Sweet Potato, Sweetcorn and Borlotti Bean Soup



This is a chunky soup with a subtle barbeque flavour, which makes great use of those cans of sweetcorn and borlotti beans you’ve had lying around for a while and weren’t quite sure what to do with. I’ve used gram flour to thicken it, which keeps the recipe gluten-free, but you can substitute this for any flour you have lying around. If you want to use fresh or frozen sweetcorn instead of canned, then that’s fine too. You can get BBQ seasoning from the spice section of any supermarket.

You can make this soup a day or two before you want to eat it, or you can even divide it into individual portions and freeze it for another time. The recipe serves 4-6 people, but even if you’re cooking for one, I would still make the full batch and freeze it. 

Sweet Potato, Sweetcorn and Borlotti Bean Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: about 1 hour.

Serves 4-6



3 tbsp olive oil

2 medium red onions, thinly sliced

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small dices

3 cloves garlic, chopped (you can also use 2 tsp pre-chopped from a jar)

2 heaped tbsp gram (chickpea) flour

1.5 litres strong, hot vegetable stock (make sure it’s vegan)

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 400g can borlotti beans, still in water

1 340g can sweetcorn, still in water (you can use 240g frozen or fresh)

100g (half a tube) tomato puree

3 tsp BBQ seasoning

3 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

50g BBQ sauce (smoky is good)

2 tbsp vegan Worcester sauce


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sliced onions and gently cook for about 4 minutes, until they start to soften. Now add diced sweet potato and cook for another 6 minutes or so, stirring often. Throw in the chopped garlic and give it another minute, then stir in the gram flour (or whatever flour you’re using), until it is fully incorporated. 

Once the flour is combined, start adding the veg stock a little at a time. Stir constantly when pouring to prevent lumps forming in the flour. Make sure the flour and stock mixture is smooth before adding more liquid. Once you get past about ½ a litre and you have a smooth mix, you can start pouring more quickly. 

Bring the stock to the boil and then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring back up to temperature and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for about 40 minutes, until you have a thick and rich soup. At this point you can either leave it all chunky, or blend some of it. What I did was put an emersion blender in the soup for a few seconds so just blend part of it. If you have a jug blender, you can take out about one third of the soup, blend that and then pour it back in the pan.

Either serve straight away with a dash of cream and some chopped coriander, or chill or freeze for later as described in the introduction.


The Blooming Mid-Atlantic

The Blooming Mid-Atlantic


Given adequate sunlight and nutrients, phytoplankton populations can multiply into blooms large enough to be visible from space. That was the case on May 18, 2021, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of a phytoplankton bloom along the coast of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Some of the nutrients that fueled the bloom likely came from runoff from the Delaware River watershed. Farms, wastewater treatment plants, urban and suburban areas, and other sources all contribute nutrients that can encourage blooms.

“It’s always a challenge to be definitive about what MODIS is picking up in the coastal zone. There are a lot of things that provide color to the coastal ocean, including sediment, chromoporhic dissolved organic matter (CDOM), and phytoplankton,” explained Bob Chant, an oceanographer at Rutgers University. “But in this case, it sure looks like we are seeing the Delaware River plume, which contains all three of those elements of color, plus enough nutrients to fuel and sustain large blooms.”

The Delaware River plume may have also gotten some help from below the waterline. “Winds from the south often drive surface waters offshore due to Earth’s rotation and Ekman Transport,” said Chant. “This often causes nutrient-rich water to well up toward the surface in the summer.”

The tides likely also contributed to the appearance of this bloom. “The image occurred during a neap tide, a period with more moderate tides when the bay discharges more fresh water and the plume becomes larger,” said Chant.

On a global scale, phytoplankton are responsible for nearly half of Earth’s primary production, turning carbon dioxide, sunlight, and nutrients into the food that ultimately fuels almost everything in the sea, from finfish to shellfish and from zooplankton to whales.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Story by Adam Voiland.


RSPCA Welcomes Government Animal Action Plan and Urges Them to be Courageous in Delivering it – Katzenworld


Enforcement and funding will be crucial charity warns

The RSPCA has welcomed the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare and urged them to ‘have courage’ in delivering it.

An unprecedented coalition of 50 animal welfare charities called for the UK Government to take a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ to redefine our relationship with animals through a new animal health and welfare strategy and released a green paper – “Act Now For Animals” – setting out the sector’s priorities.

Animal loving personalities including wildlife presenter Chris Packham, DJ Sara Cox, TV personality Angela Rippon, choreographer and TV presenter Arlene Phillips, actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna and actress Carol Royle added their support in a video:

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA today applauded the Government’s plans to take action on more than a dozen animal issues which the public care passionately about, including pet issues: tackling puppy smuggling through changes to import rules, introducing compulsory microchipping for cats, cracking down on pet theft through a new government taskforce and banning remote controlled training e-collars.

Sam Gaines, head of the companion animals department at the RSPCA, said: “The past year has highlighted just how important pets are for so many people and so we are thrilled that the Government plans to take action on issues which offer our pets greater protections.

“We are delighted that the sale and use of equipment designed to cause pain and fear will be banned and puppy and kitten imports will be tackled. Throughout the pandemic we have seen many pet owners understandably concerned about pet theft and so we’re pleased to see a new taskforce being introduced to crackdown on pet thefts.

“We’re also pleased to see the Government introducing compulsory microchipping for cats – should a cat be lost, or become injured, they can easily be reunited with their owner.”

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said: “These announcements could make a real and lasting difference to animals’ welfare, so we’re pleased the Government is committed to improving animals’ lives in the UK and abroad.

“We can no longer ignore the inextricable link that exists between the way we treat animals, our own health and that of the planet – but to really achieve a step change, it will take courage from right across Government.

“We urge the Prime Minister to put animal welfare at the heart of policy making and make these announcements just the beginning of an evolving, holistic animal health and welfare strategy.”

Chris added that as well as needing courage, the Government needs to create an Animal Sentience Committee with real teeth  to  ensure animals are considered in relevant policy making.

He added: “An Animal Sentience Committee is crucial to the success of future legislation; it must be independent, made up of leading animal welfare experts and be able to meaningfully hold ministers to account. It must not be a token gesture.

“We are pleased the Government will be taking action on many of the top welfare issues that we know the public care passionately about and  look forward to working with them to identify further opportunities to improve animal welfare.”