Plentiful Curried Parsnip Soup


So morish a recipe if ever there was one! Filling, tasty and a firm favourite that makes a great starter or a substantial lunch.


Serves upto 6

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 onion, sliced and chopped

600g of parsnips, peeled and chopped

1.2l vegetable stock (using two-three stock cubes)


  • Put the cumin seeds into a large saucepan and toast for about 5 minutes until they are releasing their heady aromas.
  • Add the chopped onion.

Andrew: Where’s the cooking oil?

Dawn: I’m not using any in this recipe but it can be added to the saucepan after the cumin seeds have been toasted, if you prefer. 

Andrew: You could also use coriander seed and cardamom seed. Let them ‘pop’ in the pan and then crush with the back of a spoon or with a pestle and mortar before continuing.

Dawn: Interesting twist. I will try that one.

  • Cook the chopped onion until softened, for approximately 5 minutes or until tender.
  • Next, add the vegetable stock and the chopped parsnips.
  • Bring the saucepan contents up to boil and lower the heat.
  • Simmer until the parsnips are soft, for approximately 20 minutes.
  • With an electric hand whisk, blend the parsnips, cumin and vegetable stock mixture to form a smooth texture.
  • Serve warm with crusty, tasty wholemeal bread and add a twirl of single cream into the top.

Andrew: I love this soup! A veggie friend make some some time ago and it was delicious. For a fabulous variation grate some Bramley apple into the soup after it has been blended, heating through for 3-4 minutes to add the apple flavour and texture.

Dawn: And oh, so very simple to make!!! Costs pennies to achieve a really tasty and nutritious meal. 

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Yummy Chunky Chilli


A family favourite if ever there was one! And makes great “ready meals” for pulling out of the freezer for when time is precious – and let’s face it, time is something we all need more of! Whether you’re looking for a nourishing mid-week meal for the family or making up batches of meals to freeze, this is a “must” try delicious dish you’ll cook time and time again.

There are variations of chilli amass and this version is my own concocted favourite, an experiment with a little extra here and there. Using succulent cubed beef and a few extra spices, this is a filling, hearty version of a firm favourite and very easy to make.

Andrew: So great for singles, couples and families to freeze for quick, instant and good food, What a great dish! So, how do we start?


Services 4 or 6 dependent upon the individual portions served

1 tsp of cumin seeds

1 clove of garlic, peeled, chopped and crushed

1 tsp of paprika powder

¼ – ½ tsp of chilli flakes (dependent upon individual taste)

600g cubed beef (I tend to use the 500g size frozen cubed beef available in all good supermarkets and bulk the dish out with more vegetables, in this instance, cherry tomatoes would be good or more tinned tomatoes)

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes

1x 400g tin of red kidney beans (drained and washed)

3 red peppers (or mixed will be fine as well as using frozen mixed, chopped peppers)

250ml beef or vegetable stock

Allow 60g per person of brown dried rice or a rice of your preference

Serve with a mixed salad


  • Using a large saucepan or frying pan (with a lid), roast the cumin seeds until the aroma is released. This will take 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Adding the cubed beef, brown the beef, allowing it to release its juices. You may wish to add 1 tsp of oil pre-browning the beef off but I prefer to cook without so offering a low fat option. If the beef starts to stick to the pan, then add 1 tsp or a little more of water to allow the beef to brown freely without sticking.
  • Now add the crushed garlic and paprika coating the beef all over.

Andrew: Do you add the chilli flakes now, too, Dawn?

Dawn: You may, if you wish, Andrew but I prefer to add later to allow the true flavours of the combined ingredients to be released first. Also, I’m not a great fan on food that’s too spicy so I like to add a tiny amount of the chilli flakes and keep tasting until I have a flavour I’m happy with.

Andrew: I love fresh chilli! Can I have use of those?

Dawn: You can use them if you like, but be careful with the SHU of the chilli otherwise you will blow your socks off!

Andrew: That’s the Scoville Heat Scale! Check it out online. A Scotch Bonnet has a powerful punch!

