NCR - The Birthday Edition Roundup

I would like to say I held off posting this roundup until today because today is Tinned Tomatoes 4th birthday and it ties in with the theme this month, but alas I cannot. Spring cleaning and gardening left me shattered last night, so I just had to give in and go to bed. I hope you will all agree the roundup is well worth waiting for.

This month I asked everyone to choose their topic from their birthday month from the No Croutons Required archive, so the entries are a lovely varied bunch. So have a browse and vote for your favourite. I will be announcing the winner of the Hotel Chocolat egg I had up for grabs, so do continue on to the end of the post.

1. Rosemary and Walnut Soda Bread
Susan (Holly Grove Kitchen)
Birthday Month: July
Theme: Bread to compliment a Soup or in a Salad (NCR 2010)

Doesn't that look great? I have never seen soda bread look so exciting. I want to bake it and eat it right away. Can you imagine a chunk of that with some homemade soup? And it is so easy too, no kneading required. Just flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, chopped walnuts, sprigs of rosemary and yoghurt and a bit of know-how courtesy of Susan.

Shropshire UK

2. Brazilian Black Bean Soup
Janet (The Taste Space)
Birthday Month: June
Theme: Legume Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)

This soup packs a punch of flavours, in fact Janet says "this soup is like a Brazilian party on your tongue". If that doesn't get you interested, then look at this list of ingredients. Black beans, kombu (I had to look this one up, it's a type of kelp), onion, red bell pepper, carrot, garlic, mango nectar or juice, passata, agave nectar (or maple syrup or sugar), ground cumin, dried thyme, ground cloves, Aleppo chili flakes, black pepper, cilantro, scallions, cinnamon stick, bay leaf & cider vinegar. Sounds really good, doesn't it?

Toronto, Canada

3. Red Lentil Soup
Corina (Searching for Spice)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Spicy Soup (NCR 2008)

Poor Corina had a stinking cold and was feeling dreadful when she made this soup, in the hope that is would help. It definitely helped and why wouldn't it, it sounds great, lovely and spicy. Red lentils, red chilli, garlic clove, fresh ginger, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, cinnamon, lots of curry leaves and dried coriander leaf.

London, UK

4. Gazpacho - Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup
Adam (Yogi's Kitchen)
Birthday Month: April
Theme: Tomato Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

When Adam worked at the Manna Restaurant in London, this soup was a great hit. He didn't really appreciate chilled soup back then, but did appreciate that this was an easy to soup to knock up when they were busy. Well you can certainly understand why chilled soup isn't appealing when you live in the UK, as most of the year it is cold and driech here. Hot soup is definitely the thing to have. However, times change as do tastes and now Adam rather enjoys chilled soups. I my opinion it has more to do with living in a hot country (oh the jealousy!) rather than a change of taste. It does sound lovely and fresh though. Tomatoes, bread, cucumber, red pepper, celery, tomato paste, sherry vinegar, sugar, oregano, stock, salt, pepper and good quality olive oil.

Tarifa, Spain

5. Spring Minestrone Soup
Dom (Belleau Kitchen)
Birthday Month: September
Theme: Mediterranean Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

Dominic, to give him his Sunday name, is new to No Croutons Required, although he isn't sure why, because he loves making soup and his famous among his friends for it. Well, I for one am glad he decided to join in. I started drooling as soon as I saw the photo of this soup and it happened again when I looked at the photo tonight. Oh and I loved Dom's description of this soup "minestrone means 'the one with many ingredients' so go crazy!".

Lincolnshire, UK

6. Indian Salad with Fresh Herbs and Blackeye Beans
LovingFood (Humble Home Cook)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Indian Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

Red chilli, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon, fresh mint and coriander, freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste for the dressing, well i'm in.

Red onion, sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumber & blackeye beans, yes indeedy!

A fabulous first entry from LovingFood and I don't mind if it is indian inspired rather than authentic as she suggests, it still sounds fab.

