No Croutons Required - Herbs & River Cottage - Herbs

This month's edition of No Croutons Required features fresh herbs.

There is a mouth-watering selection of vegetarian soups and salads from around the world for you to drool over and this month I have a special prize for the winner too. The winner will be sent a copy of Herbs (River Cottage Handbook) by Nikki Duffy, which is published next month.

I don't know if you have any of the River Cottage handbooks, but they are great resources. They really go in depth into their chosen subject and include some great recipes too. They are a great wee size as well (A5), just perfect for carrying around in your bag for a quick look at when you are travelling or just in a quiet moment.

The Herbs handbook list a fabulous A-Z of herbs and each is presented proudly with a gorgeous photo, a paragraph about the herb, a really useful section about how to use the 'herb In the kitchen' and a guide on how to grow the herb. What more could you ask for? Oh yes, maybe some recipes? Well since you have asked so nicely, there is a good selection of 58 recipes using herbs at the back of the book.

Vegetarian recipe count: 46 out of 58 (one recipe included in my count just needs a change of stock)

Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:

* Skordalia (a herby Greek dip)
* Spring Pasta with Wild Garlic and Purple Sprouting Broccoli
* Fennel Seed Bread
* Minted Red Berry Sorbet
* Fennel Fudge
* Apple Herb Jelly
* Sweet Raspberry Vinegar with Scented Geranium
* Minty Apple Mojito

Herbs (River Cottage Handbook No. 10) by Nikki Duffy
Format: Hardback
Pages: 250
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-1408808832
Published: 1 March 2012

Right, now back to the roundup.

Soups & Salads Featuring Fresh Herbs

1. Roast Beetroot and Carrot Salad with Caraway and Dill
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Dill
Francesca (Checky's Kitchen)

First up is Francesca with a truly a mouthwatering salad. What a great way to start!
Francesca roasted her beetroot for maximum flavour and paired them with carrots for a lovely contrast of sweet and earthy. She let them dance with caraway seeds and fresh dill, then lay them on a bed of salad leaves before drizzling over a lovely mustardy dressing. Mmmmmmmmmm!

London, UK

2. Winter Rosemary & Chickpea Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Rosemary
Shaheen (Allotment 2 Kitchen)

Shaheen is on the move, well actually by the time this post is published she will be in her new home. So this recipe started in the West of Scotland with 12 cans of chickpeas needing to be used and ends in Wales with the memory of a delicious last bowl of soup in bonnie Scotland. It is also tinged with a bit of sadness at leaving the rosemary she added to this soup in her Scottish garden. So well and truly a goodbye soup! Onions, garlic potatoes, chickpeas, rosemary, stock and seasoning. It sound like a real hearty winters soup Shaheen.


3. Wild Garlic, Lemon & Lovage Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Wild Garlic and Lovage
Karen (Lavender and Lovage)

Karen really love using herbs in her cooking and baking and I think I am right in saying she has her own herb garden. Karen has also started a Herbs on Saturday Blog Hop, so head over and link to any of your herby posts. OK, back to the soup. Another lovely wintery soup of onion, wild garlic, celery, lemon, rice and lovage. Doesn't it look beautiful?


4. Pea and Parsley Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Flat Leaved Parsley, Mint & Thyme
Susan (Holly Grove Kitchen)

Susan was struggling for ideas for using herbs at this time of year, so she whipped out her new copy of River Cottage Veg and found inspiration in it's pages. It is a great book, I think you will agree Susan? If you haven't got a copy yet, I urge you too. I love it! Anyway, the soup I hear you say. A simple and fresh pea soup made extra special by the addition of fresh parsley, mint and thyme.

Shropshire, UK

5. Creamy (Mayonnaise Free) Potato Salad
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Basil & Parsley
Emma (A Splash of Vanilla)

Oh how I love a potato salad and oh how I love Emma's photos. They are always a joy to behold and her recipes are just as good as the photos. This is similar to a potato salad I make, but I use mayonnaise in mine usually or yoghurt if my friend Andrew is in attendance. He hates mayonnaise, so he would love this salad. I also use dill in mine, but I can imagine how good a mixture of parsley and basil would be with the potatoes. The star ingredient though, in my opinion is the dijon mustard.

