Lentil Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed or grated

350g red lentils

1.5 litres vegetable stock

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons crushed dried chillies

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.

Heat oil over medium heat and fry onions until slightly browned and soft.  Add garlic and cumin, and fry for a minute.  Add lentils and stir fry a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.

Add stock and chilli flakes, and simmer covered until the lentils are very soft and breaking apart.  Add more stock or water if needed, it needs to end up soupy.

Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Puree it all together with a stick blender.

Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.


1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in 5 cups cold water for 24 HOURS

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely minced onion

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cloves garlic, mashed

ground black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Oil for frying


Drain the chickpeas and put in food processor with baking soda and salt.  Pulse until you have a texture similar to fine breadcrumbs or bulgur wheat – NOT a paste.

Put chickpeas in a bowl, and add the remaining ingredients.  Mix gently with a fork – do NOT pat down.

Put an inch of oil in a frying pan and set to medium temperature.

Make patties and slip into oil – I take a tablespoon of mixture onto a soup spoon and press down a little to remove some liquid and get it to hold together. then slide it off the spoon into the pan.  It can easily fall apart, so be patient – it is worth it!

Fry until brown then flip and do the other side.

Serve – with tahini sauce, hummous, tabouleh, chopped tomato and lettuce, etc in pita bread.

Spinach Lasagne

Makes a medium-sized lasagne (~30 x 18cm)

To assemble:

Fresh or dried lasagne sheets – if using dried lasagne, prepare as per directions to cook, then plunge in cold water and set aside

60g grated vegan cheese

2 tablespoons vegan parmesan

2 bunches fresh spinach – steamed, squeezed to get rid of moisture, and finely chopped (alternatively, use 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach – thaw and squeeze out excess moisture)

1/4 cup soy or almond milk – unsweetened


‘Meat’ Sauce

500g vegan mince

250g mushrooms, sliced

1 large chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, mashed or grated

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano (or tablespoon fresh)

1 teaspoon sugar

2 x cans tomatoes, crushed

4 tablespoons tomato paste


‘Cheese’ sauce

100g vegan butter – e.g. nuttelex

6 tablespoons flour

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of nutmeg

800 millilitres of soy or almond milk

200g vegan cheese, grated – e.g. Bio cheese or Daiya cheese

2 tablespoons grated vegan parmesan cheese


Make ‘meat’sauce: Fry vegan mince in heavy-based frying pan until brown, making sure that it is loosened and not stuck together in a big lump; remove and set aside.  Add onion, garlic and mushrooms – use a little olive oil if needed – and fry until onion is slightly browned.  Stir in herbs and spices and stir fry for a minute.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer covered for about an hour, then a further 15 minutes uncovered until the sauce is thick.

Make ‘cheese’ sauce: Melt butter over a low heat, then add flour and seasonings and blend until smooth.  Stir for a few minutes until flour is cooked and browning.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in the milk.  Return to heat, and stir constantly until it boils and thickens.  Cook a further minute, then remove from heat and stir in the cheeses, stirring until they melt into the sauce.

Assemble the lasagne:  Grease a lasagne or other flat ovenproof dish – roughly 30 x 18 cm.  Put in a layer of pasta sheets, trimming to fit.  Spread evenly with half the meat sauce, top with 1/2 the cheese sauce.  Cover with spinach (make sure you’ve squeezed out as much water as possible), then another layer of pasta.  Repeat meat and cheese layers, and top with pasta.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and parmesan, then sprinkle half the soy or almond milk evenly over the top.

Backe at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, then sprinkle over the remaining milk and cook for a further 15 minutes until browned on top.  If it is not brown, finish off under the grill.

Let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Red Lentil Dahl

This is my favourite dahl recipe – nutty, spicy, creamy.  It is great with rice or naan or poppadums, or as part of an Indian meal with other dishes.  It also freezes really well, so I often make a double batch and freeze meal-sized portions for an easy week day meal option.


2 cups red lentils

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

Boil 1 litre water in a pot. Add red lentils and cook for 10 minutes.  Add spices and cook another 15 minutes.  Add more water if needed.  Result should be very creamy.


Onion, tomato mixture

2 medium onions, chopped roughly

1/3 cup sunflower oil (or other oil)

6 cloves of garlic, chopped

3cm piece of ginger, chopped

2-4 chopped chillies to taste

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup chopped coriander


Heat oil and gently fry onions for about 15 minutes without browning.  Onions should be soft and translucent.  Add garlic, ginger and chillies.  Cook another 10-15 minutes.

Add spices and cook for a minute, stirring to prevent burning.

Add tomatoes and coriander, and cook about 5 minutes until tomatoes are soft, stirring.

Add lentils to onion/tomato mixture and cook gently about 5 minutes to meld all the flavours together.  Check to see if more salt is needed.



Eggplant Zalouk

This dish needs to be made the day before, to allow all the flavours to develop.  It is wonderful as part of a middle eastern meal, or just piled on top of some toasted turkish bread as a spread topped with some ground black pepper.  The key is to grill the eggplant until it is blackened and collapsing, and to use very good quality fresh or canned tomatoes.

2 medium sized eggplants

1/3 cup olive oil

can of tomatoes or 500g ripe tomatoes peeled, seeded and chooped

Tablespoon crushed galic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/t teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup finely sliced coriander leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

salt to taste


If grilling in the oven: halve the eggplants and put cut side down on a foil lined tray.  Grill on high for about 30 minutes until the skin is black and the insides are collapsing.

