Recipes

Roasted Squash and Winter Vegetable Soup

I love soup. It’s the one thing I don’t mind making, and it’s such a comfort food through the Autumn and Winter! Especially with some delicious chunky bread.

I’ve grown up with my Mom making homemade soup all the time, and it’s a tradition that I do now too. She has her own special recipes that are family favourites, and I love experimenting with my own made up recipes to find some new family favourites too 🙂  This was one of those experiments over Christmas.  And as we currently have icicles hanging on the tree outside – yes, ice in Florida! – I’m going to defrost some of the excess batches from the freezer and enjoy the warming goodness, while the palm trees face the sleet and cold beyond the window.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, diced (there are two in the picture, but I decided to only use one in the end)
2 small/medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube (plus boiling water to dissolve)
sour cream (optional)
grated cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Cut the acorn and butternut squashes in half, scoop out the seeds and place on a baking tray. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven, cut side up, for 45 minutes to an hour (until lightly browned). Set aside to cool.

2. In a large saucepan add a little oil and cook the onions until slightly softened, add the garlic. Stir and cook for 2-4 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.

3. Mix the vegetable stock cube with some boiling water to disolve, add to pan. Then add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Pour boiling water until just covering the vegetables, stir and simmer for about 25 minutes (until the sweet potatoes are softened), stirring occasionally.

4. Using a spoon, scoop out the acorn and butternut squash flesh, discarding the skin. Add the flesh to the saucepan and mix in well. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. Blend soup with a handheld blender, or regular blender (whichever you prefer!), and serve hot.  Top with sour cream and cheese if desired, and chunky bread.

6. Enjoy!

When the excess soup has cooled down, you can pour it into freezer containers to store for a later time. We always have 2 or 3 different kinds of homemade soup in the freezer – it’s so easy to defrost and reheat.

This will be my post for this week’s Hearth & Soul Blog Hop 🙂  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

I’m also taking part in Foodie Friday this week for the first time 🙂

Recipes

Soup Season: Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

We are now definitely into “soup season” where everyone loves comfort, warm fires and hearty food. Soups are so easy to make and you really don’t need a recipe to follow – just throw a bunch of vegetables into a pot with some stock, cook, blend, et voila! Soup 🙂

But there are a lot of lovely soup recipes around and I love trying them out! My Mom is the homemade soup master..well, mistress, so today we made one together from a new cookery book that was a surprise find!

The book is called Comfort Cooking: Recipes To Warm Your Heart by Bay Books. It’s packed full of recipes I know I’ll love to cook just as much as I want to eat them – when I first found the book and flicked through I was ravenous by the end! I’ve searched online and not managed to find anywhere that sells it, I got my copy from a book man at work so it may be that they’re out of print. I’ll do a review of the book itself in a different blog post another time and try to find more details to help source it.

So yes, it is that time of year where a nice bowlful of warm soup is a real comfort 🙂 so I have decided to do a series of posts throughout the next couple of months called Soup Season! Today’s recipe is Pumpkin and Carrot Soup.

We changed a couple of things in the recipe, so I’ll indicate in the ingredients list which things we altered or removed.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
40 g (1.5 oz) butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) carrots, sliced
125 ml (4 fl oz / 0.5 cup) orange juice
750 g (1 lb 10 oz) butternut pumpkin (squash), peeled and roughly chopped. <—[we used actual fresh pumpkin, like you carve at Halloween, about 2 lbs]
1.5 litres (52 fl oz / 6 cups) chicken stock. <—[we used vegetable stock as Mom is vegetarian]
1 tbsp snipped chives. <—[we didn’t have any chives so we left this out]
herb scones or herb bread to serve. <—[we used seeded bread as we have that in the house]

1) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Pour in the orange juice and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the pumpkin, stock and return to the boil (the original recipe also asks for an additional 500 ml, which is 2 cups, of water to be added but we thought that would make it too watery so we left the extra water out completely…and are glad that we did!). Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the carrot and pumpkin are soft.

2) Blend the soup in batches in a blender (or with a hand held blender if you have one), until smooth – the recipe says to add a little more stock if you prefer the soup to be thinner, but we didn’t do this, it was just the right consistency in our opinion 🙂

3) Return to the cleaned pan and reheat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Divide the soup among the serving bowls and garnish with the chives (or without chives, as we did). Serve with herb scones or bread – we used Warburton’s Seeded Batch instead, because it’s the bread we have daily and love it!

This was a great recipe and so tasty. We’ll definitely be doing it again.

We only used 2 bowlfuls of soup today so the rest will be going into Pour And Store bags, when it’s cooled down, and stored in the freezer for a later date 🙂 These bags are great for freezing soups, sauces, marinades, etc and they stand open on their own making it easy to put the soup in them. I’m all for ease when it comes to cooking!

Recipes

Dinner And A Movie

My husband and I have had a lot of long-distance parts to our relationship. With him being in the USAF he’s been stationed in countries I’m not in and sometimes in countries I can’t go to (his deployment for example). Right now he’s back in America but I’m still in England while we wait for the marriage notification and visa processing to be completed so I can move too. I won’t lie, the waiting is horrible because I miss him so much 🙁

One thing we started early on in our relationship was movie nights – just because we couldn’t be in the same country when he was deployed, etc didn’t mean that we couldn’t still watch a movie together! So we would plan ahead which movie we were both going to rent and then watch it at the same time while talking on voice chat online 🙂 It’s as close to actually going out (or staying in) as a couple that we could get for certain times in our relationship and it was nice to share that time together 🙂

Then, about a year ago, we decided to make it dinner and a movie night where we would not only synchronise the movie we watched but also the food we ate. So we’d pick out a recipe earlier in the week, then cook it at the same time (we synchronised that via voice chat online) then eat our meal for 2 while watching the same movie and chatting some more on voice chat 🙂

Last Saturday was our most recent of these dinner and movie nights and we decided to cook some comfort food that we’d never tried to make at home before: macaroni cheese!

I found a recipe on my favourite recipe site, All Recipes and it turned out really well!

The recipe we used was Four Cheese Macaroni and we both had to substitute one of the cheeses (muenster) for something else (we chose a medium cheddar) because it wasn’t something we could find. We also used mild cheddar cubed instead of “processed cheese food” because that sounds the most unappetising thing I had ever heard of! lol!

Sorry about the pictures being a bit dark – a couple of light bulbs have died in my kitchen!

I went back to basics with this recipe because the battery in my scales had died but luckily I have a pair of old fashioned scales and weights, which came in handy 🙂 The recipe calls for grated and cubed cheese.

After melting all the cheese with the macaroni it gets transferred to a dish and put into the oven…

…and comes out nicely browned with buttery-cheesy-goodness!

It’s something we’ll definitely cook again because it was so easy and really tasty!

The movie we watched was Iron Man 🙂

I’m going to use this as my first time taking part in the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop which happens every Tuesday!