Curried parsnip soup

Earlier this week, lovely man came striding home, clutching a rather large bag of parsnips. Waggling them under my nose, he announced, “20p… 20p!”. He continued “20 blinking p! For ALL THESE”. He then waggled them at me again, just in case I hadn’t seen them the first time.

“Brilliant!” I trilled… whilst thinking “What the actual chuff are we going to do with ALL THOSE? We’ll be living off parsnips FOREVER! We will smell of parsnips, FFS!”

I repeated… “Brilliant…. whatever shall we do with all those, darling?”

“No idea – but we’ll think of something,” he said confidently.

For a couple of days, the parsnips sat on the kitchen counter, looking at me. I glared back, trying to summon up some inspiration. Today I decided that they were going to have it… I was going to rustle them into something delicious. A quick Google later, and I had a recipe for curried parsnip soup. It went a bit like this…

  1. Peel and chop the parsnips into cubes
  2. Sautee two onions in some butter, and add ALL THE PARSNIPS
  3. Add about a litre of chicken stock, two teaspoons of medium curry powder and a teaspoon of crushed chillies
  4. Simmer until the parsnips are cooked
  5. Blend until smooth and stir in a big dollop of double cream
  6. If it’s too thick, add a bit of cream, milk or water

I now have four pots of the stuff ready to freeze. I’ve just had a taste, and, Oh My Goodness – it’s a taste sensation. Seriously one of the best soups I’ve ever made… and I’ve dabbled with a few.

My life is now complete

AMEN to curried parsnip soup!

 

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The mystery squash

Sweet dumpling squash

Sweet dumpling squash

Way back at the start of the year, I sowed what I thought were butternut squash seeds. The plants grew healthy and strong, and I had way too many for my garden so happily dished out the excess plants for my friends to grow. As the season went on, the plants snaked  across the veggie plot, and everyone commented on how well their plants were doing.  However, there appeared to be just one teeny problem. As the flowers subsided and the fruits developed, they looked to be anything BUT butternut squashes.

Instead of being smooth, pear-shaped and pale orange, these were like knobbly little pumpkins. What on earth were these mystery vegetables? And how big should they be before you pick them? Were they actually pumpkins? So many unanswered questions…

One thing was certain: I’ve never seen them in any of our local supermarkets.

After an extensive rustle around on the t’interweb, I discovered that what we’d all grown were, in fact something called sweet dumpling squash. Now, I’ve never even heard of these, let alone know what to do with them, but a further dig about revealed that they can be used in exactly the same way as butternut squash. They’re just slightly sweeter and a different shape. Phew!

That cleared up I set about transforming them into a hearty soup.

This one appeared in The Hinckley Times on 3 October 2013

The Hinckley Times 3 October 2013

The Hinckley Times 3 October 2013

Sweet dumpling squash and courgette soup

Now I’ve found out that my mystery squash was a sweet dumpling, I thought I’d transform it into a lovely autumn soup.

Sweet dumpling squash

Sweet dumpling squash

Serves 4

You will need:
1 sweet dumpling squash (butternut would work just fine though)
1 medium onion
400g courgette or marrow
1 vegetable stock cube
1/2 litre of water
A spoonful of creme fraiche (or cream)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

First of all I cut my squash in half and took out all the seeds. I then chopped it up roughly, drizzled with oil and sprinkled some cumin seeds on the top. Into the oven it went on 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Sweet dumpling squash and cumin on roasting tray

Sweet dumpling squash and cumin on roasting tray

To be honest, the marrow was an afterthought as I had some lurking around in the fridge that needed to be used up. I chopped it up (about 400g) and added this to the roasting tray. The whole lot went back in the oven for a further 15 minutes.

Sweet dumpling squash and courgette

Sweet dumpling squash and courgette

I use a soup maker, but a large pan with do just fine. Chop up the onion and add it to the pan, and saute gently until translucent. Separate the squash from the skins, and add the squash flesh and marrow to the pan.

Chuck in a crumbled stock cube and half a litre of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Blitz until smooth, and stir in a generous dollop of creme fraiche or cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

And the verdict? Absolutely delicious! Roasting the vegetables with cumin really brought out the flavours and the result was a lovely, warming soup. Next time I might even whack half a chilli in there. I think it can take it…

Four portions of sweet dumpling and courgette soup

Four portions of sweet dumpling and courgette soup

Tomato and basil soup

My tomatoes are now ripening up well, but due to the wily caterpillars – they’re in the greenhouse, but I’ll be damned if I can find them – nibbling holes in some of them, they’re not quite fit for a salad.

In an effort not to waste them though, I put them to good use in a soup.

Serves 4

You will need:
About 700g assorted tomatoes
1 medium onion
Half a red chilli pepper
1 vegetable stock cube
1 litre of water
A handful of basil
A glug of cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Roughly chop the onion and add to a large pan. Cut the tomatoes in half and add those too. I left the skins on as the soup will be blended anyway.
Add the water, basil, chilli and stock cube, bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Blend until smooth, add the cream and serve.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

The finished product is packed with tomatoey goodness, and really tasty too.

Tomato and basil soup

Tomato and basil soup

Cauliflower cheese soup

II peeked at my cauliflowers – which had been going great guns a week or so ago – and was slightly dismayed to find the end two weren’t firm, nutty balls of whiteness. They’d sort of lost the plot and started sprouting out from any old where.

Cauliflowers that have sprouted

Cauliflowers that have sprouted

I found out that this can happen in hot weather… and yes, it’s been hot. To try to save the others from the same fate I’ve folded lots of leaves over the white bits to try to keep them cool.