Alternatively you can roast the whole eggplants on a barbeque, turning now and then, until blackened and collapsing.

Put eggplant in colander and remove the skin.  Allow to drain.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan and gently fry tomatoes, garlic and spices (salt to taste) for about 20 minutes.


Add the chopped skinned cooked eggplant and coriander.  Cook another 15 minutes until very soft.


Add lemon juice to taste, and more salt if needed.

Chill over night to allow flavours to develop.  Serve the following day cold.




Chilli Beans – for tortillas, nachos or on rice

This freezes very well, so I often make extra and freeze in single meal portions for easy week day meals: wrap in a warmed tortilla (I use multigrain tortillas) with guacamole, or tip over some instant steamed rice (I like Tilda brown basmati & quinoa) and top with chopped avocado and tomatoes.

2 x 400g cans red kidney beans, drained

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2-4 crushed cloves of garlic

1 habanero chilli, very finely chopped (or 2 small thai chillies – to taste)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, etc)

3 tablespoons dark soy sauce (this makes a difference from normal soy)

about 1 cup vegetable stock



Saute onion in olive oil over moderate heat about 10 minutes until transparent and slightly browned.  Add garlic and fry for couple of minutes.  Add cumin and coriander, stir thoroughly and fry another minute – watch it doesn’t burn.

Add all the other ingredients (use as much vegetable stock as you need to make it reasonably runny – as you cook it down you can add more).

Simmer for at least an hour until thick.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, (optional grated vegan cheese) over tortillas or nachos or rice.


Roast Vegetable Soup

The chilli flakes are optional in here – I like the deep flavour that comes from roasting the vegetables together with some heat.

3 medium eggplants or 2 large

2 red capsicums

6 plum tomatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, chopped

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

1/2 cup (total) chopped fresh herbs – basil, oregano, &/or parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1 litre vegetable stock – I use Moredough or Stock Merchant

can of cooked Butter Beans


For the roasting of the vegetables:  I use an over tray, which I line with foil.  I then make little foil ‘nests’ for the eggplants and the capsicums to make it easy to lift them out, and to contain the juices that flow out.

Prick eggplants a few times, and place in oven tray under high heat grill for 30 minutes.  Turn the eggplants.  The skin will go black, which is fine because it will be discarded later.

Add capsicums to the oven tray, and grill eggplant and capsicum for 15 minutes under high heat grill.  Turn eggplant and capsicums.  Add the tomatoes to the oven tray (or put in separate dish below in the oven if there isn’t room).  Grill on high for a further 7 minutes, then turn everything again and grill for another 8 minutes.  You may need to take the eggplant out for these final 15 minutes if it has completely collapsed.

Remove vegetables from the oven.  Scoop eggplant out of skin and retain any moisture that has come out as well.  Remove skin from capsicums and tomatoes, and chop up and put with the eggplant.

WHILE THE VEGES ARE ROASTING:  Gently fry the onions over a low heat in the olive oil for 15 minutes until soft and brown.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 10 minutes.  Add chilli flakes if using, salt, pepper and herbs.  Stir and cook for another minute or two.  Add stock and roast vegetables.

Simmer for 20 minutes, then puree with a handheld blender.  Add the drained canned butter beans and warm through.

Serve with bread on the side.




Butter Beans and Tomatoes

If you can get Spanish butter beans they are worth the price, absolutely delicious straight out of the jar. I use ‘NAVARRICO JUDIÓN, LARGE BUTTER BEANS’.

400g butter beans, cooked
400g Italian/Plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon sundried tomatoes, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
8-10 basil leaves, or about a tablespoon of fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds etc – keep seeds & insides in a separate bowl. Cut quarters in half.

Drain butter beans, keeping 3 tablespoons of liquid in a separate bowl.

Heat the olive oil over a low heat. Add tomatoes and cook gently for a few minutes.

Add the beans and reserved liquid, squeeze juice out of reserved tomato seeds & insides into pot, add garlic and sundried tomatoes – add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

Tip into serving bowl and stir through the fresh herbs.

Serve with crusty bread to mop out the delicious juices.

[these photos show just a half quantity of the recipe]

IMG_0452 IMG_0454 IMG_0453

Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk

This recipe is largely from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ ‘Isa Does It’. It has the most amazing texture.

About 2kg Butternut Pumpkin
Oil for brushing or spraying the pumpkin before roasting

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 Tablespoon ginger, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper – I use white
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock (I use Moredough or Stock Merchant)
1 can coconut milk – light is fine
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
2-3 Tablespoons lime juice – to taste

Heat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Chop pumpkin into large chunks, removing the seeds. Brush or spray with oil and put on banking sheet. Roast for 50-60 minutes until ver tender. Remove skin, and set aside.

Saute onion in the coconut oil for about 5 minutes, add a pinch of salt and sauté a further 5 minutes to caramelise. Add garlic and ginger and stir through, then add pepper, chilli flakes and remaining salt. Add white wine and scrape down the pan to combine everything well. Add the pumpkin flesh, coconut milk, maple syrup and lime juice – mix well and heat through.

Blend with hand held blender until completely smooth.

Serve with some chopped herbs or spring onions, and a swirl of coconut milk (optional).

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.


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