A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

Roasted carrot, chickpea and garlic soup, 26p (VEGAN)

A soup that's like a great big comforting hug... Yes please.

A soup that’s like a great big comforting hug… Yes please.

I woke up this morning craving a carrot soup – it’s all rock and roll round here these days. I’m a bit snuffly around the edges at the moment, sore throat and generally feeling a bit sorry for myself, and still limping around tragically on a still-broken left foot. This may be the most self-pitying recipe introduction to date. But basically, I fancied something warm, and sweet, and comforting, and easy to do. Something I could fling in the oven and forget about, and get something good inside. Carrot led to roast carrot, and garlic, and some chickpeas for protein and good measure – and the result is a subtly spiced, hearty, sweet and delicious soup. It’s like the soup equivalent of a cuddle, this one. And suitable for all my lovely vegan readers, too. Hurrah.

Serves 4 at 26p each:

300g carrots (approx 3 medium ones), 17p
240g tinned chickpeas (that’s the drained and rinsed weight of a 400g can), 60p
4 fat cloves of garlic, 7p
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or sunflower), 4p
150g onion (one small one or half a large one), 9p
1/2 tsp cumin (1.3g), 3p
a pinch of dried chilli flakes, 2p
800ml weak vegetable stock (1/2 stock cube will do), 1p

First heat your oven to 180C. Wash your carrots and slice thickly, and toss into a roasting tin. Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas and add to the tin, with the whole garlic cloves. Pour over the oil and give it all a shuffley-shake to lightly coat it, and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely slice your onion, and set to one side. When your first 20 minutes is up, remove the roasting tin from the oven, scatter the onion over, and the cumin and chilli, and give it all another shake. Cook for a further 20 minutes, until it looks like this:

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots - waste not want not!

Yummy roasty goodness. And yes I leave the tops on my carrots – waste not want not!

Remove the garlic cloves from the roasting tin, and tip the rest of the contents into a blender – keeping some chickpeas aside to garnish if you like that sort of thing. Squeeze in the soft garlic (don’t put the skins in the blender, they end up like tiny bits of wet tissue that stick to the roof of your mouth. We learn from our errors, round here, and pass the wisdom on – though in my defence that was many years ago…). Add the stock and blend until smooth.

Remove from the blender and warm through, garnishing with reserved chickpeas to serve.

*Prices are worked out at Sainsburys because that’s where I currently shop, but things like carrots and onions are widely sold in many other places for similar prices. If you happen to find them ludicrously cheaper, please comment below as I’m sure my readers would love to know where the bargains are. Prices are also subject to change but are correct at the time of blogging. I worked them out like this:
Basics carrots 85p/1.5kg. 400g tin of chickpeas 60p. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Sunflower oil £4/3l. Basics onions 95p/1.5kg. Ground cumin £1/42g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Basics vegetable stock cubes 25p/10 cubes.

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

…and if you like this, you might like one of my books, available to order over at Hive, who will ship it to your local independent book store, or your house! Check it out here: http://www.hive.co.uk/search/Jack+monroe/mediatype/all/

Chilli hot chocolate, 16p, and a broken foot, priceless.


This morning I woke up, walked out of the bedroom, skidded down the stairs, and crashed my foot into the wall with the full force of my rapidly-descending body slamming behind it. I spent the rest of the morning in Charing Cross A&E, where despite looking extremely light on staff, I was seen relatively quickly, by a doctor who used to be a psychiatrist and before that lived in the Phillipines (we had a great food chat!) I had my wonky-looking foot X-Rayed by a very kind radiographer, the doctor set it and strapped it up, and I cleared a good deal of my work diary for the immediate future. Walking with a stick on bruises and fractures and sprains is not really conducive to prancing about in a kitchen testing recipes, well, not as early as Monday, anyway.

BUT, I made a New Years resolution to cook or make something new every day – so apologies that today’s may be fairly low level, but I can’t stand unaided right now and I’ve sprained my right shoulder, so chopping and slicing and dicing is temporarily beyond me…

However, it’s something I’ve been meaning to get to grips with for a while, so simple it may be, but it’s also delicious, and comforting. Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary readers, I bring to you an oh so simple chilli hot chocolate…

Serves two (you’ll probably want both!)

500ml milk (can be made with 4 rounded tbsp skimmed milk powder and 500ml water, 14p* – for a vegan version this is absolutely delicious with almond milk!)
50g dark chocolate (or more if you like), 17p*
1/8 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, 1p
1 teaspoon sugar, optional.

Grab a bowl and a small saucepan – the right sizes so the bowl can rest on top of the pan without falling in or touching the bottom. Now put a few inches of water in the pan, but the water mustn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Sounds more complicated than it is, I promise. The cooking term for this (for the uninitiated) is a ‘Bain Marie’, and a lot of cookbooks dictate that water touching the bowl will burn the chocolate and make it taste bitter. I love a bit of theory, me. Are you all set? Then we’ll begin.

