains at a penny each! For me they don’t have to be exclusively vegetarian or vegan. I like the challenge of taking a recipe that isn’t vegetarian or vegan and making it suitable. This approach to cooking has totally changed how I eat and made me try so many more things other than your typical and somewhat expected vegetarian food. Some restaurants could do with taking this approach to vegetarian and vegan food, quit with the boring standard pasta or roast veg dishes.

There’s loads of noodle broth type recipes in my collection of cookbooks. The ones that are meaty are pretty easy to make vegan, lose the meat and meaty stock and switch it out for veg or tofu and veg stock.

This recipe was created by looking at a few different recipes for Thai noodle soups. My first attempt had a real kick, so I toned it down a bit here, but if you like it hot add another chilli or two. It really depends on how hot the chillies are that you buy too, be brave, give them a taste and make a judgement for how many to add. Or, if you aren’t feeling brave that’s alright, just go with one chilli and then have some fresh sliced on the side for people to pimp their bowl with if they like it hot!

This makes enough for two. You’ll need a blender to make the paste quickly, though if you don’t have one, chopping it all up superfine, or bashing it up in a pestle and mortar will work. It doesn’t take long to make, but I’m not great at timing how long stuff takes in the kitchen, sorry!


For the paste…
1 chilli, keep the seeds in, take them out, whatever you fancy
3 cloves garlic, peeled
5cm ish of ginger, peeled
1 lemongrass stalk
4 shallots, peeled (you could use spring onions here instead)
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp turmeric
1tsp curry powder (I opted for a mild one)
1 handful of fresh coriander use the stalks for this, the leaves to garnish

50g fine rice noodles
1 tin coconut milk
soy sauce
1 lime

That’s the ingredients for the basic broth, make it your own and add whatever veg you fancy, or go for tofu, I roasted some squash and steamed some broccoli. I also sliced some raw sugar snap peas and spring onion to garnish it with.

Thai Spicy Noodle Soup Ingredients

Start by making the paste, chop the ingredients into chunks to help your blender out, pop everything in said blender and whiz it up until it’s a fine paste, you might need to add a bit of water too. In a medium saucepan, heat a little veg oil over a medium heat and fry the paste for a couple of minutes. You should be able to smell the paste, yum! Then add the coconut milk and a bit of water, the amount of water depends on how thick your coconut milk is, just use your judgement, it might not even need any. Turn the heat down as low as it’ll go and let the soup simmer. While it’s doing it’s thing, cook your veg and noodles. Keep checking in on the broth though, don’t let it boil.

When your veg and noodles are ready, add soy sauce and lime juice to the soup to taste, this is personal, I don’t want to dictate how much you should use here! To serve divide the noodles between your bowls and then pop in whatever extras you’ve used. Ladle over the soup and then garnish with the coriander and whatever other bits you’ve chosen to use. Will you go for extra chilli!?

Vegan Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

A New Year 

2016 might have been a bit of a shoddy year in terms of losing some great celebs and politics turning ridiculous, but in terms of food it was a good one. I geeked out over lots of new recipes and independent cafes and restaurants. So I’m looking forward to another good year of cooking and eating!

I intend to try out more new recipes and learn more about food and cuisines from around the world. I bought the #CookForSyria cookbook and there’s lots of interesting new ideas, plenty of veggie and vegan ones to try out. And as you might have seen I’ve got a whole host of other cookbooks to get stuck into, I might have a slight addiction!

I’m starting 2017 with Veganuary, I did this last year and it totally changed the way I eat, I eat way less dairy than I used to. I didn’t struggle too much with it, only eating out wasn’t the best, but there’s a few new vegan places opened up across town over the last year so it’s the perfect excuse to try them out! I’m looking forward to at least another month of vegan eating.

Whatever your intentions are for 2017 make it a good one!

Veganuary – Week Four

I started my Veganuary late so, I’m just past the end of week four and almost at the end of my month of vegan eating. All that’s on my mind is, should I do this forever? Four weeks ago I didn’t think I’d be in this position at all. I really thought I’d be ready to start my love affair with all things cheese again! I really don’t feel like that though.

I don’t like to be pressured and ranted at in life from people trying to push their views and beliefs on me. I’m happy to educate people if they ask but I don’t think I ever rant at meat eaters to become vegetarian, though I’m sure my friends will correct me if they disagree! What we eat is our own business, yes some diets are better for the environment and welfare of animals than others and I believe my choices in the past might not have been the best, going forward though I intend to change that.

I’m not a fan of people’s need to label each other in life, so after a chat with my sister about all of this, she made me realise I don’t have to label myself as exclusively vegan, I can eat what I want, I don’t need a label! So, though vegans will all no doubt rant at me for not committing completely, I think my intention is to really cut back on dairy and just have the odd treat bit when I fancy it. It’s got to be better than my diet was before this, cheese was a staple most days in my lunch or dinner. I don’t intend to go back to buying big packs of whatever generic crappy cheese was on offer at the supermarket, I’d rather buy from small farmers and I’ll probably be trying vegan cheese alternatives more too. Speaking of which I have some in the fridge that I bought at the weekend, might have to give it a try tonight!

So I fully intend to make changes to what I eat and I intend to carry on with a mostly vegan diet. Who knows maybe one day I’ll decide I do want to be completely vegan but for now I’m happy with this choice.

See you next year if not sooner Veganuary, you’ve been great!

If you want to give it a go then there’s loads of info and recipes on the Veganuary website.


Vegan Tagine

We’ve had a tagine sat in one of our kitchen cupboards since we moved in to our house, 5 years ago! I was so excited when we got given it as a gift one Christmas, that’s the food geek in me, I was keen to give one a try but I’ve never actually braved it. Veganuary is making me try new recipes and so last week I decided to dust off the tagine and brave it! You don’t need a fancy pot to cook it in, any casserole with a lid will do, but it does look kind of fancy and cool if you’ve got one!

I set to looking for a recipe from one of my many cookbooks, I found one I thought sounded good from Leon Ingredients & Recipes, and I also found a recipe for a meat tagine in Jamie Oliver’s book Jamie Does… me being me, I tweaked both and did a bit of a hybrid of the two. Obviously I left the meat out! I often decide to try a recipe and realise I’m a few ingredients short, rather than letting that put me off I tend to see what I can use instead.

So my version of the recipe turned out to be this… It’ll serve 4 people…


Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 onion, roughly chopped
3cm ish piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 red peppers, roughly chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, roughly chopped
1 tin chickpeas, drained
75g dried apricots, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

To garnish before serving I used a handful of coriander and a handful of flaked almonds, I was going to add some vegan yoghurt but I forgot! I served it with my version of a tabbouleh too, a salad of mostly parsley and bulgur wheat.

You can cook this on the hob or in the oven, I started it off on the hob and then cooked it in the oven, if you’re doing that you’ll need to pre heat it to 180 degrees.

Heat the oil over a low heat and slowly fry the onion. When the onion is soft and sweet add the spices and the ginger and garlic, cook for another minute before adding the tomato purée and rest of the vegetables, give them a few minutes and then add the tomatoes, lemon juice, dried fruit and some seasoning. I added a little bit of water too as it was a little thick. At this point I put the pot with the lid on into the oven and left it for half an hour. If you’re cooking it on the hob just pop a lid on. It’s ready when the sweet potatoes are cooked through, just keep testing them, if they aren’t ready leave it a bit longer.

It went down well with my husband and our friend. It was an easy tasty recipe so I’ll make sure the tagine doesn’t just get forgotten about in the back of the cupboard this time, it’ll be out again soon!