Dawn: Also be very careful. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. I have seen a lot of red eyes from people wiping their peepers with ‘chilli hands’!

Andrew: Yes! And our gentleman readers need to be very careful!

Dawn: Too much information, Andrew! Can I get on now?!?

  • With the beef covered in the spices, added the chopped red peppers and stir into the beef and spices mixture.
  • Now add the two tins of tomatoes and the stock, stirring into the beef mixture. I like to rinse out the empty tins with the stock so all the lovely, yummy mushiness of the tomatoes clinging to the insides of the tins is washed away, into the cooking dish.
  • Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to allow the ingredients to simmer. Add the kidney beans. Cover and leave to cook on the hob until the beef is soft and succulent. Do pop back and give the dish a stir and you can towards the end of cooking, sample and add salt and pepper to season.

Andrew: Can I use dried kidney beans?

Dawn: You can, but you must boil them on a fast boil for ten minutes to eliminate any toxins, before cooking thoroughly.

Andrew: I remember that was one of Esther Rantzen’s great campaigns on That’s Life. They are so good for you aren’t they? Now, how long does it take to cook, Dawn?

Dawn: Well, I normally cook mine for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours to ensure the meat is really tender like I like it to be.

  • About 10-25 minutes before the chilli is due to be ready, put your brown rice into a saucepan of boiling, salted water and cook as per the instructions. The cooking time may vary so follow the particular instructions you have.
  • At this stage, you can also add the chilli flakes to the chilli to allow the flavour to be soaked up into the mixture. Try adding a tiny amount and tasting until you’re happy with the strength and depth of flavours.
  • You’re now ready to serve the dish and I like to add a mixed a salad for a cool and refreshing contrast to the chilli.

Andrew: That’s delicious, and a really great ‘ready meal’ for the freezer and a quick, filling week night dinner.

Dawn: Yes, Andrew, it’s a an excellent meal to portion up and freeze for eating when you haven’t much time to cook.

Dawn and Andrew: Bon appetit! Or buon provecho as they say in Mexico!!!

Tasty Tomato and Basil Soup


Soups. Hearty. Warming. Sometimes served cold as in the Med. Nutritious. Filling. Easy to make. And relatively inexpensive to pull together, here’s a real Winter warmer one for you.

Andrew: I love soups. I often have one at lunchtime as they are so simple to heat through and keeps me going through the afternoon. Chilled soups are excellent too. The Mediterranean vegetables absorb so much flavour that seems even more potent when cold. Garlic is especially good for this.

Dawn: Keeping the Vampires away!  You will find this one is so easy to freeze, too.


Serves 6 generous portions

1 large onion, peeled, sliced and diced

1 clove of garlic, peeled, chopped and crushed

1 tsp of dried basil (or fresh)

1.2 litres of vegetable stock (using two good quality stock cubes)

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes


  • Put the diced onion into a large saucepan, adding a little cold water so it doesn’t burn.

Andrew: Can I use oil? 

Dawn: Yes, a teaspoon of cooking oil, any sort, will be fine. Even butter. Simply melt it before adding the onion. And warm the cooking oil prior to adding the onions, too. I prefer not to use oil as cooking the onion in water will soften it just as well and reduces the fat content. 

Andrew: In the Mediterranean, it is almost expected that you will use Olive Oil!

  • Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring it so it doesn’t stick and if need be, to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, add a little more water but make sure its hot water added to the hot cooking onion.
  • Once the onion is soft, add the garlic. Cook for a further minute.
  • Now add the two tins of tomatoes. If whole tomatoes, chop them. It speeds up they’re cooking time.
  • Add the vegetable stock.
  • Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the basil and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • With an electric hand whisk, pulse the soup so the ingredients become one thick consistency.
  • Now, season and hey, presto! Tasty Tomato and Basil Soup for you!

Andrew: Mmm…and serve with a wholemeal, crusty slice of warmed bread?

Dawn: Absolutely! You may even choose to add a nice green mixed salad. An ideal lunch time meal to set you up for the afternoon.