This weekend saw the start of my 28th year. 10,229 days on this planet we call home. Somehow this birthday feels more poignant than the others, maybe because I was at home, having a chilled, quiet birthday, rather than the last 10 years of birthdays; filled with rum, beer, Sambuca and more rum. As I lay in bed with my coffee, I sat and reflected on my time here so far. Many memories, some regrets and most definitely a whole load of fun.
This weeks post is a slightly frantic one…
Living on a boat is amazing, being so close to the countryside, water and wildlife. It’s beautiful when the sun is beating down, warming the steel shell of our boat, rays reflecting off the water onto our ceiling, for our own personal rippled light effect. We get to feed the ducks and swans from our window (sometimes the swans get a little too friendly!) We can move to a new home as often as we wish, taking our pick some of the dreamiest places in Bath and Wiltshire. It’s not a bad life.
There are downsides, however minimal, there are a few. One of them is we have limited and restricted internet. This makes blog post planning a little difficult. We have run out of our monthly allowance of internet. And it got me panicking. How was I going to upload my weekly post? Would my readers be annoyed when they checked in and saw last week’s post, instead of the normal Monday new post? Probably not. But it did get me anxious. Charlie tells me not to worry so much; it’s a bad habit. I do not want to become a creature of habit, to get stuck in my ways. I need to learn to be a little more flexible, that if a blog post is a day late, the world won’t stop turning.
Anyway, I’m sat here at work typing this up for you guys. Because I like a bit of routine, and it makes me feel happy knowing that this little hive of recipes is consistent. Enjoy.
This soup is the perfect go-to meal. When you want something with minimal fuss, but maximum taste. When you don’t really know what to cook, you want something to tantalise your tastes buds and create a colour explosion for your eyes. This is for you.
Roasted Squash and Lentil Soup with Dukkah (v) (gf)
½ butternut squash – peeled and deseeded
1 red onion – peeled and diced
150g red lentils
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
½ teaspoon ras el hanout
1 tin plum tomatoes
500ml boiling water
1 organic vegetable stock cube
Extra virgin olive oil
75g dried chickpeas
25g mustard seeds
25g coriander seeds
15g cumin seeds
10g fennel seeds
Pinch sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190 C
Chop the squash and lay on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter a few chilli flakes and cumin seeds over them. Roast in oven for 35 mins, or until tender.
In a large saucepans, add the cumin, chilli and ras el hanout and toast for a few minutes.
Once fragrant, add oil and diced onion. Stir well. Cook for 5-10 mins, until the onion is slightly golden.
Mix your stock cube and water in a jug, and add to the onions. Add in your plum tomatoes.
Add lentils, stir well, and leave to cook for 25 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Be careful to stir often so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom. Season with S+P.
Add the roasted squash to the soup. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary.
Serve in big bowls, scattered with Dukkah.
For the Dukkah
Toast chickpeas and seeds in a large frying pan for a few minutes until turning golden and fragrant. Leave to cool.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse. The mixture may be fine or coarse, be careful not to over-mix
Scatter on to your soup, store any extra in an airtight container.
C arrived home last week with a big grin on his face. When I asked him what he was so happy about, he emptied his pockets and produced three big parsnips. “I’ve brought you some parsnips” he announced. As it turns out, they were the first vegetable his colleague had managed to grown in his veggie patch. His colleague had brought them into work and dished them out to everyone.
I, however, did not share C’s excitement. I’ve never really understood parsnips, feeling like they don’t really add much to anything, and lack the flavour that so many other roots have going for them. But you can’t say no to free food, so I decided to give them a second chance.
This soup can easily be adjusted to whatever is left in your veg basket. For me, that was some ginger, a carrot and a potato. I threw in the chickpeas add some extra protein and fibre. I love the heat that the ginger gives it, warming you up from the inside out.
This is a nice and quick recipe. Good for those days when you just want to put your feet up in front of the fire. You can chuck this all in the pan, and relax.
I served this punchy soup with a nice focaccia bread. I cut out the cheese from this recipe.
Parsnip, Ginger and Chickpea Soup
1 medium potato
Thumb size piece of ginger
1 tin chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
Sea salt + pepper
1 organic vegetable stock cube (or Bouillon)
1 litre hot water
Peel and chop the onion, parsnip, carrot and ginger. Saute the onions slowly in a medium saucepan, until they turn slightly golden. Add the ginger and cook for a few minutes.
Add the rest of the veg and cook with the lid on for 5 mins. Add a little water if necessary.
Mix the stock cube into 1 litre hot water. Add into soup.
Cook until all veg is soft and tender. Once soft, blend soup with a stick blender.
Add chickpeas, and salt and pepper, and cook for 15 more minutes.
Check for seasoning, add some ground ginger if you would like more heat.
Serve with warm foccacia bread.