Tomato Barley Soup

You can put whatever vegetables you like into this – onion, carrot and celery are a must though. I add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes to give it a little heat.

When I need to finely chop a whole lot of stuff, I always use my Japanese Mandolin. I put in the coarse shredding blade, and then slice 2-3mm thick. I have a Benriner – google it and you can purchase online – The Essential Ingredient in Prahran has them, but if you are anything like me, you’ll come away with a basket full of new gadgets and specialty foods when you shop there.

This soup freezes well so I always make more than I need and put meal-sized containers in the freezer.

Ingredients

1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 button mushrooms, sliced or diced
Any other vegetables you’d like to add – I use 1-2 little yellow squash for colour

2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cups of vegetable stock (you can use water, or a mix of stock and water – I always use stock because it gives a richer, fuller flavour)
1 cup pearl barley
1 can beans – cannelini or borlotti for example
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato puree

2 teaspoons mixed italian herbs (thyme, oregano, basil, etc)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the vegetables in the olive oil in a large pot for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 60-80 minutes until the barley is fluffy. Serve.

Tomato Barley Soup

Tomato Barley Soup

Mushroom Pastry Puffs

Ingredients

~5 sheets pre-rolled puff pastry (most supermarket puff pastry is vegan, check the back of the packet)
a little milk or a beaten egg for brushing onto the pastry

50 grams margarine (I use nuttelex)
200g mushrooms, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (or use 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce)
1 teaspoon ground pepper (black or white)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (else use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup ground almonds

Make filling:

Gently fry the mushrooms and herbs in the margarine. When brown, add the water and salt & pepper – simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half.

Put into blender, add almonds, and puree to a fine paste. Set aside.

Assemble:

Thaw pastry.

Using a cookie cutter (I use a large star, you can use another shape), cut shapes out of the pastry. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of one shape, then top with another and press the edges firmly together.

Brush with milk or beaten egg, then back for ~15 minutes at 220 Degrees Celsius until puffy and browned. Serve on their own or with a chutney of your choice (e.g. tomato or caramelised onion).

Eat straight away 🙂