Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Winter Warmer

Over the holidays, I made some soup.  There's something about being in the country, all that fresh air, all that cold, nothing is going to satisfy you like a bowl of soup and it has to be homemade, oh yes sir!  There's something about it that makes me feel cosy, warm, happy and err,  I am ashamed to admit, a bit smug, in a sort of "I am an earth mother making soup to feed my flock" kind of way.  Is that dreadful?

Anyway, if you're still with me, the soup was from Jamie's cookbook which, I think, is called "Jamie at Home", I say "I think" because the book is at the cottage so I can't look at it to check and this is the first thing I've made from it so it's not exactly etched on my memory.  I think the spiky haired Essex lad has churned out several cookbooks since, I can't keep up!  It is the attractive cloth covered book, cream coloured with blue titles which shows you his gorgeous kitchen garden in all its (expensive) brick-walled-raised-bedded glory.  It was essentially butternut squash soup.  I first ate butternut squash probably only about 5 years ago and I love the stuff.  The soup went down well with the HenHouse gang, especially the Munchkin, who is still at that children's stage of preferring to eat decidedly less demanding sloppy things rather than chewy things (unless the chewy thing is a flapjack, you understand).

Today, browsing in Sainsburys, the organic butternut squash having one third off the price, I thought I'd make some more.  Of course, the cookbook is still at the cottage so I concocted something and it's turned out rather well, (I think,) so I thought I'd share it with you in case you're feeling soupy.  I know I should have taken pretty arty photos of squash and things but I wasn't planning to blog about the soup until I sat here, next to the laptop, slurping squashily away, so this is your only photo, I'm afraid and even now, I'm regretting the lack of a very pretty plate, bowl, napkin, swirl on the soup etc...

At this point, I must add that I decided to jazz this soup up a bit and make it "butternut squash and roasted red pepper soup", yum yummity yum. The ingredients go something like this (and it makes gallons, you could easily half it but Jamie seems to like mass catering as, indeed do I):


-2 x big butternut squash
-2 x red peppers (I used those funny-looking long, pointy ones, largely because they are called "sweet peppers" which means the Munchkin gives them the thumbs up based on the name alone - a good trick!)
-2 red onions (or normal onions)
-2 sticks of celery (grim stuff but tastes good when mixed with loads of other stuff)
-2 x carrots (good big'uns)
-couple of cloves of garlic
-dried chili pepper flakes (or a fresh chopped chilli/or even the preserved stuff in a jar)
-tsp cumin (optional)
-2 litres of chicken stock (I'm sure you could use veggie if you preferred)

I make it like so... I believe, from my school Home Ec. days, this is called the METHOD:

1-Chop up the peeled onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sweat them in a knob of butter/oil (ie. don't brown/burn them) in a gigantic pan for about ten minutes.
2-Peel and chop up the squash into chunks, add those to the pan, too. Give it a satisfying stir every now and then.  Let the edges of the squash soften a bit, say five minutes
3-Chuck in the chilli flakes/diced red chilli and the cumin. This doesn't make it very hot, just gives it a bit of tingly warmth.  Stir it up.
4-Add the chicken stock, season with plenty of salt and pepper, bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Put a lid on if you can (I say "if you can" because lots of gigantic pans seem not to have lids or is that just in my kitchen?)
5-Cut the red peppers in half, take out the seeds and white membrane, and put the pepper halves on an oven tray. Drizzle with a bit of oil and bung them in the oven. I put them in a fan oven on 180 degrees for about 20 minutes - until they looked soft and cooked and the edges were curling up and charring a bit.  You'll know what I mean when you do it.
6-Take the peppers out of the oven, off the tray and put them in a plastic freezer/sandwich bag, seal it up and leave them be for a bit/to cool down so you can handle them (10 minutes, let's say).
7-Cook the veggie/stock mixture in the pan until the veg are softish when you prod them with a knife. You basically want them to be soft enough that you can blitz them with a hand blender/in a blender goblet.  I'd say about half an hour.
8-Back to the peppers. Take them out of the bag and peel the skins off. Bung them in the pan with the soupy mixture.
9-Now the good bit. Get your hand blender and give it all a good whizz until it looks all satisfyingly smooth and velvety and yummy like you want to dive right in, preferably with chunks of tiger bread.  (Or put it in your blender goblet, just don't let it explode!)
10-If you want to be very cheffy (my lot are quite impressed with this), swirl a bit of cream into the top so it looks tres posh.

