vegetarian

Lovely lentil soup

My mum used to make the most delicious lentil soup.

It came into my mind recently - thinking about this soup she used to make maybe 27 years ago ... it was garlicky and yummy and bubbling away on the AGA with French bread warming in the oven to have with it.

I forgot to look for the recipe in her great big falling-apart book of written recipes and tucked in hand-written ones from others and yet more torn from magazines and newspapers too.

Next time I'm there and I remember, I'll look for it, but I wanted to make something like it today, and so made this.

My version will definitely be quicker as I'm using a tin of green lentils and I know my mum would have used red lentils from the jar, dried red lentils that would have needed soaking overnight before cooking for a long time.

So, here's my super-simple version - and I find this so nurturing, nourishing, comforting and all round GOOD at this time of year, when the leaves are falling and the nights drawing in.

And here's what you'll need to make two bowlfuls (either two bowls for one, or one each for two people - cook's choice!).

1 smallish brown onion

1 medium carrot

1 stick of celery 

2-3 cloves of garlic (mine were small so I had three)

cooking oil (I use a spray oil like THIS one)

tin (265g) of green lentils, drained and rinsed in cold water

500ml vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

ideas to garnish to to serve: crispy bacon pieces, Greek yogurt, slices of red chilli, fresh chopped parsley leaves, more black pepper

Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup
Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup

You want to chop the onion, carrot and celery very finely - the easiest way is to use a food processor.

Then finely chop the garlic and add to the other vegetables.

Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup
Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup
Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup

Put a little oil (I use 20 sprays of my spray cooking oil) into a saucepan, add the vegetables and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time so it doesn't stick or burn - add a tiny splash of water if it does look like it will.

Then add the lentils, vegetable stock and herbs, stir and bring to the boil.

Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup
Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup

Add a lid (slightly ajar), reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir and check to see if it needs a little more water, and then cover and simmer again for another 15 minutes.

At the end of this time, remove the lid, stir again, add a little more water if it needs it - or you like a thinner soup - and simmer again on the lowest heat for a final 15 minutes. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can then serve it as it is or blend it first. I prefer it blended and I also like to add a spoonful of yogurt at this stage.

Garnish with whatever you choose! I had another dollop of Greek yogurt, a couple of slices of red chilli and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup
Rachel Redlaw lovely lentil soup

Serve as it is or make more of a meal with it by having with some warm crusty baguette and a green salad too.


OK! I need to make this again as my mum said her savoury secret was adding 1/4 - 1/5 teaspoon Marmite to the soup! 



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Coconut cauliflower chicken/mushroom soup

Simple, quick and delicious - my favourite sort of recipe!

And especially on a rainy grey day, I love the sort of soothing-ness that comes from creamy coconut matched with a little spice, and the cauliflower is the perfect texture - soft but with a little bite.

I used chicken stock and some cooked chicken, but it's a lovely vegetarian/vegan recipe made with vegetable stock and mushrooms instead.


For two bowls, you'll need

1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into florets

a big handful of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced and/or some cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

300ml stock - I used half a Knorr chicken stock cube, but vegetable is good too 

200ml (half a tin) coconut milk

1 garlic clove, squashed and finely chopped (you can leave this out though, I think I might try it without next time I make it)

1 couple of lime leaves, crumpled and torn to release the scent would be perfect - but I didn't have any so used the zest of one lime

a piece of ginger, probably an inch or so, peeled and grated

If you have a stalk of lemongrass (I didn't), add it! Just remove the outer tough layers, give it a bash with a rolling pin and throw it in 

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1-2 red bird eye chillies, quantity to your own taste, sliced

the juice of half a lime

coriander leaves to serve (if liked)


Prepare the vegetables and chicken (if using) so they're ready to add later.

Then put the stock, coconut milk, garlic (if using), lime leaves or lime zest, ginger, lemongrass (if using), soy sauce and sugar plus the cauliflower, mushrooms and/or chicken into a saucepan and gently heat to bring to the boil.

Rachel Redlaw coconut cauliflower soup
Rachel Redlaw coconut cauliflower soup

Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the cauliflower is soft but a little al dente (definitely not mush!) and remove from heat.

Stir in the chillies and lime juice and serve with coriander, if liked - I wish I'd had some as think it would have looked prettier with some greenery on there!

Rachel Redlaw coconut cauliflower soup

Oh, you could remove any lime leaves and lemongrass before serving if you want - or just take them out when you come to them in the bowl ...

So simple and so good.



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Soy/sesame oil/ginger/garlic: Asian-style grilled mushrooms

These are so good!

(And so easy too).

I've made them as a light main meal with rice and also as a side dish to accompany a bigger dinner - and have plans to slice them and use in a stir fry with rice noodles (pics to follow).

Just lovely ... do try.

For one as a main, or two as a side, you'll need:

2 flat Portobello mushrooms, peeled and stalk removed

Approx 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (about one clove)

Approx 2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

A scant 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Cooked rice and / or other dishes, to serve.

Rachel Redlaw asian grilled mushrooms

Peel the mushrooms and remove the stalks.

Mince the garlic and ginger and put in a bowl. Add the soy sauce and toasted sesame oil and mix all to combine well.

Rachel Redlaw asian grilled mushrooms
Rachel Redlaw asian grilled mushrooms

Switch the grill on to high. Turn the mushrooms upside down and spray a couple of times each with 1-cal spray oil, or just a drop or two of olive oil.

Cook for 5-6 minutes. These huge mushrooms take so much longer than I always think they will to cook!

Turn the mushrooms, add the garlic/ginger/soy/sesame oil mixture over them and grill for another 5-6 minutes.

Rachel Redlaw asian grilled mushrooms
with topping.JPG

Careful not to lose the delicious sauce when you transfer them from the grill to plates! 

Rachel Redlaw asian grilled mushrooms

I love this easy, tasty recipe - and hope you do too.