and the Winner of No Croutons Required is...

Drum roll, please!

Helen from Food Stories!

Helen made us a Smoky, Sweet & Spicy Red Pepper Soup topped with crumbly feta and minty oil. The peppers, tomatoes and garlic were roasted until a little charred, for extra flavour. It was a clear favourite and way out in front, in our voting poll!

Well done Helen! Here is your winner's badge.

Visit Lisa's blog for the next challenge and a big thank you to everyone who took part this month :)

Four Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

I just can't seem to give up on soup, even though spring is on it's way. It must be the bite of snow in the air that is stopping me from embracing salads yet! Either that or it has become an addiction!

Four Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
24 cherry tomatoes
6 ripe medium tomatoes on the vine (or any full flavoured tomatoes) chopped in half
6 sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 red bell peppers, quartered
1 onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
1 pint vegetable stock
1 handful basil
1 handful coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes, vine tomatoes, red peppers, onion and garlic with the olive oil and season. Place on a heated oven tray under the grill and cook until starting to brown at the edges.

Pour tomato mixture into a blender, along with the sun-dried tomatoes and herbs. Whiz until smooth.

Pour the soup into a pan and add the vegetable stock. Heat gently and taste for seasoning.

This soup is also delicious served cold.


This is the tastiest soup I have had in a while and that is saying something, because I have eaten a lot of soup recently.

You may have noticed?

Here are a few other tomato soups to try out:

Coconut and Tomato Soup with Horseradish by Nami-Nami

Tomato Soup with a Twist by Running With Tweezers

Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic and Seasonal Herbs by Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

Peasant Cabbage Tomato Soup by A Veggie Venture

Pesto & Peas

I have gone very green with this pasta topping, to compliment some unusual spring onion tagliatelle I bought from the Herb Kitchen.

Pesto & Peas on Spring Onion Tagliatelle


handful basil
handful pine nuts
1 clove garlic
4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
5-6 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Whizz up all the ingredients in a blender. I quite like to toast the pine nuts first, to give them a bit of extra flavour.

Cook the tagliatelle until al dente. Add the peas to the pan a few minutes before the pasta is ready.

Drain the pasta & peas and toss in the pesto. Season and top with some grated parmesan.


No Croutons Required - March Roundup

Well, here it is, the March roundup of No Croutons Required.

This month’s challenge, was to make a spicy vegetarian soup that would tingle on the tongue! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Have a look at all the gorgeous entries and vote for your favourite in the panel on the right. (voting closed) And the winner is...

Here is our first entry. If there was a competition for the best named soup, this would be it! It is Vampire Inhibitor Garlic Soup created by Jan over at Eat Nothing with Eyeballs. Now there is someone with a bit of imagination!

(Flushing, US)

Helen from Food Stories, made us a super, healthy Smoky, Sweet & Spicy Red Pepper Soup and she was brave enough to tackle smoked paprika! If you read about my run in with smoked paprika, when I made Hungarian Mushroom Soup, then you will know why I am so impressed!

(London, UK)

Kitchenetta from Got No Milk has a dairy-free blog and has created for us a Vegan Manhattan Clam Chowder, but there is no need to worry, it is a clam free blog too! She has cleverly included some tvp granules or soya mince, as I would call it, to make the soup more authentic.

(Philadelphia, US)

Lisarene from Little Bits has offered up a Spicy Vegetable Bean Soup, that is packed full of vegetables and colour, gorgeous!

(Pacific Northwest)

Fiona from Kai in London has shared with us some of her New Zealand heritage and made us a Harissa Spiced Kumara Soup.Head over to Fiona’s blog, to find out what Kumara is.

There will be an ‘ahh’ when you do!

(London, UK)

Our next entry is from Laura over at Cake & Anarchy who posts about a Red Lentil Soup that brings back memories of travelling in Turkey. Laura gives us two for the price of one, by given us a variation to try out. Thanks Laura!

(Pittsburgh, US)

Here comes Pixie! Pixie has cooked us up a Thai Noodle & Vegetable Soup. Thankfully she has left out the marmite! She loves the stuff and I just hate it! Lots of lovely spices are used instead in this lovely, warming noodle soup.

(London, UK)

Next up is Sia from Monsoon Spice, who has re-created an anti-oxidant packed Carrot-Coconut Shorba. It will definitely tingle on the tongue!


