Borscht: the Beetroot Soup

I love this stuff! Probably because I know how good beetroot is for you. But this soup has other greatness in it too: onion, leek, carrot and cabbage. They’re all powerful anti-oxidant containing veggies. I particularly like veggies of the allium (onion & leek) and cruciferous families (cabbage) because they help to remove heavy metals from our bods (‘de-toxify’ us) but the old carrot’s beta-carotene (for vitamin A production) content makes it a valuable ingredient too.

Borscht is an Eastern European (think Poland, Russia) dish and traditionally includes meat; usually beef or veal but sometimes pork. I prefer to make mine meat-free, though. But when I say meat-free, I mean there’s no chunks of animal flesh in it. To clarify, I like to use a beef stock. But all you veggos out there rest easy… I have made it on a veggie stock base a few times and it’s still just as delicious.

Soups are pretty easy meals to make but when you have a Thermomix they’re even easier again. I’m providing the recipe for both methods, but the Thermomix will yield less because, unless you’re lucky enough to own the newest model (TM51) it simply doesn’t have the capacity to safely hold the same quantities as a large saucepan can.Food Fervour

So, Manual Cooks, you will need: 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped stalk celery, 1 chopped leek, 1 carrot, 2 beetroot, 250gm sliced cabbage, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato) & 5 cups beef (or vegetable) stock

Simply warm the EVOO in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, celery & leek. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, beetroot, cabbage, tomato/paste and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour. Carefully blend in batches

Thermomixers, you’ll need: 30gm EVOO, 1 small quartered onion, 1 roughly chopped stalk celery, ½ roughly chopped leek, 1 roughly chopped small carrot, 1 large  roughly chopped beetroot, 150gm sliced cabbage, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato), 3½-4 cups beef or vegetable stock

Placing the onion, celery and leek in the bowl, chop for 5 seconds on Speed 5 then add the EVOO and cook for 4 minutes on Varoma, Speed 1.5. Add the carrot, beetroot and cabbage and chop for a further 5 seconds at Speed 5. Add the remaining ingredients and set to cook for 22 minutes at 100ºC, Speed 1-1.5. Finally, set to 1 min 30 seconds and slowly accelerate to Speed 9.

Serve immediately and ENJOY!

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille

It was one of those days. I had no ideas, no incentive to cook, but I had heaps of veggies I felt compelled to use up.

Nothing even remotely appealed to me in the pages of recipes I scrolled through on the net. All I knew was that I couldn’t use the oven because it was just waaaaay too hot. I vacillated between Thermomix and slow cooker recipes but the slow cooker won in the end, simply because I knew I could leave it on overnight.

A lot of slow cooker recipes are deceiving in that they’re not just one-pot: many require you to pre-cook some of the ingredients. To a lazy cook like me that just doesn’t make sense. I want to throw everything into the crockpot at once, put the lid on and walk away.

So when I found a recipe that fit the bill on Voracious Veggie‘s website (direct link below) I proceeded to adapt it… just by adding more stuff, really.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant

Food FervourHere’s what I used:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 diced onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 small diced carrot, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder (double this if you actually want to taste it!), ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ cup tomato paste, 1 cup vegetable stock, 8 mushrooms sliced, 1 small eggplant (cubed), ¼ butternut pumpkin (peeled & cubed), salt & pepper.

And this is all I did:

Pour the oil into the slow cooker, adding the onion, garlic and carrot, followed by the rest of the herbs & spices. Mix in the tomato paste & stock next, then add the mushrooms, eggplant & finally the pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for at least 8 hours (I left mine on overnight… a total of 14 hours!) You can stir it up every now & then if you like.

Food FervourFor my first meal, I mixed through fresh basil leaves, then topped the lot with chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta (see left). Deeelish. For the next serve, I popped a piece of grilled wild salmon on top of a plateful.

There are so many ways you could serve it up. Super simply, with bread or on toast (mmm, melt some parmesan in or over it!) or as a pasta ‘sauce’. The point is, it’s dead easy, it’s packed with micronutrients and fibre, low in fat & complex carbs (for those concerned about them) and …..it’s just EASY!!! (Yes, I repeated myself.)