Heat your water on a medium heat and break the chocolate into squares. Pop it in the bowl, with the chilli, and stir gently to melt it.

When the chocolate is melted and glossy and delicious looking, add a splash of milk to thin it out, stirring well. Add a splash more, stir, splash, stir, until all your milk is incorporated. Sounds like a faff, but I found out the hard way that just slinging it all in a pan and cranking it up impatiently leads to a mug of warm milk with chocolatey lumps floating in it, which just isn’t nice. Unless you like that sort of thing.

Anyway, when it’s a nice thin liquid consistency, remove the bowl and pan from the heat. Tip out any remaining water from the pan, place a sieve or tea strainer over it, and pour the hot chocolate through it to catch the chilli. Pop it back on the heat, crank it up to medium to heat through, and then ladle into mugs and enjoy.

Simple. Comforting. Warming. Bliss.

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @MsJackMonroe

*Prices based on Sainsburys Basics where available and Sainsburys own brand. Skimmed milk powder £1.15/400g. Dark chocolate 35p/100g. Dried crushed chilli flakes £1/32g. Subject to change, as these things do, and similar items available at other supermarkets for similar prices.

Photography by Susan Bell

Peach and chickpea curry

This is my favourite curry, my go-to, easy but perfect comfort food. I sometimes make it with turkey, so feel free to chuck a fistful of it in with the onions if you fancy it. Serve it with plain boiled rice.

Serves 2 for dinner, with leftovers for a light lunch.

250g canned chickpeas (drained weight)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 chilli
a splash of oil
1 rounded tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 x 400g tin of peaches (or apricots or mandarins)
1 x 400f carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 stock cube, veg or chicken

First drain your chickpeas and rinse them vigorously to get rid of the stagnant water that they’ll have been sitting in. Pop them in some fresh water in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 10 minutes to soften (and get rid of any toxins…there’s differing beliefs about toxins in canned pulses and I’m of the ‘a good boil won’t hurt them’ school of thought…)

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli. Pour a little oil into a medium, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, garlic and chilli, then the cumin, and cook gently on a low heat for a few minutes to soften the onion. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up – burned onions will permeate your whole curry, whereas sweating them will add a delicious sweetness.

Drain the peaches, reserving the juice, and chop into small pieces. Add to the onion mixture in the pan, along with the reserved juice. By this time, the chickpeas should have finished boiling, so remove them from the heat and drain them, and tip them into the peaches-and-onion pan.

Pour the chopped tomatoes in, add the coriander, and crumble over the stock cube, then stir everything together. Reduce the heat to a low setting, and cook gently for 30 minutes. You may need to add a cup of water to the sauce if it starts to get a bit thick. Stir well, and serve.

‘Peach and chickpea curry’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy here.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell




One of my favourite restaurants in Southend specialises in Keralan cuisine – and when I couldn’t afford it but really wanted a rich, spicy curry, I decided to make my own version. Aubergines are comparitively expensive to buy individually, so look out for the bags of three or four, and eat them all week!

Serves 2:

2 aubergines
a pinch of salt
1 onion
a fat clove of garlic
2 tablespoons oil
1 red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1/4 tsp English mustard
zest and juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice
1 x 400g carton of chopped tomatoes
a fistful of coriander, to serve

Cut the stems from the ends of the aubergines, and pierce the skin all over with a sharp knife or a fork. Pop into a mixing bowl or saucepan, and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt to draw out the natural bitter flavour. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and toss into a medium pan with the oil. Sweat the onions on a very low heat, stirring to ensure they don’t burn or stick. Finely chop the chilli and add to the pan, or pinch in your dried flakes. Add the turmeric, cumin and mustard, and stir to cook the spices a little.

Remove the aubergines from the water, cut into chunks and add to the pan. Stir in well to coat with the now-spicy oil, add the lemon juice and zest (if using), and turn the heat up to medium to brown the edges of the aubergine. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, until the aubergines are tender.

Finely shred the coriander and scatter on top to serve.


Keralan aubergine curry from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shop. Photography by Susan Bell for A Girl Called Jack.


Twitter: @MsJackMonroe   Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack


This recipe came about from a leftover aubergine rolling around in the fridge that desperately needed using up, and one of my storecupboard staples, a can of red kidney beans, was happily on hand to help. Regular readers will know I love a lightly spiced veggie and bean burger – and this one is no exception. I have mine with a good dollop of mango chutney, wedged in a pitta or a bun with a fistful of salad – delicious!

Ingredients (makes four chunky burgers)

4 tbsp oil
1 Aubergine
1 onion
1 red chilli or a pinch of dried
1 tsp cumin
400g canned kidney beans
A few sprigs of mint or coriander
1 tbsp flour

First, dice and sauté the aubergine on a medium heat in a tablespoon of oil, with the sliced onion, chilli and cumin.