Imagining the hoots of laughter from my family as I served them up for dinner, I decided that these little beauties were not destined for the table. So I gave them a new lease of life in a soup…

Serves 4

You will need:
A medium/large cauliflower (or equivalent in straggly ones)
1 medium onion
1 medium potato
1 vegetable stock cube
1 litre of water
A generous glug of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Roughly chop the onion, potato and cauliflower and add to a large pan.
Add the water and stock cube, bring to the boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend until smooth, add the milk and serve.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, grate a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on the top.  For veg that wasn’t going to make it to the table, I think this is a fine alternative. And tasty to boot!

Cauliflower cheese soup

Cauliflower cheese soup

Spring green soup

As my cabbages have started to heart up, I’ve been trimming off the outer leaves to let more light and air into the plants.

To save throwing the leaves away, I decided to make soup from them. As they have been fully exposed to light, they are dark green, coarse and strongly flavoured. They also happen to be rich in folic acid, vitamin C and dietary fibre. Winner!

Serves 4

You will need:
10 large outer brassica leaves
1 medium onion
1 medium potato
1 vegetable stock cube
1 litre of water
A generous glug of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Roughly chop the onion, potato and brassica leaves and add to a large pan.
Add the water and stock cube, bring to the boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend until smooth, add the milk and serve.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

The finished product is a bit whiffy whilst cooking, and ends up a violent green colour, but trust me. It’s delicious – and freezes well.

There you have it. Top notch, nutritious and above all… FREE… soup in just half an hour.

Spring green soup

Spring green soup

Roasted sweet potato, butternut squash and red pepper soup

A perfect hearty, healthy, winter soup recipe…
Serves 4

You’ll need:

Drizzle of oil
1 large onion
1/2 butternut squash
1 medium sweet potato (approx 300g)
1 red pepper
Sprinkle of chilli flakes
Vegetable stock cube
A splash of milk
Salt and pepper to season
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)

I use a soup maker, but a large pan does just the same job – you’ll just have to transfer to a blender after it’s cooked and cooled down a bit.

What to do:

Pre-heat  the oven to 1800

Peel the squash and sweet potato, remove any seeds and chop into rough chunks

Put on a baking tray with the roughly chopped, deseeded pepper

Add the chopped onion

Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle sparingly with chilli flakes and salt and pepper. If you want to, you can add about a quarter of a teaspoon of cumin seeds too

Roasted red pepper, butternust squash and sweet potato soup

Roasted red pepper, butternust squash and sweet potato soup

Roast in the oven for about half an hour, or until the squash is soft but the peppers and onions aren’t burning – leave to cool slightly before handling

Transfer the tray of vegetables to the soup maker, sprinkle in a vegetable stock cube and add enough water to make 1400ml

Bring to the boil, simmer for 15 minutes, then blend until smooth

Add a splash of milk to the final stage of blending

Roasted butternut squash and red pepper soup

Another quick and easy soup recipe – delish!
Serves 4

You’ll need:

Knob of butter
1 large onion
1 butternut squash
1 red pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Sprinkle of chilli flakes
Vegetable stock cube
A generous dollop of creme fraiche
Salt and pepper to season

I use a soup maker, but a large pan does just the same job – you’ll just have to transfer to a blender after it’s cooked and cooled down a bit.

What to do:

Pre-heat  the oven to 1800

Cut the butternut squash and red pepper in half, remove the seeds and place on a baking tray

Drizzle with a little olive oil, peel and crush the garlic cloves, and pop one in each halves of the squash, and sprinkle sparingly with chilli flakes

Roast in the oven for about half an hour, or until the squash is soft but the peppers aren’t burning – leave to cool slightly before handling

Put the knob of butter in the soup maker on ‘Low’, add the onion and red peppers, stir and leave to sweat for a minute.

Scoop out the butternut squash flesh, and add to the soup

Add enough stock to make 1400 ml.

Simmer for half an hour, then blend until smooth

Season with a little salt and pepper, and stir in the creme fraiche just before serving.

Enjoy!

Roasted butternut squash and red pepper soup

Roasted butternut squash and red pepper soup

Carrot and lentil soup

Another concoction using fridge leftovers – scrummy!

You’ll need:

Knob of butter
1/2 large onion
1 washed, chopped leeks
4 peeled, chopped carrots (medium size)
4 dessert spoons of dried red lentils (about 75g)
Vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper to season

I use a soup maker, but a large pan does just the same job – you’ll just have to transfer to a blender after it’s cooked and cooled down a bit.

What to do:

Put the knob of butter in the soup maker on ‘Low’, add the onion and leek, stir and leave to sweat for a minute.

Add the carrots and lentils, and add enough stock to make 1400 ml.

Simmer for half an hour, then blend until smooth

Season with a little salt and pepper just before serving.

Optional extras

Give a bit of a chilli kick by adding half a chopped red chilli pepper at the same time as the onion and leek

Stir in a little cream or creme fraiche just before serving

Bon appetit!

Carrot and lentil soup

Carrot and lentil soup

Leek and potato soup

I’ve never made this before, so thought I’d give it a go. Just had a taste, and it was blooming delish – so definitely worth a blog…

You’ll need:

Knob of butter
3 washed, chopped leeks
2 medium-sized peeled and cubed potatoes
a vegetable stock cube
a good glug of cream
Black pepper and salt to taste

I use a soup maker, but a large pan does just the same job – you’ll just have to transfer to a blender after it’s cooked.

What to do:

Put the knob of butter in the soup maker on ‘High’, add the leeks, stir and leave to sweat for a minute.

Add the potatoes, and add enough stock to make 1400 ml.

Simmer for half an hour, then blend until smooth.

Stir in a dollop of cream, and season with some freshly ground black pepper and salt.

Enjoy!

Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup