Sunday, 30 May 2010

Spicy vegan roast tomato and bell pepper soup recipe

This is an old favourite of mine, I've been making it for years and have recently switched the cream cheese I used to use in it for soy cooking cream. I'm not a big fan of many soy products and have not been able to get even this soy cream to work for me in any other recipes yet, but in this soup it is just fine! I really do make it quite spicy, just cut down on the garlic and chili if you prefer a milder taste (or have a date the night you're eating it :)). This soup freezes well, so I always make a large quantity regardless of how many people I'm cooking for.

Spicy Tomato and Bell Pepper Soup
(serves 4-6 as a main meal with bread)

  • 15 ripe medium-sized tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 red bell peppers, deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 small dried red chili peppers, crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • water as needed
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 250 ml of soy single cream alternative (unsweetened)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of roughly chopped rocket for garnishing (optional)


1) Preheat the oven to 180*C, and place the chopped tomatoes and bell peppers in a large baking tray. Sprinkle with the garlic and chili, drizzle with 2 tbs of the olive oil, and toss until the vegetables are lightly coated with the oil. Roast in the oven until cooked and just beginning to char at the corners, about 45 minutes. Toss the vegetables again once or twice while they are cooking.

2) When the tomatoes and peppers have been in the oven for about 20 minutes, heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan (big enough to hold all the vegetables with some space to spare), and gently saute the onions over a medium heat until they turn glassy.

3) When the tomatoes and peppers are roasted, add them to the pan with the onions, also pouring in the cooking juices from the baking dish. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables, crumble in the stock cubes, and bring to the boil.

4) When the stock cubes have dissolved, remove the pan from the heat, add the soy cream, and puree the soup using a blender.

5) Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with the rocket, and serve with bread and anything else you fancy!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Recipes for vegan spicy stuffed aubergines, sweet potatoes and mango and avocado salad

My recent forays into veganism are forcing me to experiment and learn a lot of new recipes and techniques, and I'm really enjoying it! I've been using the Fitday Calorie Counter, not to count calories since I don't want to lose weight, but to track nutrients. So far, this has told me that I am quite lacking in potassium, calcium and protein today, so I will be doing a squash and spinach risotto, briefly baked in the oven with a pine nut and almond 'cheese' topping - if it turns out well I'll post it here. It's an interesting way to plan meals - fill out the counter throughout the day, and then plan dinner based on your deficiencies. It's educational, too - until I had to go googling "vegetarian potassium sources" I had no idea squashes and leafy greens were potassium-rich - or that significant amounts of potassium can be lost in the cooking process. That's okay, I'll just eat more :-)  

Since my first attempt at a cashew-based sauce I've done quite a few more, including an adaptation of this recipe for asparagus linguine alfredo: I used cashews since macadamias cost  a fortune, and it turned out rather delicious, I'll have to make it again before asparagus season is out! I also found this great recipe for a faux-cheese sauce which tastes remarkably cheesy: I've used it as a pizza topping, as a sandwich topping, in pasta sauces, and on one of today's recipes, the stuffed aubergines.

Three recipes today, which between them make a very nice 4 person meal.

Spicy stuffed aubergines
This recipe developed from an attempt to recreate a very nice takeaway lunch I got from a Turkish restaurant in The Hague. It doesn't much resemble the original anymore, but I rather like the result :)


  • 4 large aubergines (eggplants), halved lengthwise
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 150 grams finely chopped carrots 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or more, or less, depending on how much of a garlic-head you are... I ADORE garlic myself :))
  • 6 finely chopped plum tomatoes (a 400 gram can of chopped tomatoes also works fine) 
  • 1 can of tomato puree
  • 3/4 cup of dried green lentils (I'm sure it would work just fine with other lentils, too, this is just what I happened to have in the house) 
  • 1 bayleaf (optional) 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 small dried chili, crushed
  • 7 - 8 green peppercorns in vinegar (like this, I think you can get them in brine, too), crushed
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: vegan cashew cheese, vegetarian cheese of your choice or toasted breadcrumbs - also fine without any topping though


1) Preheat the oven to 200*C, and place the aubergines cut-side up in a lightly greased baking tray. Roast them until they are mostly cooked and lightly browned on top - about half an hour - and while they are roasting prepare the other ingredients

2) put the lentils in a pan with plenty of water with the bay leaf (do not add salt), bring to the boil, and simmer until the lentils are quite soft (20-30 minutes). When they are done, remove from heat and pour off excess water

3) Meanwhile, in a large pan saute the onions in olive oil with a little salt for about five minutes, then add the carrots. Continue to saute until the onions are soft and sweet, then add the garlic and saute for a couple more minutes - don't let the garlic burn

4) Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, spices, crushed green peppercorns and salt to the mix, heat through and adjust spices to taste

5) When the aubergines are done, carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving the shell at least 1/2 inch thick. Finely chop the flesh, and add it, the lentils and the flat leaf parsley to the tomato sauce. Mix it all together, taste for final seasoning, and fill the aubergine shells. (I usually have some stuffing left over, and have it with toast for lunch the next day)

6) Top the stuffed aubergines with the topping of your choice or leave them as they are, and bake them in the oven for a final ten minutes - or slightly longer if your topping needs it.  

Avocado and Mango salad
This is again a recipe improvised based on a dish I had in a restaurant - the lovely Moorings restaurant in Mtwapa, Kenya, to be precise: if you ever find yourself near Mombasa, I heartily recommend it for the lovely food, incredibly friendly service, relaxed atmosphere and gorgeous location!


  • 2 very ripe mangoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 4 ripe avocados, cut into same chunks as mango
  • bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro) 
  • small red onion or spring onion, very finely chopped  
  • olive oil to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Preparation:  Mix it all together :)
Fresh coriander is one of those love-or-hate foods, so check with your fellow diners, and leave it on the side if anyone can't stand the stuff.

Finally, I accompanied these dishes with roast sweet potato - I can't even really call it a recipe, I just scrubbed them (1 large sweet potato per person), cut them into small chunks, and roasted them in the oven at the same time as the aubergines, tossed with some olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of dried thyme.

I thought the three worked really well together!