Meanwhile, boil the kidney beans in a saucepan until very soft and starting to split, which usually takes around ten minutes at a simmer.

Drain the kidney beans and add to a mixing bowl with the onions, aubergines, chopped mint and spices, and mash well to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix together. (You may need extra flour depending on how ‘wet’ your aubergine was, the mixture should not fall off an overturned spoon).

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to bind the mixture together – this stops them turning to mush in the frying pan!

Shape into 4 balls using floured hands, and flatten into the frying or sauté pan with the remaining oil. Cook on a medium heat for 8 minutes on each side.

Serve with pitta breads, or in a roll, or with rice, or home made wedges – however you like!


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack



Photography by Susan Bell: www.susanbellphotography.co.uk



Photography by Susan Bell: www.susanbellphotography.co.uk

Photography by Susan Bell: http://www.susanbellphotography.co.uk

I never tire of this quick, simple meal. Originally adapted from a beef goulash recipe, but tweaked and tampered with in the way that all recipes are, it has become a sweet and spicy staple in my household and doesn’t disappoint. I use cheap baked beans in place of haricot beans, as they are simply haricot or borlotti beans slathered in sauce – but usually for a third of the price of a tin of plain haricot or borlotti beans. Eat warm on toast, with rice, or stuffed in a pitta bread with lashings of cheese for lunch. Eat from the bowl, water it down and eat it as a soup, or eat it straight from the pan in the name of ‘testing’. Or, for a slightly Mexican twist, have it with tortillas, some grated cheese, sliced red onion and lettuce, with some lime or lemon to squeeze over.

Serves 4-6:

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of baked beans (or borlotti, canneloni, etc)
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlicf garlic
4 tablespoons of oil
3 teaspoons paprika
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon marmite or similar
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
1 teaspoon sugar

First, drain and rinse the beans. Empty the kidney beans and baked beans into a colander, and blast under cold water to get rid of the tinned taste and the sauce from the baked beans. When well rinsed, set to one side.

Peel and chop the onion and peel and finely slice the garlic. Place in a frying pan with the oil anf paprika, and cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Add the chopped tomatoes, marmite, crumbled stock cube, sugar and half a tin of water (using one of the bean tins as a guide), and stir well. Simmer gently for 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.

Tip in the colander of rinsed beans, stir to mix well and heat through for 10 minutes. Serve, devour, have seconds, and enjpy!

Mixed bean goulash recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to order at The Hive, supporting your local independent book shops. Also available to buy from major retailers and supermarkets.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack





On a recent trip to Tanzania, I came across dagaa in almost every household I visited. We’d often eat tiny fish with stewed greens, home-ground peanut butter and ugali (soft maize), served in small bowls, with our fingers. Here is my British take on it…

(Serves 2) 48p a portion
150g rice, 6p
2 tbsp oil, 6p
200g sprats, 40p
1 tbsp lime juice, 3p
1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 5p
½ tsp salt, 1p
100g spinach or spring greens, 15p
1 tbsp peanut butter, 10p
1 fresh chilli, chopped, 9p

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the rice and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until cooked.

Warm the oil in a shallow frying pan on a high heat, add the sprats and squeeze over the lime juice.

Add the ginger, season, and fry until the fish begin to crisp around the edges (no more than 10 minutes).

When the fish are almost done, blanch the greens in boiling water for a minute, put them in a bowl, stir in the peanut butter and sprinkle the chilli on top.

Serve with the fish and plain rice.

Tip: I had many versions of these fish in Tanzania. Each household cooks them slightly differently, so don’t be afraid to experiment. For example, you can coat the sprats with flour, seasoned with salt and dried chilli, before frying.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

First published in The Guardian, Weds 5th March. Photograph by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian.




I’ve had a hankering for Curried eggs for the past couple of days, I’m not sure why… So tonight, I knocked this one together. Rich and simple, cheap and easy, this is set to become a Major favourite in my household…

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

4 free range eggs
1 onion
1 tbsp oil
1 fresh red chilli or pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
400g chopped tomatoes
100g frozen or fresh spinach
100g natural or Greek yoghurt

First, pop a pan of water on to the boil for the eggs, and carefully drop them in. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes to hard boil them. We’ll come back to those in a minute.

In a separate pan, add the oil and spices, and dice or slice the onion according to preference. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes to soften the onions.

Carefully remove the eggs from the pan when they are done, and set to one side. Add the rice to the ‘egg water’ – saves you boiling another pot!

Pour the chopped tomatoes over the now-spicy onions, and add the frozen spinach. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer while the rice cooks. (To save energy, you can turn the heat off and cover with foil, a lid or a large plate – the curry sauce will carry on cooking itself but will need a quick blast of heat again before serving.)

