Fresh and Fast Vegan Starter Recipes

Fresh and Fast Vegan Starter Recipes

Creamy Carrot and Ginger Soup with Curly Toasts

serves 4
preparation time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 35 minutes

For most of us, soup means breaking bread and sharing, which may be why I always tend to make soup if there are friends or family coming for lunch or supper. This soup is rich and tasty without using lots of fat. I want everyone to feel good about eating it and asking for seconds without feeling guilty.

  • 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 5 lbs. carrots, diced
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 slices day-old soft grain bread
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

❖ Preheat the oven to 350°F. Dry-fry the cumin seeds in a heavy frying pan over moderate heat, turning or stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until golden. Coarsely crush the seeds using a pestle and mortar. Put the carrots, ginger and half the cumin in a large saucepan, and pour in enough water to just cover the carrots. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

❖ While the carrots are cooking, toast the slices of bread lightly on both sides. Cut off the crusts, and cut each slice in half horizontally. Carefully scrape off any doughy bits, then cut each half-slice into 2 squares and then 4 triangles. Arrange the triangles on a baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes, until golden and curly. Set aside.

❖ Drain the carrots over a bowl, and reserve the cooking liquid. Put the carrots and 3½ fl. ozs. of the reserved liquid in a food processor, and process to a smooth puree. If the soup is too thick, add more cooking liquid.

❖ Rinse out the saucepan, return the soup and warm it through over a gentle heat. Season with salt, pepper and as much of the remaining cumin as you wish. Divide the soup among four coffee cups, scatter the cilantro over the top and pop the curly toasts on the saucers to serve.

Each serving contains:
Calories 250 • Protein 7g • Fat 3g (saturated 0.5g) • Carbohydrates 48g • Fiber 14g • Calories from fat 13% • Excellent source of vitamin A • Good source of folic acid and vitamins C and E

Tomato Soup with Cilantro Salsa

serves 4
preparation time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes

I often turn this into a sorbet and serve it as a starter or between courses. Remember always to skin the tomatoes, or you will end up with tough bits of skin in an otherwise smooth soup.

  • 2 lbs. ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 14 fl. ozs. water
  • pinch of light brown sugar, softened
  • handful of cilantro
  • zest of 1 lime
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

❖ Skin the tomatoes (see page 46), and dice the flesh.

❖ Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the onion and garlic over low heat, stirring, for 10 minutes, until the onion is cooked but not brown. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the tomato flesh, and add the remainder to the saucepan. Cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the lime juice, 14 fl. ozs. water, and the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

❖ Put the soup in a food processor, and process to a smooth puree. Pass the puree through a sieve into a clean saucepan, and season to taste. Add half the cilantro, and warm the soup through over a gentle heat.

❖ Divide the soup among four warm serving bowls. Mix the reserved diced tomato, the remaining cilantro and the lime zest together, and put a spoonful of the salsa in the middle of each bowl. Serve.

For a tomato sorbet:

❖ Let the puree sit until it is cold, then add a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce. Either process the puree in an ice cream machine, following the manufacturer’s instructions, or pour it into a freeze proof container and freeze it for 3 hours. Take it out of the freezer every hour, mash it with a fork, and return it to the freezer. Add a little drizzle of vodka over the top, and serve with celery sticks, or with the cilantro salsa.

Each serving contains:
Calories 75 • Protein 2g • Fat 3g (saturated 0.6g) • Carbohydrates 10g • Fiber 3g • Calories from fat 42% • Good source of vitamins C and A

Corn, Coconut, Lime and Basil Soup

serves 4
preparation time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 15 minutes, plus 11⁄ 4 hours for boiling the stock, if making

I try to make soups with ingredients that provide the flavor rather than having to rely heavily on stocks. The stock for this particular recipe is made from the corn cobs left over when the kernels have been removed. However, if fresh corn is not in season, use 14 ounces of canned corn and a good vege – table stock instead. Similarly, if kaffir lime leaves, which add a wonderfully subtle citrus flavor to the soup, are not available, substitute the fine zest (no pith) of half a lime. (Kaffir lime leaves are available in Asian markets.) Jalapeño chili peppers are probably the best known chilies around. They are about 1–1½ inches long, with a full flavor and medium heat. As with most chilies, the heat is concentrated in the seeds and the membrane, which holds the seeds to the flesh.

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 5½ cups (23⁄4 pints) water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves or zest of ½ lime
  • 4 fl. ozs. canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • large handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 limes, each cut into chunks

❖ Scrape the kernels from the ears with a sharp knife, and put the kernels in a bowl. Set aside.

❖ Break each of the ears into 2 or 3 pieces. Put them in a large saucepan, and add 5½ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. You will need to skim the foam from the top of the liquid with a large spoon, especially for the first 30 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

❖ Heat the oil in a large clean saucepan, and add the ginger, shallots and jalapeño. Fry gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots are softened. Add the kaffir lime leaves or lime zest, reserved corn stock (or the equivalent volume of vegetable stock) and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat immediately, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add water, if necessary, to achieve the texture you prefer. Add the reserved kernels, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

❖ Ladle the soup into warm bowls. Stack about 6 basil leaves together, roll them into a cigar shape and slice thinly. Repeat with the remaining basil. Scatter the basil strips over the soup. Serve with wedges of lime.

Each serving contains:
Calories 210 • Protein 5g • Fat 11g (saturated 3.6g) • Carbohydrates 23g • Fiber 2.6g • Calories from fat 48%