Wintery squash soup with herbs

winter-squash-soup

Now that Halloween is over, what to do with those decorative pumpkins and squashes? Throw them away? Not on my watch…

This year I picked up a random pumpkin at the market simply because it looked pretty. After keeping it as a kitchen decoration for a few weeks it was time to make good use of it. I don’t really have any experience of cooking with pumpkins, so I applied my granny’s mantra: If in doubt, make a soup.

carnival-squash

A bit of research revealed that my pretty pumpkin was actually a squash – a carnival squash to be precise – and indeed edible (as most of them are). I cooked it with thyme, a little bit of smoked paprika and coconut milk and the result is pretty damn good. This squash has a lovely, savoury flavour and the addition of smoked paprika makes it taste like there might be bacon involved somewhere. (There isn’t; I’m vegetarian.) It’s especially nice when served with a bit of cream cheese or creme fraiche stirred in.

So if you’re just dismantling your Halloween decorations, try this idea and cook up a big pot of warming winter soup.

winter-squash-soup-overhead


WINTERY SQUASH SOUP WITH HERBS
Makes 4 generous portions

600g squash (I used one carnival squash)
2 celery sticks
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
300ml coconut milk (I use Koko Dairy Free)
300ml water
1 veggie stock cube
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
A few springs fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Light cream cheese or creme fraiche, to serve
Pumpkin seeds, to serve

Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Chop the celery. Fry them in a big saucepan in the olive oil until soft.

Meanwhile peel the squash, remove the seeds and chop into small chunks. Add the squash to the pan and pour over the coconut milk and water. Stir in the stock cube and spices and bring to the boil. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks and add to the pot.

Simmer on a low heat until the squash chunks are soft. Puree using a food process or or stick blender and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a dollop of light cream cheese or creme fraiche and sprinkled with some pumpkin seeds.


mini-pumpkins-pot
Yep, I bought some tiny pumpkins just to take soup photos, so I’ll have to figure out what to cook with those next…

Carrot and celeriac soup: a simple winter warmer

carrots2

Last Saturday I went to my local farmer’s market to try out my new camera and came home with a load of veggies I didn’t really need, simply because they were so beautiful. I love the market in autumn. It’s an absolute feast of colours – from rosy-cheeked apples to vibrant pumpkins, deep violet cabbages and dark green leaves, there’s just no end to the food inspiration it provides.

Among the things I picked up was a bunch of multi-coloured carrots and a celeriac, so I decided to throw the two into a pot together, with minimal fuss and spice. The result was a soup that wins with a simple combination of earthy, autumnal flavours – the sweetness of carrots and the aromatic kick from the celeriac. One to curl up with on a rainy autumn day.

celeriac-carrot-soup-3

SIMPLE CARROT AND CELERIAC SOUP
Makes 4 portions

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 celeriac
1 bunch carrots
300ml coconut milk (I use Koko Dairy Free)
1 veggie stock cube or 3 tsp Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder
1 handful parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Veggie prep: Chop the onion and garlic finely. Wash and roughly chop the carrots. Clean, peel and roughly chop the celeriac.

Heat the olive oil in a big pot and fry the onion and garlic until golden. Add the carrots and celeriac, pour over the coconut milk and 300ml hot water, add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the carrot and celeriac chunks are soft.

Turn off the heat. Roughly tear up the parsley and add to the pot, then puree the soup until smooth using a stick blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with toasted bread. Goes very well with this lovely rye and spelt bread.

carrots1

Curried red lentil dip with dill – a perfect veggie lunchbox snack

I love tarka dal but if you’re doing it properly it just takes forever to cook. I usually make a huge bowl when I’m cooking curry anyway and freeze it in small portions for an occasional treat. Here’s a quick and tasty red lentil dip that reminds me of the flavours of a nice, comforting bowl of dal but is a lot quicker to make. It’s also a bit lighter and tastes great with veggie sticks or spread on crunchy lettuce hearts. A perfect addition to the lunchbox!

curried red lentil dip

This is a recipe for Thermomix, but you could also make it with a blender or food processor – see alternative instructions below.


CURRIED RED LENTIL DIP WITH DILL
(Makes 3-4 portions – depending on how hungry you are!)

100g celery, in pieces
A small red chilly (fresh or dried)
125g split red lentils, rinsed and drained
300g water
2 tsp vegetable stock
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp medium curry powder
freshly ground black pepper
5 spring onions, in chunks
a handful fresh dill, with stalks

Recipe for Thermomix:

  1. Chop the celery and chili for 5 seconds / speed 5.
  2. Add the lentils, water, stock and spices. Simmer for 25 minutes / 100&degC / speed 2 – keep an eye on it as the lentils can rise up a bit when the water starts boiling.
  3. Add the spring onions and dill and puree gradually on 2-4-6-8 until you have a smooth paste.

Without a Thermomix:

  1. Chop the celery roughly, chop the chili finely and fry both in a little olive oil until soft.
  2. Add the lentils, water, stock and spices, bring to the boil and simmer for 25.
  3. Put everything into a food processor, add the spring onions and dill and blitz until smooth.

curried red lentil dip