Category Archives: Soups

Thai style parsnip, butternut squash and ginger soup

Parsnip, butternut, ginger soup

So this is my final parting recipe for this blog. I had intended to post a few recipes over the Christmas period, but a combination of illness and family commitments put paid to that, and so this has crept into 2016.

This is a lovely creamy soup, with the warmth of ginger making it perfect for a cold wintry day. As I came down ill on Christmas eve, I just about managed to cobble together some good old leek and potato soup which slipped down perfectly. This one would have been good too.

It has used up the very last of my final butternut squash, but sweet potato would be a good substitute.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion or a couple of shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic (more if you prefer)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • roughly 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • roughly half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint / 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  1. In a large saucepan, add a little oil or butter and gently sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Add the garlic (peel and chop if you like, I just peeled and threw them in whole) and ginger, continue to cook for another minute.
  3. Add the chopped parsnips and squash, then cover with the stock. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a gentle simmer for 15-20 mins.
  4. At this point I use a potato masher to break the vegetables down which makes it easier to blend them. It’s not essential.
  5. Add the coconut milk and then blitz everything together with a hand blender, or else transfer everything to a blender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste while you reheat it slightly. Enjoy.

Parsnip soup ingredients Parsnips

Roasted butternut, apple and garlic soup.

squash, apple, garlic soup

How lovely it is that the squash season arrives just in time for the weather to chill and the nights to darken, which dictate that it’s also now soup season.

I had a glut of squashes this time last year, 14 in total from 2 plants, so I decided to scale down to just 1 plant this year and now I have 3 squashes! You can never tell whether mother nature will be generous or mean with her offerings from year to year, but I am strangely enjoying my more meagre harvest all the more for it. Sadly, a glut can really put you off a vegetable.

I made this soup along with a galette (a rustic one crust pie) because the ingredients were more or less the same, and it meant I could make the two together and save time. I will be posting the galette recipe next, and I’ll add a link here once it’s done.

The roasted apple adds a lovely sweetness to this soup, and the roasted garlic turns into a delicious sweet nuttiness that adds depth rather than heat. A very moreish soup.

Method (ingredients highlighted in bold):

Preheat the oven to around 200ºc. Trim, peel, deseed and chop 1 small squash of choice and put the chunks into a roasting tin. Do the same with 1 large or 2 small apples, and 1 onion and add to the squash (keep back some of the apple if also making the galette). Take 1 whole bulb of garlic and trim the top off to expose some of the cloves, and add that to the roasting tin. Drizzle all with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put into the oven and roast for about 20 mins.

At this point I took the roasting tin from the oven and took out some of the squash and onion in order to add to the galette. Otherwise, just give everything a turn and put back into the oven for another 10-15 mins.

Once roasted, take out of the oven, take out the garlic and put that to one side, then tip everything else into a saucepan. Squeeze the garlic from their papery shells straight into the saucepan. Then add chicken or vegetable stock, 1/2 pint per person. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 mins, then either tip into a blender and blitz, or use a stick or hand blender to do the same. Have some water ready boiled in the kettle and add a little more water if needed.

Finish with a swirl of cream if you like and enjoy.

roasted veg for soup

Courgette and pea soup

courgette and pea soup2

The courgettes are showing no sign of letting up. They have maybe slowed a little, but still they push on to the bitter end. A harsh frost is probably the only thing that would stop them in their tracks. That or a nuclear explosion.

Now that the weather has turned down a notch on the temperature dial, I’m feeling the need for soup again. I admit, I have never quite been convinced by courgette soup. Somehow it doesn’t seem like a soup sort of veg, being quite watery and fairly bland, and not exactly comforting. But I decided to try it and I’m glad to say I’ve been proved wrong. It works really well in fact, and produces a lovely silky smooth consistency.

It needs plenty of onion, maybe some garlic would work too, and something to give it a nice colour and extra oomph – I used peas here to keep it green, but you could try roasted red peppers for example.