Peel and halve the eggs and add to the sauce with the yoghurt, stir in, heat through, and serve with rice. Mango chutney is a great addition to this dish too – I just don’t have any in the fridge. Booooo.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe




Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of some chicken liver at the back of the freezer, and some veg left over from a photoshoot yesterday. Idly flicking through my cookbook collection to find a new chicken liver idea, I came across a bolognese in Save With Jamie. Mine’s not identical – I’ve left out the bacon and mushrooms and chicken stock for a start, and replaced the balsamic vinegar with white wine vinegar, and added frozen spinach for some greens and to lift the flavour… And far more tomatoes than his recipe, because I like a good tomatoey ragu sauce. The result? I ate a good portion of this from the pan, and proclaimed it the best bolognese I’d ever eaten. Between me and Jamie, this is a job jobbed. Cheers.

Chicken liver and lentil bolognese, serves 4.


1 carrot
1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1tbsp oil
200g chicken livers
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 red chilli
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp vinegar – red wine or white wine
100g red lentils
100g frozen spinach
300g spaghetti

First slice the onion, carrot, chilli and garlic and add to a large sauté or frying pan with a tablespoon of oil, the vinegar, herbs and fennel. Rinse the livers and toss them in too. Fry everything together on a medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes until the veg starts to soften and the livers are sealed.

Carefully pop the veg and livers into a blender with the chopped tomatoes, and blend until fairly smooth.

Pour the contents of the blender back in the pan on a medium heat, and add 200ml water, and stir well.

Thoroughly rinse the lentils and add to the pan, add the spinach, and stir in. Add a further 200ml of water if the sauce starts to dry out. Stir occasionally to help the spinach defrost and wilt.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the spaghetti to cook, simmering for around 8 minutes or according to the packet instructions.

It should all come together around the same time; the lentils should be soft and swollen, the spinach wilted throughout the sauce, and the pasta nice and soft but not bloated and claggy. Drain the pasta, toss the sauce through, and top with a generous handful of cheese to serve.

I served two portions of this, and froze four more – your portion sizes might vary but it is very rich and filling!


Jack Monroe. Twitter: @msjackmonroe




The first of my recipes from my charity curry night to make it onto the blog (it’s probably fair to say that it’s been a very busy week) – I half invented this, half recalled a vague korma recipe from the depths of my overcrowded brain, so it’s not really traditional, but I like to surprise myself. And surprised I most certainly was, this was the undisputed hit of the evening!

Ingredients, serves 4-6:

2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli, or pinch of dried chilli
1 tbsp oil
2tsp cumin
2tsp turmeric
200g creamed coconut
1 mug of water
100g sultanas
420g white fish fillets
500ml low fat natural yoghurt
Handful of coriander

Peel and finely slice the garlic, and chop the onions. Add to a large saucepan or sauté pan with the oil, finely chopped chilli, cumin and turmeric. Sweat on a very low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are softened.

Add the block of creamed coconut , sultanas and a mug of water, and turn the heat up. Melt the coconut into the pan, stirring to dissolve it and absorb the spices. Add an extra half a mug of water if you feel it needs it – your mugs and my mugs might be different sizes!

Finally when the coconut is melted, add the fish and cook through for five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the yoghurt through to serve to prevent it from splitting. Garnish with coriander to serve.

Tip: adjust the spices according to taste. I like this mild, sweet and creamy, but it could take an extra teaspoon of cumin and another chilli for a kick.

Pad it out of make it cheaper by adding diced new potatoes and/or a couple of handfuls of frozen green beans.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack




Chorizo is one of those ingredients that I buy rarely, but a little goes a long way. For a cheaper or vegetarian burger, you can omit it completely and just add the garlic and paprika for a similar smoky, spicy taste.

Ingredients (makes 4 generous burgers):

3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped, or pinch of dried
1 carrot, grated
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g chorizo, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 free range egg
2 slices of bread
1 tbsp flour

To serve:
1 pitta bread and handful of spinach.

Pour one tablespoon of oil into a medium sauté or frying pan on a low heat.

Add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, grated carrot, chopped chilli, paprika and chorizo and sauté all together on a low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to disturb.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the chickpeas, and mash them thoroughly in a mixing bowl or saucepan until soft and pulpy. Soak the bread in water, squeeze out with your hands, and mash into the chickpeas. When the onions have slightly softened, tip the contents of the pan into the chickpea and bread mixture, add the egg, and mix well to evenly distribute.

Test the consistency with a wooden spoon – if it sticks to the spoon and holds together well, it’s good to go. If it does not hold its shape well (in my experience, not all chickpeas are created equal!) then add a heaped tablespoon of flour to thicken.

Pour the remaining two tablespoons of oil back into the original pan – which will be streaked with spicy chorizo juices – don’t waste them! Shaping the mixture into six balls with lightly floured hands, flatten each into the pan. Cook for around 7 minutes on each side on a medium heat, or until golden and crispy.

Serve in a pitta bread with salad – or with vegetables and rice for a more filling meal.

Tips: This burger mix also makes great falafels, which can be shallow fried or baked in the oven for a healthier alternative.