Now, on to David from Book the Cook who has whipped up a Roast Squash, Garlic and Pistachio Nut Soup for our delight, but also to fight off the flu that has invaded his household. Hope the soup has done the trick and you are all feeling better, David!

(East Boldon, UK)

Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska has contributed a Moroccan Chermoula and Carrot Soup, in a bid to use up her plentiful supply of carrots. I can’t think of a nicer way of doing that, Laurie. The Chermoula you drizzled on top of the soup is something new for me to try out, sounds great!

(Anchorage, Alaska)

The next soup is a Spicy Chunky Vegetable Soup made by KayKat at Cooking From A-Z. KayKat describes here soup as “so fresh and happy” and I can second that!

(Seattle, US)

Susan over at The Well-Seasoned Cook has made us a Tunisian Chickpea Soup that look divine! She has also included a list of alternative toppings. I really liked that!

(New York, US)

Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen has given us a Curried Indian Vegetable Soup. Lisa is my co-host on this event and a girl who knows her herbs and spices. She likes her food hot and this soup is no exception! Doesn’t it look glorious?

(London, Canada)

My good friend Deb from Deb’s Key West Wine & Garden has cooked up a Spicy White Bean and Tomato Soup or as it is better known to her family and friends, Salsa Soup! It really looks mouth-watering and such a good photo!

(Key West, US)

Homecooked has made us a Tomato Cabbage Soup. This is a Tomato Saar with sprouts and cabbage added. Tomato Saar is a soup served alongside a main meal or served with rice. I hope I got that right, Homecooked!

(Mangalore, India)

Here is my entry for this month’s challenge. Curried Parsnip & Sweet Potato Soup. I purchased a large bag of parsnips at a very low price and had to think what to do with them. I eventually came up with this soup. Quite sweet, but with a kick of spicy!

(Dundee, Scotland)

Now, on to the winner of the first ever No Croutons Required challenge. Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe won the February challenge with her beautifully presented Wanton Dumplings in Ginger Broth. She was aided in her soup-making by her wee ginger man! You will have to visit Johanna to find out about that story! Johanna was awarded this nifty little badge for her blog!

This month, Johanna has made us a Mulligatawny Soup. She really researched her subject and not only is it a great looking soup, but it is a really great post too! Her wee ginger man was replaced by a tea strainer! You must be intrigued, I was!

(Melbourne, Australia)

Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs has delivered us a Spiced Cauliflower Soup. It looks so gorgeous, I just want to go straight out and buy some cauliflower. This soup is definitely on my to-do list!

(Toronto, Canada)

D & T from Wish I Were Baking, have struggled through illness to make us Spicy Soup (to chase of sickness). D & T think that bird chillies will do the trick every time! It sounds like good advice to me! I hope you are both feeling better now!

(Glasgow, Scotland)

Kim from Live::Love::Laugh::Eat loves Gazpacho. Mixing together the pungent flavors of garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Kim doesn’t like her gazpacho cold, so she whips the ingredients into a hot soup, to soften the flavours of this Spanish dish. Kim garnishes her Hot Gazpacho Soup with sour cream and cilantro/coriander. I think it looks lovely and fresh!

(Virginia, US)

Zlamushka over at Burnt Mouth has made us a Spicy Hungarian Kettle Goulash. Kettle Goulash is a typical garden-style soup that is usually cooked among friends while outdoors. This type of goulash usually takes up potatoes in addition to the meats. Zlamushka has made an indoor version of it and added soy nuggets to it instead of meat in honour of Lisa. You might remember that Lisa made us an Hungarian Mushroom Soup for last month’s challenge.

(Malmo, Sweden)

Next up is Lisa from Stretch Mark Mama, who has made a Spicy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup. Lisa used dried black beans for this soup and it makes the soup look quite dramatic as well as being very healthy.

(Pacific Northwest, US)

Saswati from Potpourri has made a very comforting Kidney Bean Pasta Soup. Saswati likes to serve salad with her soup as a healthy, low calorie meal.

(Moscow, Russia)

Kittie from Kittens in the Kitchen made the most beautiful, green soup. The soup in question is a Curried Chickpea & Spinach Soup with a Cilantro and Chilli Drizzle. Kittie adapted one of her favourite curries to make this soup and thinks it would be great served with naan bread. I agree wholeheartedly, Kitty!

(Brighton, UK)

Suzana is next, from Home Gourmets, with her Spicy Soup or Why I Love Wintertime. Suzana has made a spicy Indian dahl soup that will brighten up a Winter’s day!

