30 August 2014

NCR Soups and Salads for August

It's time to share all the tasty soups and salads bloggers have created for this month's No Croutons Required.

It's been a funny month weather wise here in Scotland. The beginning of August was salad weather, but now we are coming to the end of the month and it's definitely soup weather.

I've even had to pop the heating on a couple of times, which is shocking so early in the year. Mind you we can't complain, we've had a gorgeous summer this year.

So now on to the soups and salads. All veggie and some of them vegan.

Let the tasting begin!

No Croutons Required 
August 2014

Lentil and Chard Soup
Puy Lentil and Chard Soup

Chef: Sarah
Location: Scotland

When hurricane Bertha hit Scotland, we were lucky enough to just be hit by rain, but boy was there a lot of it and it was rather torrential. 

Sarah stayed cosied up indoors with Jacob, but her chard loved all the rain and really came on, hence this thick stew-like soup. It looks wonderfully satisfying, doesn't it?

Curried Lentil Vegetable Soup with Roasted Lentils

Chef: Lisa
Location: Canada

It's been cooler in Canada too so Lisa also went for soup. She topped this vibrant spiced vegetable soup with spicy roasted chickpeas. She often eats roasted chickpeas as a snack, but had a bit of a eureka moment and added them to this soup. I am putting this on my to-do list, it looks amazing!

Cheesey Broccoli and Spinach Soup

Chef: Jacqueline

I made this brilliantly green soup of broccoli and spinach topped with grated cheddar. It's fresh and very tasty. I topped it with grated cheddar, but that's optional. Graham skipped the cheese to keep his bowlful vegan.

Fresh Mint Broad Bean Potato Salad

Chef: Shaheen
Location: Wales

Shaheen made one of my favourite salads, a potato salad. Potatoes are so hard to resist, aren't they?

Shaheen was proud to say all the ingredients bar the dressing came from her garden and I bet it tasted better for it. Nice entry Shaheen.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Chef: Helen
Location: England

Helen enjoyed this salad in Israel where restaurants will often bring you a range of pre-dinner nibbles, like this salad. Of course it's always better homemade. 
It's a simple salad, but the spicy dressing really make it something special. It looks really delicious. I'm bookmarking this one.

Creamy Curried Lentil Salad

Chef: Janet
Location: Canada

I realised while I was reading Janet's post that I've only ever made one lentil salad. I'm a big fan of lentils, I love them in dal, soups and stews, so I'm not sure why they aren't featuring in my salads.

Janet dressed her lentil salad in a tahini-maple-curry dressing. Mmmmm! Sounds great.

Creamy Vegan Potato Salad

Chef: Becky
Blog: VegHotPot
Location: UK

I am seriously contemplating going into the kitchen and making this right now. I have all the ingredients and it sounds amazing. The creamy dressing comes from soft avocado whizzed up with oil, vinegar and seasoning. There's also mustard, red onion and my favourite herb for a potato salad, which is dill. Hmmmmmm! I'll be back in a wee while. I have something to do in the kitchen!

Salade de Concombre

Chef: Hélène
Location: England

Hélène loves making salads as starters and sides during the Summer and when she was recently made this cucumber salad it took her right back to her childhood.

Hélène says the trick is to salt the cucumber so that a lot of the moisture is removed but you still have the crunch. It is coated in a creamy crème fraîche and herb dressing, but she also gives a simpler alternative.

We eat a lot of cucumber in our house as Cooper and Graham both love it, but neither would like it dressed. Great I say, more for me!

French Bean, Tomato and Cumin Salad

Chef: Linzi
Location: England

Linzi made this salad with beans and tomatoes grown in her own garden, so it is super fresh and tasty as well as seasonal. She likes to serve it alongside a main course. Sounds good to me.

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Chef: Rachel
Location: England

Rachel made this recipe for Secret Recipe Club. To join in she was paired up with Deborah from Delicious Happens. Her challenge was to chose a recipe to try from Deborah's blog and Rachel went for this twist on a caprese salad with candied walnuts. Good choice Rachel.
Deborah of Delicious Happens.
Deborah of Delicious Happens.
Deborah of Delicious Happens
Deborah of Delicious Happens
Deborah of Delicious Happens

Deborah of Delicious Happens.

Mexican Corn Salad

Chef: Jennifer
Location: USA

Jennifer was tempted to make this salad after seeing it on Closet Cooking. Her hubby like my own loves corn so this salad is a winner. In the winter she uses frozen corn, but at the moment she is lucky enough to have a supply of fresh corn from her inlaws.

