The Herb Diaries

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Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup

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…
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.
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


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



Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffles

After making my first jug of homemade almond milk at the beginning of last week, this weekend I made hazelnut milk. It was so creamy, and deliciously nutty, and tasted so much purer than all the shop bought versions. Homemade nut milk doesn’t last as long in the fridge, but I think most people love it so much that they use it all pretty quickly anyway! It couldn’t be simpler to make, and is so worth the effort. I made these truffles when I was trying to think of something to do with the left over ground nuts from making the milk, but you could use fresh nuts instead.
I think people are almost a bit dubious of raw chocolatey treats, thinking that they will never match up to the real thing, and for a few people maybe they never will, but I am a total convert. I much prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate so I love the rich taste the raw cacao gives these truffles. They are so smooth, and the texture is somewhere between a chocolate truffle and a gooey brownie.
Hazelnuts are super rich in flavonoids which are good for your brain and your circulation, plus they are high in healthy fats and vitamin E which will give you glowing skin, glossy hair and strong nails.

Cacao actually raises seratonin levels and stimulates the release of endorphins so it really is a mood booster – the beauty of raw cacao is that you get all the benefits without the horrible guilt and sugar low that follows eating far too much processed chocolate! 
1 cup of ground hazelnuts
1 cup of pitted dates
2 tbsp raw cacao
1 tsp coconut oil
Agave syrup to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
Coconut flakes (to decorate)

Put all ingredients into your blender and blend until completely smoothy and sticky. Roll into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Keep in the fridge until serving.