Kim Constable shares how she combines love of local produce with her vegan lifestyle as well as taking a twist on her Grandma Busby’s wheaten bread. Disclaimer: no fairies were harmed in the making this bread…

 

Vegan Leek, Onion & Potato Soup

“This has to be one of my favourites. I think that butter has a great affinity with leeks, that’s why I have been quite generous with the amount. But if you prefer, you could use half the amount or simply substitute with two tablespoons of olive or coconut oil”

  • 4 large Tesco leeks (supplied by Newtownards Roy Lyttle when in season)
  • 2 large Wilson’s potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tesco medium onion, chopped small
  • 2 oz vegan butter (50g)
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 275ml non-dairy milk or cream

To serve

  • 1½ tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1 teaspoon vegan crème fraiche

Trim the tops and roots off the leeks and discard the tough outer layer if there is one. Split them in half length ways and slice up finely. Wash in plenty of cold water and drain well.

In a large, thick based saucepan, gently melt the butter, then add the leeks, potatoes and onion, stirring them around so they get well coated with butter.

Season well with salt and pepper then cover and let the vegetables sweat over a very low heat for about 15 minutes.

After that, add the stock and the milk, bring to simmering point over a high heat, put the lid back on and let the soup simmer very gently for another 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Blend with a stick blender or in batches in a tall blender. Reheat very gently, taste for seasoning, and serve in warmed bowls topped with a dollop of Oatly vegan crème fraiche and some snipped chives.

Grandma’s Wheaten Bread (Vegan Version)

“I grew up on an old farm in Islandmagee, and my Grandma Busby lived right next door. It seemed to me that she made this bread virtually every day of her life. She always had a light hand at baking. Wherever we were, her bread (and biscuits) were one of the things that we looked forward to the most when we came home for a few days. She’s now nearly 94, and whenever I can, I bake her a loaf of her own recipe wheaten bread. Except these days, I make a vegan version which tastes just as good.”

  • 225g Neill’s wholemeal flour (8oz)
  • 225g Neill’s Strong white flour (8oz)
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sieved
  • 400ml non dairy milk
  • 1½ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.

Put the milk into a deep bowl with the lemon juice and leave to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. The milk will start to curdle slightly. Stir well before using.

Mix the flours in a large, wide bowl, then add the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Lift the flour up with your fingers to distribute the ingredients evenly. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk. With your fingers like a claw, stir in a circular motion from the centre to the outside of the bowl, mixing the flour with the milk. Now the dough is made.

Sprinkle a very generous amount of flour onto a large baking sheet (do not do this on the counter top as it will be too sticky to handle). Turn the dough onto the floured baking sheet and sprinkle the dough generously with flour.

Now tidy the dough with your hands into a circle shape, using the flour on the baking sheet to tuck the edges underneath. Once it is tidy, pat it gently until it is about 2 inches thick.

With a long sharp knife, cut a deep cross into the bread (this is called “blessing the bread”) and then prick it in the centre of the four sections to release excess steam or as my Grandma Busby would say, to “let the fairies out”. There is a practical reason for doing this in that the centre of the loaf is usually the last part to cook, so cutting the cross opens out the centre, to allow the heat to penetrate more evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200c/400F/gas mark 6 and cook for another 15 minutes. Then turn the bread upside down and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until cooked (the bottom should sound hollow when tapped). Leave to cool on a wire rack.