Avocado & Strawberry Salad with a Balsamic Reduction

Chef: Elizabeth
Location: Scotland

Doesn't that look amazing? Elizabeth took the time to reduce some balsamic vinegar into a thick glaze perfect for drizzling over salads and she just had to share with us how good the combination of strawberries and avocado is. I can well believe it looking at this.

Red and White Quinoa Salad with Spicy Dijon Vinaigrette

Chef: Gayathri
Location: USA

Gayathri tries to mostly eat soups and salads for dinner to keep her weight down, which is a great tip and one I could do with following myself. Although she does remind us that quinoa does have as many calories as brown rice, so portion control is important (I think I fall down there). Red and white quinoa, mixed with salad ingredients and cranberries and tossed with a simple vinaigrette. Yum!

So that's all the entries. A fabulous array of dishes I think you'll agree. Please take the time to visit some of these blogs and say hi.

The next edition of No Croutons Required will be hosted by my good friend Lisa over at Lisa's Kitchen. Pop over at the beginning of September and add your dishes to the linky. Remember only one per blog.

27 August 2014

Cheesey Broccoli and Spinach Soup

Cheesey Spinach and Broccoli Soup 

I hear we'll have warmer weather next week, but at the moment it's soup weather and today I bring you Cheesey Broccoli and Spinach Soup. 

I used to make this purely with broccoli, but I've started to add spinach to it lately. We eat a lot of spinach. Popeye has nothing on us. I add it to smoothies, soups, dal, pasta and stews. I'm sure I add it to more than that but those are the ways we eat it regularly.  It features in a lot of smoothies too. Today I had a smoothie of raspberries, banana, spinach and mango juice. It was glorious.


I have to consider Graham whenever I cook a meal, so instead of melting the cheese into the soup as it cooks, I add it to bowls at the end. The heat of the soup starts to melt the cheese, but you still have some bits of cheese whole which gives a great texture and combination of flavours. Graham has a vegan soup to slurp and Cooper and I can enjoy our melty cheesey topping. Of course I blended my soup smooth in my Optimum 9400 or my sous chef as I think I should start to call him.

print recipe

Cheesey Broccoli and Spinach Soup
A smooth vegan soup topped with cheese for the veggies. Excellent both ways. Frugal, delicious and healthy. Happy days.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 100g fresh spinach
  • 1½ pints/3 cups vegetable stock
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the garlic and onion and saute for a few minutes until the onion is soft.2. Add the broccoli and spinach and cook gently for a few minutes.3. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is just tender.4. Pour the soup into a blender (in batches) and puree until smooth.5 Season and serve. Top with grated cheddar (optional) 6. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4

Here are a few more veggie and vegan soups for you to enjoy:

vegetarian soups

Clockwise from top left:

24 August 2014

Stegosaurus Smoothie - My Ultimate Green Smoothie

The Ultimate Green Smoothie 

This is my favourite green smoothie. I've made it a lot over the last few weeks and thought I should share it with you.  It's a beginners green smoothie. It's very easy to drink and has a fresh sweet flavour. I've passed it round at work to all those unbelievers. Each of them stared at it suspiciously, but after a bit of persuasion they tried it and pronounced it delicious.

easy green smoothie

A fresh and sweet green smoothie

As you can see I used banana to sweeten the smoothie. I also named it Stegosaurus Smoothie to interest Cooper in it.

Cooper has been drinking homemade smoothies since he really little. I find it an easy way to get extra fruit and veg into him on top of what he is getting in his meals and snacks. It's particularly good for those he isn't so keen on.

Something else he isn't keen on is green smoothies. So when I told him I was making a stegosaurus smoothie, his interest was immediately piqued and he was happy to try it.

Unfortunately his pre-conceived ideas about drinking something green with spinach kicked in and he only drank about a third of it,  but it was a great place to start. Hopefully if I keep making it for him in between his other smoothies, he'll get used to it.

It's quite a simple green smoothie and my powerful Froothie blender made short work of it. You could add more greens but this is a good one to start with.

print recipe

Stegosaurus Smoothie
A simple fresh green smoothie that is highly addictive.
  • 100 g fresh spinach
  • 8 cm piece cucumber
  • a handful of fresh mint
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp wheat grass powder
  • 400 ml apple juice
  • a few ice cubes
1. Whizz up all the ingredients in a blender.2. If you don't have a powerful blender don't add the ice cubes and cut down the cucumber and banana or you may burn out the motor.3. Pour and enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Makes 4-6 glasses

For those of you who've been following my blog for years I thought you might like to know that Cooper started school this week. He is enjoying it so far, although none of his friends are in his class, so he is still finding his feet. Here are a few photos from his first day.

You can read more about Cooper's first day and my first day wobbles over at BabyCentre.



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