This spicy autumnal soup is a great way to rid yourself of the huge marrow that your dear neighbour has kindly bequeathed you! The one I’ve just disposed of was an absolute monster which had been left out on a grass verge by an anonymous gardener ‘free to any taker’, so we did!
I originally found this recipe by way of Delia Smith’s Vegetarian Collection a few years ago and I make it every autumn. This version is slightly simplified for the sake of ease as Delia toasts and crushes a variety of whole spices instead of using generic curry powder as I do. She also uses oodles (4oz/100g) of butter and to be truthful the butter really adds richness so if you don’t exclude dairy from your diet, you could swap the margarine I use here for butter (though I wouldn’t suggest using quite as much as Delia does unless you really love rich buttery flavours.)
Delia says she got the original inspiration for her vegetable mulligatawny from classic English cook Eliza Acton (1799-1859), who in case you don’t know, was one of the very first people to write a cookery book specifically for domestic cooks.
Mulligatawny itself is a classic example of Anglo-Indian food (a hybrid of British and Indian cuisine originally imported from India to Britain by members of the British military and colonial administration) that was particularly popular during the Victorian period, and which indeed remains popular in the form of ‘old fashioned’ favourites in the UK today. Even Worcestershire sauce – a cupboard staple most people would think of as being British through and through – originally heralds from the Victorian love of Indian spices.
The one small extravagance I’ve splurged on in this otherwise frugal soup, is the use of a small amount (and it is only a small amount) of wild rice mix in place of the basmati Delia uses. I think the wild rice mix adds extra interest by the way of texture and colour, but feel free to substitute any kind of rice you have in stock.
Eliza Acton’s Vegetable Mulligatawny – vegan
Serves 4 – 6
- 50g / 2oz vegetable margarine
- 3 large onions , finely chopped
- 2 – 4 tsp curry powder (depending on how hot you like your food!)
- 700g / 1&1/2lb marrow, peeled de-seeded and chopped into 2cm cubes
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 vegetable stock cubes, dissolved in 850ml / 1&1/2 pints hot water
- 2oz rice (I used a wild rice mix)
- 1 tbsp of vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
- Melt the margarine in a large pan and saute the onions until they are soft and golden.
- Stir in the curry powder and cook briefly.
- Add the chopped marrow, potato, tinned tomatoes and stock to the pan.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the temperature, put on the lid and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking, simmer the rice in a separate smaller pan until just cooked. Then drain, rinse and set to one side.
- When the vegetables are cooked, remove pan from the heat and blend the soup to a smooth puree with a hand held immersion blender (beware of hot splashes!)
- Stir in the cooked rice and Worcestershire Sauce and warm through if necessary.
- Season well with salt and pepper and serve with brown rolls.
Now Autumn is well underway thoughts of forthcoming Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes Night celebrations are with us. Before Winter’s chill really sets in, an Autumn bonfire party is the last proper opportunity for us in the UK to enjoy outdoor eating.
These US style baked beans are full of rich flavours, and quite unlike our UK tinned baked beans. Just perfect served over a big fluffy baked potato with a healthy serving of red cabbage slaw on the side; and don’t forget the mulled cider if you’re having a party. Of course you don’t actually have to have a bonfire party in order to make US campfire style baked beans but they are a great warming way to feed a crowd, especially if you do the traditional thing and bake your jacket potatoes on the bonfire!
Once soaked and boiled, the preparation for these beans is really quick and easy, however they do take several hours to cook properly so make sure you get your preparation underway earlier in the day! I actually cook mine in a traditional glazed terracotta ‘Olla’ or Spanish bean pot that I picked up for a fiver in a charity shop and it’s absolutely perfect for the job, however any casserole dish with a well fitting lid will do.
Boston Baked Beans – vegan
- 450g / 1 lb dried haricot beans (great northern), soaked overnight in cold water
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 4tbsp molasses or black treacle
- 450ml / 16 floz lager or bitter
- 1 x 400g / 14oz tin chopped tomatoes
- 4tbsp tomato puree
- 4tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
- 1tbsp chilli powder (optional, or use less if you prefer your beans less piquant)
- Preheat oven to 150C / 300F / Gas 2
- Drain the beans. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with fresh water. Boil for 10 minutes, scoop any foam off at this point. Put lid on saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for a further 45 minutes.
- Drain cooked beans and place in a casserole dish. Stir in the chopped onions, mustard and lager or bitter.
- Add all the other ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until well blended.
- Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and stir through the beans well.
- Put lid on casserole and bake for around 4 hours. Check a couple of times during cooking to ensure the beans don’t dry out too much – add a little extra water if needed.