I roasted the courgette and onion first to caramelise them, which adds an extra sweetness and depth. The peas came straight from the freezer, but do use your own if you grow them. The courgette was one of those oversized ones, bordering on marrow, but you could equally use smaller courgettes or marrows. The result tastes like a lighter than normal pea soup, you wouldn’t know it had courgette in there, but it bulks the soup out well and adds a definite creaminess.

This made enough for 2 generous bowls.

Take 1 large courgette (or a few smaller ones), peel and de-seed them if they’re on the large size, and cut into fat chunks. Throw into a roasting tray along with a large onion cut into wedges, some herbs of your choice (I used thyme), season with salt and pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil.

Place into a pre-heated oven (around 180ºc) and roast for around 30 mins.

Remove from the oven and tip the vegetables into a large saucepan, cover with around 1 pint of vegetable or chicken stock and add a good handful (around 100g) of peas. Put a lid on and simmer until the peas are thoroughly cooked – 10 mins at least, but you could leave it simmering for longer if you’re not in a hurry.

Blitz with a hand blender, or else pour the mixture into a blender and blitz. Add more seasoning if required and a dollop of cream to swirl in.

courgette and pea soup large courgette courgettes for soup

Spicy Leek Soup

A recipe from John:
last leek
Springing a Leek
It’s the end of May and spring is well in hand although today is wet and cold. This grizzled old veteran of a leek was the last man standing from a field of 100 planted out last summer – let’s say he was the Centurion. He was harvested just before he could bolt and push out a woody flower stalk.
For today’s cold weather I wanted a variation on the usual leek and potato soup so I spiced this up with Cumin, Garam Marsala and a little hot Cayenne Pepper. I was aiming for something with lots of flavour and a bit of a kick, but not too curry-like. As I was planning to use the blender, I included all of the green leaves of the leek which gave the final dish a deep, mellow green colour.
  • One big old leek
  • Three fat cloves of garlic
  • One medium onion and/or a couple of shallots
  • Two small potatoes
  • Two small chillies
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam marsala
  • 1 tsp cayenne chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of dried coriander leaf
  • Salt, pepper, dash of Worcester Sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  1. Fry the garlic and onions for 5 minutes in a large frying pan, then add the (diced) potato and continue to fry for a few more minutes.
  2. Add all the leek (fairly well chopped down) to the frying pan and allow to reduce for a few minutes.
  3. Then add in the spice mix and allow this to coat the vegetables in the frying pan.
  4. Place the vegetable stock in a large pan and add in the ingredients from the frying pan.
  5. Simmer the whole lot gently for around 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Then use a hand blender to smooth the mixture.
  7. Check the taste and add additional seasoning if needed, or some water if the texture is too thick.
  8. Finally, garnish with finely chopped fresh chilli and serve – this should make four good portions.

Spicy leek soup

Spicy Lentil Soup

lentil soup
Another soup recipe from John:
I love the earthy, rich taste of lentils but I’m not overly confident about how to prepare and use them, so this was something of an experiment. I had a handful of slightly tired-looking vegetables at the bottom of the veg basket: some very small Romano potatoes from the plot, a couple of little carrots, an onion and some garlic. There’s a light dusting of snow on the ground outside today and I thought that a spicy lentil soup might be just the thing to keep the chill at bay.
Ingredients
  • 200g brown lentils
  • 200g potatoes
  • 50g carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red chilli (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil (1tbs)
  • Vegetable stock 800ml
Put the lentils on to boil for around 35 minutes in plenty of water. While they are cooking, dice the onion, garlic and chilli and fry them in a little oil in a separate pan for a few minutes before adding the carrots and potatoes, also chopped fairly small. Once all the vegetables have been fried lightly in the oil for a few minutes, add the drained, cooked lentils, mix everything together and then transfer to a single pan. Add the stock and seasoning and simmer gently for a further 20 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Then use a hand blender, or a potato masher, to reduce the soup to a smooth texture. Finally, add any additional seasoning to your own personal taste – I used a pinch of hot cayenne pepper – and serve. This makes four good portions.
It tasted really warming, hearty and wholesome – great for a cold January day!
lentil soup ingredients

Winter Broccoli Soup

broccoli soup

A recipe from John:

After a bracing Fenland dog walk from Ely to the Fish and Duck Marina at the junction of the River Cam and the Great Ouse, a bowl of soup was just what was needed to help revive us. Purple sprouting broccoli is still in season now, though for this recipe I used some from the freezer that had been harvested from the plot last year when some of the plants had started to bolt and others were getting blown over by the winds.

Ingredients

  • Broccoli (250g frozen weight)
  • 4 small potatoes (200g)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 1Tbs olive oil
  • Seasoning – salt and pepper
  • Worcestershire Sauce – dash (optional)

Method

Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then add the potatoes, chopped fairly small (for this recipe, I left the skins on) and continue to fry gently for 3-4 minutes more. Then add the broccoli, straight from the freezer and allow all the ingredients to cook down together for a few more minutes. Then transfer the contents of the frying pan to a saucepan and add half the stock. Use the other half of the stock to de-glaze the pan and then add that stock to the saucepan. Add the seasoning to taste – and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce (if you like it!). Simmer everything together gently for around twenty minutes, and finally use a hand blender to create a smooth soup. Makes two good-sized portions, served with a chunk of bread and butter for dunking.

fenland walk

Curried parsnip and squash soup (with squash crisps)

parsnip soup

I often cook up a very simple meal which involves some good quality sausages or pork chops with lots of fat chunks of root vegetables thrown into a large roasting pan. Covered with a drizzle of oil and some seasoning, it gets bunged into the oven for 45-60 mins until ready. It’s a lazy but always tasty option if I’m not feeling too creative or adventurous. There’s a lot of peeling and chopping involved at the start, and then the slow-roasting, so it’s not a quick fix, but one I fall back on often in the colder months. I do however, always make sure to add more vegetables than I really need so I can make soup for lunch the next day, a bit quicker than usual. Roasted veg take on a sweetness that makes the soup taste extra special, but you could also make this from raw ingredients.

After researching several recipes for spicy parsnip soup and squash soups, I decided to make up my own using a combination of recipes and recommendations, mainly from Sarah Raven and Nigel Slater. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, caraway seeds, and mustard are all suggested in one recipe or another! I decided to make life easy for myself and use Nigel’s recommendation of teaming parsnips with garam masala, as it pretty much covers all bases, with a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra warmth. So it tastes like a curry in a soup, but in a good way!

The squash crisps are from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, and I really do recommend going to the extra effort for these, they are as delicious as the soup, and very easy to do.

The squashes, parsnips, potatoes and onion are all from the plot.

Ingredients:

  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • a few peelings of squash flesh for the crisps, if using
  • groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, left whole in their skins if roasting, otherwise peeled and chopped.
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • dessert spoon of creme fraiche (or cream).

Method:

  1. If using pre-roasted veg – squeeze the garlic from their cases then add to the rest of the vegetables in a large saucepan. Add the spices and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, then blitz with a hand blender (or use a conventional blender / food processor), add more water if necessary and finally stir in the creme fraiche.
  2. If using raw vegetables – sauté the onion gently in a little oil and butter until soft, add the other vegetables and cook for a further few minutes. Add the spices, stir to coat, and then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft enough to blitz – blitz. Add more water until you reach the desired consistency, simmer for a few more minutes and then stir in the creme fraiche.

For the squash crisps:

  1. Use a potato peeler to cut some slithers of flesh from the squash. You can do this at the start and leave them to one side while you make the soup.
  2. Heat some groundnut or rapeseed oil in a shallow pan until hot, then add the squash peelings and fry until golden and crisp at the edges. Drain on kitchen paper. Add to the top of your soup.

squash crisps raw squash crisps

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