Posts tagged soup

Slow cooker tomato & pasta soup

Is it just me, or has Facebook become increasingly bossy? My feed is inundated with THINGS I MUST DO: 9 photos every mother should have on her phone. 22 things to do with your kids before they move out. 5 essentials for their daily lunchbox. 15 foods to stop eating IMMEDIATELY. 17 tips for a loving marriage. 8 ways to express gratitude to your children. 18 things to do with old socks. 101 tips for a fulfilling life…. etc etc etc etc

All of which leaves me exhausted, harangued and vaguely guilty (since I’ve only got 3 photos, 15 things done, 2 lunchbox essentials, 5 foods I won’t eat, 12 more things needed for my marriage to be a success, all my old socks go straight into the rubbish and I never finished reading about everything needed for fulfillment).

So this post isn’t bossy at all. It’s just one way, which happens to be a really easy way, to make tomato soup that is very kid friendly and easily jazzed up to be delicious for grown ups too. The slow cooker makes it insanely simple.

Make it if you want – or don’t. Totally up to you.

vegie smugglers slow cooker tomato and pasta soup

Only one idea here, but it is a nice easy one.

Slow cooker tomato & pasta soup

1 1/2 litres vegetable stock
800g can crushed tomatoes
1 large tomato (or two roma tomatoes), diced
1 red onion, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled, chopped into a few pieces
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup risoni soup pasta (stick to small pasta that cooks in under 8-9 minutes to avoid a starchy mess – the pasta in the picture is the biggest I’d try)

Place everything, except the pasta, into your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours (it’s actually ready after 6, but cooking it for longer to suit your day’s schedule won’t be a problem).

Use a stick blender to blitz your soup up to a smooth consistency. Toss in the pasta. Stir well and recover. Leave for 25-30 minutes until your pasta is cooked.

Serve with bread, grilled cheese on toast, or adults might like a scattering of parsley, basil, chopped fresh tomato, feta and olives.

Serves 2 adults and 3-4 kids

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The current slurping favourite

Like my men, I prefer a hearty & full flavoured soup with chewable chunky bits that will leave me sated for hours afterwards. (Apologies, I know that’s a tawdry joke, straight from the gutter – my brain is suffering winter shrinkage.)

Being an innocent and gorgeous little child, Miss F prefers a more refined soup, lump-free with a mild and gentle flavour.

Usually I make rough & ready soups like this chicken noodle, or this lamb & barley, but in a moment of sophistication I recently whipped up this roasted vegie soup for the family and it is now a firm favourite. Last time I made it, Miss F devoured THREE SERVES, which was an absolute first. It was helped along of course, by sourdough dippers.

Not often do I ask you to do a recipe in two stages (here you roast vegies before adding them to your pot), in fact I only ask you to do it, if it’s worth doing. And in this case, it is. Roasting the vegies brings out the natural sweetness and adds a definite yumminess.

Silky smooth carrot, parsnip & cauliflower soup.

Silky smooth carrot, parsnip & cauliflower soup.


Roasted carrot (and other stuff) soup

5 large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise
1 large parsnip, peeled, sliced into lengths the same thickness as the carrot
Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp curry powder
8 cups stock (I like the salt-reduced chicken stock, but obviously vegie stock will keep this dish vegetarian)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/4 cup red lentils, rinsed, drained
Salt & pepper
Cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with kitchen paper. Spread the carrots and parsnips over in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over low/medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and when hot, toss in the onion. Cook, stirring often for 6-8 minutes until softening and turning golden. Throw in the garlic and spices. Stir for a minute so that the fragrance of the spice releases. Pour over the stock, cover the pot and bring to the boil.

When boiling, add the cauliflower and lentils. Recover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, adding the roasted vegies whenever they’re ready (they need to simmer in with everything for at least 10-15 minutes, so just extend the simmering time if need be).

Use a stick blender to blitz the soup into a lovely smooth texture. Season to taste.

Serve with crusty bread and an optional slurp of cream. (Adults might also like a scattering of coriander.)

Serves 2 adults and 3-4 kids.

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A new slow cooker favourite

Have you ever played that game with your kids where you say a word and then they say the next word that pops into their little minds? It’s good for a laugh on a long car trip. Astonishing how often a word can be followed on by the word ‘fart’ (unless you have lovely daughters, whose vocabularies are possibly a little larger).

It makes you realise how many words really do belong together. I’ll play it with myself to demonstrate.

“Bert?” “Ernie”.
“Posh?” “Becks”.
“War?” “Peace”.
“Kylie?” “Botox”, “Jason”.

Likewise, there’s a long list of flavours that just belong together.

“Bacon?” “Eggs”.
“Macaroni?” “Cheese”.
“Fish?” “Chips”.

During the winter you could come over and I could offer you a warming bowl of lamb soup, but really it sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it? Lamb & barley soup however is a classic food combination that gets people seriously excited and for good reason. It’s fan-tas-ma-gorically good, especially when combined with a heap of vegies and chucked into the slow cooker for 8 hours. This recipe is one of those golden moments of family food since it’s easy to make (no browning anything, just chuck it all in), envelops your house in a day-long saliva-inducing fragrance and results in a dinner that requires diddly-squat effort throughout the afternoon.

