Creamy mushroom soup with miso portobello

Mushrooms have some serious health benefits but they are also one of my favourite ingredients to cook with.
This beautiful mushroom soup is a combination of white mushrooms, shiitake and meaty mini portobellos.
Blended cashews add creaminess without the need for dairy.
The soup keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days and freezes well, making it ideal for batch cooking.

 
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Ingredients:
150g cashews
1 small onion, peeled & roughly chopped
350g of mushrooms (I used equal quantities of organic white mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms), roughly sliced
Rapeseed oil for cooking
1 clove of garlic, roughly sliced  
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
sea salt and black pepper to season
500ml veg stock

For the miso portobellos:
6 mini or 3 large portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 teaspoon of miso
1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Method:
Pop the cashews in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak until you cook the soup. This will soften the cashews slightly, making them easier to blend.
Heat a pan on a medium heat. Add a splash of rapeseed oil and cook the onion with the lid on for 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme leaves, bay leaf, a couple of pinches of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, stir it well and continue cooking with the lid on for a couple more minutes.
Pour in the vegetable stock, add a bit more black pepper and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat with the lid on. Set aside to cool slightly and remove the bay leaf.
Drain the water from the cashews and transfer the cashews into a blender. Season with a pinch of sea salt and a small amount of black pepper.
Pour in the soup and blend until completely smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust it by adding more salt & pepper if required.
To make the miso portobellos, heat the oil in a small frying pan on a high heat. Throw in the sliced portobellos and cook for a couple of minutes until the slices start to colour on the outside. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the miso. Keep stirring until the miso has combined well (around 1-2 minutes).
To serve, ladle the creamy mushroom soup into bowls and top with the miso portobellos.

Herby chickpea & cashew salad

Chickpeas are a great filling, protein-rich base for salads that makes having a plate of green stuff much more satiating. Herbs provide flavour and adding some good quality olive ensures maximum nutrient absorption.
If you aren’t familiar with this concept, in a nutshell, certain nutrients need fat for absorption. Vitamin K found in greens is one such nutrient as an example.
Add olive oil to salads and more nutrients are absorbed

If you aren’t vegan, this salad works well topped with chicken or halloumi too.

 
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Ingredients to feed two:
85g cashews
2x tins of chickpeas, drained
Leaves from 3 sprigs of mint, roughly chopped
Leaves from 3 sprigs of dill
Leaves from a large handful of parsley
Black pepper & sea salt to season
120g cucumber (1/2 cucumber approximately), quartered lengthways then roughly chopped
2 handfuls of rocket
Juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and roast the cashews until golden in colour.
Throw the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and squeeze in the lemon juice. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir, divide between two plates, top with the cashews and serve.

Shredded chicken & bean stew

There is something comforting about a big bowl of warming stew that’s completely irreplaceable.
This delicious shredded chicken stew combines tasty veg, herbs and beans to create a high-protein, low-carb meal that’s full of nutrients and flavour.
It’s a two hour “investment” of your time making it ideal as a weekend batch cook. By investment, I mean you can pretty much leave it alone to cook and do its thing, you just have to be around to take it off the hob.

 
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Ingredients to feed 4 (or 2 plus 2 lunches)
Tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, peeled & sliced
250g (1 pack) of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 chicken breasts
500g passata (sieved tomato, find it next to chopped tomatoes)
250ml chicken stock
1 tin of butter beans, drained
1 tin of kidney beans, drained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
sour cream & fresh parsley to serve (optional)

Method:
Heat the rapeseed oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery, season with sea salt and black pepper and cook with the lid on for 5 minutes until the onion has softened.
Add the garlic, carrot, mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, cumin and paprika, season again with sea salt and black pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.
Put the chicken breasts on top of the veg, stir in the passata and stock and season again, stirring well.
Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for an hour with the lid on.
Take the lid off the pan and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts and shred them with a fork. Return the shredded chicken to the pan alongside the beans. Cook for a couple of minutes to heat the beans through then ladle into bowls.
Top with soured cream and fresh parsley to serve.

