Vegan peanut butter and chocolate chip biscuits

Joe (she added the ‘E’ because that’s how she rolled) was beautiful, sweet, wise, brave, funny, passionate, a letter writer, smart as a whip, suffered from a chronic illness but never complained. An absolutely devoted wife, her equally devoted husband is bereft without his soul mate. Beloved baby sister of the Yak, a loving daughter, a committed vegan, animal lover and mother to two very fine cats. An amazing Aunt, sender of wonderful Christmas packages to our boys, the best of sister-in-laws and a true friend to many.

We are lost, The Yak is undone. She died far too young. As I write this it’s raining, like some cliched Hallmark movie. Except that real grief is not like a Hallmark movie. It’s hard, cold and shit.

The Yak made it to her bedside in the UK hours before she died, he went thinking he would be keeping her company in hospital. He came home for a short time then flew back again for her funeral. The tryanny of distance. The lads and I are preparing to leave on our pre-planned trip to the UK to meet up with The Yak. The original purpose was to visit with our Joe.

I have not had the heart to bake, write or blog. But it had been in my mind for the longest time to do a vegan post just for her. So here it is. Vegan peanut butter chocolate biscuits, I hope Joe would have loved them. Just like we loved her.

VEGAN PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white caster sugar (see cooking note below)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground flaxseed (this can be omitted if you don’t have it, it assists in binding the ingredients a little more)
1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the peanut butter, grapeseed oil, sugars and almond milk into a large bowl. (If you are using vanilla essence add it here.) Beat well until the ingredients are well combined. (I used an electric hand beater.)
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean powder into the bowl with the peanut butter mixture. Add the ground flaxseed and stir well.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Roll heaped teaspoons full of the dough into round balls and place on the baking tray allowing room for spreading.
Bake at 180 for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown.
Let cool on the tray slightly then remove to a wire rack to complete cooling.
This made about 22 biscuits.

Cooking Note: it appears that in some parts of the world, some white sugar is processed using bone char. Ewww. That appears not to be the case in Australia but to be safe, I imagine vegans would check it out before they used a particular brand of sugar.

Recipe adapted from the Vegan Yoga Life blog. Link follows photos.

Original recipe:

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Parenting and cauliflower curry

Ten years later, I do not have this parenting thing down pat.

Kid 1: Mum, I am scared that an axe murderer is going to kill me.
Me: That is highly unlikely darling. Good night.
5 minutes later
Kid 1: Mum, can you come here please?
Me: Yes?
Kid 1: You telling me that ‘it’s highly unlikely’ does NOT make me feel better.
Me: Oh, all right then, it will never happen, how’s that?
Kid 1: OK, now I feel better.

Thanks for the parenting tip Kid 1.

Kid 1 will probably never eat this curry, he hates anything spicy. We don’t care, more for us. This curry benefits from a hit of bright, pungent mustard seeds; I love the little buggers. After a spot of googlebumbling research I discovered these wee dudes are high in a variety of B vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytyo-nutrients. (Phyto what?) Phyto-nutrients are intrinsically natural chemicals found in plant matter that may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. Mustard seeds and their oils have traditionally been used to relieve muscle pain, arthritis and rheumatism pain.

Whatever a mustard seeds health benefit, this curry has good depth of flavour along with a punch of heat from the chilli. Add more chilli if you like but we enjoy the balance of flavours. If you aren’t a chilli fan, reduce the amount back to 1/4 of a teaspoon or you could leave it out. (No judgement from this Cheergerm….really, you don’t like chilli? What’s wrong with you??)

