Tasty Avoca Minestrone Soup Recipe

This soup is easy, tasty, healthy and low GI (glycaemic index) which basically means it breaks down slowly in your system leaving you feeling fuller for longer, kind of the opposite effect to a Mc Donalds! A big bowl of wholesome goodness for these freezing days and chock a block with your 5 a day



2 onions, peeled and chopped

olive oil

2 carrots peeled and diced

1 red and 1 yellow pepper seeded and diced

1 chilli, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

A handful of pearl barley, rinsed in several changes of water

2 celery stalks, diced

1 litre light chicken stock

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato puree

1 x 400g can chickpeas rinsed and drained

2 sprigs oregano, finely chopped

1 teaspoon picked thyme leaves

How to…

Gently sauté the onion in 4 tablespoons of  olive oil for 10 mins. Add the carrots, peppers, chilli, garlic and barley. Toss in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery, stock, tomatoes and tomato puree and cook for a further 15 mins, or until the vegetables are just cooked. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the fresh herbs, check the seasoning and serve.


**You can add char-grilled chicken breasts, grilled sausages or chorizo to turn this into a more substantial supper dish.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and a half teaspoon of harissa per serving for a chilli kick.

Semi-sun dried tomato pesto along with extra herbs gives a robust, fragrant finish.

Next up I will be posting recipes from the rather wonderful looking Cake Cafe Dublin recipe book which I was received as a gift recently including their most sought after recipes so stay posted……



Banana Bread yummm

I have a fruit bowl full of sad looking bananas that need to be used up so I thought I would set myself the challenge of making (for the first time) homemade banana bread. I think it’s one of those things people either love or hate, I love it BUT it has to be moist, preferably sweet and nutty.

So with those prerequisites I turned to the wonderful Avoca cafe cookbook which is really great particularly for baking stuff and there it was – a recipe for banana bread with pecans and my own addition of maple syrup.I am going to roadtest it this weekend so will let you know how it goes. I’m hoping it will turn out like the picture above but hey taste is what matters isn’t it.

Here it is if you fancy trying it out yourself and let me know how you get on!

Avoca Banana Bread

8oz/225g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
110g/4oz caster sugar
1 egg beaten
75ml/3 fl oz sunflower oil
a few drops of vanilla extract or essence
65g/2.5 oz pecan nuts chopped
4 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed

1.Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl and stir in the sugar.

2 Mix in the egg, sunflower oil and vanilla but do not beat.

3.Fold in the pecans and mashed bananas, using a fork. Again, do not beat.

4.Spoon into a lined 900g/2lb loaf tin and bake in an oven preheated to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 for 50-60 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and springs back when prodded gently with your finger.

5. Leave in the tin for 10 mins, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

*My addition is to mix in a healthy dollop of maple syrup when mixing the egg and oil as I do this with my brown bread and it adds a lovely aftertaste. Also I’m going to sprinkle some chopped pecans on top.