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Episode 23: VeganTamer Soup

The parallel episode to the Vanilla Creme Brutal! CoverVersions go now! 


This is a parallel episode, because this is the dish I made for Charlotte and Gonzi and Tanja and I when they came over for filming Vanilla Creme Brutal. I chose it because it's a very quick "chop up crap, throw in pot, wait a bit" recipe, which I tend to default to when people come over. 

The title is actually a misnomer, as it's not the Vegans that need taming, frankly: it's the carnivores. Happily this is a soup with enough flavour punch to satisfy even the hardiest meat-eater, T-Rex arms and all. 

The best way to serve is to take some flatbread, spray it with a little olive oil, dust it with sumac & cumin, then toast it in the oven until the edges go crispy, and put it in the bowl before you put the soup in. Ta-da! Bread-bowl! It's also great on the second night, as the wheat continues to absorb liquid and flavour overnight and gets freakishly huge.

Oh, and after a great response to the giveaway, the winner is....

Lorraine, from NotQuiteNigella!

Congrats, Lorraine, and enjoy the slightly dented book.

Music Notes:

Kate Rusby - Village Green Preservation Society

Fountains of Wayne - Better Things

Both from "Mojo: The Modern Genius of Ray Davies", 2006

I started off looking for Vegan musicians to match the theme of the soup and was overjoyed to spot Dave Davies on the list. Dave is is the guy who invented the distorted power chord. He took a razor blade & sliced the speaker cone of his Elpico amp with a razor blade, ran it through a Vox as a pre-amp  and suddenly you have one of the most important sounds in rock and roll. Then he and his band (which had his brother singing lead) recorded a roaring, stomping two-chord track to be their third single. Their record label didn't like the song & refused to pay for studio time. They did eventually get the money, and "You Really Got Me" was the first of many enormously massive hits for the band, known as The Kinks. You might have heard of them.

Anyhow, the Kinks' music has always occupied a special place in my heart as strongly emotive. They can be whimsical, they can be glad, they can be funny, and especially, they can make you bawl your eyes out like a small child with a skinned knee. But an emotion I had not associated with the Kinks was Nostaligia. Ray Davies, despite being a North London boy, had a huge yen for the imagined simple life of the English Countryside. Nowhere is this more apparent than on one of their many concept albums, The Village Green Preservation Society, the title track of which I have used here. Kate Rusby's Yorkshire vocals give a real authenticity to her lament at the loss of strawberry jam, Donald Duck, custard pies, and draught beer in the face of skyscrapers & office blocks.

As for the second track, it's Fountains of Wayne in full 90s stadium singalong mode, sending out Ray Davies' simplest message: "It's good to see you having fun, and if things aren't great for you, that's sad, and I hope they get better." Lovely sentiment, that.



VeganTamer Soup

serves 6


  • 75g hard wheat or bulgar
  • 1 onion
  • 3 capsicum
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp za'atar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin diced tomatoes
  • 3 stock cubes
  • Bunch of fresh mint
  • Flatbreads
  • Extra of all spices.
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Put your wheat in a bowl, cover with boiling water, then wrap in a tea towel and put aside. Put a large deep pan onto medium heat with a bit of oil.
  2. Peel & chop garlic, onions and capsicums, then chuck in the pan for about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Once the veg have softened, add the spices and mix thoroughly. Then add tinned tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, 3 stock cubes & 1 litre of water.
  5. Drain what liquid might be left under the wheat (shouldn't be much), and scrape that in as well. Pinch of salt, few grinds of pepper.
  6. Bring to a roiling boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  7. When ready to serve, get some flatbreads, spray with a little oil and dust with sumac & cumin, then pop into the oven to crisp up. Lay them on the bottom of the bowls, and ladle the soup over. Scatter some torn mint leaves, dust over more sumac & za'atar, put a lime wedge on the side, seize and consume!

Reader Comments (4)

Congratulations to Lorraine for winning. Great video as always - yum!

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbakingaddict

Thanks so much for the prize! Hubby told me that there's a package from you waiting for me when I get home! Can't wait to see it :)

For a minute I thought one of the lines in the first song was "God save Dumbledore", lol. Cool recipe, perfect for the crappy nights we're having.

July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJasmyneTea

I missed your posts especially videos! I enjoy peeking how someone cooks - cutting same veggies can be a little different and it's fun to see how you cook. I love how dynamically you cut, stir, and prepare meals. Lovely soup!

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