Butternut squash and goat's cheese risotto with crispy sage

Few foods shout comfort quite like a creamy risotto.
It’s super easy to make and equally easy to bulk out with nutrients by simply adding a few extra veggies.
For me, risotto is something I enjoy making for friends, or having as a Friday night treat after a busy week. The addition of crispy sage leaves upgrades this dish to more of a crowd pleaser, adding crunch and extra flavour.

Hopefully you won’t be on the “too many carbs” bandwagon but in case it’s a concern, let me reassure you, the evening is actually the best time to eat things like rice & pasta. Carbohydrates are far easier to digest than protein so they allow you to sleep better.

 
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Ingredients to feed 2
1 small butternut peeled & cubed (350g)
sprig or rosemary finely chopped
2 unpeeled cloves of garlic
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper to season
rapeseed oil for roasting

25g butter
200g risotto rice
1 finely chopped onion
1 bay leaf
750ml (approximately) of good quality vegetable or chicken stock
60g of goat’s cheese

leaves from a bunch of sage
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Put the cubed butternut squash on roasting tray, scatter over the chopped rosemary, drizzle with rapeseed oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and add the unpeeled garlic cloves.
Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until soft. Pay attention that the garlic doesn’t burn, removing it from the roasting pan a few minutes earlier if required.
Whilst the squash is roasting, make the risotto.
Put a pan on a medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion. Cook with a lid on for 5-10 minutes until the onion softens. Season with a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper, turn the heat up to medium high and stir in the rice. Cook for a minute, stirring to prevent the rice from sticking. Add a good splash of stock and the bay leaf and reduce the heat to low.
Keep adding stock little by little until the rice is fully cooked (taste it to test it). Add a little bit more salt and pepper if required.
Remove the butternut squash from the oven and mash half of it with a fork. Stir into the risotto.
Squeeze the garlic from the skin and roughly chop if not separated. Stir this into the risotto too.
Take the risotto off the heat and stir through the goat’s cheese.
To make the crispy sage, put a piece of kitchen towel on a plate and heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat. Drop in the sage leaves and allow to cook for a minute or too until the leaves stiffen up. Take them out immediately and drain on the kitchen towel. The sage leaves should remain green but be crispy.
Divide the risotto between two bowls and scatter over the crispy sage leaves.

Chicken mole

Every now and then, I have a Sunday with not much to do apart from home related chores and general life admin. Although a slow Sunday is a rarity, I like to use the time efficiently, batch cooking a few dishes that don’t need much attention then freezing them for use as a “ready meal” for when I’m too busy to cook.
This tasty chicken mole recipe fits the bill so well, requiring time (2 hrs) but little effort to make.
Mole is a Mexican stew-like dish with mild chilli and a hint of dark chocolate to give it richness. I usually serve it with cauliflower or ordinary rice, a lime wedge and some fresh coriander.

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Ingredients (to make a big batch enough for 4-6 dinners)

For the mole paste:
2 dried ancho chillies - seeds & stalks removed, steeped in boiling water for 15 mins
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
50g raisins
100ml of the water the chillies are soaked in

2 onions, finely chopped
3 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp cinnamon
a small bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped and leaves set aside to garnish
1 small aubergine, cubed
4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp chipotle paste
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of water
1 heaped tablespoon of good quality cocoa powder or raw cacao
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to season
oil to cook such as rapeseed or coconut
a small red onion, finely sliced
1 lime

Method:
Put the mole paste ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
Put a large flameproof casserole or saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onions and a tablespoon or two of oil, pop the lid on the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until the onion is soft.
Add the coriander stalks, cumin and cinnamon and cook for another minute to toast the spices. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Stir in the aubergine, chicken, peanut butter, chipotle paste, the mole paste, chopped tomatoes and water, give it a good stir and season again with two good pinches of sea salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
Bring to boil, turn down the heat to low, pop a lid on the pan and cook an hour to an hour and a half, until the chicken is easy to shred. Remove the chicken from the sauce, shred with a fork, return to the pan, add the cocoa and cook for another half an hour until the sauce becomes thick.
Check the seasoning and season again if necessary.
Serve topped with fresh coriander, sliced red onion and the juice of a wedge of lime.