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    Recipes, Vegan

    Recipe: Medicinal vegan red lentil & lime soup

    Look, I’m not about to tell you that food will cure you, but after two weeks of having the flu and still feeling pants, I decided that my diet of hot cross buns and more tea than I thought humanly possible could probably do with some help. So I decided to make this medicinal soup, and bonus points it’s vegan too.

    Without descending into too much woo, this has a bunch of stuff that supposedly has some health benefits: onions have been used for centuries to reduce inflammation, coconut is apparently helpful to balance gut bacteria, and limes are full of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant and stops you getting scurvy. Although if you’re worried about that, I recommend drinking daiquiris.

    I have no idea if it’d cured me, but it tasted good so I figured I’d share. I stuck with it as it is in the recipe below because I didn’t want to challenge my stomach any more than I was already, but the punchy lime, sunny colours and slight heat meant that next time I’ll be adding shredded chicken or pork, some beans, maybe a pinch of cumin and upping the chilli slightly to make it a more filling soup. But as it is, it’s a pretty nice medicinal soup, although pretty citrusy (some people might want to tone that down, I quite like it).  It’s also vegan if you use right kind of vegetable stock; I used Marigold Swiss vegetable vegan bouillon powder in this recipe.  I also mentioned garlic and ginger pastes because I have them both in my fridge and was too poorly to be faffing about grating ginger.

    Recipe: Medicinal red lentil soup
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
    Recipe type: soup
    Serves: 4
    • 1 large onion chopped
    • 100g red lentils
    • 2 heaped tsp turmeric
    • ½ tsp chilli powder
    • 1 tbsp coarsely grated ginger or paste
    • 2 garlic cloves, sliced or tbsp of garlic paste
    • 1l vegetable stock
    • 400ml can coconut milk
    • 2 generous handfuls baby spinach (approx 50g)
    • 1 lime, juice and zest - you may want to reduce this if you don't like things too citrusy
    1. In a large pan, fry the onions in a little oil until soft and golden
    2. Then add the lentils, turmeric, ginger, garlic and pour in the stock.
    3. Cover the pan and simmer until the lentils have softened, this should take around 15 minutes
    4. You might want to season with some salt now, depending on how salty your stock is
    5. Pour in the coconut milk, give everything a good stir and simmer for another 15 minutes or so
    6. Add the spinach, and cook it until it wilts.
    7. Stir in the lime juice and zest, and serve.

    Disclosure: Brought to you by the flu and the realisation that after two weeks I was starting to get bored of bread, which is more painful than the flu itself. Also, if you’re really sick, go see a doctor and get actual medicine. But only have antibiotics if you *really* need them.

    Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Thai Supper Club

    I love a good road trip, particularly when it involves gong in search of food, so when Taylah suggested we book tickets for one of Carole ‘No Ping No Bling‘ Mason’s Thai supper clubs I was keen to do so.  I really like the fresh and lightness of Thai food, which is always plentiful in flavour but never feels too heavy despite the noodles and rice – plus it usually lacks dairy so it means I’m not going to suffer afterwards.

    After nattering away with Taylah, we arrived at Carole’s home where we were offered drinks and met the other guests; Jay and Dee from Cook It Eat It Blog It Brum, some of Carole’s regulars and a few others who’d heard about the supper clubs via Twitter.  Carole’s home is lovely and I’m very jealous of her fantastic kitchen, which we could see into whilst we were given appetisers and Carole told us about the inspiration for the day’s menu.  We were also introduced to each other and whilst a dinner table of eight other strangers might be odd, everyone was so friendly it never felt it.

    Up first we were given Ma Hor, sort of minced pork and prawn served on slices of pineapple.  It was delicious, the chewy, slightly salty meat on the fresh juicy pineapple was a delicious constrast and I would’ve been happy with a plate of them.  Our next appetiser was rump steak cooked with various forms of coriander, known as Neua Sawarn, which used corriander root which I’ve never seen before.

    Prawn Pandanus and Muu Satay

    After our drinks were topped up we were led to the dining room, which as beautifully decorated with fresh flowers and a giant Buddha centrepiece – it was clear that Carole had really gone to a lot of effort to make sure that not only was the food fantastic, but the experience as a whole was.  As we chatted away with those around us we were given Muu Satay, pork satay and peanut sauce which was delicious, and the skewers were passed round several times so we got plenty; and Prawn Pandanus, parcels of prawn and pork wrapped in pandanus leaf and steamed, accompanied by a hot and sweet chilli dip which gave it a nice kick.

