Autumn is definitely here, I love autumn with all the beautiful colours and the chill in the air. There is something very comforting about snuggling up indoors with the heating on and enjoying a lovely warming, nourishing bowl of home made soup!
This one fits the bill perfectly!
The shops are full of pumpkins and squashes of all shapes and sizes, some of them delicious, some not so much! The large orange variety are really for carving and are rather watery and fibrous and not so good to eat.
Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are available all year round and always taste deliciously sweet and can easily be used interchangeably so this soup can be made with either butternut squash, sweet potato or any other type of squash.
The orange flesh of all these vegetables is really high in beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body and supports skin health, digestive health and vision. Sweet potato also contains prebiotic fibre which feeds our gut bacteria so its well worth including some of these orange fleshed veggies in your diet, if you haven't already!
I have been spiralising sweet potatoes all summer and ended up with a lot of wee end bits which I collected in a freezer bag, just perfect for making soup, so that's what I used for this!
I hate waste so I'm always looking for ways to use up odd bits of veggies.
I noticed pre-peeled cubes of butternut squash in the freezer section at Waitrose the other day which is a great idea if you don't have time to peel a whole one! It's obviously more expensive to buy pre prepared veggies but a great standby to have your freezer stocked with some essentials. I buy frozen peas and sweetcorn, which I use a lot!
So back to this lovely warming, nourishing soup with lots of flavour from garlic, ginger, red onion, coconut, turmeric and chilli flakes.
There are some real inflammation fighters and immune boosters among this lot so you will be doing yourself a big favour if you make this!
I also added peanut butter for an extra protein boost and splash of tamari for extra flavour.
I have to say it is delicious and very moreish. I think I'll be having a huge bowl of this tonight for dinner with a few slices of my rather delicious home made sourdough!
This is a great soup for autumn and winter due to all the immune boosting, cold and flu busting ingredients and it tastes delicious.
Like every other soup, it can be frozen to enjoy at a later date or kept for when your immune system needs a wee boost and you don't feel like cooking!
So here is the recipe.....
Thai Squash Soup
3 cups of butternut squash or 3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and diced
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tablespoon coconut or rapeseed oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 level teaspoon turmeric
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon tamari
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
750 mls vegetable stock
100g coconut cream or 1 can of coconut milk
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the red onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, turmeric, ginger, diced sweet potato or squash and a good seasoning of salt and black pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
2. Add the coconut cream and stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the sweet potato or squash is soft, around 15 minutes. If you are using coconut milk then reduce the stock to 500mls.
3. Add the peanut butter and tamari, stir to dissolve then blend with a hand blender.
....your health in your hands....
I've decided to share this lovely summer soup recipe with you all. I'm a massive fan of seasonal eating and courgettes are in season right now, along with lots of other wonderful summer produce!
I love soup and always tend to have a pot on the go, even in summer, although I do tend to keep it in the fridge to keep it fresh. One of my pet hates is waste and having to throw soup away because its gone off!
A wee tip, its actually onions that are to blame, since they absorb bacteria which makes them very good for us but once cut, they absorb bacteria from the environment. Never leave a half cut onion in your fridge. Just buy smaller onions and use the whole thing!
Onions were used during the plague to prevent spread of disease and households used to leave cut onions in every room. Apparently it worked
Remember you can also freeze any soup so that avoids the going off problem!
Anyway back to this rather lovely summer soup. I got the original recipe from an old Marks & Spencer cookbook about 20 years ago and it's one I still use.
If you grow your own courgettes, which I do, then this is a great way to use them up! However I'm buying them at the moment since mine aren't ready yet!
I've been spiralising lots of courgettes recently too, courgetti is just a genious replacement for carb heavy, white pasta and its delicious and so healthy!
Try and select darkest green, firmest courgettes and the smaller ones tend to be sweeter. I sometimes find that the bigger courgettes can be quite watery and bitter, not what you want for your lovely soup!
So among the healthy ingredients of this soup is turmeric which is beating drugs for just about everything in numerous trials! It has so many health benefits and is well worth including in your diet. Point to note that the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin is absorbed way better in the presence of piperidine, found in black pepper and further enhanced by oil so any recipe using turmeric should include black pepper and oil for maximum benefit!
So without further rambling, here is the recipe!
COURGETTE & TOMATO SOUP
2 or 3 small to medium courgettes, finely sliced
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 tin of tomatoes or 400g of fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon organic white flour
1 level teaspoon turmeric powder
750 ml good quality vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the finely sliced onion and courgettes. Turn the heat to low, put the lid on and sweat the vegetables for around 5 to 10 minutes with a pinch of sea salt.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, turmeric and the tablespoon of flour and give it a good mix with a wooden spoon to disperse the flour evenly and get rid of any lumps.
3. Add the hot stock, give it all a good stir then
put the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. Puree with a hand blender until smooth
5. Add a good grinding of black pepper and some sea salt to taste.
Some grated parmesan is also lovely!
.....your health in your hands....
I hope everyone has been out enjoying all this fine weather and topping up their vitamin D levels!
I certainly have and apologies for not posting anything on the blog last week but to be honest I have just been chilling out, doing some gardening and spending time with my lovely hubby Alastair. We found ourselves in the most unusual position this bank holiday weekend of having the house to ourselves, apart from the three dogs!
