Pumpkin Soup

Some days lunch is crunching on raw kale out of the bag, hunched over my laptop in the library.

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Some days lunch is expensive meals in fancy restaurants, waiters doting on your every need.

Some days lunch is soup.

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Soup days are best. Slightly more nourishing and satisfying than plain kale. And slightly slightly cheaper than Michelin  star meals. Soup is the best of both worlds.

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I love all kinds of soup, and this is one of my favourites. It’s fairly easy to make (once you’re into the pumpkin that is!) Also, as we are nearing the end of pumpkin season, it is good to make the most of it while you can! If you can’t face the pumpkin and the carving knife, or you don’t want to make enough soup to feed a small village, this recipe works just as well with butternut squash!

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Pumpkin soup with toasted corn

(recipe shamelessly stolen from Delia’s vegetarian cookbook (well worth a read!) and can be found online here)

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

25g butter

700g pumpkin (or butternut squash) deseeded and chopped into 1 inch pieces

570g sweetcorn (mine came from a can, but if you are feeling patient, you can take it off the cob yourself)

salt and pepper

275ml milk

725ml vegetable stock

1 tablespoon melted butter

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Begin by melting the butter in a saucepan, then add the onion and cook on a low heat until softened- about 8 minutes. Add the pumpkin, half the sweetcorn, season with salt and pepper and give it a good stir. 

Put the lid on and, keeping the heat low, sweat the vegetables until they have begun to release their juices- about 10 minutes. Pour in the milk and stock and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While that’s happening, preheat the grill to its highest setting. Stir the melted butter into the remaining sweetcorn, and place under the grill for about ten minutes, or until it is nice and toasted. This is also really fun because occasionally you will hear it popping! After about 8 minutes it should be nicely toasted and golden.

Once the soup is ready, using a food processor, or blender, blend it to a puree.

To serve, sprinkle the toasted sweetcorn over the top and enjoy with some nice crunchy bread.

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Also- here’s a tip for a really easy and delicious snack! Once you have deseeded the pumpkin, rinse the orange gunk off the seeds, sprinkle with a little salt and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.

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Delish! And great to tide you over until your soup is ready!

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xxR

Light Summer Lunches: Goats Cheese and Red Onion Toasts

What is the best thing about summer?
I am really struggling to answer this question! I have been working in London and away in Barcelona up until now, so I haven’t really had a chance to just relax and enjoy summer in the countryside!
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And I don’t know what I’m looking forward to most!
Is it the weather? The hot, humid, sunny days that make me want to just throw on a bikini and run, screaming, into the sea?
Is it the carefree attitude that everyone seems to suddenly adopt as soon as the first rays of sun break through? What is it about the summer that means we have no commitments, no time frames to stick to, to deadlines, no schedules? I don’t know. But it’s awesome.
Is it the long, leisurely bicycle rides through the fields and down to the beach?
Is it the chance to finally do everything I have been putting off doing all year? I will definitely read that in the summer, I am going to teach myself Spanish this summer, this summer I’ll go see that play, visit that person, organise myself… How easy it is to say those things in March!
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No, I think the best thing about the summer is the nothingness of it all. It is the only time it is perfectly acceptable to just lie around in the sun and do nothing, all day. The best thing is- it doesn’t even feel like nothing at all! That is what summer is made for.
And the best way to bask in this nothingness, is with a light, easy, simple and delicious lunch, that takes minutes to make and hours to eat.
Goats Cheese and Caramelised Red Onion Toasts
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This is a perfect summer lunch- light enough that it won’t bog you down, easy enough to whip up in an instant and delicious enough to impress any unexpected guest.
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Begin by chopping up one red onion into thin slices (one onion will easily feed four people, or two more hungry ones!) Fry it with a drizzle of olive oil until it is soft, then add a teaspoon of brown sugar and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Continue frying until it is very soft, slightly brown in colour and has absorbed all the sugar and vinegar.
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This may take a while, so in the meantime, cut some slices of your favourite bread. I used sourdough, but a baguette or any other artisan loaf will be just as good. Toast it under the grill, until it is golden brown in colour. Flip it over and toast the other side. Keep an eye on it, as it has a tendency to burn, especially if your grill is very hot.
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Once it has been toasted, cut chunks of goats cheese and place on the bread. Put it back under the grill for a moment to melt the cheese, then pile high with the onions and enjoy with a large helping of sunshine and nothingness!
xxR