The burgers can be frozen, uncooked, by laying on a baking tray and freezing uncovered. When frozen, they can be transferred to a freezer bag. The process of ‘open freezing’ keeps them separate and easy to use one at a time, without all sticking together.

Leftover chorizo will keep for up to a month in the fridge. Try a few slices simmered in a pan of canned chopped tomatoes with a chopped onion for an easy but delicious pasta sauce.

Jack Monroe.
Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Banana, chickpea and tea curry (trust me on this one, it’s amazing.)


This is my take on a banana curry I had in the Isle of Wight after the literary festival. It’s not a traditional Kashmir curry, as I used what I had in the cupboard, but it is utterly delicious. The tea is the twist, but trust me, it works, lending a slightly smoky, sweet flavour. I love tea, I must use it in more recipes…

(I’ll cost this up tomorrow – I’m knackered!)

Ingredients (serves 4, if served with rice):

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red or green chilli, finely chopped, or generous pinch of dried
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
400g canned chickpeas
200g canned mandarins (peaches or apricots would work too)
300ml strong tea
2 bananas
200ml natural yoghurt
Handful of coriander, or mint, or parsley, chopped

First, add the onion, chilli and garlic to a sauté pan or frying pan. Drizzle the oil over, add the cinnamon and cumin, and sauté gently on a medium heat to soften the onions for 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the kettle and brew the cuppa! (And make one for yourself while you’re there!)

When the onions are softened, drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, and tip into the pan. Slice the bananas and add to the pan. Pour the mandarins over, add the tea (without the teabag) and most of the herbs, and turn the heat up high. Boil vigorously for a few minutes, then reduce to a medium simmer. Simmer for around 20 minutes, until the chickpeas have slightly thickened the sauce. ***To save energy, you can turn the heat off completely here, cover the dish with foil or a lid, and leave it to cool. The retained heat will continue to cook it gently, amalgamating the flavours beautifully.***

Stir the natural yoghurt through before serving, and top with the remaining herbs.

I had mine with rice and a basic pitta bread, with extra natural yoghurt on top.

And I loved the dimension the tea gave this so much, I’m going to try it in other curries in place of the stock. At 27p for 80 Teabags, versus 20p for 10 stock cubes, it’s a saving!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Nut-free super kale pesto, 15p


Last week, I was trying new things for upcoming recipes for my Guardian column, when I came across a bag of kale on special offer at Waitrose – 75p for a massive 200g bag.

Anyway, I used a scant handful of it for a recipe, and this evening decided to make the rest into kale pesto…

Ingredients (makes 14 portions – freezing the rest in ice cube trays!)

200g kale
150ml sunflower oil
150ml water
30ml lemon juice
80g grated strong hard cheese
1 chilli

Basically…. De-head the chilli and slice it. Stuff as much kale as you can fit into your blender (you can add more later). Throw in the chilli, grated cheese, oil, lemon and water and blend vigorously until the kale has vanished into a vivid green pulp. Turn the blender off, add any remaining kale, and blend again.

Store in a clean sealed jar with extra oil on top, and keep in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze in ice cubes.

I served mine straight over spaghetti with a pinch of extra chilli and lightly toasted breadcrumbs – recipe for THAT delicious dinner to follow.

Also looking forward to spreading some on toast, topping with cheese, and grilling lightly for lunch… I’ll keep you posted on that one too…

AND I reckon it would make a great spread to top a pizza base, topped with tomatoes and cheese…

Costs worked out at Sainsburys, apart from the kale (Waitrose) and correct at time of writing.

200g kale 75p. 3l oil £4 (150ml 30p). 250ml lemon juice 60p (30ml 7p). 200g hard strong cheese £2.30 (80g 92p) 10 bird eye chillies 75p (1 chilli 8p). Total cost of ingredients used: £2.12 Makes 14 portions of kale pesto at 15p each.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Lentil and spinach Daal, 66p.


So, if you’ve made the Beetroot, Feta and Lentil salad that I kicked off my Guardian recipe column with – or you have some lentils and spinach still kicking about, here’s a recipe for a quick warming winter dinner. It’s easy and filling – I love mine with pitta breads dunked in…

Ingredients (serves two):

1 onion
1 red chilli or pinch of dried flakes
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp cumin or turmeric, or a tsp each if you have them
100g red split lentils
1 chicken stock cube
200ml water
200ml natural yoghurt
130g spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice

First, peel and finely slice the onion, and finely chop the chilli, and add to a large frying pan or sauté pan with the spices and crumbled stock cube. Cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened.

Thoroughly rinse the lentils and add to the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and stir through. Toast for a few minutes, before adding half the water (100ml). Stir in quickly – it will absorb quite fast.

Chop the spinach and add to the pan (if using frozen spinach just put it straight in, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it starts to cook). Add the remaining water and stir through, until the spinach is wilted and the lentils are swollen.