I buy mushrooms in those big value packs from the supermarket as they work out somewhat cheaper than the small packs do and we adore mushrooms in our house! However this usually frugal strategy occasionally results in a sudden realisation that I have a whole load of mushrooms in the fridge that need using ASAP! If you find yourself in a similar situation and without a plan for them, then mushroom pate is the answer.
While the classic French duxelles is always a winner when faced with how to quickly make use of lots of mushrooms, it’s also nice to play with alternative ideas for variety and I’ve used sage and toasted hazelnuts in this instance, which I think make a genuinely delicious combination.
As we’re moving into the early part of autumn, my herb patch is becoming more straggly and the annuals and biennials have all pretty much been exhausted, so it’s the perennial woody herbs I turn to more often now, with the sage used here being a case in point.
As for homemade veggie pates, they are most definitely far tastier, cheaper and more wholesome than shop bought alternatives. Once prepared, they also make a great easy and quick breakfast, lunch or supper option. Or alternatively don your walking boots and take this pate with you on a woodland picnic, along with a lovely crusty loaf and a couple of ripe English apples!
Mushroom, Hazelnut and Sage Pate – vegan
- 12 oz mushrooms
- 1 small onion, peeled and quatered
- 1 handful (about 1/4 oz) fresh sage leaves
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp soya sauce
- 4 oz hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Put mushrooms, onion and sage in a food processor and process till very fine.
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, then add the mushroom mixture to the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt to encourage the mushrooms to release their moisture.
- Cook processed mushrooms until the liquid is almost all evaporated, and the mushroom mixture begins to firm up. Add in the soya sauce and cook briefly.
- While mushrooms are cooking, put hazelnuts into food processor and process to a fine texture is achieved. While processing add 1 tbsp olive oil to the processor to help the hazelnuts form a nutty paste.
- Once mushrooms are cooled, return to processor along with the hazelnuts and process a second time to blend mushroom and hazelnut mixtures together.
- Lastly season with plenty of black pepper and a little more salt if desired.
- Serve generously spread over hunks of wholemeal toast, or on crispy oat cakes.
We’ve now moved from August into September and the first signs of autumn are just beginning to show themselves. Mornings are becoming fresher, and evenings are growing dimmer; foretelling the falling leaves and rainy days to come.
I’m a big fan of this time of year; the harvest is in full swing out in the fields, there are apples growing rosy in my garden and nature is generally winding down into a comfortably drowsy state.
I’m also huge fan of knocking up big pans of soup for lunches and suppers during the cooler months in particular. A large pan of soup is one of the most frugal ways to feed a household. And if like us you only have a small household of one or two to feed, you can do as I do and – once cooled – pop the leftover soup in the fridge (I use a 2 litre plastic jug, kept inside the fridge door) ready to be re-heated whenever you want a quick meal over the next few days.
There’s not a great deal I can say about this recipe except that it is simple, quick, cheap and tasty! Red lentils are as ever savoury and satisfying, while the additional lift of fragrant lemon makes this soup just right for an early autumn lunch.
Lemony Lentil Soup – vegan
- 1 oz vegetable margarine, or 2 – 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 sticks celery, finely diced
- Juice and finely chopped zest of 1 lemon
- 8 oz red lentils
- 2 pints light vegetable stock (I use boiling water and a stock cube)
- Heat margarine or oil in a large pan, add onion and sweat for a few minutes till glossy.
- Add carrots and celery and sweat for about ten minutes to soften.
- Add lemon zest and juice, lentils and stock.
- Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Take pan off of the heat, and puree soup (careful not to splatter) with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.
- Serve with crusty bread or crunchy croutons.
This is an approximate recreation of the ubiquitous brown rice salad that those of us who were around during the 1980′s may remember. I was a kid at the time and like many kids would occasionally go off for the weekend to stay over at friend’s house. My own mum wasn’t terribly adventurous in the kitchen and so with me being the kind of child who was used to a non-challenging ‘fish-fingers, boiled potatoes and peas’ kind of diet, it seemed the weirdest thing when my friend’s mum – who also wore embroidered cheesecloth blouses, woven leather sandals and smelled of patchouli oil – would put such alien foods as “vegetarian sausages” (made from a packet in those days) and “brown rice salad” on my dinner plate.
Of course these days I’d scarf the lot down in a heartbeat but back then such foods seemed thoroughly mysterious! Gladly today ‘Whole Plant Foods’ are no longer such a minority interest; in fact they’re all the rage and recipes for multitudes of different kinds of grain salads filled with of all kinds of super-foods, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables, now litter glossy recipe books and internet cookery sites.