(Lisbon, Portugal)

And next we have Nilmandra from Soy and Pepper. Nilmandra has made a Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup. You might have come across this at your local Chinese restaurant. Sichuan cuisine is known for its intense flavours and for being hot and spicy. This chunky soup is filled with a variety of mushrooms, fungus and tofu.


We visit Seattle now for Dana’s Georgia Peanut Soup. Dana’s blog is called Dolcedo - vita dolcedo spes. Vita
Dulcedo Spes is Latin for life, sweetness and hope, I think that sums up her soup very nicely! I love the addition of peanut butter and all the roasted peanuts scattered on top, yum!

(Seattle, US)

Shelly from Vegetarian Foodie has made a Vegetarian Harira. Shelly has given us a little background information about the soup too. “Harira is a Moroccan soup that is traditionally eaten to break a fast. The soup varies by region and is normally prepared with meat. Not in this case however.” Thanks Shelly!

(San Diego, US)

Wendy over at A Wee Bit of Cooking has made us a Thai Spiced Squash and Coconut Soup and it looks divine! Apparently, it is the only cure for an exploded head! Honest!


Next up is Lysy over at Munchkin Mail, who is obviously, psychically liked to me! Lysy made Spicy Parsnip Soup, at roughly the same time I did! Lysy has called her psychic soup, Spicy Carrot and Parsnip Soup. I think Psychic Soup sounds better! It's gotta taste great!

(Warwickshire, UK)

Jane from Procrastinators Progress, (what a great blog name!) has made us a Spiced Spinach & Potato Soup. Jane recreated this soup from memories of one she tasted at her favourite Indian restaurant. This is also Jane’s first attempt at food photography. Pretty darn good, I say!

(Glasgow, Scotland)

Our next soup comes all the way from Peru! Gretchen from Canela & Comino has presented us with a Spicy Ginger Squash Soup. Gretchen actually used 3 types of ginger for this soup, so I think we can surmise that it is a favourite ingredient. Me too, Gretchen!

(Lima, Peru)

Jen over at Little Bird Eats, has decided that croutons are not required, but she does think that toasty, crunchy bits of tortilla might go down a treat with her
Espresso Black Bean Chili Soup. All I can say is yum!


Next along is Mansi from Fun and Food, who has made a soy-sauce based, chinese soup. Mansi thinks that her Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup, is also good for banishing the common cold. This soup packs a tasty punch with chilli sauce, soy sauce, fresh ginger and black pepper.

(San Francisco, US)

My adopted blogger, Ashley from Eat Me Delicious has whipped up a Corn Chowder for our delight! Ashley was really pleased to come across this recipe, as it brings back birthday memories of eating corn on the cob. She has added a bit of spice by adding a jalapeno pepper and a little cayenne pepper. Thanks Ashley!

(Vancouver, Canada)

Our last entry comes from Nanditha from Satvika – Food for the Soul. Nanditha has made Rice Balls in Lentil Soup, a recipe inspired by her mother-in-law, who makes rice balls in water, a firm favourite with her family. Nanditha spices her version up with ginger garlic paste, green chillies, cumin, mustard seeds and fresh coriander. Lovely!

(Farmington Hills, US)

And so the round-up draws to a close. Please vote for your favourite in the poll, comment box or by email and I will reveal the winner at the end of the month.

Make sure you visit Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen at the beginning of April to find out what next month’s challenge will be!

Raspberry, Carrot & Basil Smoothie


There are just too many colds and viruses floating about just now, so I am trying to make sure my intake of fruit and veg is quite high.

Smoothies are the perfect way to supplement your daily portions, so without further ado, here is my latest effort!

Raspberry, Carrot & Basil Smoothie

2 carrots
3 cups frozen raspberries
1 apple
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups water

Peel and chop the carrots and apple. Add all the ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth. If you are using fresh raspberries, you probably won’t need so much water. The frozen raspberries make the smoothie into a very thick thickie, so add the water as you need it.

This smoothie has the tartness of the raspberries and is lovely and rich. The carrots and basil are very understated, but they are there! And, what a gorgeous colour it is!

I was sneaky and passed this smoothie to Graham, pronouncing it as a raspberry smoothie. There is no way he would have considered trying it if I had listed all the ingredients. It worked a treat and he loved it! I did tell him later and I think he will be happy for me to add carrots from now on. Yay! A success!


