Niamh Doherty

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

In Comfort Food, Supper on May 22, 2012 at 21:29

I’m of the firm belief that everyone needs a good chili recipe up their sleeve. Cheap, quick, easy – and with a healthy dose of spice – what could be better? The fact that this chili is loaded with vegetables and beans means that it is very nutritious indeed; the culinary version of a 5k run, allowing you to feel smugly virtuous about doing something that’s good for yourself as you spoon a second helping into your bowl. I’ll gloss over the fact that I tend to top mine with dollops of deliciously fatty sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese and crushed-up salty tortilla chips…a girl’s gotta have something, right?

I spied this particular recipe on Joy the Baker’s site, and quickly bookmarked it. Its first outing a couple of weeks later was when I made it for a vegetarian friend, in a fit of  carniverous, what-am-I-supposed-to-feed-you-people desperation. Halfway through making it I realised that perhaps serving an allegedly spicy chili that I hadn’t even road-tested to a new friend whose Dad was Mexican and therefore – in my mind at least – had been chowing  down on jalapeno peppers since infancy probably wasn’t such a good idea. In any event, she declared it to be delicious as she blithely spooned away, my brothers fanning their mouths in unison. If that’s not a gold star for this recipe, I don’t know what is.

As usual, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I’ve meddled with this recipe. I don’t add stock, or frozen corn (I like corn on the cob, but not frozen/canned corn as a vegetable. Hey, I’m complex), and sub cannellini beans for the chickpeas. I also use hot chili powder, and if I can’t find steak seasoning I just add rock salt, freshly ground black pepper and dried chili flakes. The original recipe is here if you want to give it a go – if not, my altered version is set out below. I like it quite spicy, but feel free to use milder chili powder/barbecue sauce if you’re a bit of a spice wimp, as I once was.

The original version claims to feed eight people, but three friends and I scarfed the whole pot down on Friday night, so I would say it feeds four to six, depending on who you’re feeding and their levels of greed. Like all spicy, stew-y dishes, this only gets better the longer it sits, and is glorious reheated the next day (and the next, and the next…), smeared onto a tortilla wrap with guacamole, sour cream and cheddar cheese, or plonked on top of a baked potato. If you’ve got a large enough pot you can also make double the recipe and freeze it for a later date. Just make it, I beg you – you won’t regret it.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili – serves 4 to 6


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 green/yellow pepper, diced

1 courgette, diced

3 small cloves of garlic, diced

1 cup beer (or vegetable stock if you like)

3 heaping tablespoons steak seasoning (or a mix of rock salt, black pepper and chili flakes if you’re stuck)

1 tablespoon of hot chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/3 cup barbecue sauce (I use the Reggae Reggae jerk/barbecue sauce)

1 x can black beans, rinsed

1 x  can kidney beans, rinsed

1 x can cannellini beans, rinsed

2 x can chopped tomatoes


1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the onions and saute until translucent and slightly browned.  Add the peppers and courgette and cook for four or five minutes, until they begin to soften.

2. Add garlic and all of the spices to the vegetables.  Cook for two minutes.

3. Deglaze the pan by adding a cup of beer or stock to the pot. Stir and scrape the bits off the bottom of the pot.  Once the beer has stopped sizzling, add the barbecue sauce, beans and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a low boil and cook for about 15 minutes.

4. Serve in a bowl, topped with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and salted tortilla chips. Keeps for about 6 days, if you can resist its siren call for that long.

(The image below is care of Penzeys Spices – my phone wasn’t playing ball and refused to upload the picture I wanted. Curse you, technology…)


Sweet Potato, Ginger and Coconut Soup for a So-Called Summer’s Day

In Comfort Food, Life, Lunch, Soup, Supper on May 14, 2012 at 20:48

I haven’t blogged in 18 months. Yowza. It sounds a lot longer than it feels. In any event, I don’t think anyone missed me, so I’m going to brush off my absence with a simple explanation –  some shit happened and I didn’t feel like blogging anymore, but now I do. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

It’s finally summer in Ireland – at least, according to the calendar. Yesterday was gorgeous, with an expanse of blue skies, cotton-wool clouds, and a breeze that would cut you in two. It was far too nice to sit around at home, so I took advantage of the fine weather and went adventuring around Co. Wexford with a friend of mine. We visited Hook Head Lighthouse and Duncannon Fort, built in 1588 by the British in anticipation of an attack by the Spanish Armada. Unlike your ordinary common or garden tourists, we got our hands on a set of keys and were able to go down into the dungeons which were properly creepy. I distracted myself from the gloom by taking some photos – I recently discovered Instagram and I. Am. OBSESSED. Here’s a shot of the fort itself:

All this exploring and running from the supposed spirits of Croppy Boys past worked up quite an appetite, so we sauntered down the road to the Sandy Dock Cafe for a delicious lunch. One of the daily soup specials caught my eye – Sweet Potato, Ginger and Coconut. I LOVE sweet potato, and it’s rare to see something so “daring” on the menu of a small Irish country cafe, so I was doubly intrigued. Unfortunately, I was too hungry to just have soup for lunch, and instead resolved to try it myself at home.

I’m going to annoy you all by saying that I don’t really have a recipe for this. I had a general idea of how I would go about making this tasty soup, and consulted a couple of online resources to make sure I was on the right track. Anna Olson’s recipe was more or less what I was going for, so I forged ahead. If you’d like a definitive recipe, feel free to use hers, but rest assured that my free-form effort turned out beautifully. The soup is silky smooth, with subtle warmth from the ginger and a luxurious feel thanks to the coconut milk. I divvied my soup up into freezable portions, and added the lime once I’d reheated it for some extra zing, topping with natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of chili flakes. Just the thing to warm your soul after a bracing walk, at any time of the year.

Sweet Potato, Ginger and Coconut Soup – Serves 4


Glug of olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 tbsps grated fresh ginger (I just grated the ginger over the pot until I got what I thought was 2 tbps because I’m lazy)

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 can of coconut milk (I used reduced-fat which is thinner – if you use full-fat you may need to use more stock)

2 cups of vegetable stock (be prepared to add more to thin it out if necessary)

Salt, pepper and lime juice to taste; natural yoghurt and red chili flakes to serve.


1. Heat up the oil  in a saucepan and, when hot, add the onion. Gently cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant.

2. Tip in the diced sweet potatoes and add the coconut milk and stock – just enough to cover the vegetables. Put the lid on and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender to the point of a knife.

3. Take the soup off the heat and blitz with a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you feel that the soup is too thick, you can add more stock to thin it out at this stage.

4. If adding the lime juice before serving, I would add the juice of one lime and mix well. You can add more if you wish. Personally, I prefer to spritz it over before serving.

This soup freezes well, so it’s just as easy to make double the amount for chilly days when you need something warm and comforting. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.