Yorkshire, UK

7. The Best Mushroom Soup
Claire (Chez Cayenne)
Birthday Month: April

Theme: Mushroom Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)

Claire's birthday is this month too, so let's all wish her a happy birthday. Then let's look at her soup an think how much we would like a bowl of it. It's made with a ton of dried mushrooms, so you know it is going to be special and that's before you read all the other yummy ingredients. Claire made this when she got back from holiday. I really do love the sound of Claire's holiday, she bought a book about wineries, so their next journey took them to a winery. I wonder if that would work for me too?

Houston, Texas, USA

8. Tricken Rice Soup with Celeriac
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)
Birthday Month: January
Theme: Nourishing Soup (NCR 2009) & Rice Soup or Salad (NCR 2011)

Johanna made this soup in tribute to chicken soup, of course veggie style. It was more the comfort element she was going for as opposed to replicating chicken. The comfort levels are met in this soup courtesy of the celeriac and fried tofu. It's really funny, Johanna's little girl Sylvia was desperate to go shopping for the tofu, but cried when she tried it from the soup. I think the rest of us would only cry in a good way when tasting this soup.

Melbourne, Australia

9. Quinoa with Vegetables
Akheela (Torview)
Birthday Month: July (I am guessing, but I may be wrong)
Theme: Grains Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

I'm loving quinoa at the moment, so I was glad when this entry dropped into my inbox. Quinoa, soup cube, carrots, beans, celery, cabbage and chilli powder to taste.
Sounds good right and healthy to boot! Thanks for your entry Akheela.

Ontario, Canada

10. Chunky Carrot & Beets Soup
Priya (Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes)
Birthday Month: August
Theme: Carrot Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

Isn't this a real pretty soup? The colours are just beautiful. I loved the idea of adding beets to a carrot soup. A lovely contrast in colour and flavour. Priya added cream and thyme leaves to this simple, yet delicious soup. She made it in a swift 15 minutes in her pressure cooker. I would be tempted to buy one too, but I am too scared of the darn things.


11. Smoky Aubergine and Red Pepper Couscous Salad
Michelle (Food, Football & A Baby
Birthday Month: September
Theme: Mediterranean Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

Michelle made this in the middle of a cleaning frenzy before her in-laws arrived for a visit. She is a girl after my own heart. Her house looks lovely and tidy, but beware opening drawers and cupboards, hehe, that is just like me, I never get around to tidying out those drawers, well hardly ever any way. I am sure glad she took the time to make this salad for us. It is just what I would enjoy eating. She is one talented lady.

Edmonton, AB, Canada

12. Verdant Salad with a Hint of Red
Sweatha (Tasty Curry Leaf)
Birthday Month: August
Theme: Peppers Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

That sounds so poetic, doesn't it? But that isn't the only thing I loved about this salad. I really loved the creamy avocado dressing. This is a modern take on a coleslaw, but much healthier. The slaw consists of cooked beans, cabbage,
green pepper, red pepper and cilantro. All bound up in a dressing made of avocado, yoghurt, green chilli and shallots. Mmmmmmmm!


13. Chickpea Salad/Hummus
Lisa (We Don't Eat Anything With A Face)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Chickpea Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

Lisa makes her hummus simply and like it like I do with lots of lemon. I love hummus and have been eating a lot of it lately, although the last batch I made, I used a new extra virgin olive oil and it was just too overpowering, so I will stick to a milder oil next time. Lisa makes her hummus with chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, grated zest (i'll try this next time) and juice of ½ a lemon, tahini paste, ground black pepper, cumin, paprika and extra lemon juice.

West Midlands, UK

14. Curried Barely Green Peas and Mixed Vegetable Soup
Swathi (Zesty South Indian Kitchen)
Birthday Month: June
Theme: Legume Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)

Swathi had a bit of an argument, or should we say discussion with her husband about this soup. He thought it was more like a curry, but when Swathi asked if he would like it served on a plate with rice, he admitted defeat and agreed it was a soup. It does sound exceptionally tasty, all those vegetables flavoured with chilli powder, black pepper and garam masala. Healthy too and if you pop over to her blog, Swathi will explain. I loved the step-by-step photos the best.