Stir the yoghurt in and serve with fresh herbs – coriander or parsley or mint work well if you have them to hand – and a shake of lemon juice.

Leftovers can be thinned with a little stock to make a delicious soup, or tossed through pasta. Keep in the fridge for 2 days or freeze in an ice cube tray for easy portions.

Ingredient cost breakdown (calculated at Sainsburys but similar prices available at other supermarkets): 1 loose onion 11p. Bird eye chillies 75p for 10 (8p each). Vegetable or sunflower oil £4.50/3l (3p/tbsp). 42g cumin £1 (10p for 2 tsp). 500g split red lentils £1.09 (22p for 100g). 10 Basics stock cubes 20p (2p each). 500ml natural yoghurt 45p (18p for 200ml). 260g spinach £1 (50p for 130g). 250ml lemon juice 60p (4p/tbsp). 6 Pitta breads 22p (4p each). Total cost of ingredients used: £1.32.

To use up remaining ingredients, or if you have something in your cupboard to use up, search using the search bar below!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Ultimate Feisty Soup

Based on my original Feisty Soup recipe, I’ve made myself a batch of this this afternoon to try to combat a very heavy cold. It normally works very well; the chilli blasts the sinuses, the lemon and ginger eases that accompanying stomach ache, the onion and garlic are packed with antioxidants and the carrots and tomatoes deliver a hefty dose of vitamin C… I’d rather have this than Lemsip any day.

Ingredients (Makes 4-6 portions)

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger or 1cm fresh
1 tbsp lemon juice
200g sliced carrots
800g chopped tomatoes with juice
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of dried chilli or 1 fresh chilli

Peel and chop the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and add to a large saucepan with the lemon juice. Cook together on a low heat, stirring frequently to disturb and stop them from sticking.

When the onion has started to soften, add the tomatoes and drained carrots, and pour the stock over the top. Simmer for 10 minutes to combine the flavours and heat through.

Remove from heat, and blend using a hand blender or jug blender.

Serve hot!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Spiced chicken and mandarin tagine, 68p.


This spiced chicken and mandarin tagine will serve us for two nights in a row – the chicken legs were a rare treat in this week’s shopping but I’ll get two nights dinner from them, plus a stock base for a soup or risotto on Wednesday. I still rifled through the bottom shelf to find the cheapest pack, and thought I had it at £1.92, but then found one for £1.88 instead! (I’ll do something with the half a can of mandarins tomorrow too…)

Ingredients (Serves four):

4 chicken legs, £1.88 (Sainsburys Basics)
1 large onion, 11p (loose, Sainsburys)
2 fat cloves of garlic, 5p (£1.90/10 bulbs avg 8 cloves each, Sainsburys)
400g chopped tomatoes, 35p (Happy Shopper)
1/2 can broken mandarin segments, 12p (23p/312g, Sainsburys Basics)
15ml white wine vinegar, 3p (£1.15/500ml, Sainsburys)
15ml lemon juice, 4p (60p/250ml, Sainsburys)
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube, 2p (20p for 10, Sainsburys Basics)
1 tsp cumin, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainsburys)
1 tsp turmeric, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainburys)
1 tsp paprika, 5p approx (£1/jar, Sainsburys)
1 small red chilli – herb garden
Handful of fresh parsley – herb garden
Handful of fresh mint – herb garden

First, place the chicken legs skin side down in a large non stick pan (I used my ‘everything’ sauté pan that I’ve had for an age and literally do most of my dinners in…)

Bring the pan to a very gentle heat to seep some of the fat from the chicken, or add a splash of oil to speed things up.

Brown the chicken on both sides on a medium heat.

Peel and slice the onion and garlic, and finely slice the chilli, and toss into the pan with a teaspoon each of paprika, turmeric and cumin. Crumble in the stock cube.

Add the wet ingredients: chopped tomatoes, mandarins and juice, the white wine vinegar and lemon juice, and stir well to combine.

Throw in the herbs, and bring the pan to the boil, then reduce to a medium simmer for around 20 minutes to cook the chicken through. Top up with half a cup of water if it starts to dry out.

Meanwhile, boil some plain rice to accompany.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and serve with the rice.

To make it much cheaper, replace the chicken with chick peas and start from the ‘onion and garlic’ stage…

Jack Monroe. Follow me on Twitter @MsJackMonroe. Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

A Girl Called Jack is available to order here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Girl-Called-Jack-Monroe/dp/0718178947

Baked trout in best tomato sauce, with lemon and herb rice. 33p.


People often ask me why I don’t buy items from the Reduced chiller at the supermarket: well I do, I just don’t tend to blog about them, on the basis that they aren’t dependable, and price reductions vary from supermarket chain to supermarket chain, and even store to store. However, on finding a packet of trout in my local supermarket for 70 pence this evening, it was too good not to share.

You can substitute the trout in this recipe for white fish fillets: Sainsburys do a frozen bag of white fish for £1.75, for 520g, which would make the fish in this recipe 81p for a 240g portion, so only 2-3p more expensive per head than my bargain trout.

