Seaford East Sussex BN25 9BF United Kingdom
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Serves 4
Soup is a very healthy lunch idea and can be made quite quickly. Why not take some to work or school in a flask and eat it with a hunk of crusty bread? This sounds an exotic soup but everything you need is readily available from any supermarket. The lemon might seem an odd ingredient but it really gives the soup a lovely flavour.

50g (2 oz) margarine
1 large onion, finely chopped
450g (1 lb) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
225g (8 oz) carrots, chopped into small cubes
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 lemon, the zest and juice
850ml (1.5 pints) vegetable stock, made with a good vegetable stock cube (eg Kallo, Knorr, Oxo vegetable)
black pepper

1 Melt the margarine and fry the onions until transparent.
2 Add the sweet potato and carrots and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 Add the herbs, zest and the juice of half the lemon, stock and black pepper.
4 Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
5 Puree the soup in a blender or food processor a little at a time until smooth but retaining some of the texture.
6 Return to the pan to reheat until piping hot before serving.

This pie is a chunky version of shepherd’s pie and makes me think of cosy evenings in front of the fire. If you can make extra mashed potatoes a couple of days beforehand as part of another meal, you’ll find this pie is much quicker to prepare.

Mashed potatoes are so easy to make. Just peel the potatoes, cut into quarters or smaller if the spuds are really big. Boil for about 20 minutes. When ready, the potatoes should slip off the blade of a knife easily when speared and should look slightly floury.

Add a knob of marg, a splash of soya milk, salt and black pepper and mash thoroughly with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Add more marg or milk if necessary. For a tasty variation, you could try adding a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard.

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    450g (1lb) veggie sausages
    3 medium onions, chopped finely
    2 sticks celery, chopped finely
    225g (8oz) mushrooms, sliced
    6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
    1 tsp dried basil
    1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
    50g (2 oz) frozen peas
    salt and black pepper
    675g (1.5 lb) mashed potato1. Fry the veggie sausages in the oil until cooked. Chop into bite sized chunks and put aside.
    2. Fry the onions and celery in the oil for 3-4 minutes (add a little more oil if necessary).
    3. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
    4. Add the tomatoes and stir well.
    5 .Add the basil, chilli powder (if using) and the salt and pepper to taste.
    6. Cover the mixture and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.
    7. Add the frozen peas and the sausage pieces and stir well before pouring the mixture into a deep oven-proof dish.
    8. Cover the mixture with mashed potatoes and place under the grill until the top has browned and serve immediately. If the pie has been prepared in advance and has cooled down, cook in a moderately hot oven 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5 for about half an hour until the mashed potato has browned.

If, like me, you enjoy finishing on a naughty note, this chocolate cake is fabulous and it also has the advantage of being suitable for vegans! More good news is that it can be made well in advance, so the chef can relax and enjoy also.

For the cake:
300g (10 oz) self-raising flour
50g (2 oz) cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
250g (9 oz) caster sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
9tbsp sunflower oil
350ml (12 floz) water
small amount of vegan margarine for greasing

For the filling/topping:
Either a small amount of cherry or apricot jam or chocolate spread
100g (4oz) vegan margarine
200g (7 oz) icing sugar
1-2 tbsp hot water
For chocolate buttercream, dissolve 1-2 tbsp of cocoa powder in a little of the hot water and combine with the rest of the ingredients.
Small amount of plain chocolate to grate over the top.

1 Preheat the oven to 325F/170C/Gas Mark 3.
2 Grease 2 20-22 cm (8-8.5 inch) sandwich tins and line the bottom with a circle of greaseproof paper.
3 Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla, oil and water. Mix well to a batter like consistency.
4 Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for about 40 minutes, until the cakes spring back to a light touch in the centre.
5 Turn the cakes out on to a wire rack and strip off the lining paper. Leave to cool completely.
6 Make the buttercream by beating the margarine in a mixing bowl until creamy, then sift in the icing sugar and beat again until light. Add enough hot water to loosen the mixture a little, beating well.
7 Sandwich the cakes together with a layer of jam or chocolate spread and/or buttercream. Coat the top with the rest and top with grated chocolate.

* Reproduced with kind permission from the excellent Viva! Guide 5: PAM FERRIS COOKS VEGGIE. £1.50 inc p&p, 100% animal free recipes. Available from Viva!, 12 Queen Square, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3FD, Tel: 01273 777688 or visit Cheques made payable to Viva! Campaigns.