Don’t despair if you don’t have all of the veggies I used… the following will substitute perfectly : capsicum, zucchini, actual tomatoes (this will significantly increase fluid content FYI) …even cauliflower and broccoli (just don’t expect the broccoli to hold its colour) The more the merrier! Let me know what you use. 🙂

Powerhouse Cauliflower Soup

This creation was the result of a respiratory infection. I’ve been working too much – around too many people – so my stressed immune system has given way to a lurgy.

A fellow workmate made me promise to get some ginger and turmeric into myself when I got home… trouble was, I wasn’t really hungry. So I did a quick Google search for “ginger turmeric vegetarian recipes” and when I struck upon a cauliflower soup recipe, the light bulb came on.

Food FervourGarlic, chilli, ginger and turmeric pretty much speak for themselves in terms of health benefits: everyone knows about them now, so it’s probably quite obvious why included them in this recipe. Coriander’s detoxifying role is lesser known by many, and the benefits cumin and fenugreek bestow on the respiratory system are pretty much a secret!

Since I was highly disinterested in expending a great deal of effort to cook, I turned straight to my Thermomix. They really are the best things to have in the kitchen when you lack time, energy and/or motivation. (This is not intended as a sales promotion, it’s my truth!) So please note: even though I’m providing a manual method for this recipe, you have to forgive me if it’s not what you expected because I’ve literally created this soup one time, and using my wonderful kitchen appliance.

Here’s what I threw in:

4 garlic cloves, pinch of fenugreek seeds, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 inch ginger root, 1 inch turmeric root, 20gm (1 tablespoon) coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 small red chilli (deseeded & finely chopped) 600gm cauliflower, 750gm (3 cups) stock OR Thermies use water plus 1 tablespoon veggie stock paste, salt & black pepper (this is a must: the piperine in black pepper aids absorption of turmeric’s ‘star’ ingredient by up to 2000% – you need that!) 80mls coconut cream

Thermomix Method:

Pop the garlic, fenugreek, roughly chopped onion & celery, ginger and turmeric in the bowl and set to Speed 5-6 for up to 10 seconds. Scrape down then add the coconut oil, cooking for 3 minutes on Varoma, speed 1.

Add the coriander, cumin, chilli, cauliflower, water and stock paste, seasoning with the salt & (lots of!) pepper. Cook for 18 mins on Varoma, Speed 1.

Finally, add the coconut cream then blend 60 seconds speed 9-10.

Manual Method:

Pop a large saucepan or stockpot on the stove over a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Roughly chop the garlic, onion, celery and tip into the pan/pot. Grate the ginger & turmeric fingers straight into the mix and toss in the fenugreek (you may want to employ a mortar & pestle to grind these little fellas down…) ground coriander, cumin and chilli. Cook for a few minutes, until the spices are fragrant and the veggies begin to soften.

Add the cauliflower, stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then drop back to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the coconut cream then blend in batches (take care: heat & blenders can be dangerous)

I had just roasted some cashews so garnished my soup with them and some fresh coriander. Just what the ‘doctor’ ordered!

Simple Celery Soup

I can’t stand waste… in all facets of life, but particularly food. I can usually find ways to use up leaves and stems (of broccoli and cauliflower for example) but the one plant I struggle with is celery.

You see, I’m definitely not the kind of person who buys the stalks pre-cut and packaged from shops: if it’s not the whole head, I won’t touch it. And FYI, it has to be organic because celery is one of those plants that too readily absorbs and holds toxic substances (like pesticides… here’s a link to the current (American) “Dirty Dozen”). Since the vast majority of recipes ask for only the stalks, more than half of a whole bunch of celery can go to waste.

