About seven years ago (give or take a year or two my memory isn't what it used to be) my sister and her partner announced to the family they were to becoming vegans. To me it didn't seem so restrictive as I'd lived as a pescatarian for years and mostly vegetarian if I was honest. My Mum took it in her stride as back then most celebrations involving food was done at her place, when my parents still lived in Sydney.
Fabulous salads started appearing on our buffet table, I tried nutloaf (a vegan variation of meatloaf) for the first time via my sister and all in all it wasn't a traumatic transition. But veganism isn't for me. I love my butter, my milk and cream and I'm not a fan of tofu at all (sorry people I've tried it so many ways - we are just not friends Tofu and me)
Then when my sister fell pregnant and moved house I set upon getting familiar with more vegan cooking as I wanted to help her and make her things from my own kitchen. I have a fabulous vegan microwave (!!) curry from this expedition (I'm pretty sure I haven't shared it before?) and also started buying my sister (and sneaking a few recipes from) vegan cookbooks. It's an education! Many delicious things are vegan. Including this soup - which I've adapted from a recipe I tore out of an old BBC Good Food mag.
3 packets (12g) dried porcini mushrooms (you can find these in the dried herb section of the supermarket or at your fruit shop/deli)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1 small sprig rosemary, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup dried pearl barley (you'll find that with beans or dried soup mix/dried peas in your supermarket)
2 tb tomato paste
Soak your mushrooms in about 3/4 cup boiling water.... whilst you get to work on the rest...
Squeeze the liquid out of the mushrooms (reserve the water) and chop up well. Add to the pot with the onions and carrots.
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