Even better, this pulps up beautifully into baby food and toddlers can have this as more of a stew with some of the liquid drained off.

Really it’s one of those blissful kitchen moments. Enjoy.

lamb and barley slow cooker soup

I promise your family will devour this with glee!


Slow cooker lamb & barley soup


I would urge you to make this according to the recipe without leaving anything out. All the ingredients meld to make a truly fantastic winter dish.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 fennel, finely chopped (please don’t leave this out – it is the KEY ingredient – if you truly think you hate it, then just use half)
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 cup peeled, diced sweet potato
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed (I give them a good thump with the side of my knife)
1 litre salt-reduced beef stock
400g can crushed tomatoes
1 fresh rosemary spring
1 fresh bay leaf (invest in a bay tree in a pot – hugely handy & the leaves are MUCH tastier than dried)
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed, drained
2 lamb shanks

Put all the vegies into the cooker bowl. Toss to mix them thoroughly. Pour over the stock & tomatoes. Add in the herbs and barley. Push in the shanks.

Cover and set to low for 8 hours.

Just before serving, remove the shanks to a bowl, use forks to shred the meat. Discard the bones and mix the meat back through the soup. Discard the bay leaf.

Serve with a smattering of parsley & crusty bread.

Serves 2 adults & 3 kids

If you love your slow cooker, don’t miss my new cookbook that has a bunch of recipes with 3 sets of instructions – perfect for your slow cooker, pressure cooker or regular stove-top.

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Ummm, but isn’t that a bit obvious?

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Stuck in a doctor’s waiting room this morning I was assaulted with the thrilling spectacle that is morning television. Luckily for me I arrived just as they presented a segment on ‘eat your way to looking younger’. Perfect timing since last week my daughter said, “Mummy, I’m just going to call you a lady, because you’re not a young lady but you’re not quite an old lady either.” Ahhhh. Another moment of kid truth that DOESN’T FEEL AT ALL OUCHY.

Anyways, I tuned in to the TV, all ears and was shocked to discover that…. I need to eat more fruit and vegetables. No shit. I mean, really? Does anyone think as they scoff a lolly or cinnamon doughnut that they are doing themselves a favour?

Regardless of the ailment, I seem to hear this same message repeated by health professionals over and over again. Eat less processed foods. Eat more fruit and vegetables.

Don’t we KNOW this by now? Am I overestimating the food education of our society? I think this is basic, boring drivel. Which is why I never bother to give that part of the message here – it’s a given, isn’t it? I’m more interested in giving inspiration for what to do with all that gorgeous fresh produce so that your kids will love it, too.

And my kids do love this vegie stew/soup. Clean bowls every time (when assisted with some fresh baguette slices). Originally I posted this as a pressure cooker recipe, but I’m happy to report that I made it in the slow cooker last night and can confirm that it needs 4 hours on high (which should translate to 8 hours on low). And chop your sweet potato and cauliflower into little pieces so that they can break down and be gorgeous.

See the original recipe here

Soup + winter = cosy.

There’s still enough winter left to enjoy this.

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What the kids eat in… Japan

We love a bit of Japanese food here at VSHQ, whether it’s the okonomiyaki or the sushi slice or a variation on a noodle soup.

For this basic broth recipe, I’ve chosen to include udon noodles since they’re so damn FUN, but soba is also delicious. And just because I recommend tofu or salmon, don’t think for a second that you need listen to me – it would also be great with super thin slices of rump or shredded BBQ chicken. We’ve made it with the pork wontons and they went so well with these flavours that I’m expecting an invitation to the wedding any day now.

And that’s it for this week – I’m keeping it short & sweet, I’ve got a lot on my mind – one of which is the new VS cookbook which is well underway. For the last book I coerced a group of you to work as recipe testers, which worked so well and gave me some really great feedback which helped make the recipes in VS2 super reliable and easy to follow. I’m keen to repeat the process for book 3, so I’m looking for 8 people who like to cook and have time to help me out over the new few weeks. You’ll get about 6 recipes to make. You have to follow the recipes and note down feedback about each. There’s no payment for it, more a sense of glory when you receive your free copy of the new book which includes your name on the credits page. If you’re interested, email me at vegiesmugglers@gmail.com *****UPDATE! THANKS ALL, ALL PLACES NOW FULL – HUGE THANKS FOR THE LARGE RESPONSE!***

Use the basic broth and add whatever suits your family.

Use the basic broth and add whatever suits your family.



Japanese udon soup

BROTH
4 cups water
4 tbsp miso paste (use any, but at the moment I’m using a tub of organic brown rice miso- read all about the different types here)
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed (leave them large enough so that you can fish them out later)
4 medium-sized mushrooms, sliced (again, if your family won’t eat them, leave the pieces large enough to flavour the soup but fish them out before serving).
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 star anise (optional, but recommended)

Serve with…
Udon noodles (prepare according to packet directions)
Add a protein… choose from either tofu or slices of salmon fillet
And add your choice of vegies… green beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas, carrots, spring onions, brocollini.
Optional extras…. top it off with dried wakame and/or sesame seeds.