Kathryn and Laura had gone to London to stay with their cousin Sarah and catch up with their big sis Emma and Jenna is currently living it up in a stately home in Oxfordshire! She is helping in the gardens!
Anyway we have had such a lovely time and we bought an outside wood-fired pizza oven!
I'm so excited about it, it only cost £99 from Aldi!
Since we don't eat meat, we are not huge BBQ fans but sourdough wood fired pizza is a different thing altogether!
I attended a sourdough workshop last week too so I can now add sourdough to my ever expanding range of fermented foods and drinks. My gut is going to be extremely happy!!
Anyway enough of my ramblings, I just wanted to share this very simple, delicious raw red pepper & walnut sauce.
Its extremely versatile and perfect for the summer months when red peppers are in abundance and cheap as well.
Red peppers have a high water content which helps to flush toxins from the body and are also packed with vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene.
I added olives which give it a Meditteranean flavour and of course garlic, which I add to pretty much everything!
Sun dried tomatoes give it a delicious intense flavour and of course are packed with lycopene too, which protects us from cancer.
Walnuts are another of my favourite foods and as their shape suggests they support brain health due to high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. They are also a great source of protein, fibre and vitamin E.
Extra virgin olive oil and olives adds more omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants and keeps our heart healthy.
Tahini is one item I couldn't live without, its packed with calcium and magnesium to support bone health and its alkaline so easy for the body to absorb. It adds a delicious creaminess to any dish and is especially useful for dips, dressings and sauces.
Right so all you do is add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor and that's it, leaving you lots of time to relax and enjoy the sunshine!
It will keep in the fridge in a covered container for a week or so.
Over the summer months we don't want to be spending hours in the kitchen so expect lots of fast, simple and delicious recipes, all tried and tested! I only share favourite recipes and my criteria are flavour, simplicity, nutrition and versatility.
There are so many recipes out there which use loads of ingredients, are very time consuming and don't even taste that good!
So if you like what I share, consider subscribing to my blog so you won't miss any of my brilliant creations!
So here is the recipe I promised......!
RAW RED PEPPER & WALNUT SAUCE
This is the most versatile sauce. I use it like pesto stirred through pasta, as a sauce with spiralised veggies, as a topping for bruschetta, pizza topping,
as a dressing for salads thinned down with some water. It can also be mixed with some cream cheese (vegan options) to make a lovely topping for baked potatoes or a delicious dip with oatcakes or raw veggies.
1 red pepper, deseeded
6 sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olives, pitted
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of your best oil, extra virgin, avocado, walnut or flaxseed
1 tablespoon tahini
Himalyan sea salt to taste
1 drizzle of raw honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup (optional)
Simply add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
Taste the sauce and add a drizzle of sweetener if you like!
......your health in your hands....
I tried this delicious dish at the Vegan Cooking Retreat and absolutely loved the intensity of flavours! As I don't eat meat, I find aubergine to be a great substitute, it's really filling and although some folks find the texture a bit strange, I love it and this is a great way to cook it.
Aubergine, along with potatoes, peppers and tomatoes are part of the nightshade group of veggies (Solanaceae) which also contains Deadly Nightshade, which is as its name suggests is poisonous & deadly. However I can assure you this group, like all veggies have many benefits for your health!
There is however, some anecdotal evidence that this group of veggies can exacerbate gut issues and cause inflammation and joint pain in people with autoimmune disease, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
If this is you then you may wish to avoid these and note if your symptoms improve.
On the other hand, the Mediterranean Diet is among the healthiest and contains copious amounts of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, along with lots of garlic, onions, olives and good quality oils, which have major benefits for our health. The vast majority of us can happily eat veggies from the nightshade family without any problems!
This dish actually contains aubergine, tomatoes and red pepper so a lot of nightshade action going on! It also has lots of garlic and good fats and bags of flavour!
I love the versatility of this dish. We had it for lunch at the weekend on toasted sourdough, our healthy version of Bruschetta.
A lovely organic poached egg is a great additional topping with some seaweed flakes for extra minerals and flavour. I use Mara
Alastair embellished his with anchovies and feta cheese and scoffed 4 slices for lunch yesterday!
Laura took the leftovers with some couscous and toasted seeds for her packed lunch today. Its delicious served cold as part of a tapas or hot as a topping for a baked potato or stirred through pasta or quinoa for a lovely dinner!
I just adore food that tastes better the next day and the flavours intensify beautifully in this dish.
Just a wee observation on aubergines, so many folks think you have to salt the slices and leave them to draw out bitter juices so although this used to be required, the modern varieties of aubergine are much less bitter so its generally fine to omit this time consuming step. Feel free to do it if you want but I never bother and the aubergine always tastes delicious.
Similarly the skin can be a bit tough and many recipes discard it but from a health perspective the skin is high in antioxidants and personally I don't find it bitter or tough so I eat it!
Aubergine is a great source of fibre, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and other beneficial minerals and can protect against oxidative damage and lower cholesterol so well worth including in your diet!
We actually had two delicious aubergine dishes at the retreat and this is a kind of combination of them both. I hope you enjoy it!
Here is the recipe!
2 medium aubergines, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil or olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 or 3 sticks of celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
4 large tomatoes, chopped or a tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
50 g sultanas or raisins
50g green olives, stoned and sliced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional but delicious)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
sea salt and black pepper
a good handful of flat leaf parsley or mint, finely chopped to finish
.....your health in your hands......
🍃 Health educator🍃