The Herb Diaries

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Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup

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I had such a brilliant weekend. Saturday was for seeing friends and sleeping in after a big Valentine’s Day dinner party at my friend Amelia’s, which meant that on Sunday I woke up fresh and ready to go. After I had got my run and a yoga class out the way I settled into the kitchen. I figured that having complained about being oven-less for so long, I really ought to post some baked and roasted recipes, so this soup is the first of three to come…
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It sounds bizarre to go on and on about an oven and then straight away choose to make soup, but the roasted garlic makes the recipe. It gives it the most delicious caramalised flavour, making it taste more warming and winter-y than my usual pea soup recipe, which is definitely more fresh, light and summer-y. The idea comes from a soup that my aunt made for me years ago which I absolutely adored, but never got around to making, so whilst this is my take on her recipe I sadly can’t claim any credit for the (delicious) idea.
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Having mentionned in my recipe for Gooey Chocolate and Caramel Bars that I have a serious chocoholic in the family, the rest of them are pretty mad about garlic… There is one who loves it more than any of us, so I have a feeling this soup may be on the menu when I go back home and see him in two weeks. DSC_0764 Garlic is used world wide to flavour food, and there are definitely very few things in my kitchen that manage to escape it. Not only is it so versatile and incredibly delicious, but thanks to a compound called allicin found in it, it actually has antibacterial properties. Whilst it contains small amounts of numerous vitamins and minerals, its most notorious health benefits come from its antioxidants (which help prevent heart-disease), immune-strengthening effects and anti-cancer properties. As if he needs encouraging… DSC_0767 Ingredients:
Serves 4

2 bulbes of garlic
1 onion
2 cups of frozen peas
1 big handful of basil
Olive oïl
Splash of cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Rocket

Method:

Chop onion into quarters and place the wedges along with whole bulbs of garlic into a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oïl and a sprinkling of salt and roast at 180°C for 30 mintues. They may need turning/stirring in that time so keep an eye on them – it is very important that they don’t burn or even brown too much, as this will give your soup a nasty bitter taste.
In the meantime, Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your peas, then drain and allow to cool. When the onion and garlic is ready, leave to cool for a few minutes then peel of the skins. The cloves should be cooked and sticky (and smell AMAZING). Add all ingredients (except the rocket) to the blender with some water, and blend until completely smooth. The amount of water you add depends on how thick you likek your soup – I would start with 2 cups of water and see how it goes.
Heat on the stove just before serving, garnish with rocket and a drizzle of olive oïl (some parmesan or pecorino shavings might be good here for those not avoiding dairy!) DSC_0767


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Rainbow Ramen

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On a Sunday night, especially when it gets cold and dark, and people start to feel fluey, my favourite supper to snuggle down with is a big steaming bowl of asian noodle broth. This is something I picked up from my sister, who likes to make it at the end of the weekend when she wants something that tastes fresh and cleansing, but it is also the ultimate comfort food.

Having always been told to “eat our greens” when we were little, I definitely had convinced myself (until recently) that green vegetables were best for you. Carrots supposedly help you see in the dark – which was definitely an exciting idea as a child – but other than that, all the bright, multi-coloured veg were inferior. But then a few years ago, I can’t remember if I read it or heard, but someone told me to eat the rainbow, which not only sounds cool, but it does amazing things for your body too!

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This doesn’t mean stop eating anything green – people love green smoothies and juices – green is still good. As with most things, it is just about balance. So I thought to accompany a very bright recipe I should find out more about the whole “eat the rainbow” concept.

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My colourful ramen bowl is packed full of multicoloured veg – red peppers and tomatoes both rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, fibre. Tomatoes contain loads of lycopene which is thought to act against cancer. Purple fruit and vegetables like red cabbage are high in powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which protect blood vessels and give your skin a healthy boost.

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Ingredients:

Serves 2

2 cloves garlic

1 big knob of ginger

1 chilli

Zest and juice of half a lemon

Soy sauce to taste

1 cup of peas

1/2 red pepper

1/4 red cabbage

1 cup of cherry tomatoes

1/4 of a cucumber

Rice noodles

Optional – five spice, vegetable stock, splash of coconut milk, lemongrass, coriander

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Method:

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then grate in the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon zest and squeeze in the juice and soy sauce (this is also the time to add in any of the optional ingredients if you want to mix it up a bit). Cook the peas and noodles in the broth and chop up the remaining veg before adding them in at the last minute and letting them steam in the broth for 30 seconds. Serve with spiralised cucumber, freshly chopped coriander and a wedge of lemon. Divide between two bowls and enjoy!

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Asian Almond Soup

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Just a very short post today, and because I am very busy at the moment I thought I should share with you one of my quick, mid-week go to suppers. It is warm, filling and so cleansing. I adore the spice and heat of Asian ingredients, they always taste so fresh.

I just bought myself the biggest jar of almond butter I have ever seen and I am obsessed. I have been putting it on my smoothie, stirring it into my soup, mixing into my puddings and eating it with anything I can dip into it: carrots, apple, celery, a spoon…

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I only add the vegetables in at the end just to cook them slightly, because the crunch contrasts so well with the rich creamy sauce. You can of course change the ratio and add more water and less coconut milk make it lighter, and I often stir through some spinach and rice noodles when I am hungrier.