Texas, USA

15. Cashew Chive Mayo Pasta Salad
Cashew Chive Mayo Pasta Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free)
Valerie (City|Life|Eats)
Birthday Month: October
Theme: Frugal Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)

Valerie packs a mean packed lunch and I mean that in the sense of sensational and not miserly. When I looked at Valeries photos, I just felt so ashamed of my excuse for a lunch on a daily basis. Hers just look so inviting and exciting, whereas mine usually just consist of a sandwich with fruit and yoghurt for break times. You really have to go over and have a look at her blog. This is what Valerie calls a frugal pasta salad. Well, if that is the case, I would go for frugal every time.

Washington, DC, USA

16. Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms (not in vote)
Jacqueline (me)(Tinned Tomatoes
Birthday Month: April
Theme: Mushroom Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)

Well after announcing my birthday and the theme, I bet a fair few of you looked at the themes for April and knew instanly which one I would choose. Predictable, huh? Yeah, yeah, if you have been around here much you will know how I love mushrooms. So it was an easy choice really. I did mean to make this salad with couscous, but couldn't lay my hands on any in the house, so I decided to use quinoa instead. I am glad I did, as it brought a lovely nuttiness to the dish and a bit more texture than couscous would have brought to the party. I parceled up a few portions for Cooper too, but I added some peas to his.

Dundee, Scotland, UK

17. Pink Power Salad
Torwen Baus (Torwen's Blog)
Birthday Month: December
Theme: Quinoa Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

Torwen, like myself decided to go for a quinoa salad. We both coloured our quinoa, which makes it quite eye-catching. I mixed mine with a freash herb dressing, which turned it green and Torwen turned his pink with the help of some beets. Very pretty. As well as the recipe, he also reminds us of the health properties of this powerhouse of a grain (well pretend grain). It is high in iron, zinc, and calcium content it is also a very good source of essential amino acids.


18. Chickpea Salad with Tamarind Dressing (not in vote)
Lisa (Lisa's Kitchen)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Chickpea Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

Lisa came up with this colourful and tasty salad, then went the extra mile and made a sweet and sour dressing using tamarind paste. An ingredient, I myself haven't used before, but I trust Lisa's jusdgement, so I would be willing to give it a go. And I loved that fact that Lisa garnished her salad with among other things coconut. I thought that was such a good idea. It is just a pity that Lisa's salad can't be in with a chacnce to win.

London, Ontario, Canada

So, now you have seen all 18 entries and varied they are, so I am sure it will be a hard decision, but I am asking you to please vote for your favourite. You can use the poll to vote, leave a comment or email me.

And now on to my competition winner, who will recieve a rather wonderful thick and lush easter egg from Hotel Chocolat. The You Crack Me Up Egg to be precise.

My wee independent adjudicator was a tricky customer tonight. He was more interested in bringing us books to read, than pulling out an entry. It took a lot of persuasion, but once he got going he didn't want to stop and had grand fun with is daddy, opening up all the folded up pieces of paper and having the name read out. Then they used it like confetti, which got a lot of giggles.

Anyway, on to the winner.


  1. Thanks so much!! We havent bought any Easter Eggs this year so this will be a treat to share :)

    And he's the cutest adjudicator I've ever seen! xx

  2. wonderful round up - and wonderful theme - I think there is so many good themes gone by that it is good to have a retrospective theme - happy birthday to tinned tomatoes - so glad you are still going strong - no wonder with your little helper - he is gorgeous - now I need to think about the vote - not an easy one with all the good food on display

  3. Happy Four Year Blog Anniverary Jacqueline.

    So many wonderful entries for this months NCR theme. I am voting for Janets BRazilian Black Bean Soup - Yum.

    Always love the appearance of your little man on your blog x Maybe you should give him one of his own :)

  4. Lovely roundup sweetie and happy birthday to tinned tomatoes. I don't know how I can choose one of these lovely recipes to vote for.

  5. Happy birthday, Tinned Tomatoes, and happy birthday, Jacqueline!

  6. I agree that it was worth the wait, it all looks delish!!!! Have a wonderful Easter!!

  7. Awesome wonderful round up.

  8. Happy 4th Blogiversary - that's some going to keep your blog going for 4 years. Look forward to another year of your posts.

  9. thank you for the delicious roundup :)

  10. Wonderful roundup,congrats to the winner..


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x

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