There are plenty of things not to love about winter: it gets dark too early. It’s too cold. It gets harder and harder to get out of bed. Grumble, grumble, moan, moan.
But then again, there are many things we all love about the colder months, too. Chunky knits. Cosy nights in. And best of all – good ol’ fashioned comfort food.
To help us with some meal inspo to get through the colder months, we caught up with food and travel blogger Steph from By Babette. From a Thai Coconut and Galangal Soup to Roast Maple Spiced Carrots with Tahini Dressing, Steph’s mouth-watering, plant-based recipes will warm you up in no time. They will also keep you fit and healthy in the winter months.
So, whether you’re considering a plant-based diet or simply want some delicious vegan recipes to give dairy-free living a whirl, look no further. But before we get to that, we thought we’d tell you a bit about what By Babette is.
What is By Babette?
Photography by Kit Lee.
By Babette was created by Steph, a 29-year-old Melbourne-born, ex-Londoner who adores both creating and consuming food (if you’re wondering, ‘Babette’ is Steph’s middle name). In her recipes, Steph focuses mostly on plant-based, often vegetarian or vegan and sometimes pescatarian food.
Steph endeavours to share meal ideas on her travel and recipe blog that nourish and strengthen the body using fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, whole grains and avoiding overly-processed foods. That said, Steph is also partial to some indulgences, so of course, shares the occasional zucchini cake or coconut brownie recipe.
Over to you, Steph!
Hearty recipes for the colder months
As winter slowly encroaches and we say goodbye to the last of the balmy weather, it’s also time to bid farewell to all the beautiful fruit and vegetables that come with the warmer months. Whilst I love all the summer produce, I welcome the winter goodies with open arms. It signals that it’s time to switch up some of my regular go-to recipes and look to some cosy, warming winter favourites.
The change of seasons is the perfect reminder not to be complacent with your cooking and to try new recipes and ingredients. If you like to frequent farmer’s markets or get organic produce delivered (this is the dream for anyone who is time poor but wants to eat organic and seasonal food), you will notice a clear shift in what’s available.
Winter heralds root vegetables, pumpkin and squash, dark leafy greens, Asian greens, fennel, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli, beetroot, carrots, mushrooms and parsnips. All perfect for comfort food recipes.
There is perhaps less available in the fruit category (however, still a lot to get excited about!) with the heroes of winter being navel oranges, pears, apples, pomegranates, lemons, rhubarb, grapefruit, mandarins and kiwi fruit. It’s time to make crumbles and pies, nutrient-packed juices and warming spicy stewed fruit.
I’ve never really been a soup person, but as you can see, the vegetables that are available in winter clearly lend themselves to soup. Creamy leek and potato, spiced carrot and pumpkin, minestrone (an excellent soup to make any time of year as you can use almost anything!), and variations on the ever-popular Vietnamese pho are lovely, but there is one soup that is not widely made by Australians, and is incredibly easy and wonderfully delicious.
Tom Kha – Thai Coconut & Galangal Soup
‘Tom Kha’ in Thai translates to galangal soup. This is one of my favourite soups to make when it’s a cold, wintry day and I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. For anyone unfamiliar with galangal, it’s from the ginger family and has a similarly-delicious fragrant, herbal flavour composition. It's also very similar to ginger physically and incidentally has similar stomach-soothing properties.
Galangal root is primarily used in Asian cooking, being most often associated with Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian and Indian cuisine. If you can buy or grow fresh galangal – that’s wonderful as you’ll be able to make a myriad of delicious soups and curries. For anyone who struggles to get fresh galangal, don’t fret, you can get it dried or minced in a jar from any Asian grocer and sometimes the supermarket.
The variations of Tom Kha soup don’t vary enormously, this vegan recipe is how I like to eat it, though you will come across many recipes with chicken which is absolutely not necessary.
I like to use a mix of coconut milk and vegetable stock, however, if you want a creamier soup, go heavier on the coconut milk and vice versa. The quantities are very forgiving, so don’t worry too much about being exact.
The vegetables I favour are mixed mushrooms and Asian greens (winter favourites!) like pak choi, Kailaan (Chinese broccoli), wombok (Chinese cabbage) and tatsoi.
A little tip on the chillies: before you throw them in, cut the end off and touch it on your tongue to assess the spiciness, then add as much as you think you’d like. Be aware that the seeds are the spiciest part of the chilli, so keep these out if your tolerance is low. You can always add more but reducing the heat is not really possible once it has infused the soup!
1 tbsp organic coconut oil
1 medium white or brown onion, finely sliced
2 cups of mushrooms (shitake, button or cremini)
1 knob of galangal, peeled and finely sliced
1 knob of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped
3-5 Thai chillies
600ml organic coconut milk
2 cups organic vegetable stock
8 kaffir lime leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
2 limes juiced
½ tbsp brown sugar
Small bunch of coriander
Small bunch of Thai basil
2 cups of vegetables (for example, bok choy, pak choi, cabbage, broccolini, capsicum, bean shoots etc.)
Wash and quarter your mushrooms (you want them to be bite size).
- In a non-stick pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms to sweat a little, until the onions are translucent. Add the galangal, ginger, lemongrass and chilli, stir for 1 minute.
Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock, kaffir lime leaves, salt, lime juice and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, letting the broth infuse.
Add the coriander, basil leaves, along with the vegetables you want in the soup – cook for 3 more minutes.
- Taste and season accordingly. Top with fresh herbs.
Another of my favourite vegan soup recipes is my Spiced Squash & Veggie Laksa.
Roast Maple Spiced Carrots with Tahini Dressing
As I mentioned, winter is the season of the roast. I like to try and think of new ways to season and spice the vegetables I’m roasting and this recipe is a great way to jazz up your carrots.
Roasting honey and carrots together is a popular one and something you’ll find in many cookbooks. To adapt that classic combination to be vegan-friendly, I use maple syrup instead of honey (though either will work). I think the sweet, syrupy flavour goes so well with carrots as they have a naturally-sweet profile, and therefore enhances their natural flavour.
This recipe is very much Middle Eastern-inspired with lots of spices added to the roasting marinade and tahini dressing.
I have baked the carrots upright here, but you don’t need to do this. They will taste the same if you just throw them all in haphazardly.
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- A small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Approximately 1kg carrots, chopped into 3cm pieces (roughly)
- 1 tsp each of salt and pepper (roughly)
- 1 heaped tablespoon of tahini
- 1 small garlic clove, minced or grated
- ½ cup of plain coconut or almond yoghurt
- ½ juice of lemon
- To garnish: coriander leaves and toasted sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 220 C
- Combine the chilli flakes, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, thyme, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chopped carrots and toss until thoroughly coated with the marinade.
- Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes, turning once. Cook for longer if you want really soft carrots – I like them a little firm.
- In the meantime, to make the tahini dressing, combine the tahini, garlic, yoghurt and lemon juice in a bowl and mix well to combine. Season to taste. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Once the carrots are cooked, let them cook a little to room temperature, spoon the yoghurt dressing on top, and sprinkle with fresh coriander and sesame seeds.