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Posts Tagged ‘Soup’

It’s been a busy old few weeks round here, especially the weekends which have been full of sanding and varnishing floorboards and a day-long haul to Ikea where we finally ordered a shiny new kitchen! We’ve been working like the clappers to get everything ready before the cabinets arrive on Friday (Ikea’s lead time is ridiculously quick). Doors have been hung, skirting board painted and worktop samples ordered; my kitchen is finally starting to come together but rather than feeling excited I’ve been immersed in a sense of blind panic. Foreboding questions are doing laps round my mind. What if it turns out I’ve chosen the wrong combination of cabinets? Is the worktop really going to be too low? Where is all the food going to live? How will I ever find a sink I actually like and can afford? Or a tap? When I find it’s all getting a bit too much I head into my temporary kitchen 1) to remind myself that even if the final product’s not perfect, it’s better than what I’ve got at the moment and 2) to get stuck into some baking which, in the most part, is my favourite way to relax.

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I’m calling time on this miserable, chilly month with some sunshine in a bowl. January has seen me trying out various ways of transporting my soup to work without it leaking all over the inside of my handbag; my thermos has given up the ghost after one to many bumps. I’m quite pleased with my bargain (£3.49!) bento-type box, it doesn’t keep food hot very long but can go straight in the microwave, no decanting required. Unfortunately it’s quite bulky and won’t fit in my bag like the thermos did and, since it’s white, everyone thinks I’m toting around a loo roll. I’m tempted by one of the uber-cute Fuel flasks, complete with dry section for crackers or crûtons, but the price is rather high and they look a tad small. Does anyone out there in the blogosphere have any recommendations?

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This has to be one of my all-time favourite soups. When I was little my mum used to ask my brother and I for meal and lunch requests; I would ask for leek and potato soup pretty much every week and, now I’m grown up and moved out, I call her for the recipe on an equally regular basis. Whenever it’s cold and I want a taste of home I make this soup so it’s about time that I actually documented the recipe (I’m sure I’ll just find another reason to call mum).

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A week or two ago I was bemoaning the fact that I was bored with soup and needed some new recipes and, whilst I’m still looking for some new ideas, I flicked through my little black book to rediscover some of my old favourites. Only my very favourite recipe conquests go in the book, nothing new or untested, nothing mediocre that I wouldn’t make again. I don’t think of myself as a particularly sentimental person but I like to think that when I (and if ) I have children, these will be the recipes I pass down to them, the ones that they grow up with that will always remind them of home.

I’ve made this soup countless times, it’s simple, filling and slightly exotic. The chilli warms you through, the coconut milk adds a rich, creamy flavour and the roasted butternut squash makes this soup slightly sweet. I usually make this on a Sunday and keep portions in the fridge ready to pop in my thermos for a packed lunch which works out well since the flavours in this soup develop over time. I prefer to use butternut squash but pumpkin would work equally well.

Butternut squash and coconut soup

Serves 4

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 400ml low-fat coconut milk
  • 200-300ml vegetable stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Peel and chop the butternut squash into large pieces. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil. Roast until soft, about 30 mins depending on size of pieces.

Meanwhile heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the leeks with the garlic and chilli until soft and translucent. Add roast squash, stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the coconut milk and 200ml of stock and bring to a boil.

Take of the heat and purée with a stick blender or mouli until smooth and silky. If the texture is too thick add the rest of the stock. Season and serve.

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Autumn is a beautiful time of year, the leaves that are slowly being blown from the trees practically glow in a rich blush of red, orange and yellow. As the weather gets cooler (and the temperature in the office where I work drops to ‘four-layers’ cold) I turn to soup for a lunchtime warm up. I usually find some time on a Sunday afternoon to whip up a big batch of soup – a week’s worth of packed lunches. If I’m feeling super organised I’ll make two different soups and freeze individual portions so I don’t have to have the same flavour day after day.

Red lentils always strike me as being an autumnal ingredient; maybe it’s because of their lovely orange hue or maybe because they help transform a light vegetable broth into something more substantial. They will never be a star ingredient but they’ll always have a place in my store cupboard. In this recipe their subtle nuttiness, paired with a good dollop of yoghurt, brings out the sweetness of the caramelised, roasted peppers. I found the flavours melded and improved over the week but Monday’s bowl was still pretty tasty.

A little smoked paprika or perhaps some diced chorizo (added with the lentils) would surely be a welcome addition, as would some toasty croutons.

Roasted pepper and lentil soup

Makes 4 servings

  • 6-8 red, yellow or orange (bell) peppers (depending on size)
  • 2 red onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (I would have used fresh but my bunnies nipped that idea in the bud – literally)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 750ml vegetable stock or water
  • 125ml yoghurt (mine was low fat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Chop the peppers into large pieces, quarter the onions and put them in a roasting tray. Throw in the unpeeled garlic cloves, thyme and oil and toss to coat. Roast near the top of the oven for 45 minutes to an hour until the peppers are soft and charred in a few places.

Remove from the oven and enjoy the wonderful aroma. Carefully take the garlic and squeeze the flesh into a large pan discarding the papery skins.

Add the roasted peppers and onion, lentils, tomato paste and hot stock and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 30 mins until the lentils have gone mushy.

Using a stick blender*, blend the soup until all the big bits of pepper and onion are gone. The soup won’t be completely smooth but I quite like a bit of texture. Stir in salt and pepper to taste; if you have used water rather than stock you may need more salt. Finish by stirring in the yoghurt.

*If you don’t have a stick blender you can use a regular blender, mouli or food processor. The texture will vary but the taste will be the same. It is probably somewhat safer to leave the soup to cool before blending it but I’m far to impatient!

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