My cookbook has gone to print! It was so scary hitting the ‘send’ button. In fact, it took me a good few hours to pluck up the courage to hit it. I was paranoid that I was going to send an old version my mistake so I kept checking and re-checking the file names. I was turning into a slightly scary, crazy woman but I finally took a deep breath and just hit the button. And while I’m waiting for it to roll off the printers in London, I’ve been having fun in the kitchen, trying out new ingredients and recipes.
One new dish that has been hugely popular in my house lately is this Cosy Mushroom Minestrone ❤️ With the weather cooling off and the evening’s start to draw in, these are the kinds of dishes that I start to crave. Warm, filling and super savoury. This is my idea of the perfect comfort food.
The inspiration for today’s recipe came from the October issue of Vegan Life and the recipe on page p36 for a Cosy Quinoa Lentil Minestrone.
The original recipe uses green lentils but I spotted a quick-cook minestrone mix on the LOVE Life aisle of Waitrose that I thought would be perfect in this soup. It contains a mix of pasta, spelt, barley, red lentils, split green peas and split yellow peas.
Look at all those lovely textures and colours going on.
To further boost the nutritional content of the soup, like the original recipe I added in some quinoa. I used this Organic Royal Quinoa Grain which the kind folks at Sevenhills Wholefoods sent me to trial. (It’s lovely by the way).
For the green plant goodness, I decided to use some of these cute shaped leaves. Any idea what they are?
It’s something that I’d never come across before… baby kale! The leaves are much tender than grown up kale but it still has that distinct kale flavour. I’m not a big fan of the raw kale taste, so stirring it into this soup was the perfect way to use it.
And the stars of the soup were these gorgeous chestnut mushrooms…
I don’t know if chestnut mushrooms are available all over the world, but I’m sure you’ll find something similar in your stores. I’ve seen pictures of crimini mushrooms on US blogs and they look very similar to chestnut mushrooms.
The soup was incredibly easy to make and so delicious! I add in both dried sage and thyme, which are two herbs that I strongly associate with Autumn. A sprinkle of cayenne pepper also gives it a nice, warming kick. The flavours are then rounded off by the addition of a swirl of coconut cream (or creamed coconut) which adds a touch of creaminess and sweetness to the dish.
I’ve already made this dish twice in the past couple of weeks and I know I’ll be making it plenty times more during the cold weather season. It was a big hit with the family. Lil’ L is a huge mushroom fan so this was a great dish for him. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Adapted from Cosy Quinoa Lentil Minestrone from Easy Vegan Breakfast & Lunches by Mayer Sozer, published in Vegan Life Issue 19
Hands-on time: 15 minutes Ready in: 25 minutes
½ TBSP olive oil
1 large brown onion (200g)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
65g / ⅓ cup quinoa, rinsed
165g / 1 cup quick-cook minestrone mix (I used the Waitrose LOVE Life mix) or substitute with dried green lentils, rinsed
1 litre / 4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
¼ – ½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
60ml / ¼ cup coconut cream (or use creamed coconut, finely chopped)
2 handfuls baby kale or baby spinach
1 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
340g / 4 heaping cups chestnut (or crimini) mushrooms, sliced
1 TBSP tamari or reduced-salt soy sauce
- Gently heat ½ TBSP oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions for 4 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under running water, agitating the grains with your hand until the water runs clear.
- Add the quinoa to the saucepan along with the minestrone mix (or green lentils), vegetable stock, thyme, sage, cayenne pepper and bay leaves. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add a splash more water or stock, if needed, to reach the desired consistency. Stir in the coconut cream and baby kale/spinach and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast (if using). Remove the bay leaves.
- While the minestrone is simmering, prepare the mushrooms. Add them to a large frying pan (skillet) with 1 TBSP soy sauce and stir fry on medium heat until they turn golden brown.
- When the minestrone is ready, stir in most of the mushrooms (and their liquid). Leave a few mushrooms to use as a garnish.
- Ladle the minestrone into warm bowls. Add the mushroom garnish and serve.
- Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.