Quick And Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe

Brought up on my mothers home cooked traditional meals, I am no stranger to soup… honestly, I can ramble a good 20 odd straight off the top of my head at any given time. However, it seems to me there are a lot of people around me these days who don’t know how to make soup, or hold of a lot of misconceptions about soup. Despite what people may think soup doesn’t have to be labourious or take hours to make, instead, soups can be one of the simplest, easiest, heartiest things you can make.

Vegetable Soup

Bonuses

  • Great for bulk cooking
  • Freezes well
  • One-pot cooking
  • Versatile
  • Healthy
  • Quick and easy *ready in approx 15 minutes

Ingredients (per serve)

  • 200 grams of cauliflower (approx. 1/3 of a large cauliflower or packed 2 cups)
  • 50 grams (about ½ a medium) carrot
  • 50 grams of frozen peas
  • 50 grams red capsicum/bell pepper
  • ½ medium tomato
  • ¼ medium onion
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock – or water with a stock cube added
  • Drizzle of oil – for cooking
  • Other recommended ingredients that can be included include – green beans and/or corn; replacing a portion of stock with canned/pureed tomato for a richer soup; and/or adding shredded chicken, beans or red lentils (which will require additional liquid) for a protein boost.

Herbs and Spices *Please adapt the spices to your taste preferences. You can simply double the quantity of spices/herbs if you like them.

  • ¼ teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder – you can use fresh garlic if you prefer
  • ½ teaspoon of Italian herbs – I used oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram
    *You can also use herbs like dill, rosemary or fennel to suit your taste preferences
  • ¼ pepper
  • Pinch of salt – if your stock is salty you might not need this
  • Other recommended spices/herbs that can be included include – cumin, turmeric, chili and/or cayenne or bay leaf, dill, rosemary and/or fennel.

Equipment

  • 1 small pot with a lid – if you’re only making a single serve. If you don’t have a lid, you may need to use more stock/water
  • Kitchen knife
  • Chopping board
  • Blender – I used a handheld blender
  • Spoon
  • Knife or fork

Nutrition

  • 200g or cauliflower is approx 50 calories
    A great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.
  • 50g of carrot is approximately 20 calories
    A great source of vitamin A
  • 50 grams of peas approx 30 calories
    A good source of vitamin C, B1, K, Manganese and fibre.
  • 50 grams red capsicum/bell pepper approx 30 calories
    A great source of vitamin C as well as B6 and A
  • ½ medium tomato approx 10 calories
    A good source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, and vitamin K
  • ¼ medium onion approx 10 calories
    A good source in vitamin C, was well as dietary fiber, and folic acid
  • The nutritional content and health benefits of the remaining ingredients including stock, herbs and spices will depend on the type you use.
    However, according to my research, 500mls of the average supermarket stock will set you back approx 40 calories.

Process

  1. Chop cauliflower, capsicum, onion and carrot roughly. The size of your cutting will determine the cooking time, the smaller the quicker it will cook so I recommend small florets for the cauliflower, 1.5cm cubes for the carrot and ½ cm strips for the capsicum and onion.
    Note: To speed up the process, I cut my onions, and whilst sautéing them I cut the rest of my vegetables.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, herbs and spices and sauté until onions are transparent, approx 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add stock. When the liquid boils, add the carrot and cauliflower. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the capsicum and tomato. Cook until the carrot and cauliflower is tender. This should take approx another 3-5 minutes depending on how small you cut your vegetables.
    Note: To test of vegetables are tender, simply taste a vegetable or place a sharp knife on a vegetable, and applying very minimal pressure, the knife should enter the vegetable with little give. If the knife meets resistance in the middle of the vegetable, more so than the outer portion of the vegetable it is not quite ready.
  4. Once tender. Turn off heat, and add peas.
  5. Vegetable SoupBlend soup to desired consistency. I use a handheld blender and simply give it a quick 5-10 second buzz.
    Note: Be careful of any splash back if you are blending the soup whilst it is still hot.
  6. Serve immediate, or let cool and pack away in the fridge for tomorrows lunch, or freeze for an evening you can’t be bothered cooking.
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Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Cauliflower rice has become the core to of many of the dishes I have recently been making. My new found obsession with Instagram really opened my eyes to just how much of a staple this simple idea has become. And I’m not surprised, because if I can get my traditional Polish family enjoying it to the point it gets requested I’m sure you and your family or friends will enjoy it too.

10306478_10152522355171871_2023850728592781835_nWhy It’s Great

  • Great for bulk cooking
  • Freezes well
  • Can be made the day before
  • Versatile
  • Healthy – It’s a vegetable!

