Resolution Rebel…

West African Peanut Soup (Vegan)

In recent years I've rebelled against resolutions!  Those few months after Christmas before Spring is hard enough, so like an obstinate child, I would begin in February. To me, this felt a more gentle start to the year with a month to permeate the changes.....in line with what I wanted to do, rather than what I felt I 'should'!

It seems over the years the chance to morph into something new is ever increasing in January.  Become Vegan, tea total, adding or taking something away. But what does this say about ourselves?  Are we not enough already?  Will a change in January bring in a new perspective for the whole year? If you last 5 days or 2 weeks will you feel you have failed?!

I guess the answers are personal and are worth considering. Whilst these ideas are designed to bring about positive change, sometimes they may not turn out as we thought but can bring gifts all the same.  I am working on reducing plastic and my recycling offerings each week.  As I fast realised as I got into it, I cannot make these changes overnight without it becoming overwhelming. So 1 new change a week or every 2, is going to be massive over the course of the year.  We are now making our own yoghurt!

But life is pretty busy. Whether you are raising kids, working, looking after ageing parents, or all of the above....the modern world can be pretty full on. Expectations to do everything and be everything to everyone can leave us feeling a little overwhelmed.

So whether you are just grateful to start the new year and be alive (see my FB Live) or tweaking aspects of the wonderful you person that you are, I ask one thing. Please approach this with a big side portion of self-care and kindness.

Whatever happens, this January, say positive things about yourself and be kind to you! It's easy to feel like you don't have all areas of life together.  And that's OK! If you are making changes, have a contingency plan. It's not just about morphing into something new overnight, it's about the longterm journey and making changes to carry through the year.  And beyond!

If you are trying out something new and learning lots along the way, why not share your experiences in the Fuss Free Foodie Community on Facebook.  We inspire each other to cook but for January why not inspire each other across all areas of our lives!! Wishing you all the best in 2018! Lisa

West African Peanut Soup

I am looking this year at introducing more vegan recipes into my diet.  I am not feeling like eating so much meat at the moment, so hence this recipe.  It really surprised me at how satisfying and delicious it was! I hope you will give it a try. I adapted this soup recipe to make it more filling and substantial by adding lentils and quinoa.  It's rich and creamy and has a bit of heat to it too!  Sounds weird but trust me it's delicious.....give it a try!!

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • 2 tsp of grated ginger (or finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cup of red lentils, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup of quinoa or bulgar wheat, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1/2 cup of passata
  • 1.3L vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3-4 cups hispi cabbage or kale or cavalo nero, finely  shredded
  • 2-5 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Twist of black pepper
  1. Add a slug of olive oil to a large pan. Add the onions, ginger and green chilli and fry on a medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.  If you are trying not to use too much oil, add a splash of water to help the cooking process if it dries out.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the passata, peanut butter and 500ml of the stock into a smooth (ish) mixture. Don't worry if it looks like it's curdled! Set aside.
  3. Once the onion is almost soft, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the tomato puree to the pan, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the peanut butter/passata/stock mixture to the pan and stir.  Add the rest of the stock to the pan and stir.
  5. Add the lentils and quinoa/bulgar wheat and stir and simmer on a medium heat for 30 minutes. Go back and stir the pot every 5/10 minutes to avoid it sticking! Season with the salt and pepper.
  6. After 30 minutes the lentils should be soft. Add the cabbage, kale or cavalo nero and stir through. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the sriracha or hot sauce. Stir and check the seasoning.
  7. Serve in a big bowl and enjoy!  I didn't feel like I needed anything else with it, as it was a meal in a bowl!

If you fancy some more of my fuss-free soup recipes...

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

Broccoli and stilton soup

Leek and potato soup (Vegan)

Pea and ham soup

Minestrone soup (Vegan)

Folk House Cafe

Folk House Cafe

Have to recommend the Folk House Cafe for lunch if you’re near Park St. Bristol. (3/4 way down) Met an old colleague from Bordeaux Quay and talked all things food! Great mix of soups, salads, posh toasties, nibbles and filling plates and tremendous cakes and pukka tea and coffee. Loads of space and few outside tables too!! Now you know why the blog will be late today…..😁

Seasonal delights: Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

You know how some people are just on top of their stuff or others aren't, but they are better at hiding it? Well, I am neither! And you know what. I don't mind.

It's a bit of an 'in' joke with a couple of mums at school, that I am likely to be the one to forget when it's dress down day or to not read to the end of the email that requests you bring in your bikes or scooters to school. Yes, it feels like a mummy fails when this happens, especially if it evokes tears: But I am coming from a place of authenticity, I am not trying to be something I am not, or be like anybody else. THIS IS ME!

My mind is constantly thinking about food at the moment, as you may well imagine! It is 7 years since I have focused on something that I am passionate about, apart from my kids. I feel the happiest and most content in all of this time, and a happy mummy outweighs the mess ups, I think.

So after troubleshooting the lack of scooter (lucky DS2 scoots to school!!), I could reflect back to this recipe which is from my archive. I have been cooking it for over a decade.

It's great because, with the current difficulties in vegetable growing, this uses the humble cabbage. This recipe calls for a January King cabbage, which is a cross between a Savoy and white cabbage, or just use a straight savoy cabbage. To mix it up sometimes I used a Hisbi cabbage, which at this time of year are normally grown in Spain, so just check to see what you can get at the time. British is best!

It's a really moreish soup, and very fuss free to make, so you may want to double the recipe, as it always seems to run out too quickly for my liking! It has a lovely saltiness of the bacon and a creaminess created by the collapsed red lentils, and if you have all your ingredients, it is easily made in 30-40 minutes!

Let us know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group and don't forget to LIKE the Fuss Free Foodie page as the two are going to hold a different function in the next week or so. Also, see my fuss-free world in pictures on Instagram and what I tweet on Twitter! Lisa.x

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup
Serves 3-4

2 large onions, small dice
250g smoked back bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
125g red split lentils washed
250g Savoy, January King or Hispi cabbage, shredded
1litre veg or chicken stock
200ml water
Salt and white pepper
3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish. Fry the bacon until brown and the fat has rendered down.
  2. Add the onions and another 1-2 tbsps of oil and sweat the onions on a medium heat until soft and translucent. (About 6-7 mins).
  3. Add the garlic, lentils, stock and water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage, season with white pepper, not too much salt (bacon will add a salt element). Simmer for 5 more minutes, until the cabbage is tender and serve!

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

Broccoli and stilton soup

Leek and potato soup (Vegan)

Pea and ham soup

Minestrone soup (Vegan)

Mighty Minestrone

Minestrone soup

When a friend asks you for a recipe whilst she has been solo parenting for 5 days with 3 boys under 6 and is waving the white flag as the lurgy kicks in.....the least I can do is oblige! (Especially when her hub is on a jolly skiing!)

And it was a timely request because I am grateful to the mighty minestrone as via this picture it has been the cornerstone of starting the fuss-free foodie. The picture was the cover photo for the FB group in the beginning and has been an unsung hero as it has been not written or posted about until now! So it seemed fitting in the week where I was planning to change with new branding that it should be celebrated! So thank you, Nay, you were right on the money!

So.....Minestrone....an Italian classic...basically Italian vegetable soup! However, I feel its so much more than your standard vegetable soup as it has so much going for it; a meal in a bowl! Veg naturally, pasta, potatoes, legumes, greens and notes of Parmesan. For those of you that know me, my cooking defaults naturally to Italian, as it's what I grew up with, so it's a bowl full of nostalgia and definitely comes under that 'comfort food' banner!

Check out 'ABOUT' the fuss-free foodie if you want to find out more about my cooking journey so far, and remember to join us in the fuss-free foodie FB group. Please feel free to share links that you like and post what you are cooking! Lisa x

Minestrone Soup (serves 4)

1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed/finely chopped
1 courgette, diced
2 small pots, diced
2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
1L veg stock (I use Kallo)
2 bay leaves
1 can borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
A handful of shredded cavolo nero
2 handfuls small pasta or broken up spaghetti
Parmesan rinds or vegetarian alternative
Extra virgin or rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
Optional tsp of green pesto

  1. Add a lug of oil into a large pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery and soften for 5-6 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and soften for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add the tomato puree to the pan, stir and cook out for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then add the courgette, borlotti beans, pasta, Parmesan rinds (or alternative if using), bay leaves and seasoning.
  3. Simmer for 10-15 mins until the potatoes and pasta are cooked. A couple of minutes from the end, add the cavolo nero and add a drop more water if you need to make it more 'soupy'.
  4. Pull out the rinds and bay leaves. Serve with grated Parmesan and teaspoon of pesto on top of each bowl, if using.

Forget the fuss...

  1. Don't have borlotti beans? Use pinto or cannellini beans
  2. No Parmesan rinds? Don't let it stop you, just save them in a bag in the fridge for next time....they keep for ages!
  3. No cavolo nero? Use kale as an alternative or spinach
  4. Feel free to add and interchange vegetables that you have or that need using up.

A hug in a bowl with a sourdough kiss…..

Leek and Potato Soup

When the days can be lacking in light, warmth and sunshine, I seek comfort and positivity elsewhere....and quite often by lunchtime the thought of tucking into a lovely bowl of hearty, comforting, and of course, fuss free soup is a positive pique on my emotional stance for the day!

I feel at this time of year I've got to take my wins where I can get them and park up with a hug in a bowl with a sourdough kiss is where it's at for me. Plus its a healthy and portable lunch for my husband to take into work the next day, so cue self-bestowed brownie points, wife of the year awards and domestic goddess status!

The great thing about this soup is that the ingredients can be picked up absolutely anywhere from farm shop to the corner shop. Obviously, the fresher the ingredients the better the soup will taste, and where a recipe is so simple and stripped back, it's best to get the freshest you can.

I try and get them from a veg shop, pick the freshest I can see and get some tasty potatoes like King Edwards or Marfona to add flavour; But honestly, I made this the other day with some leeks kicking around from Xmas (what better way to have a veg drawer clear out than to make a soup!) and it was amazing!

I was quite prepared as well to whack some cream into this to give it that luscious, silky feel that works so well with soup, but I found that blitzing half the soup in the food processor and leaving the rest chunky resulted in a delightfully creamy taste without the cream! I was generous with the butter at the start of the recipe as this adds a rich flavour when you wilt the leeks and to keep it fuss-free I used Kallo stock cubes and was more than happy with the result!

Let me know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie FB group. Lisa x

Leek and potato soup

Generous tbsp butter or oil
1 onion, diced, 1cm square
4 potatoes (approx 650g) peeled and diced, 1cm square
4 leeks, cleaned and slice into in rings, white and light green parts only
1.2L vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Optional thyme, chives for garnish

    1. Add the butter or oil to a large pan, medium heat, melt and add the onions.
    2. Soften the onions for 5 minutes, then add the leeks, and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened and wilted.
    3. Add the potatoes, stir through so coated in butter. Season with salt and pepper and add the stock and bay leaves.
    4. Once the potatoes are soft, take off the heat, remove the bay leaves and blitz half the soup smooth in a blender, then add back to the pan. Check the seasoning.
    5. Alternatively, use a stick blender to puree half the soup in the pan.
      Serve with delicious bread!

Fuss Free tip.

For me, there is nothing less satisfying than runny soup, so I always air on the side of caution and add 1L of stock to start with and keep the last bit to one side. Generally, the liquid should comfortably cover the veg. You can add it in later to alter the consistency but you sure can't take it out!! x

Pea and Ham HO HO HOCK soup….

Pea and Ham Soup

New Years Eve Eve: sugar hangover for me, husband sleeping off daytime drinking in bed and kids arguing over the bug in the kitchen. The house smells of boiling ham hock and in my mind's eye I am fast forwarding a week to when the house will be quiet and it's just me again and certainly not in my dressing gown at 10 am......I'm going to enjoy the last of the craziness and then look forward to regaining my house again!

A week ago my fridge was filled with 10kgs of Christmas meat, and the ham hock that had been patiently waiting in the fridge was turfed out.....no room at the inn and sent to sleep in the freezer with the lowly loaves!!

Now the Christmas meat leftovers have now been turned over to the freezer having had three roast dinners in as many days; (awaiting further inspiration) But in the meantime, out comes the ham hock, released from its humble Christmas lodgings.....as the call for a tasty, hearty, fuss-free soup is needed!

This is an absolute beauty. If you can get the hock in the fridge and waiting, it can be cooked whilst you are doing other things, and then the pea soup is easily made in 20 mins, as it uses fresh rather than split peas. Doing this in stages makes it more fuss-free I think.

There is normally enough hock leftover to freeze for more pea and ham soup or to pimp up a lovely fuss-free veg soup. Cooking the hock in a big enough pan is also a must, as this will make plenty of stock to use for the soup and to freeze. It really makes the fresh pea soup.

This would be great as a starter, could be served in small Chinese rice bowls, canape style or as a hearty lunch after a New Years day walk. At £3.50 a hock.....it's a fuss-free price too, and a little goes a long way. Equally, if you still have some Xmas ham left, skip the hock bit and just make the pea soup and warm through the ham when ready to serve!! The true Fuss Free way!!