And that's it, well I hope it is and I haven't left out anything mega important. And it's quite slimming too (presuming you don't follow it with a piece of Christmas cake. Ah well, the intention was good).  I usually freeze quite a bit for a future chilly occasion.

Now, because I can't possibly do a post with just a photo of a bowl of soup in it, might you like to see the slippers I made for the recent swap organised by Mel/Lesley? I made them from a "Favorite Things" (American spelling) pattern which I bought from Quilt Home (v dangerous webshop, keep away from if you have a fabric habit.  You have been WARNED!!!) You may remember I made a pair for myself. I don't wear mine, I just look at them, they're far too nice to wear.  I like this pair even more than my pinky ones, made from that divine new Cath K red paisley pattern fabric, with a flanelette lining for a touch of snuggly cosiness and of course, fab crochet flowers courtesy of Attic 24's pattern.

I can reveal them to you now that the ultra-patient Andrea has finally opened her swap package.

Cheerio, mes amies.


  1. Soup is a thing I'm always making. Very good for growing people - and grown ones too.


  2. I love love love butternut squash but as yet have not found an easy way to peel...I usually find I swear a lot, loes most of the flesh with the thick skin and nearly cut my finger off!!!! love the slippers you are very very clever.....

  3. Soup looks great! I have that book! I make soup quiet often but tends to just be whatever veg is in the fridge chucked in with bit of chilli (or whatever i fancy), stock and/or cream...! Always tasty though, economic...jackpot!

    LOVE the slippers!!

  4. Oh I love anything cooked with butternuts this time of year! I have a great risotto recipe I can email if you want it! Home Ec! HA! What a waste of time that was - I remember meticulously writing out the recipe for jam tarts (no, really) and ensuring my presentation was up to scratch with a cloth and napkin...hmmm, not that girls' schools were backward or anything in my day...t.x

  5. Yummy soup, gorgeous shoe/slippers! You are funny! Rachaelxo

  6. Soup sounds good...I'm not that keen on soup but of late I really fancy making some. I might give this one ago...I thought it would make a change from taking sandwiches to work!!!
    Lovely slippers... :) x

  7. oh I do like your "method" :-D soup is a good idea thanks for reminding me (for my diet) will give that one a go sounds yummy!! Mia loves tiger bread so we always have it in!! bit of a trauma when your trying low carbs :-( the slippers are fab Andrea received a lovely parcel from you!!! Mel and i talked about another swap in a couple of months with a Spring theme maybe so watch this space if your interested!!
    lesley x

  8. Hi Hen. Love the photo as it allows the gorgeous colour of the squash to speak for itself. Such pretty slippers - I want some! xx

  9. Warming homemade soup? Can I come to lunch?


  10. The soup looks yummy. I make lots of homemade soup, my lot love it. Broccoli and parmesan is a favourite.
    Those slippers are so pretty, I am still looking at different patterns to make mine.
    Take care.

  11. BNS soup is gorgeous. We seem to be making soup constantly around these parts it's so crummy. I bought Mr Thrifty the Covent Garden soup book as a Christmas gift and it's terrific, highly recommended.

  12. The soup looks and sounds lovely. I was just thinking before lunch that today would be a perfect day for soup - unfortunately 10 minutes before lunch wasn't the right time to decide that,but maybe tomorrow instead!

  13. I am definitely going to make your soup on Saturday I will let you know............

  14. What a wonderful pair of slippers...!

    The soup looks atsty!

    Might have to ask for the pattern ....Oh and Lesley found handles......yippee!
    So will be trying my hand at a bag soon...i hope...when i get a weekend to myself...Wedding this weekend....busy busy!x

  15. Must try this recipe,it sounds lovely.I make lots of soup but I have never bought a butternut squash,I have eaten it before but I never think to buy them.Lovin the slippers especially the red/blue combination.
    Rachel x


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