This afternoon it got very dark and rained. The sort of gloomy, determined, weekend rain that makes you want to light a fire, dust down that book you’ve been meaning to read and cosy up on the sofa.
But first we needed feeding. I’d pulled up an assortment of ‘end of line’ vegetables yesterday when clearing some the beds, so what could be nicer than a warming bowl of simple vegetable soup? To make it a more hearty meal, I added a tin of chickpeas and made some delicious 5-minute cumin oat cakes to go with it…
For a Simple Vegetable Soup you’ll need:
- Assorted raw root vegetables: I used yellow & orange carrots & white & pink beetroots. You could use swede, parsnip or turnip instead of beetroot (the standard dark purple beetroot would make a pink soup).
- A bunch of spring onions
- A generous handful of fresh basil or coriander
- Optional: A tin of (pre-cooked) chickpeas, lentils or butterbeans, if you want it to be more filling/go further
- 1 low-salt stock cube dissolved in 1 pint of water, or fresh vegetable stock
- I used an assortment of multi-coloured carrots and beetroots, which gave it a lovely jewel-box quality. Wash, finely slice, and remove any bitter green bits.
- Add to a pan and add just enough stock to cover the veg. If I haven’t any fresh I like to use these low-salt cubes as I usually find dried stock much to salty for my tastes. You can always add more salt, if you need to, later.
- Add a tin of chickpeas (with its liquor), stir in and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. You could use a tin of green lentils or butter beans if you haven’t any chickpeas.
- Chop up some spring onions and either coriander or basil. As soon as the veg is almost cooked through, but still a bit crunchy, stir in the onions and herbs, then take it off the heat and leave those to wilt into the hot soup while you cook the oat cakes.
While the soup is cooking you could be getting on with preparing the Oat Cake mix. Cumin goes so well with carrots, so this could have gone into the soup. Then I saw Nigella’s recipes for Oak Pancakes. Hers were sweet, of course, drizzled with fruit and honey, but I thought they’d be pretty nice adapted into a quick savoury ‘bread’. Cumin has lots of health benefits, apparently, including fending off colds, which you can read more about here. And did you know Cumin is a good source of Dietary Fibre, thiamine, Phosphorus, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Manganese? I didn’t. Read more on that here.
For the Cumin Oat Cakes you’ll need:
- 100 grams of oats (Call me an oat-snob, but I really like those big organic Irish oats. I find the small cheap ones dusty and bitter. Gregg Wallace wouldn’t approve, but hey-ho. Every girl needs a luxury… and mine’s oats!).
- 100 ml of milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
- 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin (or just leave that out if you don’t fancy it).
- Heat the cumin in a frying pan with a smidgen of hot oil for a minute, without burning them, then set aside to cool.
- Whizz up the oats, salt and baking powder with a few short bursts in a blender, until they’ve made a rough flour.
- Warm the pan up again and then beat the egg into the milk. Stir in the oats and cumin. The cakes need to be made straight away, as the oats quickly swell and the mixture will get too thick to pour.
- Wipe away any residue of the cumin oil with a paper towel so there’s just a film left. Using a ladle, pour a little oat mix into the hot pan. The mix will spread out slightly. you should be able to get 4 in a large frying pan. Once there are tiny bubbles appearing on the surface, turn the cakes carefully and cook the other side. They take 3-4 minutes each side.
- Keep them warm while you make the rest.
If you prefer a smooth soup, now is the time to give it a whizz with a hand blender (Mine looked too pretty on this occasion).
Ladle your soup into bowls, add a couple of grinds of pepper, and serve with the hot oat cakes. Butter is optional (but essential IMO)!