Apart from veggie stock, there seem to be very, very few recipes on the net that help you to use up the whole plant (I’m trying to grow my own so that I may be able to harvest it directly as I need it in future) but I finally found a simple soup recipe that is now my Go-To. I’m not usually one for creating dishes with minimal veggies but because celery’s so good for you (super high fibre and water content – your liver loves it – and super low calories, for those who care) and this recipe is so easy, I figure it’s acceptable to chug down a lot of this (surprisingly tasty) soup. NB: it doesn’t actually include the leaves (they do tend to be bitter) but I’ll sometimes throw some in.Food Fervour

I’m providing directions for both manual cooks and Thermomixers, but manual cooks take note: celery fibre is tough to break down so you’ll have to blend more thoroughly at the end …please take great care with the hot liquid.

Food Fervour

300gm worth of celery offcuts.

All you’ll need is: 1 onion, 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 300gm celery offcuts (see pic) and 500mls (or a little less if you prefer a thicker soup) of your preferred stock – chicken or vegetable (Thermomixers can use 1 tablespoon of stock paste & 500ml water if preferred)

Thermomix:

Quarter the onion and add it to the bowl with the garlic clove/s, blending for 5 seconds at Speed 5. Add the EVOO and cook for 3½minutes at Varoma temp on Speed 1.

Add the roughly chopped celery, further breaking them down for 5 seconds at Speed 5, then add your choice of stock. Set to cook for 17 minutes Varoma temp, Speed 1.

Finally, blend for 60 seconds at Speed 9-10 (increasing speed slowly, for caution) and serve immediately.

Manual:

Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely diced onion and finely chopped garlic clove and cook for 2-3 mins

Add roughly chopped celery* and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Blend thoroughly (in batches if necessary)  and serve immediately.

*the finer you chop the celery, the easier the final blend should be 😉

 

Mushroom, Broccoli & Kale Quinoa

I love one pot recipes …they’re (usually) ridiculously easy and best of all, there’s minimal cleaning up! Being pushed for time to cook my evening meal this afternoon, there was an even better reason to take this ‘short cut’.

Since my kale plant was in need of harvesting I searched for kale recipes, with quinoa. I was pretty lucky to come across a vegan recipe that included broccoli as well, first go. But because the recipe asked for cauliflower – which I didn’t have – I was going to have to make some changes. What a surprise!

While it easily satisfied me for a main meal, I reckon it would work well as a side dish, if you’re looking for something substantial (or ‘hearty’).Food Fervour

You’ll need: 1 cup quinoa (pre-soaked or well rinsed) 1 finely chopped onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 tablespoon curry powder/paste (I used a massaman paste) 130gms (approx 6 large) sliced mushrooms, 2 cups (500mls) vegetable stock, 200gm broccoli florets, 40gm finely chopped/shredded kale

Warm the EVOO in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the curry powder or paste next and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Finally add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Pop the quinoa into the mix and stir well to coat, then add the stock. Bring it to a boil then drop the heat immediately back to a medium temperature. Let it simmer away (occasionally stirring to prevent anything sticking to the base of the pan) for 13-15 minutes.

Mix in the broccoli and kale, then cover and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove the cover to steam off any excess liquid if necessary (stirring occasionally) otherwise, serve it right up immediately and enjoy!Food Fervour

I have to admit, I didn’t find the curry flavour very strong at all so I had no qualms about sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the top… To. Die. For!

 

 

Black Beans & Quinoa ‘Casserole’

I’ve got a ‘thing’ for black beans lately. Maybe it’s simply because they seem to be in vogue at the moment, but what I keep thinking of is their colour: it’s almost a nutritional fact that the richest, deepest coloured plant foods seem to be the most nutrient dense. Also known as turtle beans, they’re a ridiculously good source of protein, fibre, some vitamins & minerals. So I have a very large jar of them in my pantry. Because I don’t buy tinned products, I don’t even know if you can get these fellas pre-cooked in Australian supermarkets; I mean, I’ve never looked. I prefer to DIY. Y’know, prepare ‘from scratch’.Food Fervour

Because they’re a relatively new to my repertoire, I’m not quite sure what to do with them. Mexican predominantly comes to mind when I’m pondering what to make, but I often just throw them into salads as well. This time however, I wanted warm comfort food …and quinoa. I’d noticed a few black-bean-and-quinoa recipes floating around the net in the past, so I was confident I’d find something I wanted. And I did: three recipes, all quite similar… so I literally flipped between windows/tabs during the cook.