Ingredients: (Served 4 at 33p each)

240g trout, (normal price £2.41, reduced 70p) or 240g white fish fillets (£1.75/520g)

1 tablespoon sunflower oil, 3p (£4.50/3l)

400g chopped tomatoes, 31p (31p/400g)

1 onion, 11p (each)

1 chilli, free

200g white rice, 8p (40p/1kg)

Fistful of parsley and basil, free

Juice and zest of half a lemon, 8p (84p, bag of 5 fruits)


Firstly, prepare the tomato sauce. Peel and dice the onion and add to a saucepan with the chopped tomatoes. Place on a low heat and allow to simmer.

Pop the herbs into a tea cup (my preferred method of chopping them!) and chop into them with kitchen scissors until they are finely chopped. Grate the lemon zest in, half the lemon and squeeze the juice from one half in. Tip most of the herbs and lemon mixture into the tomatoes and onions, and reserve some for the rice.

While the onions are gently softening in the tomatoes, and the herbs infusing the sauce with their own special wonderfulness, now would be a good time to pop the rice on to boil. Bring a saucepan of cold water to the boil, add the rice, and reduce to a simmer.

Set the oven to 150C, pop the trout on a baking tray skin side down with a smudge of oil to prevent it from sticking, and bake for 10-12 minutes until opaque and pinkish. By this time, all being well, the rice should be nice and fluffy…

Drain any excess water from the rice, and tip in the remaining lemon and herb mixture. Spoon onto plates or into bowls. Break up the trout into large chunks with a fork, (tip any excess juice or oil into the tomato sauce and give it a quick stir). Serve the trout next to or on top of the rice, and top generously with the tomato sauce. Garnish with extra herbs if available, and enjoy the melty goodness…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Photography by Susan Bell

Mexican Chocolate, Chilli & Black Bean Soup

I knocked up this soup when I had a piteous cold last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness with chillies to fire me up, tomatoes and carrots for essential vitamin C, beans for protein and chocolate because it’s a solution to almost everything. Plus dark chocolate and red wine are good for you, don’t you know? But putting all the science to one side, this is delicious, filling and surprising – so even if you don’t have a cold, make this soup!

Serves 2

100g dried black beans
1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
1 small red chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes
a generous shake of paprika
a generous shake of ground cumin
a splash of oil
1 carrot
30ml red wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
3 squares dark chocolate (approximately 20g)
fresh parsley, to garnish

Put your beans in to soak the night before, or early in the morning if you’re going to be cooking that evening. Place them in a bowl, cover with fresh cold water and then some, and cover the bowl with cling film. Leave for a minimum of 8 hours to soak.

When soaked, drain and thoroughly rinse your beans. Put them into a saucepan with fresh water and bring to the boil for approximately 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and chop the chilli (reserving a couple of slices for a garnish), then put them all into a saucepan along with the paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook over a low heat until the onions and garlic soften.

Wash and chop the carrot, and add to the saucepan. Pour the red wine and tomatoes in, and stir through. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the dark chocolate and 400ml boiling water. Drain the beans and tip into the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot is tender.

If you like, pulse the soup in a blender until smooth. (I prefer to leave mine just slightly chunky, but if pulsed thoroughly, this makes a deliciously silky texture.) Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh parsley and a slice of red chilli in each bowl.

Tips: Grill pitta breads with cheese inside – until it melts –and serve these dunked in the soup for a seriously tasty treat!

Swirl cream, natural yoghurt or crème fraîche on top before serving.

This recipe uses almost identical ingredients to Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli, so why not make them together?

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

‘Mexican Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Feisty Soup

I make this for myself whenever I feel as though I am coming down with a cold. you know – when you’ve got that shaky, exhausted feeling and general self-pity. Instead of spending a fortune on various over-the-counter paracetamol and lemon drinks, I drag myself into the kitchen and cook myself a cure. This is called feisty soup for a reason: it’s a bit like hot and sour Chinese soup in a way, and if this doesn’t help shift whatever is wrong with you, I’m not sure what will. I’ve combined lots of natural goodies that have antioxidant and other nutritional qualities – garlic for goodness, chillies to fire up your system, tomatoes for vitamin C and lemon and ginger to cleanse and revitalize.

Serves 2

1 onion
1 fat clove of garlic
a thick slice of ginger
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 200ml boiling water
juice of 1⁄2 a lemon or 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
a handful of parsley

Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger, chop the chilli, and put them all into a medium-sized saucepan with the oil. Cook on a low heat until the onion is softened. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, pour in the stock and add the lemon juice.
Chop the parsley and add to the saucepan as well.

Simmer away for about 20 minutes, until the onion and ginger have softened.

Blitz in a blender to achieve your desired consistency, I leave mine a bit chunky but it can be blended smooth.

Eat, and feel better soon!