    Pork Hok Parlow

    This was followed by a street food soup called Pork Hok Parlow, which contained pork belly, half an egg and was flavoured with star anise. Aniseed is one of those flavours I’m not big on, but this was well balanced and I enjoyed the flavour of it which didn’t overpower everything else, rather just give it a nice hint.

    Chicken Kow Soi Noodles

    I was beginning to feel a bit full by this point, but our final savoury course was delivered; Chicken Kow Soi Noodles.  Carole explained that this dish was a little different because although it was a typical Chiang Mai shop house dish, similar to Malaysian laksa noodles, it had a bit of a DIY element to it with diners able to add fish sauce, crunch vegetables and crushed chilli paste to our own tastes.  I love being able to play with my food so enjoyed this dish and added some crunchy veg and a little of the chilli paste, which enhanced the already lovely flavours.

    Sticky Rice and Mango

    By this point I was already pretty stuffed, but it would’ve been rude to say no to pudding and out final course was sticky rice and mango, made with fresh coconut milk – like Thai rice pudding, full of flavour but and less of a glutenous mess thank the school-dinner variety.  After that we retired to the living room for some coffee, which was welcomed as I was so full I was ready for a nap!

    Sadly Taylah and I had to scoot off home as we’d been there for well over four hours, although the time had flown by amongst all the lovely food and great company.  Whilst I enjoyed all the dishes, the Ma Hor and Chicken Kow Soi Noodles were particular favourites, but I would be more than happy to see any of the dishes on return menus – and I really do hope to return to another Thai supper club.  It was lovely to hear how passionately Carole spoke about the food she was serving, the origins and plans for some cooking classes.  Although the supper club might be a bit of a trek out of town I’d highly recommend it for great food and lovely company.

    Disclosure: I paid for my own meal and I tried to give Taylah some petrol money but she wouldn’t have any of it, so I owe her a cocktail instead (when she’s not driving, obviously).  All opinions remain my own, as do the photos so please don’t use them without permission – which is probably a little less easy now I’ve bothered to put a logo on them.

    Product reviews

    New Covent Garden Soup of the Month: November, Chorizo & Pearl Barley

    NCGsoup_nov14After the slightly overexcited reaction I had to the Pumpkin Ghoulash, I was convinced New Covent Garden were going to break my little heart and release something disappointingly diary-filled this month.  But bless their  cotton socks, I think they’ve managed to beat last month’s soup with November’s Chorizo and Pearl Barley soup.

    I know not everyone is a fan, but I have nostalgic memories of my dad making broths with the pearl barley nestling at the bottom (eight year old me loved it).  New Covent Garden’s soup of the month has gone for a chunkier, wintery soup which has a nice spice and smokiness to it from the chorizo (although oddly I didn’t find any chunks of meat), with the pearl barley giving a nice glutinous texture.  It lovely and thick and flavoursome – a perfect soup for winter…I’m already on my second carton.

    Here’s hoping next month’s carries on the winning streak!

    Product reviews

    New Covent Garden Soup of the Month: October, Pumpkin Ghoulash

    punpkingoulashI love October; the nights are drawing in, autumn is well and truly here and pumpkins appear in everything.  Which would be kind of great but you can’t always be sure the pumpkin flavoured stuff will be any good.  Plus, after my last experience with New Covent Garden Soup‘s soup of the month I was a little cautious; the previous tomato and, I think, basil was like eating an overly sweet pasta sauce without the pasta – I gave up before I’d finished the portion.  However it’s definitely soup weather and I thought I’d give this month’s Pumpkin Goulash – or Ghoulash, a try.

    A twist on a Hungarian goulash, it’s described as “smokey blend of tomatoes and pumpkin with carrot chunks and pepper strips”, which is a pretty fair description – and bonus points for no dairy!  The smokiness and garlic are evident but not over powering and the chunks of carrot are a welcomed addition.  This is perfect autumnal soup and interesting enough that I didn’t mind having it for lunch two consecutive days with some fresh bread.  In fact I’ve already bought a second carton and I’m sadden to think it won’t be around in a couple of weeks.

    New Covent Garden soup of the month, you have been redeemed!