CAULIFLOWER CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl oil , rice bran or grapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
A 3cm piece of peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 cloves crushed or grated garlic
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder (the hot stuff)
1 tsp salt
Dry curry leaves about 10 (I only had 4)
1 cauliflower head, cored and cut into small florets , about 2-3 cm large
1/2 cup water to start with, you will need more
1 handful fresh chopped coriander

HOW YOU DO IT
Sauté onion in oil in a large frypan over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until soft.
Add the ginger and garlic, cook for 1 minute.
Add all the spices, salt, curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes to release their flavour, stirring gently.
Add the cauliflower, stir well to coat the cauliflower in the spices.
Add 1/2 cup water and simmer on a low to medium heat for about about 50 minutes. If the curry starts to get dry, add a bit more water. I added just over a cup throughout the entire cooking process. By the end, the curry should be mostly dry with a small bit of liquid but soft and beginning to fall apart.
Take the curry off the heat, taste and see if it needs extra salt then stir through the chopped coriander.
Serve with rice, quinoa or whatever takes your fancy. We had it with brown basmati rice.

A Cheergerm creation


Millefeuilles aux tomates et lentilles and a lady crush

I am putting it out there, Rachel Khoo is a big spunk. Don’t worry Yak, nowt wrong with appreciating beauty from a distance. Not only is this dark haired lass easy on the eye, she also cooks delightful dishes in her teeny tiny Paris kitchen. Her food is inspiring, beautiful and I love how she puts her own personal twist on classic French cooking.

I have been reading her second cookbook, My Little French Kitchen, in which Rachel gets out amongst it and looks at regional food throughout France. Dishes on my ‘to do’ list from this cookbook include a carrot tarte tatin, a walnut and buckwheat caramel tart and this ‘summer on a plate’ dish of a vegetable millefeuilles.

This recipe is from the ‘Brittany’ chapter and this millefeuilles is essentially a multi-layered veggie pie made of Breton buckwheat galettes. Rachel tells us that these savoury pancakes are always made of buckwheat and are best enjoyed with a bottle of the locally produced cider. Good news for Mr Yak who can no longer enjoy beer as he once did.

It was New Years Eve and just the Yak, the lads, my sweet self and The Dadmeister aka Mr Bagpipes, were in da house. We began with a delightful cheese moment. A mouth watering squishy Saint from Bruny Island, a fudgy tangy surface ripened cheese. This could be it people, the most awesome cheese I have ever eaten. Ripened just a smidgen past ‘delicate’ it is almost nutty with a back taste of that delicious moldy penicillin flavour. An extra happy note for all you vegetarians, these cheeses are all rennet free! Oh yeah…

Back to the millefeuille. A great entertaining vegetarian dish. It sings in a soprano voice of all things summer and next time I will be adding a dash of goats or feta cheese to one or two layers. When making your crepes, don’t be pernickety about the size of your frypan, just swirl the mixture around until you have the right size. Lord, making crepes is like watching paint dry. The extremes you will go to when you have a lady crush, (and are also very hungry.)

TOMATO AND LENTIL MILLEFEUILLES

WHAT YOU NEED
200g buckwheat flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
600ml cold water
Vegetable oil, for frying
100g Puy or beluga lentils (French green lentils)
1 large zucchini, chopped into 3mm cubes
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into 3mm cubes (I used one red and one yellow)
200g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
300g assorted tomatoes (a mix of heirloom green, yellow and red would be great if you can find them)
1 tbsp lemon thyme

HOW YOU DO IT
Mix the flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
Make a well in the centre and gradually mix in the water, adding just enough for the batter to have the consistency of double cream. Don’t over stir as this will produce rubbery galettes. Cover the batter and chill in the fridge for at least one hour, or overnight. Before using, whisk again and add more water if necessary.
Heat a 15-18 cm non-stick crepe pan or a small frying pan over a medium heat and brush with a little vegetable oil. Pour in a small ladleful of the batter and quickly swirl the pan so that the batter coats the base entirely. Cook for 1-2 minutes, loosen around the edge with a spatula, then turn it over and cook for a further minute.
Slide the galette out of the pan, then repeat to make 12 galettes, greasing the pan with a little oil each time.
Stack the galettes with layers of kitchen towel or baking paper between each one.
Cook the lentils in boiling salted water until just tender.
Drain and mix together with the zucchini, peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a loose-bottom round baking tin (the size of the galettes, my tin was 9cm high with a 19cm base) with baking paper.
Place one galette at the bottom of the tin. Spread with some of the lentil mixture then top with another galette. Repeat until you have used up all the galettes, ensuring you finished with a galette. (My mixture made 11 galettes.)
Slice the mixed tomatoes (in my case I didn’t have a fancy mixture of heirloom tomatoes so made do with the ones I had) and pack them tightly on top of the galettes. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme.
Cook for 20 minutes, carefully remove it from the baking tin, slice and eat hot.

Cooking Notes: My millefeuilles was 9 crepes high and I had a dash of the filling left over.

Recipe from My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Koo, Published by the Penguin Group, 2013

A quick thanks to the following blogs for passing on some very kind awards. It was lovely to be mentioned and thought of. Please go and check out these cool bloggers when you are kicking back this holiday season with a cup of whatever takes your fancy. The Cheergerm and Yak family are off camping for two weeks and Mr Bagpipes is in control of house and dog. We are hoping he doesn’t trash the joint with too many parties while we are gone. (He has said that invitations have already been issued.) Stay tuned for some Camping Cheergerm posts.

A.Prompt Reply
https://apromptreply.wordpress.com/2014/12/

Sarcasima
http://sarcasmica.me

Vegas Hungry Girl
https://vegashungrygirl.wordpress.com

France Says
http://francesays.com

For further information on Bruny Island cheese visit here:

http://www.brunyislandcheese.com.au/

Rachel Khoo blogs at

http://www.rachelkhoo.com/


Ice-cream pants and an asparagus radish salad

Of late, there seems to have been much just cause and reason for celebratory eating. A good portion of this happy eating has included the devouring of some excellent ice-cream and gelato.

So much so, that this Cheergerm has been forced to coin the phrase ‘ice-cream pants’.

Definition: when ones trousers/waistbands/knickers/undies/jeans/skirts have become ‘ever so uncomfortably tight’ due to the over indulgence of delicious ice-cream. An example sentence would be:

‘Oh dear, I have ice-cream pants.’

One could be forgiven in thinking that you had spilt ice-cream on your pants. (Whilst this has been known to happen, it is a rare occurrence for the true connoisseur of ice-cream.)

In essence, when you experience the state of ‘ice-cream pants’, it simply means you have been eating a bit too much of the good stuff. It is an indication that you need to reign it in, just a tad.

To counter ice-cream pants, salads such as these will be thrown down my gob on a regular basis. I will also be exercising more and am about to set off on a walk, it will be a long one. A few days or so.

The Hornsby Market had the most divine bunches of Prince like purple asparagus and rosy red radishes. A brand new packet of lemony sumac spice was sitting in the pantry, crying out in its little sumac voice ‘eat me, eat me’. The crunchy, spicy radish goes beautifully with the earthy delicate asparagus and this zingy, sweet dressing. The purple asparagus loses a tad of it’s vibrancy when cooked but still tastes delicious.

ASPARAGUS AND RADISH SALAD

WHAT YOU NEED
2 bunches asparagus (I used purple), woody ends removed and trimmed into 5 cm pieces
4 medium radishes, sliced finely. (I did mine on a mandolin.)
Vinaigrette
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsps honey
1 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one small lemon
Black pepper to taste

HOW YOU DO IT
Boil the asparagus in salted water for two minutes until just tender then immediately refresh the asparagus in cold iced water. Once the asparagus has cooled, drain well and pat dry.
Place asparagus and radish on a shallow platter or in a salad bowl.
Place the vinaigrette ingredients into a small bowl, whisk until combined and pour the mixture over the radish and asparagus. Toss the salad gently.
We ate this with the most awesome bowl of monster cold king prawns (well, the lads and I did) and a scrumptious potato salad.

Cooking Note: Sumac is a deep red, purple spice used mostly in Middle Eastern and Greek cooking. It has a tangy, lemony flavour. It is wonderful sprinkled over a plate of tomatoes or sliced avocado. It can also be used in a marinade or in a dressing, as is done here.

A slight Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe from the Taste of Home website. Link follows the photos.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/radish-asparagus-salad#.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hornsby-Market/151427154911192?ref=ts&fref=ts


Diving in bed and eggplant curry

If I said to you that my husband likes to dive in bed, you could be forgiven in exclaiming ‘What the!’

Calm down. It’s not what you think.

The Yak, when in the throes of sleep, likes to dive.

By this I mean, imagine you are watching the Olympic Games. A diver performs a breathtaking inward two and a half somersaults in the pike position, finishing off with a perfect rip entry.

When The Yak rolls over in bed, it is not a gentle roll or turn. He is an elite athlete, standing on the end of a diving board. He then performs an incredible triple pike turn in the tuck position, before landing back atop the mattress on the other side of his body.

The bed is merely a trampoline for his nightly diving shenanigans. The re-entry that he makes when diving back into the mattress, does not translate into the same pretty ripples that a pro diver makes when hitting the water.

I am merely the judge, holding up score cards.

8.0
9.0
7.5

Rest assured (because I certainly can’t), I would rather be sleeping.

We have this curry often, actually, we have all kinds of curry often. Cause that’s how we roll.

Mustard seeds and potato are like Laurel and Hardy, Sonny and Cher, fish and chips, bubble and squeak or some may even say, the Cheergerm and the Yak. They just go together. Little pops of bright mustardy goodness paried with the soft potato is the bees knees.

Eggplant are the sponges of the vegetable world. Not like the gross, mouldy thing that may or may not be hanging in a dark corner of your shower recess. But in an awesome ‘suck the flavour out the delicious ingredients that you pop in with it’ kind of way.

Earthy, spicy, unctuous eggplant and brightly flavoured potato (how very Nigella of me). Please sir, can I have some more?

EGGPLANT AND POTATO CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large peeled potatoes, cut into 1-2 cm cubes
2 small eggplants, cut into 3 cm cubes, partially peeled (see photo below)
1 tin crushed tomatoes
12 dried curry leaves
A big handful of roughly chopped coriander

HOW YOU DO IT
Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan, add the onions and sauté a few minutes until they start to soften.
Add garlic and ginger, cook for about 30 seconds then add all the spices and salt. Cook for 1 minute, take care not to burn the spices.
Add potato and stir, add eggplant and stir through.
Add tomatoes and 1 and 1/2 cups of water and the curry leaves.
Simmer on low to medium heat for approximately 1 hour until the potato is tender. Check for salt.
Add a handful of chopped fresh coriander to your taste.
Serve with basmati rice.
This has a zing as I used quite hot chilli powder, use less if you don’t like it spicy, use more if you like a bit of Johnny cash…

A Cheergerm creation

A happy Father’s Day to my own dad Mr Bagpipes, to the excellent Yak who is an outstanding Dad to our sproglets and to all you other big Daddies out there.


Diving in bed and eggplant curry

If I said to you that my husband likes to dive in bed, you could be forgiven in exclaiming ‘What the!’

Calm down. It’s not what you think.

The Yak, when in the throes of sleep, likes to dive.

By this I mean, imagine you are watching the Olympic Games. A diver performs a breathtaking inward two and a half somersaults in the pike position, finishing off with a perfect rip entry.

When The Yak rolls over in bed, it is not a gentle roll or turn. He is an elite athlete, standing on the end of a diving board. He then performs an incredible triple pike turn in the tuck position, before landing back atop the mattress on the other side of his body.

The bed is merely a trampoline for his nightly diving shenanigans. The re-entry that he makes when diving back into the mattress, does not translate into the same pretty ripples that a pro diver makes when hitting the water.

I am merely the judge, holding up score cards.

8.0
9.0
7.5

Rest assured (because I certainly can’t), I would rather be sleeping.

We have this curry often, actually, we have all kinds of curry often. Cause that’s how we roll.

Mustard seeds and potato are like Laurel and Hardy, Sonny and Cher, fish and chips, bubble and squeak or some may even say, the Cheergerm and the Yak. They just go together. Little pops of bright mustardy goodness paried with the soft potato is the bees knees.

Eggplant are the sponges of the vegetable world. Not like the gross, mouldy thing that may or may not be hanging in a dark corner of your shower recess. But in an awesome ‘suck the flavour out the delicious ingredients that you pop in with it’ kind of way.

Earthy, spicy, unctuous eggplant and brightly flavoured potato (how very Nigella of me). Please sir, can I have some more?

EGGPLANT AND POTATO CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large peeled potatoes, cut into 1-2 cm cubes
2 small eggplants, cut into 3 cm cubes, partially peeled (see photo below)
1 tin crushed tomatoes
12 dried curry leaves
A big handful of roughly chopped coriander

HOW YOU DO IT
Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan, add the onions and sauté a few minutes until they start to soften.
Add garlic and ginger, cook for about 30 seconds then add all the spices and salt. Cook for 1 minute, take care not to burn the spices.
Add potato and stir, add eggplant and stir through.
Add tomatoes and 1 and 1/2 cups of water and the curry leaves.
Simmer on low to medium heat for approximately 1 hour until the potato is tender. Check for salt.
Add a handful of chopped fresh coriander to your taste.
Serve with basmati rice.
This has a zing as I used quite hot chilli powder, use less if you don’t like it spicy, use more if you like a bit of Johnny cash…

A Cheergerm creation

A happy Father’s Day to my own dad Mr Bagpipes, to the excellent Yak who is an outstanding Dad to our sproglets and to all you other big Daddies out there.


Soul Cages and Japanese Food

My current musical obsession is Sting’s latest album ‘The Last Ship’, a musical inspired by his childhood experiences and the shipbuilding industry in the north of the UK. The music and lyrics are beautiful, folksy and are a moving and melancholy delight.

I am particularly struck by a song in which Sting suggests that we keep our souls in a cage. That is, before they are set free from this mortal coil and sent to the ‘Island of Souls’ for eternity. He talks about his father’s soul, living in the same cage as the carrier pigeons that he lovingly tended to. My understanding is that his fathers soul resides in the place it feels whole, happy and rounded. Which gets me to thinking, where would my soul cage be?

Probably somewhere in our kitchen. Perhaps squashed between the pages of one of the many loved recipe books or nestled in a well used mixing bowls? Is it tucked away in the motor of the KitchenAid or possibly lounging in the base of my cast iron casserole dish? I do know that one of the places I feel most content and most, well, myself, is the kitchen.

This is how I show my sons, husband, family and friends; my love and appreciation. Through baking and cooking food that nourishes them, warms them, cheers them up, heals them and sometimes even challenges them.

The Yak is a vegetarian and a coeliac and these dishes were cooked because I love him. Well, most of the time, except when he ships me. (That is not a mis-type.)

The inspiration came from a giant eggplant that needed to be eaten and a Hairy Bikers episode in Kyoto, Japan. The Hairy Bikers (like Sting and The Yak), herald from the north of England. Their passionate love of food and delightful turn of phrase is an absolute joy.

The silken eggplant combined with the umami miso paste is a revelation. Teeny miso angels rose up and played little eggplant trumpets whilst we ate…really, they did. Combined with crunchy bites of tofu, we were replete and content.

As the Hairy Bikers, Sting, Northern English shipwrights or The Yak might say, this was a right cracking feed.

NASU DENGAKU (Miso glazed eggplant)

WHAT YOU NEED
1 ginormous eggplant or two medium sized
1 tbl sugar
1 tbl mirin
3 tbl miso paste
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbl water
1 tbl toasted sesame seeds for garnish

WHAT YOU DO
Slice the eggplant in half lengthways and score with a criss cross pattern, this helps retain the sauce.
Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, scored side down and bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside.
Whilst the eggplant is baking, place all the remaining ingredients (except the sesame seeds) in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until they are combined.
Brush sauce over the cooked eggplant and grill for 3-5 minutes until dark golden brown and bubbling.
Serve and garnish with sesame seeds.