Combine all the soup ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes. If you have time, turn off the heat and leave it all to sit for an hour or so to infuse.

When you’re ready to eat, bring the soup back to boiling, remove the garlic and star anise chunks (and mushrooms if your kids won’t tolerate it).

Add in the thicker vegies and the tofu/salmon for a couple of minutes, before adding in the quick cook items like snow peas.

Serve over the noodles and top with wakame and sesame seeds. Eat it with chopsticks and a big, slurpy Asian spoon.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 2 KIDS

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Chunky vegetable & bean soup

So how am I going with the pressure cooker that Kambrook sent me? Well, it took a bit of courage to tackle but after some experimentation, I’m happy to report that I’m digging it.

The poor old slow cooker is gathering dust while I romance with its whizzy, fast cousin. They’re perfect for the same kind of dishes, but something that would cook for 8 hours in the slow cooker, is done in 20 minutes. Seriously. So while you do still have to do all the prep work (chopping, browning, sautéing etc), you’re not doing it at 8am when the smell of browning meat can be a little nauseating.

I rate it.

Here’s my first win – a vegetable and bean soup that borders on a stew. Always a sucker for a really chunky soup, I’ve kept the liquid minimal, but if you want it wetter, add an extra cup of stock.

Also, if you want to make this in the slow cooker, go ahead. I’ve not tested it myself, but think it would work using HIGH for 3-4 hours. (**If anyone wants to play recipe tester and let me know accurate timings, I’ll send you a free e-book of your choice.)

Soup + winter = cosy.

Soup + winter = cosy.



Chunky vegetable & bean soup (in the pressure cooker)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups sweet potato, peeled, cubed
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 zucchini, diced
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can four-bean mix, rinsed, drained
1/4 cup fresh herbs (any or all of – parsley, chives, basil, thyme)
2 cups beef stock
1 cup frozen peas

Baguette & grated cheese (optional)

Set the pressure cooker to ‘sauté’. Add the oil and heat before dropping in the onion, carrot and celery. Stir regularly for several minutes until all are starting to soften and onion is starting to turn golden.

Pop in the garlic and cook for a minute until everything is fragrant. Stir in the rest of the ingredients (except the peas). Combine well. Lock on the lid, bring to pressure and cook for 20 minutes.

Carefully release pressure, remove lid and toss in the peas.

As an optional extra, top with slices of baguette with the cheese melted on top.

Optional: Make dippers with baguette slices topped with melted cheese.

Serves 2 adults and 4 kids.

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Easter hamping and a remedy for all that chocolate

The tent. Smaller than we remembered.

The tent. Smaller than we remembered.

Did you go camping over Easter? You’d be un-Australian not to. Perhaps right now you’re wrangling a damp tent back into a bag that seems impossibly small and cursing the mess that has somehow magically manifested in four short days. Hopefully some drizzle is ensuring you’ll have all your stuff airing in the garage for the next month or so until you can be bothered to finally pack it away.

Due to work commitments we cheated and did a bit of hamping – home camping. Considering we hadn’t had the tent out since before Miss F was born, we figured it was probably safer – see which bits of our outdoors kit are still useable and which need upgrading. The kids didn’t care about the cheap-arse location; they loved every minute of it.

Turns out that a four-man tent only fits a newly-in-love couple or two small children, so Mr VS & I retreated to our own bed. The kids happily slept two nights out in the yard, alone. Post-firepit marshmallow cooking sessions, they were possibly both in sugar-comas. Luckily the Easter bunny still found them out there in the wild.

It was interesting that the pack up was relatively simple and it took us only one try to get the tent folded into the right size for the cover. My memory of previous expeditions is that it was always a fairly fraught, tense experience as we bickered over how to do it. I suppose nine years of marriage, parenting and umpteen pieces of flat-pack furniture construction have made Mr VS and me into a pretty slick team.

After copious amounts of chocolate, we were all ready for something healthy last night. So I whipped us this really yummy tomato and lentil soup. Nice and hearty, it’s great with buttered sourdough. I won’t mind if you decide to crumble over a bit of crispy bacon or mix through some leftover sliced sausages.

A few lentils to push that chocolate through!

A few lentils to push that chocolate through!

Brown lentil & tomato soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp curry powder
3/4 cup dried brown lentils (rinsed, drained & picked over)
800g can crushed tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled, finely diced
2 potatoes, peeled, finely cubed (or 1 potato and 1 parsnip is also delicious)
4 cups vegetable stock (stock cubes are fine)
Parsley & thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp total)
Pepper
1 cup frozen peas

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the oil and when hot, saute the onion, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften. Add in the garlic and curry powder and stir for another minute until everything smells fantastic.

Tip in the lentils and mix well then add the tomatoes, carrots and potatoes. Combine really well, tip over the stock, add in the herbs and season with pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes more until the lentils are cooked through (they’ll retain their shape but will be nice and yielding to chew on – no hard bits).

Pour in the peas, and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving with bread.

Serves 2 adults and 2 kids. (Add in a few chopped bits of sausage and you’ll be able to pad it out to 3 kids)

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