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 🙂

Life

Getting Closer!

Sorry for the absence of posts from me lately, things have been progressing with my visa application and it’s been taking up a lot of my time to get things organised. We finally have an interview date though! Yey! Unfortunately it’s not before our first anniversary, so that’s not so good :/ but we’ll still make the most of the day with synchronising a romantic meal with webcams and synchronising pressing play on a movie we will both rent to watch at the same time 🙂

Now that the interview date has been set, I have a little more time to be posting things on here because now we actually have a date to work towards. No more limbo! Not being able to plan ahead was horrible but now, I can plan 🙂 …and I’m sure it will sink in sometime later today just how much I need to get done lol!

So, posts coming soon. I have a great ice cream recipe I want to share with you all and a delicious soup, as well as a lovely pasta dish and some book reviews.

Recipes

Soup Season: Garden Pea Soup

I love peas. In the age old question of “what luxury item would you take to a desert island with you?” it would be peas without a doubt! Fresh garden peas (or frozen ones) though, not the canned variety because that’s just blasphemy.

When my husband and I first started dating he bought me a surprise gift and gave me the hint that it was green, my immediate (and jokey) reply was “is it peas?!” and joking aside, I would have still been a happy girl if it was hehe.

So I decide to put my pea obsession to good use and make a garden pea soup 🙂 I didn’t follow a recipe, I made it up as I went along! But it’s quick and simple to do, very few ingredients and you can add more or less of each of them – or throw some more in there like adding a carrot or two, some leeks maybe, even some fresh mint or bacon at the very end. That’s why I love soups, they’re so versatile!

Makes 8-10 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 kg frozen garden peas (fresh from pods are just as good!)
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 pints vegetable stock
1 pint boiling water
100 ml double or single cream (optional)
butter

Add some butter to a large saucepan and cook the chopped onions until soft, add the crushed garlic and stir through, leave to cook for 2 minutes.

Add the peas – they don’t need to be defrosted, just add them right from the freezer bag, or shell them from the pods if you’re using fresh peas.

Stir and add the stock and extra water. You can add more or less stock and water depending on how thin/thick you would like your soup to be.

Stir through and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Blend in a blender or food processor then stir in the cream if using it (we decided not to). This is also the point where you could add chopped up cooked bacon and/or mint.

Even though we decided not to use the cream in the soup itself, we drizzled a little bit on top of each portion before serving. You could also add a few crispy bacon bits on top, or some grated parmesan cheese. …Or even all three!

We had a bowlful each, with some Warburton’s Seeded Batch, and it was delicious! I’m definitely going to make it again but with some parmesan shavings and bacon bits to top it off. This was so quick and easy to make and I’m all for ease when it comes to cooking!

The rest of the soup went into Pour And Store bags, as usual, to be stored in the freezer 🙂

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

Recipes

Soup Season: Parsnip Soup

When I went food shopping a week ago, Sainsbury’s were selling bags of parsnips at a reduced price. They were all perfectly fine so I bought a lot, deciding I would make a parsnip soup 🙂

I’ve said before, and will say again, soups are so easy you really don’t need to follow a recipe for them! So I literally just threw a bunch of things together that I thought would taste nice, but I’ve written down the quantities for anyone who wants to try this themselves 🙂 The end result was a really delicious soup!

Makes about 10 servings (reduce quantities accordingly if you want a smaller batch)
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
2kg parsnips, chopped
1 onion, chopped and peeled
1 swede, chopped and peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
vegetable stock (enough to cover the chopped vegetables in the pan – I used about 3 litres)

Add all the vegetables into a pan – I actually halved the quantities and split them between 2 pans because I didn’t have 1 big enough for everything all at once. Add the crushed garlic and pour over enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. The soup turns out nice and thick in my opinion but if you want a thinner soup, add more water/stock.

Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for around 30-40 minutes, until the parsnip and swede are soft.

Remove from the heat and blend in batches in a blender/food processor or use a hand-held blender, until smooth. ….and that’s it! Soup 🙂

As always, I had a serving the day I made it (and kept one for the next day too) then put the rest into Pour And Store bags after it had cooled down, to store in the freezer.

It is a fairly sweet soup, because parsnips are quite a sweet vegetable, so if you want to change this you can add some paprika or cumin to the soup, and/or swirl some sour cream in to each bowl when you serve it (not before).

Enjoy 🙂

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!