Garlic Mushroom Soup

We have had rain virtually every day here in East Anglia for the last month. The sky has been grey, and it has been chilly for May. So soup seemed to be on the agenda. I decided to whip-up some mushroom soup as I had the ingredients at hand, and it made a yummy, warming filler on a drizzly day.


  • Mushrooms 20-25 chestnut
  • Garlic 5-6 cloves to taste
  • Potato 170 g/ 6 oz
  • Water 1.5 litres/ 6 cups (or so)
  • Vegetable Stock Cube 1
  • Greek Yogurt 2 Tbs
  • Salt to taste


Wash and cut the potato into 1/2 inch cubes (peeled or unpeeled to taste – I leave mine unpeeled).  Remove the skins from the garlic and dice finely.  Cut the mushrooms into 1/4 inch peices.  In a pot or soup-maker place the veg and add the water.  Pring to a boil and reduce to a high simmer if using a pan, or run one cycle of soup maker (about 30 minutes).  Add the stock and cook for 10 -15 minutes longer or a 1/2 cycle of maker.  Then blitz for about 30 seconds for chunkier, or 1 minute for smooth soup.  Stir in yogurt and salt to taste – that’s it.




Mediterranean Inspired Vegetable Soup

Padre’s Ramblings

Winter is still with us (in UK) and soup is always a good cold weather choice. Today I made a Mediterranean inspired vegetable soups that I found very tasty. While it lacks some traditional ingredients such as union or pasta, it is still warming and filling. My previous recipe for this I found it a bit bitter. The addition of a little milk and sugar remedied that but was hit and miss when using tomatoes. This time I used a cheaters short cut and used tomato soup rather than tomatoes, milk, and sugar. The result, I found, was far more satisfactory.


Sweet Potato 1 large (approx 350 g)

  • Sweet Potato 1 large (approx. 350 g)
  • Potato 1 average (approx. 200 – 220 g)
  • Carrot 1 medium (approx. 100 g)
  • Basil fresh 30 g
  • Haricot Beans [navy beans or similar] 1 tin (400 g)
  • Tomato Soup 1 tin (400 g)
  • Garlic Powder 1 tsp
  • Ground Oregano 1 tsp
  • Vegetable Stock Cube 1
  • Salt 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
  • Water 1 1/4 litres


Wash the potato with the peel on and then dice it into 1/4 inch pieces.  Peel the carrot and sweet potato and cut them into similar sized pieces.  Roughly chop the basil and it and the chopped veg into a soup maker or large pot, along with the water and salt.  Run for one cycle (soup maker) or boil for 30 minutes.  Then add the stock cube, garlic, oregano, tomato soup, and beans (drained) and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.  Then pulse blitz only for a few seconds, just long enough to break up any bigger pieces, and then serve.  I prefer it this way, though it can be blended to smooth if you prefer.


Birdseye vs. McCartney

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the Western World seemed to be going crazy with Veganuary.  Fast food outlets, and supermarkets seemed to be climbing over each other to prove which had the “best” plant based options.  But as we all know, the health and environmental benefits of such foods were eclipsed by a world-wide pandemic.  Lock-downs and hospitality venue close-downs led to takeaway and drive through menus only, and one of the first casualties of this was the plant-based menu options.  KFC and Burger King quickly withdrew their veggie burgers in their “reduced crisis” menus.

Supermarkets, however continued to provide veggie options, though over the year I did not see as many options as I would have liked.  Nonetheless, companies such as Quorn and Cauldron continued to provide tasty fare. 

Among these options are two very similar products.  These are The Linda McCartney Vegetarian burgers and Birdseye’s Green Cuisine Meat Free Burgers.

I have reviewed Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Mozzarella Burgers before.  Each burger has 238 calories with 17.8 grams of protein and 13.5 grams of fat.  The carb measures at 10.1 grams of which 1.3 grams is sugars.  The Birdseye competitor also has 238 calories per burger with 14 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat (1.3 g saturated).  

The higher fat content in the Birdseye burger gives it a slight flavour edge in the burger mass, but the McCartney burger’s cheese content compensates for this to make them roughly equal in taste (in my opinion).  

When grilled according to instructions, they both have limited shrinkage, through the McCartney product is slightly thicker.  Both have a very similar plant mass texture, with the Birdseye burger having a very slightly richer colour.   The McCartney’s cheese does give a twist to its overall texture by giving a stringy cheese presence when hot.  

The plant content does differ considerably with the McCartney being primarily soya mixed with chickpea flour.  The Birdseye burger is mainly rehydrated pea protein (60%), bamboo fibre, and pea flour.

All in all it is a toss up.  The two products even cost the same at both Sainsbury and Tesco.  That said, the Birdseye is more vegan friendly as it does not have the dairy content of the McCartney option.



War of the Rings: The Doughnut Challenge – Round One (Puns Intended)


My wife had diabetes and near the end of her life had moved to a Keto diet.  She expressed at one point the desire to have a “good doughnut,” a desire that was never filled.   As such I have undertaken a search for a “good doughnut” in her memory.  I will over several weeks try to work out the best supermarket, and best “premium” doughnut.  Here are my findings thus far.

Original Glazed®

Krispy Kreme own site

Stop one – Krispy Kreme, Peterborough

I tried a limited edition Reece’s Peanut Butter doughnut as a treat. The Reece’s was a bit on the sweet side, and at 400 calories a bit excessive, but nice for a treat.  The “cake” was light and not oily and the chocolate topping was glossy and very rich.   If not a fan of peanut butter give it a miss, as it is very peanut-ty.    I also had an apple pie flavoured doughnut.  This again had the light Krispy Kreme dough and the apple filling was lightly spiced and pleasantly sweet.  The amount of filling was ample, without overflowing at each bite.  The sprinkling of sugar on the surface in a pie crust lattice shape was light and didn’t coat the lips. The doughnut dough recipe is one of my favourites, and the other contenders will have a fight on their hands.

imageedit_1_3396713428 (1).jpg

Stop Two: Greggs’, Thetford, Norfolk
The new Greggs’ outlet in Thetford is still fresh and clean and seemed a good place for that franchise to show its stuff.  I had a caramel topped custard filled doughnut and in the absence of a plain glazed ring, I went with a milk chocolate topped ring.  The “cake” of both was moist but not incredibly fluffy.  The flavour of the dough was average, and in the case of the iced ring it was good that it was topped as it gave the doughnut something it was otherwise missing.  The filled doughnut was heavily filled with commercial custard.  In fact, it was filled sufficiently to ooze from the cake with the first bite.  If a custard fan, then a plus, if you are on the way to a meeting be warned as it might well leave you with a little more than you were expecting.  The flavour was good though, and at only about 2/3 the price of Krispy Kreme an okay deal.  A word on the coffee – strong and slightly bitter, okay for something warm, but not a “go to” pick-me-up.
Stop Three: Sainsbury’s “Patisserie” (In-store bakery) – Mildenhall, Suffolk
The baker’s counter at Sainsbury often has some delicious looking treats, so I made it stop three of the War of the Rings.  There were no filled doughnuts on offer, not were their standard glazed rings, so a salted caramel yum yum and an iced chocolate ring were given the test.  Price-wise the iced ring was the cheapest so far at 4 doughnuts for £1.30.  The cake texture was firm and,  owing to some (very little indeed) chocolate cream in the centre of the ring,  fairly moist.  The filling was runny and offered more in moisture than it did in flavour.  The icing was glossy and sweet without being overpowering.   The yum yum was rather dry.  The salted caramel was nicely balanced in its sweetness, and the pecan pieces enhanced the taste.  The cake itself was rather average however.