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower (or however much you want to make)

Nutrition

  • 600g or 1 medium head = approx 150 calories
  • 4 serves of 150g = approx 37.5 calories per serve
  • A great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.
  • Also contains choline, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin (B7).
  • When compared with cooked white rice, 600g will set you back 780 calories, or 130 calories per 150g serving.
  • Nutritionally is doesn’t even come close. Whilst white rice is a good source of folate, thiamine (B1), niacin (B3) as well as containing some magnesium, manganese, and iron, its 90% carbohydrate content really fails to provide fiber.

Process

1) Cut your cauliflower into several pieces. This will help you get it into your food processor and process more evenly.

Blending Cauliflower Rice

2) Process fresh cauliflower until it is the size of rice. If your food processor has a pulse setting I recommend you use this. Otherwise, blend for 2 seconds, pause, check the texture and keep doing this until it’s the right texture.
Note: If you don’t have a food processor you can use a hand grater or cut the cauliflower using the knife, however this can get quite messy.

3) You can serve it raw, however I don’t enjoy the taste of raw cauliflower, and I find it doesn’t quite act like rice as well as it does when cooked. You can cook your cauliflower rice in a couple ways. My personal preference (for textural, bulk cooking and nutritional reasons) is to steam it over the stove, using a pot with a lid, water and a colander.

Cauliflower Rice BowlNote: If you don’t want to steam your cauliflower rice over the stove you can microwave it in a bowl with a cover. The moisture from the cauliflower will steam in the bowl and cook the cauliflower accordingly.

Note: With both options I do recommend stirring the cauliflower rice half way through the cooking process to ensure even cooking. I find it usually takes about 5 minutes to steam, however it may take longer depending on your equipment etc. It’s definitely worth giving it a try at 2.5 minutes when you stir it, and then again at 5 minutes and leaving it to cook further if required.

Cauliflower Stirfry

4) If you are looking to cook a dish such as a stirfry with cauliflower rice it is worth letting it sit and dry a little before using it… As you would with regular rice. Day old is best, but even 5-10 minutes to cool will do if you’re in a rush. This simply ensures the integrity of the texture is kept in tact.

5) Freeze it. Store it in the fridge. Serve it straight up. But most importantly, no matter how you choose to serve it, enjoy!

The Naked Fig, Swanbourne

Every time I talk food with my friends there seems to be this major divide between those with somewhat more alternative diets such as vegetarians, vegans, gluten free fans and paleo lovers versus those with more traditional tastes such as carnivores and meat-carb only devouties. But no matter your eating style the one thing we all share in common is that we all deserve and enjoy being spoiled when we go out. So why can’t we all just get along? And why can’t restaurants appeal to all of us equally? Well I’ve found a place everyone can get equally spoiled no matter what their foodie preference.

This year I’ve been to the Naked Fig on three separate occasions – a degustation, a cooking class and a blogger dinner – and I can honestly say I’ve felt beyond spoiled on every occasion… and so have the people I’ve brought along to these events.

potato gnocchi, roast beets, swiss chard, candied walnuts

potato gnocchi, roast beets, swiss chard, candied walnuts

Located on the stunning Swanbourne beach, The Naked Fig makes the most of it’s surroundings. A large outdoor dining area and open indoor dining area looking out of the wall of glass windows/doors means you are always in for a spectacular view no matter where you choose to sit. Gorgeous sparkling sunlit water and glowing beaches give way to romantic sunsets and a lovely interior design that truly comes alive in the evening. And the staff continue to bring out the best of The Naked Figs wonderful atmosphere with their consistently polite, friendly and attentive service.

baked leek nicoise, black olives, rosemary, poached egg, confit tomatoes

baked leek nicoise, black olives, rosemary, poached egg, confit tomatoes

The Naked Figs menu is seasonal, and provides plenty of vegetarian items and vegan options. You won’t need to beg, plead, miss out or be judged here, because the dishes you’ll be choosing from are guaranteed to make even the most devout carnivore question their meaty loyalty. But don’t worry meat eaters, I guarantee you have not been overlooked. From tender lamb to melt in the mouth beef, pork and juicy poultry and seafood, there is going to be something on the menu that makes your heart skip a beat or two, and makes any of your veggie guests question their moral compass. It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or a carnivore, a health freak or the indulgent type, there is going to be something spectacular for you… so much so you’re likely to find yourself wondering whether the dish was somehow created just for you and your taste-buds.

