Vegetable and Almond Soup

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This is a great soup for using up leftover raw vegetables at the end of the week. The addition of the ground almonds makes it rich and satisying. You can vary the veg you use depending on what you have but try to include some squash, sweet potato or parsnip as this adds to the flavour.

Makes a large pot
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking 75-90 minutes

Ingredients
Half a head of broccoli chopped
Half a small pumpkin chopped
6 small baby potatoes cut in half
2 handfuls of french beans chopped
2-3 handfuls of chopped carrots
A large onion chopped
1 courgette chopped
3 medium tomatoes blended with 2 cloves of garlic
A handful of pearl barley
a litre of boiling water
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme or other herbs
a teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 large vegetable stock cubes
2 tablespoons of ground almonds
Chilli flakes and toasted cumon seeds to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients except the almonds, garnish and seasoning in a large pan. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low light with the lid on for about 75-90 minutes until the vegetables are very soft and starting to break up a little. Take 4-5 ladles full of the soup and blend before returning back to the pan. Add the ground almonds and season.

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Spicy Carrot and Peanut Soup with Coconut Milk

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It started to feel a little autumnal this morning and it was slightly chilly indoors, making me want to eat something warming. This soup has Asian influences but also reminds me of Africa where lots of peanuts are grown. This could be made with pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato, all of which would be delicious. As this is a blended soup, you do not have the chop the ingredients small and this saves on preparation time. I used pearl barley to thicken this but you could add red split lentils instead.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 medium carrot coarsely chopped
Two large shallots coarsely chopped
A clove of garlic chopped
750ml of boiling water
Two vegetable stock cubes
A large handful of pearl barley
100ml coconut milk
A handful of toasted peanuts finely ground
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots, shallots, garlic, cumin, chilli, water, barley and stock cubes into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the carrots are soft and the barley is cooked. Add the coconut milk, half of the coriander and a dessertspoonful of the ground nuts and cook for a further minute. Blend the soup. Serve in a bowl garnished with more coriander, ground nuts and chilli flakes.

Simple is Best Lentil Soup

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Lentil soup is my favourite dish when I need something comforting but quite ascetic. There has been a lot of socialising over the weekend and I am feeling a little sluggish. When Dave and I crossed Turkey on our motorcycle in 1997, lentil soup was essential to our survival as the weather was so cold. They serve it for breakfast in huge bowls with a whole loaf of crusty, white bread on the table. It is unbeatable as a breakfast dish on a cold day.

I never vary the way I cook this. I am so attached to the way it tastes that I would not want to spoil my simple recipe. However, you can use either split red lentils or chana dahl. Both are equally as good. Chana dahl needs to cook for longer and you get a firmer consistency with the lentils. This works well in the pressure cooker if you are in a hurry.

Serves 4
Preparation time 10 minutes. Cooking time 1 hour for chana dahl or 35 minutes for red split lentils

Ingredients
250g of red split lentils or chana dahl
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
A vegetable stock cube
A teaspoon of oregano or marjoram
A handful of fresh coriander
A crushed clove of garlic
800ml of boiling water

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes for red lentils or an hour for chana dahl. Season to taste. If using chana dahl, take two cups of the soup and blend before returning to the soup. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with more fresh coriander.