Pea and Ham Soup
Serves 4

To cook the hock. (Can be done a day or 2 in advance)

1 ham hock
2 onions
1-2 sticks celery
1 leek
2 bay leafs
1 tsp peppercorns
2-3 litres of cold water

1. Put all the ingredients in your largest pan or stockpot. Making sure the ham is mostly covered by water. Top this up as it cooks if needs be.

2. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Skim off any scum on the top of the pan as it arises and discard.

4. Cook the hock for up to 3 hours (depending on the size of hock) until the ham is easily pulled off the bone and or pulls apart when pinched. I prefer to leave mine longer (sometimes 3 1/2)

5. Strain and keep the stock. Take off the fatty layer of the hock, and then pull the meat off the bone and reserve. Discard the bone and the vegetables.

To make the pea soup.

Knob of butter
1 onion, diced
1 medium potato, approx 200g diced or grated (for speed!)
500g frozen peas or petit pois
1L of ham hock stock

BBC Good Food Pea and Ham Soup

1. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the onion. Cook on a medium heat until soft and translucent.

2. Add the potato, coat in the butter and then add your stock and simmer for 5 minutes until the potato soft.

3. Add the peas, bring back to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, then blend until smooth.

4. I add the meat to the top of the soup....about 50g per serving. It's your personal preference, my husband likes less and chopped/shredded fine. I am less fussy 😉

Wishing you all a very happy new year and the very best in 2017! Why not come join the Fuss Free Foodie FB group and let us know where you are and what fuss-free recipes you would like to see next year! Lisa. x

Br-ilton soup!

Broccoli and Stilton soup

Tuesday morning, T-5 and the Christmas countdown checklist has been verified, computed and coordinated with DH. Kids clubs are carefully sprinkled through the week to allow me to keep on track with the shopping, wrapping and cooking, and to be honest try and keep the stress levels down and the potential for pre-Christmas beer up!

With school holidays here, I am thinking about food even more than normal, mainly because I have two purple minions asking to devour something at any given opportunity....snack, snack, snack. It's a challenge even for me in the holidays with no break from school dinners, to find something for them to eat (I have one fusspot and one fuss free eater!); But feeding kids is another blog for another person....not fuss free at all, so not for me!

Christmas excess is a well-documented issue, and for me, I try (as always) at Xmas to reduce the amount of food being wasted and try and make great meals from leftovers. I don't know whether its the frustrated ready, steady, cook competitor inside of me, but I do love the challenge of making something from nothing. The reason I love soups so much is because they use up those slightly older bits and pieces and are reinvented into something beautiful.

Like any great super couple, I have given Broccoli and Stilton soup a new hybrid name...Br-ilton! With a new fuss free name, this soup which is certainly fuss free to make and delightful to eat. It uses any leftover Stilton from your cheese board (Fuss Free Foodie Christmas cheese board), and if you have it, leftover cooked broccoli from Xmas day or just use a fresh head of broccoli which you can buy everywhere. When I made this soup, my Stilton was SO old I should've thrown it away weeks ago...but trimmed off the edges and all was good! Hopefully, you will give this crowd-pleaser a try.

Come join the fuss free discussion and let me know what you think and what you would like to see!

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Br-ilton Soup (Broccoli and Stilton Soup)

Serves 4

1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
splash of olive oil
1 head of broccoli (hand sized!) separated into small florets ,
stem more finely chopped
1 leek, sliced or 5-7 spring onions, chopped
1 medium potato (250-300g), peeled and small dice
1L veg stock (I use Kallo organic)
120-150g Stilton, crumbled
Salt and Pepper
Optional, swirl of cream or olive oil

1. Put the butter and splash of oil in a pan (the oil will stop the butter burning) and sweat the onions for 3 minutes, let them have a head start then add the leeks or spring onions for 5 minutes until they are all translucent and soft.

2. (If using cooked broccoli skip this, and go to 3.) Add the chopped raw broccoli stalks and cook them for a few minutes. Season with a couple of twists of salt and pepper.

3. Add the broccoli florets, potatoes and stock. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until the broccoli is tender and the potatoes are soft. If they are not cooked, test every minute or two until soft. Keep the vibrant colour by not overcooking.

4. If using cooked broccoli, add to the pot once the potatoes are soft, warm it through for a minute or 2.

4. Use a stick blender to blitz the soup, then add the Stilton, stir and serve. Alternatively, put in a food blender and pour back into the pan, and add the Stilton and stir.

5. Serve into a bowl, with a swirl of cream or olive oil. Enjoy with a lovely sourdough, or artisan bread or whatever you can get your hands on over Xmas!