Eat Better Forever, Hugh? Oh, OK then.
Spent December scoffing mince pies? Whip up a veg-packed soup or hot pot from Hugh's new cookbook and feel the smug glow of a healthy New Year.
After – let’s be honest – most of a year spent eating takeaways (plus whatever gubbins we managed to get on the Ocado shop this week), this new book from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is just what the doctor ordered. Featuring 100 of the bespectacled chef’s healthiest recipes, plus tried and true techniques to be more nutritionally mindful in 2021, Eat Better Forever: 7 Ways to Transform Your Diet lands on New Year’s Eve (so you can have one more day of hedonism before the inevitable January diet). Here are two sneak preview recipes, stuffed full of veg, to warm up your weeknight dinners…
STORE CUPBOARD TOMATO & BEAN SOUP
At its most basic, this super-easy soup requires only an onion and a couple of store cupboard staples – tinned tomatoes and beans – and it’s well worth making if that’s all you put into it (perhaps with a dash of chilli). But you have the option of building in some fresh veg too, depending on what you have to hand. Either way, it’s a lovely, thick soup. If you want to loosen it and make it more soupy, add some hot veg stock with the tomatoes; you won’t need more than a mugful (250–300ml).
- 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 x 400g tins whole tomatoes
- 250–300ml hot veg stock, optional
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped, or 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika, or a good dash of chilli sauce (optional)
- 2 x 400g tins white, black or kidney beans, or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Optional extra veg
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stem, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil or pestomega to finish (optional)
Place a large saucepan or a small stockpot over a medium heat. Add the oil and, when hot, add the onion with a pinch each of salt and pepper. This is also the time to add any or all of the optional extra veg – carrot, celery, pepper and/or fennel. Turn the heat down a little and sweat the veg for about 5 minutes to soften a little.
Add the tomatoes with their juice, crushing them with your hands as you drop them in, and picking out the little white stalky ends if they bother you. Add the stock, if you like, and the chilli, paprika or chilli sauce, if using. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes to reduce, stirring a few times and mashing the tomato down a little with a fork or spoon as it cooks.
Before adding the beans, you can part-blitz the soup with a hand blender if you like – either roughly, or until smooth. Or just leave it chunky and unblitzed (my preference).
With the back of a spoon (or your fingers) break up the beans slightly, before stirring them into the soup. Simmer gently for another 5 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper and ladle into warm bowls. Finish with a trickle of good olive oil or a spoonful of pestomega and a grinding of pepper.
ASIAN HOT POT
This is completely delicious and very filling! The mushrooms are fried ‘hard’ to start with, creating a lovely caramelised exterior that really adds to the flavour of the dish. I like to use black beans, but you can use kidney, cannellini or any other kind. The miso paste is optional but it does give the hot pot a boost of savoury, ‘umami’ character.
- 3–4 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 700g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1⁄2 large celeriac (about 500g) peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
- A large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 x 400g tins beans (black, white or kidney), drained and rinsed
- A bunch of spring onions, trimmed A bunch of chard (200g), washed
- About 2 tbsp white/shiro miso paste (optional)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon, plus extra to taste
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 3–4 tbsp chopped coriander, to finish (optional)
Set a large frying pan over a high heat. Add 2 tbsp of the oil, then half the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Fry them ‘hard’ for 6–8 minutes, stirring only occasionally so they develop a rich golden-brown colour. If the mushrooms give out any liquid, cook until it’s evaporated and keep going until they are nicely browned. Tip them into a very large saucepan or casserole. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.
Place the pan of mushrooms over a medium-high heat. Add the cubed celeriac with the ginger and garlic and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring often. Tip in the beans and pour in enough water to just cover everything (about 700ml). Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the celeriac is just tender.
Meanwhile, cut the spring onions into 2cm slices and shred the chard into 1–2cm strips. Add them to the pan and stir well. Return to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat. Scoop out a ladleful of the hot broth into a bowl and mix in 2 tbsp miso paste. Tip this thick liquid back into the hotpot, and add the soy and lime or lemon juice. Stir well. Taste and add more miso, lime/lemon, soy and/or pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, finish with chopped coriander if you like, and serve.
In the summer, replace the celeriac with a mixture of waxy potatoes and carrots. Instead of chard, you can use spinach, spring greens or kale, removing the tough stalks. You can use any kind of tinned bean or pulse, including chickpeas or lentils.
Eat Better Forever: 7 Ways to Transform Your Diet (Bloomsbury) is out on Thurs 31 Dec, and is available to pre-order now.