“Spicy Shrimp Ramen” from “It’s All Easy”

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Ella: This needs to be spicier!

Kirstin: It has a jalepeno in it!

Ella: MORE!

Tom: The broth itself is quite thin.

Kirstin: I imagine the miso broth might be thicker, but these are never going to be as thick and tasty as those at Bone Daddy’s, or any of our other favourite ramen places in town. This broth is made of mushrooms.

Ella: It isn’t spicy enough!

Kirstin: How could I have made these spicier for you?

Ella: Basically, you could have made the prawns spicier…

Kirstin: Perfect hangover food. And it was the usual faff going to the local Asian supermarket where I didn’t recognise anything and it takes me ages to find what I’m looking for.

Ella: I like this because it doesn’t feel like it requires any effort to eat, but it also makes you feel full.

Kirstin: Shall I make it again?

Ella: With chillies!

Kirstin: Soup-er!

“Spicy Shrimp Ramen” from “It’s All Easy”

“Carrot and Cardamom Soup with Ricotta Dumplings” from “A Year of Good Eating”

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One of the many good things* about Meat Free Monday is it forces us to try different things.

While I do love a good hearty soup while we’re in the throes of winter (Editor’s Note: This was a week ago, when London really was winter-like. Now, not so much.) This soup has the added twist of dumplings in it, made by combining flour, fine oatmeal, ricotta, parsley and butter. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought it would be a bit different from our usual throes of winter soup fare, so I was willing to give it a go.

We all loved it. Andrew, 16, even requested that it go into the regular rotation of Meat Free Monday dishes, he liked it so much. Tim was surprised at how filling it was. Nicholas liked the dumplings. Having eaten the leftovers for lunch, I can tell you that it’s fantastic warmed up a few days¬†later, too.

Yum. Yum. Yum. Another winner from Nigel.

*Some of the good things: Good for us. Good for our planet. Forces us, at least one day a week, to not look to meat as the starring player in our dinner. Did I say Good for Us? It bears repeating: Good for us.

Want to make this yourself? Find the original recipe from The Guardian, found by clicking on this link.

“Carrot and Cardamom Soup with Ricotta Dumplings” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Meatball Broth” from “A Year of Good Eating”

Is there anything better than a nice soup on a cold January night? I think not.

It was the perfect weeknight dinner for a cold January night when half of us had to be somewhere at 7 p.m.* and the other half of us got in from school/work late. We all have nights like that, and this fit the bill perfectly.

This is a very simple recipe with only seven ingredients. Take ready-made meatballs, fry them, fry some spring onions, grate 1/2 a head of celeriac and pop that in there too, add some thyme, beef stock and bring it all to a boil. Finish it off with some grated parmesan and you’re done.

The adults loved it. The teenagers and near teenagers? Not so much. When pressed the morning after, Nicholas, the near teenager at 12 years old said, “It reminded me of Benihana.”¬†When I pointed out that he loved Benihana, he admitted that was true, but that he didn’t think Benihana would serve this. So I’m flummoxed as to why he did’t like it, but perhaps a little bit of mystery will make my life more exciting.

I really enjoyed paging through this book so far. It’s got several recipes that I’m eager to try, which is always a good sign. I know it’s going to be a long month when I struggle to find a selection of things I’d like to eat, but it looks like this isn’t one of those months.

I also very much appreciate the fact that it’s chronological, so I can see what he made and ate in January, when I know he’ll be using ingredients that will be available to me. For every season he’s also got a section of seasonal eats, which are quick and easy recipes that can be made. This recipe was taken from “Winter Eats.”

I’m hoping the success of this recipe portends a good month of eating. We’ll see.

*The lack of photos reflects the fact that I rushed out before they could be taken. Sorry. It’s a Cookbook A Month FAIL.

“Meatball Broth” from “A Year of Good Eating”

“Pour-Over Soup” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

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Kirstin: So it’s just me for lunch and the perfect time to make this pour-over soup. Super easy to make, super delicious to eat and very, very good. I’ve been looking for something easy to take to work and this totally fits the bill. I love that I can transport it in a jar. I made something very similar to this from Jamie’s Comfort book and while I am aware it’s not vegetarian of me I think I might add the odd prawn for variety here.

“Pour-Over Soup” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“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).

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

“Lemon Houmous” and “Thai-Spiced Tomato Soup” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

Anna: What do you think of the soup?

Jane: I like it very much. How did you do the tomatoes? I have a tomato soup recipe that you roast the tomatoes for and then wizz them up.

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Anna: This uses a tin of tomatoes, and coconut milk and various other things. I think it’s worked well. I’m pleased.

Jane: This hummus is pretty tasty too.

Anna: This was even easier that the soup. I always think I should make my own hummus and this proves that I should. What a nice lunch.

 

 

 

“Lemon Houmous” and “Thai-Spiced Tomato Soup” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

“Thai pork noodle soup” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

Tom: Well this was just what I needed for my cold.

Kirstin: I gave you most of the chillies to help with that too!

Tom: Thank you!

Ella: I don’t like the noodles!

Kirstin: They’re just noodles. How can you not like them?

Ella: I just don’t like the consistency of them.

Miles: I like the meatballs!

Kirstin: I cheated and whizzed up a lot of the ingredients rather than chopping them finely as she suggests. Yes, I would definitely make this again.

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“Thai pork noodle soup” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”