Soups, spice and all things nice

Butternut squash and sweet potato soup

For those of you who haven’t noticed or who are fortunate enough to live in sunnier climates, it’s Autumn and getting cold in London. That means the coats, boots, hats, scarves and woolly jumpers are unearthed from the back of the wardrobes and in my world of food it means my blender once again becomes a much used cooking utensil to make deliciously warming soups.

For a long time I was a big fan of my home-made carrot and orange, and leek and potato soup. They saw me through many a cold evening in rainy Cork while I was at University, and  in turn my trusted blender was frequently used. When I moved to London I stupidly left that coveted kitchen utensil in Ireland which then saw it’s way into storage along with the rest of the family home. You may wonder why I never bought a new one – London being at the end of the day full of perfectly good blenders. The answer is I should have a good reason, but there is simply no reason, I just never bought one. So along with my shipment of books, bookshelf, hand mixer, teapot and other such like treasures, my blender finally found it’s way to London last June.

Enough about blenders and on to the food. My new-found soup, which has taken the place of my Uni soup for now is Butternut squash and sweet potato soup. Now, I know I have previously bemoaned the tediousness that is involved in trying to cut a butternut squash, but I have since found a solution of sorts. While on the train on the way back from a client meeting the other day, my colleague and I got talking about food – as you do. One thing led to another and we ended up discussing the butternut squash cutting techniques. My colleague who has a baby, provided me with a hugely valuable tip. Cut the squash in half or quarters and put it in the oven for half an hour to an hour and hey presto, it’s so much easier to cut. I’ve tried it myself and it works, no more impending casualties every time soup is on the menu.

Thanks to my Sri Lankan founded spice addiction I now add chilli, spice or Tabasco to most of my meals. Adding a bit of curry powder to the cooked onions before adding the chopped squash, potatoes, stock, milk and basil leaves gives the soup a gorgeously spicy kick. It only takes about 20 minutes for the vegetables to soften and then it’s time to put the blender into use.

Cauliflower and potato curry

Spices are not something I grew up with, however, I’ve developed a strong liking for them over the years. I’d never made a curry at home until last week when I thought it was high time to give it a try. The outcome, a pretty damn good – if I may say so myself – Cauliflower and potato curry. It was gorgeously spicy with chopped green chillies and curry powder. Cooked in a tomato sauce and garnished with  coriander, a dollop of natural yoghurt and warm Naan bread on the side, it was really delicious.

So my verdict on cold weather food is soups and spicy dishes are guaranteed to heat anyone up on a cold Autumn or Winter day!

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