By admin | January 25, 2012

BY AINE CARLIN

It’s so great to see how interested people are in my vegan diet. Not judgmental, not confused but genuinely intrigued. It tickles me when they ask; “what exactly do you eat?” and I take great pleasure in listing the many amazing meals I’ve had and yet to have – because I’m always planning my next meal Can we say, ‘food obsessed’?

Just so you know, bread is most definitely allowed – which can be a slight problem because a diet containing copious amounts of it is not particularly great and so I treat myself to it two sometimes three times a week tops. This way I appreciate and enjoy it even more.

In fact the first bread I ever made was a focaccia and it was such a resounding success that I was almost fearful to try it again in case it wasn’t as good. It was the perfect focaccia  – or perhaps I’m just remembering it through rose tinted glasses. Regardless, I don’t think any focaccia since has matched it greatness since and yet I do my best.

Recently I tried a new focaccia recipe – very different to my usual, which only requires you to knead the bread once (my kind of bread!) and has less olive oil(sayonara unnecessary fat). Initially I was disappointed with it because the texture was slightly denser than I expected but in reality it is really lovely foccacia with wonderful depth and perfectly matched with this velvety smooth soup.

My only other thought on the matter is, “my gosh do the Italians know what they’re doing with bread! Bellissima!”

Sweet Potato Soup with Chili Thyme Drizzle and Fresh Foccacia Recipe

Inspired by a Tana Ramsey Recipe

Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:
8 carrots
4/5 medium sweet potato
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 vegetable stock cube
1 sprig rosemary
salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Finely dice the onion and sweat in a little oil along with some seasoning. Roughly chop the garlic and add to the pan. Cover and sweat for a few minutes.
  2. Peel the carrot and sweet potato and roughly chop into smallish pieces. Add to pan along with rosemary, cover and allow to soften for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Crumble in the stock cube and cover with water. Leave to gently simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  4. When the veg is soft, remove the rosemary and transfer to a blender and blitz to a puree. Return to pan and top up with water – you can have it as thick or as thin as you like.
  5. Taste and season. Do not let it boil. When serving swirl in some soy cream and chilli/thyme oil (recipe below).

Chili and Thyme Oil

Ingredients:
1 large red chilli
few sprigs of thyme
olive oil

Method:

  1. Chop the chilli as finely as possible going over it several times with a knife until it begins to exude it juices. This can be more easily done in a pestle and mortar. Transfer to a small bowl.
  2. Remove the thyme leaves from the stalks, finely chop and add to bowl. Pour in several tablespoons of oil, stir and allow to infuse for at least 30mins before serving.
  3. This is also a great dip for bread.

Focaccia

Ingredients:
340g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 7g packet instant yeast
150ml water
2 tbsp olive oil (more for oiling sheet and drizzling on top)
2 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary
Coarse sea salt

Method:

  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast.
  2. Combine the water and oil in a jug.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in some of the water. Using your hands or a spatula/wooden spoon gradually mix the flour into the water until a dough is created adding more water as required. If it’s too sticky add more flour and likewise, if it’s too dry add more water. Trust your instinct.
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Oil the bowl and return the dough to it. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hrs.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees. Oil and/or line a tin or baking sheet.
  6. The dough should have doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a further 5 mins.
  7. Transfer to tin, cover with damp cloth and allow to rise for another 10-15 mins. During which time you can chop the rosemary.
  8. Dimple the dough with your fingers. Sprinkle with good quality sea salt and chopped rosemary. Generously drizzle with oil and bake for 25-30 mins.

Photos: Aine Carlin

Aine Carlin is a vegan blogger who specializes in vegan recipes. She also has a keen interest in vegan fashion and is currently training to be a stylist where she hopes to promote cruelty-free clothing and beauty. You can find more of her vegan recipes and vegan friendly fashion over at www.peasoupeats.com

For more great recipes from Aine, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)

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