“Spicy Chickpea and Bulgar Soup” from “Plenty More”

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It was a (very) cold, wet, winter Monday, the latest in a string of cold, wet, miserable days here in the Big Smoke. This soup seemed just the thing for Meat Free Monday.

Ottolenghi says in the introduction that this is the sort of recipe you can make at any time, because all of the ingredients will probably be found in your refrigerator or cupboard already, and that was true for me too. I love any recipe where I can use found ingredients and skip a trip to the store.

While making it, I worried that the boys (age 15 and 11) wouldn’t like this and find it too spicy. But in fact, they loved it. I did cut back on the amount of harissa paste I used, because I knew that might put them off, but the spice didn’t bother them and they emptied their bowls pretty quickly.

Ottolenghi seems to be a big fan of caraway in this book, so it’s a good thing I stocked up the last time I was out shopping, because he used it in this recipe too. But it really adds something to the soup and it’s not something I would have thought to add myself.

Not pictured: The feta paste on the top. It was lovely– I never pass up an opportunity to have feta– but if you’re vegan, you could skip adding that and the soup is still good. Ottolenghi says the paste, “elevates a midweek supper into something special,” and while that may be true, it’s not essential.

Highly recommended for Meat Free Monday on a cold winter night.

If you would like to make this yourself, click through this link to find the recipe on 101 Cookbooks (you have to scroll past several unrelated photos, but it’s there, down at the bottom).

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“Spicy Chickpea and Bulgar Soup” from “Plenty More”

“Spiced Garden Vegetable Casserole” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

CBAMVegCasseroleMaureen: Yeah! Meat free Monday!

Nicholas (10): What is this?

Maureen: Excellent question.

Nicholas: I thought you said we were having vegetable curry.

Maureen: I know I said that, but I’m rescinding that description. It’s sort of like a curry, which is why I made basmati rice to go with it, but it’s also sort of not like a curry, since it’s got harissa in it. But it is very, very good for you– loads of vegetables, very little fat and a vegan recipe to boot. So that’s something.

Tim: Is it more like a Moroccan tagine?

Maureen: Maybe. Who can say. Mary Berry calls it a vegetable casserole, which is hardly inspiring or interesting.

Andrew (14): Sort of like the taste.

Tim: I agree. It’s a bit on the bland side.

Maureen: This is exactly the reason why I put hot sauce on the table. I was anticipating this problem. It’s not bad with the hot sauce, but you shouldn’t have to add it.

Tim: Maybe she wanted it to appeal to as many people as possible.

Maureen: If that’s the case, in an effort to do so, she made it too bland.

Nicholas: I don’t think it’s spicy enough. Can I have some hot sauce?

Maureen: No way. It must be opposite day. I’m not giving you hot sauce, though. You’d put loads on it and then say it’s too spicy and stop eating.

Tim: I’m guessing you’re not going to make this again.

Maureen: You guessed right.

“Spiced Garden Vegetable Casserole” from “Mary Berry Cooks”