Brisbane, Australia

6. Roasted Butternut Squash & Sage Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Sage, Parsley & Basil
Jacqueline (Tinned Tomatoes)
NCR Host - soup not in vote

This is my entry for this month's No Croutons Required. It was a very simple soup recipe that packed a punch of flavour. I roasted the butternut squash and teamed it with sage, but the real highlight was the contrast of the rich, earthy soup with the swirl of sharp, lemony herb drizzle I finished each bowl off with. I only use half of my roasted squash for this soup. With the other half I made a creamy pasta sauce for Cooper to enjoy with some pasta bows. Some for his lunch and some for the freezer. He loved it and we loved the soup!


7. Pickle Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Dill
Janet (The Taste Space)

First I have to thank Janet for being such a good supporter of NCR and my other foodie challenge Bookmarked Recipes and then I will tell you about her soup, but first the cravings. Janet has been having cravings. Cabbage and tahini were craved as was chocolate in December and now she is raving pickles which leads us to this most unusual of soups. Pickle Soup. But, don't be alarmed, it isn't all vinegary, there are other flavours in there too. Pearl barley, onion, leeks, garlic, mushrooms, celeriac, carrots, swiss chard, cabbage, bell peppers, dill and then the ubiquitous dill pickles. Wow, what a soup!

Toronto, Canada

8. Homemade Instant Noodles
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Coriander
Corina (Searching for Spice)

Corina has taken inspiration from River Cottage for this recipe too. Honestly, they are a pretty inspiring lot over there at River Cottage HQ. As like most of us foodies, Corina is horrified at the thought of eating pot noddles, but loved Hugh's idea of making your own and healthy at that. No an e-number or additive in sight. I think we should all give this a go. Corina made her homemade pot noodle soup from mushrooms, chilli, sweetcorn, sugar snap peas, spring onions, ginger, soy sauce, lime, coriander and thin noodles. Fabulous!

London, UK

9. Couscous Salad with Chermoula
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Parsley
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)

You are going to love this one. Johanna is always looking for ways to improve her coucous and this time she made a Chermoula to go through it. If you don't know, a Chermoula is a dressing made of parsley, lemon, olive oil and spices. She mixed half of this through her couscous and topped it with roasted pumpkins, roasted parsnips, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, honey and lemon and topped with more Chermoula. Yum! Oh and go and see Sylvia's new ninja babies, you will laugh when you find out what they are using as beds.

Melbourne, Australia

10. Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Mint and Parsley
Lisa (Lisa's Kitchen)
NCR Host - soup not in vote

First the real name of Lisa's soup. Ash-e Anar. Lisa describes her soup so well that I am going to let her tell you about it. "This split pea and pomegranate soup is just such a wonderful example of a blend of contrasting ingredients and flavors — from onions and garlic to seeds and spices, and from split peas and rice to fresh herbs and pomegranate molasses — all combined to produce an astonishing result. Hot, sweet and sour at the same time, there is more going on in just this one soup that can really be properly described, but it all joins together into a perfect whole. And a scattering of colorful pomegranate seeds on top burst with a tart pop in your mouth to provide a spectacular finish on the palate."
Lisa is one talented lady. You should really take some time to visit her blog. You will be spoilt for choice as you look through all her droolworthy recipes.

London, Canada

11. Easy Mexican Corn Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Coriander/Cilantro
Sharyn (The Kale Chronicles)

"Chew the first three bites of each meal thirty times." and you might notice the licorice taste of tarragon in the soup, the bite of the basil salad dressing, see the way a raw onion sends its sulfurous chemicals to the roof of your hard palate soon after you taste first the sweetness, then the sharpness". No, I refuse to tell you. You will have to go and read the post! I will tell you about the soup however. Easy peasy soup! A bag of frozen corn, a jar of red salsa, two limes a bunch of coriander and some water. Brilliant Sharyn and I love your illustration.

Kensington, CA, US

12. Herbalicious Black Bean Soup
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Mint, Cilantro/Coriander & Parsley
Rosemary (Goddess of Spice)

A hot spicy bowl of soup is what Rosemary kindly brings to our table and it looks so rich and delicious. Black beans, fire roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, mint, cilantro, parsley and lots of lovely spices. If that doesn't sound good enough, Rosemary shows us step-by-step photos to make us drool and then serves it with some garlic bread. You are torturing me here Rosemary.