lamb cutlets, cumin pumpkin, roast chickpeas

lamb cutlets, cumin pumpkin, roast chickpeas

And for all those veggie, vegan and gluten free lovers out there surrounded by die-hard steak fans, or all of you carnivores who have found themselves partnered with a vegetarian, vegan or gluten free eater, I’ve found a great way to satisfy and impress both parties. On Tuesdays the Naked Fig does “Vego Tuesday”, where half the menu is devoted to vegetarians, vegans and gluten free-ers, whilst the other half is dedicated to carnivores, so much so it actually says ‘herbivores’ and ‘carnivores’ on the menu.

cheese board

cheese board

The dessert portion of the menu never fails to deliver either with a selection of sweet treats and savoury cheeses to satisfy anyone, and give you the perfect excuse to stay a while longer. And don’t worry beverage buffs, you’re covered too, with the drinks menu offering everything from perfectly matching wines to beers, cocktails and creamy (grass fed) butter coffee which really packs a rich punch. On a side note, after giving the butter coffee a try, I can really see it becoming a bit of a next big thing around town, so keep an eye out for it.

creamy (grass fed) butter coffee

creamy (grass fed) butter coffee

Simply put, as far as restaurants go in Perth the Naked Fig is definitely in my select top handful. Whether you’re trying to treat your partner, spoil your mum, or give your bride a wedding to remember, I recommend giving the Naked Fig a try. Just be aware the chances are you’ll end up being devotedly hooked like me and smiling widely every time the place is mentioned… but there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Naked Fig Cafe on Urbanspoon

Time For A Healthier Grizzly Bear

Eva and AppleRecently many of you will have noticed some changes in the types of foods I’ve been blogging about, and those of you who follow my Facebook page, profile or Instagram account will have noticed a significant shift in the types of food I have been enjoying… particularly towards vegan, vegetarian and paleo foods. And though I am none of these things, I have in-fact recently started to rediscover my passion for the healthier things in life. And whilst my passion of food and cooking remains, the types of things I am looking to share with you are now inspired by my goal to find a healthy balance in my life… something that seems to elude so many of us.

As many of you know, I was born into a love filled Polish family where I was brought up on my mother’s freshly made traditional Polish food. To this day I can remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen watching my mum cook schnitzels and pumpkin soups. This kick started my love of food and cooking, which then led me to spend my childhood dreaming of becoming a chef and opening up my own cafe or restaurant. Though my passion for food developed early on, I was actually known to be one of the fussiest eaters around until I hit my twenties.

Porridge With Kiwi Fruit, Banana, Strawberries, Blueberries, Cinnamon, Chiaseeds and Ground FlaxseedsIn my early twenties I spend just over a year living in a vegan/vegetarian orientated household. This was initially a shock to my system, as I was coming from a home were meat, carbohydrates and butter were at the core of most meals. After a short period of time my body adjusted, and I found myself thriving on a whole new world of flavours and healthy dishes. I was exercising regularly and smiling every day. What I didn’t foresee happening was just how badly my body would react to all foods I use to enjoy so much when I moved back to my family home. But once again my body adjusted, my food habits shifted and I never did quite get back to that lively place I once stood.

Spicy Chicken, Green Bean, Carrot, Capsicum, Onion And Cauliflower Rice StirfryNow in my mid-twenties, I find myself looking back over the years and discovering that I’ve never truly had a healthy relationship with food. Over the years my relationship with food has seen me go through many things from thriving and smiling to being sick and depressed, from having great times and meet new people to exploring new passions and learning a lot. And alongside all that I’ve been critisised through it all. I’ve been told throughout the years that I’m too thin to be healthy, too heavy to model, too obsessed with health and fitness, and not caring enough in regards to finding myself malnourished. Every opinion under the sun, no matter how polarising, believe me when I say that I’ve been on the brutal and soul destroying receiving end of it.

I Love South Trigg BeachTaking those experiences and discussing them with the people currently in my life I’ve come to the realisation that unhealthy relationships with food, health and fitness are a very common trend. Over eating, under eating, undernourishment, unhealthy food choices, restricted eating, losing too much weight, gaining too much weight, poor body image, self loathing, eating disorders and so much more. If you can name it, I can probably find someone in my life that has or still struggles with it to this day… and I find that to be a sad and scary thing.

Tasty SaladSo as a result of my new found awareness I’ve decided to make some changes in my personal life, in an attempt to find a healthy balance in my life for the very first time. I’ve been training a lot more, making better food choices, and most importantly, I’ve learning about so many new and exciting things along the way. I hope you’ll stay with me on my journey as share with you some of the new foods, tasty restaurants and general health and fitness things I discover as I develop a truly healthy perspective on my life here in Perth.

All my love and wellness wishes. xx

PS. I recently managed to get my mum and dads taste buds enjoying my cauliflower rice, and that says a lot. Keep an eye out for my upcoming paleo stirfry recipe, because I think I might just be onto something here.