Tips: If making this soup for little mouths, do not chop the chilli or use the seeds inside. Instead, halve the chilli down the middle and rinse it under a cold tap to remove the seeds, then add to the soup whole during cooking. Remove before blending.

Any remaining soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.

The soup can be left whole and chunky as a fiery sauce to form part of a more substantial meal. Omit the stock, stir through a few handfuls of cooked prawns and some green beans, and serve with spaghetti or noodles.

‘Feisty Soup’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell.

Mumma Jacks Best Ever Chilli

This chilli is adapted from a beef chilli recipe by Gordon Ramsay. I simply left out the beef and halved the wine to make it cheaper – plus, of course, Mr Ramsay doesn’t use a tin of cheap baked beans in his version! I’ve tweaked and fiddled with it so much over the years that now it’s not Gordon’s chilli, it’s Mumma Jack’s.

Serves 4

1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of baked beans in tomato sauce or plain haricot beans
1 onion
1 small chilli, chopped
a shake of paprika
a shake of ground cumin
a splash of oil
75ml red table wine
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
3 squares dark chocolate

Tip both tins of beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly. If you are using baked beans in tomato sauce, make sure to rinse it all off. Pop the beans into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Peel and dice the onion and put into a large sauté pan along with the chopped chilli, paprika and cumin. Add the oil and cook on a low heat until the onion softens into a spicy sweetness. Pour in the wine, add the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cube, then simmer all together on a low heat.

When the beans have softened, drain and tip into the sauce. Add the chocolate and stir until the beans are mixed through and the chocolate is melted.

Tips: This chilli will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days if allowed to cool and stored in an airtight container. Delicious eaten cold stuffed in pitta breads or wraps for next day’s lunch.

Photography by Susan Bell.

Photography by Susan Bell.

‘Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Moroccan Not-A-Tagine

This tagine uses my three staple spices – turmeric, cumin and paprika – to deliver a gorgeous sweet and spicy dinner. I made it for Xanthe Clay from the Daily Telegraph when she visited for an article called ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’. In her words: ‘the food is very fine, and it’s also healthy’ – so what are you waiting for? I like to serve mine with couscous and rice, and green vegetables.

Serves 4:

1 large onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
a splash of oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 heaped tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1 heaped tsp paprika
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
a fistful of fresh mint, chopped
a fistful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 large potatoes or 40g tinned potatoes (drained weight)
50g prunes
1 stock cube, dissolved in 500ml boiling water

Peel and dice the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic and chop the chilli, and place in a medium sized heavy-bottomed pan with the oil, lemon zest, turmeric, cumin and paprika. Cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened. Then add the lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, sugar, mint and coriander, and stir everything together.

Chop the potatoes and carrots and add to the pan, along with the prunes. Pour in enough stock to cover – usually around 500ml. Leave the pan simmering, covered, on the hob for 30 minutes, checking it every now and again to ensure it is not drying out. Give it a quick stir while you’re there too, to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

You’ll know it’s ready when the vegetables are tender (but not falling apart in a mush!) and the sauce has thickened.

‘Not A Tagine’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available to buy here.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell

Use-Me-For-Anything Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce is exactly what its name says – a wonderfully versatile sauce for all occasions. It was inspired by a basic tomato sauce in Economy Gastronomy by Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett – which is a brilliant guide to cooking fantastic food on a budget. With mine, I make a batch, eat some, fridge some, and freeze some for later. This makes 6 small portions.

2 tbsp oil (sunflower, vegetable or groundnut are my favourites)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, chopped and deseeded, or a pinch of chilli flakes
2 tbsp red wine or red wine vinegar (optional)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree or tomato ketchup

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onion. Stir in the garlic and chilli and cook on a medium heat until the onions are translucent and sweet.

Measure the wine or wine vinegar into the pan and stir for a few minutes on a low heat until the pungent alcohol or vinegary smell subsides. Then add the remaining ingredients to the pan – the chopped tomatoes and the puree or ketchup. Cook gently, stirring occasionally to disturb and prevent it from burning – for 20 minutes, by which time the sauce should be thickened and a gorgeous glossy red.

Remove from the heat and serve, or divide into portions and either put into the fridge, or allow to cool completely before freezing.

TIPS: I usually eat some immediately over 75g of spaghetti (cooked, 75g is the dried weight!). The remainder can be stored in small Tupperware containers, or if you have children, an ice cube tray makes for handy portion sizes for a quick dinner.

Use it as the base for a sort-of ratatouille, by adding any veg from the bottom of the fridge or freezer drawer.

For a lovely savoury flavour, try adding 6-8 anchovies, broken into chunks, with a tablespoon of sliced black olives and a handful of chopped fresh basil stirred in at the end.

‘Use Me For Anything Tomato Sauce’ recipe from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe, available here.

Jack Monroe.      Twitter: @MsJackMonroe      Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

Photography by Susan Bell

Photography by Susan Bell