Coconut milk is so versatile and surprisingly good for you. It contains a lot of magnesium which normalises blood pressure and calms nerves. It is also said to lower cholesterol and improve skin elasticity (reducing wrinkles) among many other health benefits.

Ginger helps your body absorb essential nutrients as well as really helping feelings of nausea and tummy pain. I love to drink a mug of hot water with a slice of lemon and a chunk of ginger after a big meal. It tastes so fresh and pure, and is a very good way to hydrate for people who don’t drink enough water .

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Ingredients:

Serves 2

2 Cloves of garlic

A knob of ginger

Fresh chilli

1 tbsp almond butter

2 cups coconut milk

2 cups mushrooms

1 big tomato

1 courgette

Splash of soy sauce and a squeeze of lemon to season

Basil

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Method:

Boil the kettle and add two cups of hot water to a saucepan. Finely chop the chilli, garlic and ginger and add to the water. Chop all the veg and after a few minutes add all other ingredients to the saucepan. Cook into the veg are warmed through but still have some bite, then take off the heat, pour into two bowls, top with torn basil and serve.

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Spicy Summer Gazpacho

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As the sunny, summer weather and the warm evenings continue, I still just want to eat fresh, light meals, and this chilled tomato soup is perfect. I am back in Paris, where the sun is shining, and after spending the morning strolling the local fruit markets, there is no lunch more refreshing than a cool bowl of gazpacho.

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Since the only ingredients are fresh vegetables, a little garlic and chilli and water, this is totally virtuous yet insanely delicious. I don’t know if it is due to the warmer temperature that the tomatoes out here are so firm and juicy, but they really put the ones back home to shame.

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I am still trying to keep up my reading on nutrition alongside doing my course, and my main finding this week was the importance of raw vegetables. I know I have mentionned this before, but having read it in yet another book, I decided I should really try and eat more raw veg, and whilst it sounds overly healthy, I think you will love this gazpacho! My flatmate and I enjoyed big, cool bowls of it for supper last night, with the Parisian evening sun streaming in through the french doors.

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Having spoken about tomatoes before, I turned my research to the other stars of the recipe. Not only do peppers look and taste beautiful, they are packed full of goodness. They are a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants, and are one of the vegetables in particular that should often be eaten raw, either chopped on your salads or blended into your soups.

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I think cucumber has a bad rep for the part it plays in soggy salads, alongside iceberg lettuce and mushy tomato quarters, but it is awesome. Such a large proportion of cucumber is water, which is so key to our health. Cucumber will help keep you hydrated, plus the combo of water and fibre will give you healthy, happy insides! I had always assumed that since cucumber is basically just water, it was slightly empty calories (but not many of them!), but cucumbers actually contain a surprising number of vitamins and minerals, so it is time to get your blenders out!

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Ingredients:

5 tomatoes

1 red pepper

1/2 a large cucumber

3 cloves of garlic

A pinch of dried chilli

A squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Water

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Method:

Chop all the ingredients, and put aside a few pieces of cucumber and pepper for garnish and a bit of crunch. Blend all the ingredients, adding water until you reach your desired consistency. Chill in the fridge before serving.

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Thai Style Spinach and Chard Soup

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With all this amazing weather the vegetable patch is thriving, if a little bit thirsty! I needed a recipe to use up some of the spinach and chard, and a soup seemed like the best way to use up large quantities of it. I know that in this weather soup is probably the last thing you want to eat, but this soup freezes very well, and I just ate some of it cold for lunch and it was suprisingly refreshing and delicious.

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Spinach is massively underrated; it is versatile, tastes great and it is just so good for you. It is packed full of vitamin A, iron and vitamin C. Iron is so important in the body, it plays a key role in distributing oxygen all over your body through your blood. Since many people get a lot of their iron intake from meat, spinach is a real winner for vegans and vegetarians!

Swiss chard is equally versatile, delicious and underrated! It is also high in vitamins A, C and K, making this soup super healthy. Who would imagine that something so yummy could give you glowing skin, stronger immunity against infections, quicker healing time for wounds….?

Thai food is without a doubt my absolute favourite, so what better to combine my veg with than garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander, which all have their own long lists of nutritious properties. Coconut milk is the perfect ingredient for achieving a creamy texture without the use of dairy products, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice is a great addition to make the soup taste really fresh, light and summery.

 

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Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk

3 cloves garlic

1 red onion

1 knob ginger

1 knob coconut oil

bunch of fresh coriander

lots of spinach and chard (I used about 200g of each)

3 cups water

juice from 1 lime

as much or as little chilli as you like!

salt or a dash of soy sauce

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Method:

Start by peeling and roughly chopping the onion, garlic and ginger. Chop the chilli, spinach and coriander, and measure out the coconut milk.

Heat a knob of coconut oil until melted, then add the red onion. Heat, stirring continuously, until the onions begin to brown, then add in the garlic, ginger and chilli. Continue to heat for a few minutes until the garlic and ginger start to brown, but be careful not to let the garlic burn.

Next pour in the water and coconut milk and bring to the boil. As soon as the soup starts to boil, through in the chard and spinach and remove from the heat. The leaves will wilt very very quickly!  Leave to cool for a few minutes, then blend with the coriander and lime juice until you reach your desired consistency. I like this soup to be completely smooth.

Season with salt or soy sauce and garnish with a few torn coriander leaves and some chilli, or a slice of lime. Can be served either hot or cold.