Having previously soaked, then slow cooked (overnight) the black beans, they were now ready to go. (Unfortunately I can’t recall the dry weight I began with, however I was lucky enough to have the exact quantity required for the recipe(s!) ….250gms.

This makes an absolute tonne, so as a single person I got about 4-5 meals out of it… and it tastes great cold so you don’t need to reheat it every time you want some. I should imagine it would freeze well too if you’d prefer to do that.

The ingredients I used were as follows:
a good dollop of EVOO, 1 diced onion, 1-2 finely chopped garlic cloves, ¾ cup (well) rinsed quinoa, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder, 1½ cups vege stock, black pepper & salt to taste, corn kernels (I used frozen) 250gm pre-soaked & cooked black beans, 200gm baby spinach.

In a large saucepan (over medium heat) add the oil then the onion and garlic, cooking for about 3 minutes or until the onion softens.

Add the quinoa, blending with the oil, onion & garlic, then add the cumin, chili powder, vegetable stock and black pepper. Give it a mix, increase the heat and once it has come to a boil, drop the heat back to low, pop on the lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Give it an occasional stir (mainly to loosen anything sticking to the saucepan base).

Finally, add the corn, beans and baby spinach, stirring gently then covering again for about 5-10 minutes …however long it takes to warm the beans, wilt the spinach and thaw the corn (if using frozen, like me).

Food FervourTo serve, use your imagination! You could easily just hoe in as it is, but I like to add more nutrients, so I went with a ‘warm salad’ theme and topped my serve with chopped avocado, fresh chopped tomato and crumbled feta. For a Mexican feel you could substitute my idea with (home made!) guacamole, (homemade!) tomato salsa and grated cheese ….as well as bit of sour cream (oooh! I just realised this would make a delicious vegetarian nachos topping!)

The next day I ate a serve cold, topped with freshly steamed broccoli, more feta (!) and a boiled egg for extra protein (pictured above). Go crazy …and don’t forget to let me know what you create. 😉

 

Mushroom, Leek & Spinach Stew

With below average winter temperatures here on the Gold Coast at the moment I’m craving warm comfort food a bit more than usual… but tonight I was feeling pretty lazy.

I had my mind set on using up the button mushrooms and leek in my fridge so searched for some inspiration on Google. Nothing particularly hit the spot, so I ended up combining ideas from three different recipes: a vegetarian mushroom stroganoff, a leek & mushroom pasta dish, and an actual leek & mushroom stew…food fervour

It’s not like me to limit the veggie content to just three in most of my meals, but I was tired, and running behind, and just too plain lazy to go the extra mile. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I’d made a batch of gluten free cacao chip biscuits earlier in the afternoon and eaten a few too many of them?

Contrary to its deceptive title, this dish is not vegetarian: I deliberately opted for beef stock to pump up the stew’s flavour. Chicken stock would enrich the mushrooms as well, but Veggos, I am certain that veggie stock would still taste terrific, should you wish to try it (…and please let me know how you go if you do!)

For a solid single serve, you will need 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, 1 leek thinly sliced, salt & black pepper to season, approximately 200gm sliced mushrooms, 200mls beef (or veggie) stock, 1 teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon sage, 40gm cream cheese, 100gms baby spinach.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frypan over a medium heat and cook the garlic and leek for 3-4 minutes (until the leek has softened) stirring occasionally. Season with salt & pepper, then add the remaining oil and the sliced mushrooms, cooking for another 3-4 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, sage & stock, bringing to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix the cream cheese through then add the spinach, stirring until it has just wilted.

Serve immediately and enjoy immensely! If you’re super hungry, I can imagine a chunk of bread would compliment this perfectly and help you mop up every last drop from your dish.