Carrot and Red Pepper Soup

Now that the British weather is returning to us, perhaps it’s time to take a look at some food to warm the insides as the nights begin to get longer. Soups have long been favoured by us Brits but, for reasons that I can’t quite figure out, we get a lot of it processed in cans. I never buy canned soup. I didn’t before I became vegan, and I don’t now that I am vegan. I have fond childhood memories of canned soup provided by my grandmother, but when I learned how easy it was to make it, and to make it better than the processed stuff, I never did anything else.
Ok, making a soup from scratch does take a little longer than opening a can and microwaving the contents. It also takes a bit more effort. On the plus side, you can get exactly the soup you want, and in the quantities you want it. Nobody ever makes homemade soup for one. Even if you’re living by yourself, it’s sensible to make a batch of it and freeze what you’re not going to eat straight away. At home, we use old ice cream and takeaway containers to freeze portion sizes of soup. That way, if I’m coming home late from work, all my wife has to do is pop one in the microwave (just like you would with a can, only better).
Soups, of course, can range in their difficulty, and some are a lot more involved than others. This one is definitely on the easy scale, as it’s all done in the one pan and then blended at the end. The whole thing takes about 45 minutes to make, so you have time to do it even if you’ve been at work all day.

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Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 35 minutes.
Serves 4

Gluten Free

2 tbsp flavourless oil, such as groundnut
600g carrots, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife
3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 heaped tbsp ground paprika
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 litre veg stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
250ml vegan cream
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of grated vegan cheese to top

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sweat the carrots for about 10 minutes, until they are soft. Add the celery, pepper and onion and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and give it two more minutes then put in the tomato wedges, paprika and mustard.
Pour in the veg stock and bring the everything to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time and then blend until completely smooth. If you’re using a jug blender, then make sure that steam can escape. I use a handheld blender for all my soups and blend it in the pot it’s cooking in.
Put the soup back on the stove and add the vegan cream. Stir in and allow to simmer gently for a minute or two. Season with the salt and pepper to taste and then serve into individual bowls. Top each bowl with a little grated vegan cheese.

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