TOFU AGEDASHI

WHAT YOU NEED
400g silken tofu (I only had firm so I just used what I had, you can make this recipe with less tofu.)
1 cup Vegetarian dashi (which I didn’t have, so it was really Tofu Age?)
2 tbl Soy sauce
2 tbl mirin
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
5 tbl brown or white rice flour for coating
1 Spring onion, finely sliced ( which I also didn’t have)

WHAT YOU DO
Wrap the tofu in paper towel and drain by placing a dish upon it to get rid of excess moisture.
Put the dashi, soy sauce and mirin in a saucepan, bring to the boil then take off the heat and set aside.
Discard the paper towel, slice the tofu in half lengthways and cut each piece into 9 pieces.
Heat 1 cm of oil in a frypan or saucepan. Coat the tofu in brown rice flour and fry on each side until they are light golden brown.
Drain on paper towel.
Serve the tofu with the dashi sauce poured over and garnish with the spring onion.

Both recipes are based on past experiments and the recipes from websites listed after the photos.

http://www.justasdelish.com/grilled-miso-glazed-eggplant/

http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/agedashi-tofu-2/


Pumpkin soup, the best you ever tasted?

The wee lads have a beloved book, it’s called Pumpkin Soup. It is impossible to say how many times this book has been read. One particular stanza has stuck in my mind.

‘Pumpkin Soup. The best you ever tasted. Made by the Cat who slices up the pumpkin. Made by the Squirrel who stirs in the water. Made by the duck who scoops up a pipkin of salt, and tips in just enough.’

This mantra is always in the back of my mind when making pumpkin soup. (Or as the Yak and I call it, snoup…no idea why.) Naturally, the children won’t touch the stuff.

Now, this may not be the best pumpkin soup you ever tasted but it ain’t half bad.

You could have a pumpkin soup recipe you love so much that no other can or will, hold a candle to it. If you have a hankering to try something new, this soup is buttery and softly sweet with a mild undercurrent of warming Indian spices. Feel free to add half a teaspoon of red chilli powder if you fancy a hit of the good stuff. Hearty autumnal soup, good for the soul and just the thing for the gobshite horrid weather that has descended upon us recently.

Spiced pumpkin soup

YOU NEED
2 tbl oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped (I don’t peel, lots of goodness in the skin!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp dried turmeric
2 tsp sea salt (or a pipkin)
1 potato, roughly chopped (don’t bother peeling)
butternut pumpkin (my 1.4kg pumpkin yielded 900g chopped pumpkin)
6 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed under cold water
Salt and pepper to taste

HOW YOU DO IT
Sauté onion and carrot for 3- 4 few minutes over medium heat.
Add garlic, spices and salt and cook for one minute, stirring.
Add the pumpkin and potato and stir through.
Add the water, lentils and a few grinds of black pepper.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook on medium heat.
Whilst cooking, check for salt, you may need to add a bit more.
When cooking lentils, sometimes a ‘frothy scum’ rises to the surface. Don’t go nuts but do skim off some of it whilst cooking.
Once the vegetables are soft and collapsing (about 40 minutes), take off heat and blend with a stick blender until smooth.
Add water to get the consistency of soup you prefer and gently heat through. I added about an extra 3/4 of a cup as I don’t enjoy overly gluggy soup. This soup does thicken quite a bit as it cools.
Garnish with a sprig of coriander and a dollop of plain yoghurt if you have it and serve with crunchy toast or your favourite crackers.
Great for the next day and for freezing.

A cheergerm recipe

A quick note on stock, many years ago I used to make my own chicken, seafood and beef stock. Then I had children. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it. Store bought ready made stock is very salty, so when I do use it, I either water or it down or try and buy the reduced salt variety. Frozen meat or vegetable stocks from butchers and gourmet food outlets are also a great alternative.

For veggie soups, I often don’t use any stock and try and let the natural ‘vegetable flavours’ shine through. (Although I will use a spoon of Massel veggie stock powder which is gluten free and vegan, sometimes.) Lately I have had a hankering to try making my own veggie stock. Stay tuned for that.

Book photo credits: ‘Pumpkin Soup’ written by Helen Cooper, published by Picture Corgi Books Transworld Publishers Ltd. Copyright 1998 by Helen Cooper.