Still, today I felt like I wanted to pay homage to one of my first exposures to a movement that is now happily thoroughly established and still growing strong, but that nevertheless has taken a good few years to attract such mass interest, and which has also endured much derision en route!
I may even dab on a little patchouli oil
Retro Brown Rice Salad – vegan
- 1 cup / 6 oz long grain brown rice (I used brown basmati)
- 1 green or red pepper, medium diced
- 4 spring onions, sliced
- One stick of celery, finely sliced
- 1 – 2 oz (a handful) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 – 2 oz (a handful) raisins
- 400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Four firm closed-cap mushrooms, sliced
- 6 tbsp cider vinegar (or more if you like it nice and tangy)
- 4 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
- 2 tsp mixed dried herbs
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Plenty of salt and black pepper
- Cook rice according to packet instructions (mine took 20 mins).
- While rice is cooking, lightly toast the chopped hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for a few minutes.
- Then make up the dressing from the vinegar, oil, dried herbs, garlic, mustard and salt and pepper. Set to one side.
- Just prior to end of the rice’s cooking time, add the diced carrot and allow to cook for three to four minutes just to soften slightly. Then drain and rinse rice and carrot in cold water.
- Once cooled, add remaining salad ingredients to rice. Then add the dressing and gently toss to coat everything.
- Allow the salad to sit for a short time before serving.
In order to make pesto vegan you have to leave out the parmesan (or whatever hard cheese your recipe calls for) and this naturally means that a certain amount of flavour gets sacrificed. However as I recently discovered, it turns out that there is in fact a brilliant vegan substitute for parmesan which provides the umami depth and richness usually to be found in regular pesto. The secret to perfect umami-rich vegan pesto is in fact Miso, or fermented soya bean paste!
Of course the flavour profile of miso isn’t exactly the same as parmesan, so firstly I think it’s best to use a light miso as it will be somewhat less intense than dark. Secondly, miso’s surprisingly strong stuff, so I wouldn’t go too heavy with it initially!
Use whatever nuts or seeds you prefer, I don’t personally use pine nuts due to their being so expensive compared to other options. I often use sunflower seeds as they are mild flavoured and cheap; but almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts are all good too. As for herbs, use whatever you fancy likewise; or just go with whatever happens to be most abundant in your herb patch right now (for me it’s sorrel). If including woody herbs, I would keep them as a supporting act rather than the main feature. And as for oil, go for something that you feel will work OK with the herbs and nuts or seeds that you have chosen. Sometimes a blend is good if you don’t want a particular flavour to be too dominant. For general cooking I usually use rapeseed (aka ‘canola’, also to be found sold as generic ‘vegetable oil’) but as pesto is such concentrated stuff, this is one of the places I would personally make use of good quality oil; I’ve used EVOO, cold pressed Hemp and cold pressed Sunflower, sometimes singly and sometimes in combination.
When your pesto is made, pot it up and smooth out the surface (the back of a wet metal spoon is useful here) then drizzle a little extra oil over the top ensuring full coverage of the surface of your pesto. Kept in the fridge, this will preserve your pesto for ages.
(NOTE: Idea for miso pesto originally sourced here: http://ieatthepeach.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/parsley-miso-pesto/ )
Vegan Sorrel and Walnut Pesto, with Miso
- 2 oz young sorrel leaves
- 1 oz walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 – 6 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tsp white miso paste
- Add walnuts, garlic and sorrel to a food processor.
- Pulse until everything is sufficiently ground down.
- Add miso and oil. Process till well blended.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Give one last whizz.
- Serve through pasta (add just a little oil or cooking water to pasta first to loosen it up) and top with a light sprinkling of nutritional yeast.
A simple breakfast meal in a drink: smoothies are fast, easy and good for you too! I’ve recently begun adding oats to mine, and I find them to be particularly good for ensuring that your tum stays content until lunchtime!
Once made you can either drink straight away or leave for a few minutes for the oats to bulk the smoothie up into a thick shake.
If you happen to have some pleasant morning sunshine like I did today, take your smoothie into the garden and enjoy while watching the bees busying about the flowers
Carob, Oat and Date Smoothie – vegan
- 1 banana, sliced
- 10 fl oz / 300 ml non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened soya)
- 2 – 3 dried dates, best soaked overnight (or alternatively use 1 tbsp maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup rolled porridge oats
- 1 rounded tbsp carob powder
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy; I do mine for two minutes.
- That’s it!