New Jersey, USA

13. Warm Roasted Potato and Onion Salad with Rosemary and Lavender
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Rosemary
Ruth (Makey-Cakey)

Oh, no fair Ruth!! I wanted to see the potato and onion salad when it came out of the oven all golden and crunchy and delicious and crisp at the edges and drizzled with oil and vinegar, mmmmmmmm! *drool* I bet you just couldn't wait and had to dive in and eat it all and forgot to take another photo. Well, I can't say I blame you. I think that may have happened if I made this salad too. It is easy to see why it was such a hit at Ruth's house.

Edinburgh, Scotland

14. Rosemary Minestrone
Fresh herbs used in recipe: Rosemary
Dom (Belleau Kitchen)

Dominic starts of his soup with a base of rosemary crushed with garlic and salt and sauted with the onions before adding the other ingredients. This is a truly humble soup that is lifted by the addition of Rosemary and as Dom says, it is a great frugal soup too. Celery, Carrot, cabbage, tomatoes, green beans, pasta and stock. It was worth waiting for Dom and the photo is really excellent. Thanks Dom :)

Lincolnshire, UK

Well that is it. Another No Croutons Required comes to an end. I won't be putting up a voting poll this month, but will ask a third party to decide on the winner. I am sure all the hard-working bloggers who submitted their truly scrumptious soups and salads would love to hear your feedback and do remember to pay them a visit at their own blogs and say hi. They are a lovely bunch.

I will be announcing the winner on 29th of February, in time for Lisa to announce the next challenge on the first of March.

Remember to visit The Food Blog Diary for the latest foodie challenges, giveaways and competitions.

Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


  1. aren't we all fabulous!... some great contributions to the stock pot of soup and salad recipes (pun totally intended!)... and I love your layout for this write up... it's far superior to what i've been doing with mine and looks very stylish x

    1. Thanks Dom and yes, we are all fabulous in my opinion ;P

  2. Everything looks "fabulous" . . . I'm sensing a theme here! I'll be going back to try a few of these! I enjoyed my visit today!


    1. Hey stop teasing you two. I only said fabulous twice!

  3. As always a fab NCR Round UP and Write up. Thanks Jacqueline. I am settling into my new home, but have yet to cook, bake and blog.

    1. I hope it hasn't left you too stressed Shaheen. There is plenty of time to start cooking :)

  4. Wow - what a wonderful turn out this month. Thanks for the shout-out and another great write up! It is my pleasure to participate each month if I can. :)

  5. A fantastic round up of beautiful soups!

  6. Brilliant round up - so many fabulous recipes here. I don't envy the judge, I'd have a hard time choosing a winner!

    1. I know, but then I think that every month. We always get great entries.

  7. Great round up - I want to visit so many blogs and still am struggling for time so this is one that I will have to come back to because there are some great ideas in there - and I always love reading your descriptions

    1. Awwww thanks Johanna, there are a lot of good links to follow up, you are right. I know what you mean about finding the time to visit all the blogs you want to. It is hard.

  8. Replies
    1. I know, it was such good timing that I decided to do a herbs roundup just when River Cottage were bringing our their new book. I think the winner will be really pleased :)

  9. As usual, a wonderful round up of amazing looking recipes, and all so herbal! Thanks for the link to my herbs blog hop too......great challenge thanks!

  10. Everything looks so tempting! Am definitely going try out some of these contributions. Thanks for the link to my blog!

  11. We're coming into to Autumn soon in my part of the world, which will be a good time to try out those lovely soup recipes. And I love how healthy and inviting everyone's recipes look.

    Thanks for all your hard work and kind words Jacqueline :):)

    1. That's ok Emma, thanks for joining in. Autumn is a lovely time for soups, but I am glad we have reached Spring :)

  12. Hope to be back on track next month with NCR. Lots of lovely looking soups and salads there.

  13. What an amazing round up, Jac. This was a great challenge, some reallly interesting flavours and herbs. I adore dill so all those with dill are enticing me! I am definitely going to join in next month if you'll have me! :-)

    1. I love dill too Ren, especially in potato salad.

    2. Oh and remember Lisa is hosting next month, so head over to Lisa's Kitchen on the 1st to find out what the next challenge is. Of course you are more than welcome to join in. The more the merrier :)

  14. Awesome round up with amazing recipes. I just know your blog & I'm definitely becoming your follower! Great blog , I just love it! :)

    1. Hi Kit, nice to meet you and thanks for the lovely compliment :)

  15. Wonderful round up and such flavorful soups.. bookmarked for a trial!

    1. There is certainly plenty to choose from Sanjeeta )


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