Curried Parsnip & Sweet Potato Soup

Curried Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped,
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp hot mango chutney
6 cups water
juice of 1 lime
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a small pan and dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds then roughly crush in a mortar and pestle.

Heat the oil in pan and when hot add the spices and allow to sizzle for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for 5 minutes, on a medium heat until softened.

Add the parsnips and sweet potatoes and cook for another few minutes. Add a splash of water before adding the turmeric to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir well and then add the mango chutney and the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes until the parsnips and potatoes are tender. Stir in the lime juice.

Spoon out a few of the vegetable to decorate the soup with and then whizz the rest of the soup until fairly smooth.

Serves 4-6 (I think, but I wasn't counting!)

Happy Soup Making!

Adopt a Blogger - Part 2

I would like to introduce you to my second adoptee, the lovely Mary over at Starting from Scratch. Kristen very kindly introduced us as part of her 2nd Adopt a Blogger event.

Here are a few questions, I put to Mary, so that we could get to know her a little better.

1. Lets start at the beginning, Mary. Tell me a little about your blog and where you are from?

I am originally from Virginia, but went to college in Tennessee (which is where
I met my husband), and now live in Iowa. We are finishing up our second round of school here in May - I will have a degree in Dietetics and his is in Architecture. We've been married almost two years.

2. What brought you into the blogosphere and why did you decide to start a food blog?

My best friend Rebekka has a blog and jokingly said to me one day back in November that I should start one. I had been reading food blogs for fun for a while, so I just jumped right in. My blog is starting from scratch, so I try to only include foods made from scratch.....which pretty much describes all the other food blogs out there too. Luke and I are very invested in eating foods that are not processed, so I end up doing a lot of bread baking, bean soaking, cracker dough making, and so on. The blog world is great because as soon as I have an idea, I have hundreds of places to look for a recipe and comments on other's experiences. I could look at food blogs all day long!

3. What got you interested in cooking? Was it through necessity, or did someone inspire you?

I think my interest in cooking started with an interest in health. As I realized I wanted to eat more than microwave or fast foods, I was inspired to learn how to cook. Now that I am married, I take a lot of pride in providing meals for our little, when I got married I was spoiled with lots of wonderful kitchen gadgets and supplies. It's way more fun to cook when you have a kitchen loaded with everything you could possibly need. Cooking has also become very therapeutic for me...I can't stand it when I have a busy week and don't get to be in the kitchen as much as I would like.

4. Do you have a favourite chef?

Honestly, no. We haven't had a TV for years, so my exposure to the food network is limited...and most of the cookbooks I have are not written by famous chefs. I am enjoying the baking group I recently joined that is using a cookbook by Dorie Greenspan and I think as I get more and more involved in cooking I will establish opinions about particular chefs.

5. What kind of food do you like to eat if you go out for a special meal?

Sushi and Indian food are both treats for me because I live in a place that has neither....When I go out to eat, which is rare, I want it to be an experience. If we are going to spend the money, it better be good!We are so fortunate because we have one of the greatest restaurants right down the street. The Cafe, which is not really a cafe but a nice restaurant, is one of our favorite places ever and we think it's so funny we found it in our little Iowa town. They change the menu ever couple of weeks, so each time we go the offerings are different.

6. A really trivial question now! What is your favourite sandwich filling?

This is really tough....I don't eat sandwiches very often. When I was a little girl, I loved grilled bologna and cheese sandwiches with, I would have to say thick whole wheat toast with cooked egg whites, dill pickle spears, and mustard.

7. Tell us about three of your posts that you are most pleased with ?

Because I'm a fairly new cook, a lot of the food I make is a first. This past year I had the best time making and tweaking recipes for homemade marshmallows.

I made and ate so many that I may not be making them again for quite a while.

Another great dish we had was tofu and vegetable spring rolls....which were really just an excuse to dip something in peanut sauce!

I don't actually like cheesecake (at all) but one recipe chosen for my Tuesday baking group was for apple brown sugar cheesecake and I really enjoyed making it. I got to buy a spring form pan, so that was fun too.

8. Do you have any blogs that you would like to recommend to us?

There are so many I love that I can't even list them. I enjoy going through the foodie blog roll and the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll, which are both links on my blog. Of course I enjoy this blog and my best friend Rebekka's blog maple sugar.

Thanks for that Mary, it has been great, getting to know you!
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