Category Archives: Lunch

Roasted Squash and Pepper Soup

Is it just me or is it starting to feel like winter is never going to end? It’s too cold. What I will say though is that whilst I’m getting bored of winter food already in some ways, it is the time of year when a steaming bowl of something will hit the spot like nothing else. Especially on a work day in a draughty old building when you’re having one of those days that makes you wish you were back in bed. 

 squash soup recipes 
I don’t know about you, but if a soup is good enough and hot enough, one spoonful will immediately revive me to the point of begging winter’s forgiveness for ever speaking badly of it. I’m not talking about those crazy Pinterest soups though; there’ll be no cheese or nachos in my soup pot. What a good soup can give you is a vibrant, hot bowl of bright goodness. It tastes like nourishment. And it can be so packed with flavour. With a little bit of time and a lot of love and patience, you can turn a small bag of groceries into somethings spectacular which can keep you in healthy, warming lunches all week.

 pepper recipes  

 You will need:

2 onions

1 leek

2 cloves garlic 

3 peppers, choose your poison (I bought a 3 pack of yellow, orange and red, but 3 red would do you just fine)

1 3cm piece ginger 

2 butternut squash (3 if they’re small)

1 sharp green apple (a bramley is perfect)

3 chicken stock cubes (or vegetable if you’re vegetarian) 

Salt and pepper

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp thyme 

1/2 tsp smoked paprika 

1/2 tsp mild chilli powder 

Dash Worcestershire sauce 

 roast for better flavour 
1. Preheat the oven to 200c and line 2 trays with foil. Peel and quarter the onions and core the peppers before cutting them in half. Place in one of the trays, along with the garlic, and drizzle with a little olive oil. 

 winter warming soup recipes 
2. Cut the squashes (squash, squashi?!) in half down the middle from top to bottom. Be careful; these can be tricky nuggets! I find it easiest to cut off the knobbly bit on the top first, stand them upright on a board and slice top to bottom with a chef’s knife. It’s hard to get the knife through to start with but once you get to the bulbous section it’ll be plain sailing. Scoop out the seeds and place them in the other tray, flesh facing up. Season and drizzle with oil then shove them in the oven too. Both trays will take around half an hour, but have a look at them after 20 minutes.

 winter squash recipes 

3. In the mean time, chop up the leek and add it to your soup pot with a little oil. Try to keep the heat relatively middling so they don’t brown, but hot enough to sauteé them. Grate in the ginger.

4. Remove the onions and peppers from the oven when the peppers are beautifully tender with dark brown skins. If the onions are still a little hard don’t worry too much, but you can put them back in the oven on their own if you’d prefer. 

 How to roast onions, garlic and peppers   
When cool enough to touch, chop the onions into smallish pieces (but don’t worry about them being too fine) and add these to the pot as you go. You should be able to squeeze the garlic out of its skin and into the pot. Cook the onions down a little more whilst you carry on to the next stages. 

Before chopping up the peppers, carefully remove their skins. If they’re cooked enough, this should be easy. Simply pint the skin at its darkest and it should tear and peel away really easily. Then chop up the pepper flesh and add it to the pot. 

Roasted butternut squash   6. When your squash looks sticky and tender, remove from the oven and chop into chunks. Leave the skin on as it will have turned marshmallow in the oven and will be liquidised later. Peel, core and chop the apple and add than too. Trust me on the apple. It sounds a bit “out there” but it really balances out the flavour, adding a little earth and a bit of sharpness. I made this soup last week without the apple and it just wasn’t the same. 

Give everything a good stir to get nice and hot. best ever butternut squash soup recipe  
7. Prepare your stock by dissolving it in hot water if you’re using cubes or just pour it in if you have liquid stock instead. Add a little seasoning and stick the lid on. Allow to simmer on a low to medium (just bubbling) heat for around 40 minutes. 

tasty soup recipes8. Liquidise in a blender or on a big bowl using a stick blender. You can do it in your stock pot if you want but mine is non-stick and I don’t want to risk scratching it so I always use a big metal mixing bowl to blend then pour it back into the stock pot to finish. 

  

 
9. Add the herbs, spices and Worcestershire sauce, allow to cook through and then taste. This is the tricky part where you need to work out whether it needs more salt, more spice or nothing at all. You have to trust your tastebuds here I’m afraid! 

And that’s your soup! Enjoy!
 

Feed-a-Cold Chicken Soup

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been feeling pretty under the weather lately with that change in weather cold which seems to do the rounds this time every year. First it was a sore throat, then a sniffle, then the pathetic shivers and shakes, and now a super-fun cough which wakes me up in the night. A day and a half off work and in bed and I’m still feeling pretty miserable. Especially when getting out of bed when it’s 4 degrees outside and it’s Monday and time to get ready for work….

Not to worry, help is at hand! Nothing helps you feel better than a big bowl of homemade soup. This is the traditional chicken, with just enough cheats to make it doable when you’re feeling at your worst. 

  
You will need:

2 onions

1 leek

4 carrots

1 clove garlic 

10-12 new potatoes 

2.5 litres of stock, I used 3 Knorr stock cubes and plenty of water because who had time to make their own when they’re ill?

2 tsp parsley 

A grating of nutmeg

1 tsp thyme 

Good pinch salt 

A few cracks of black pepper 

Leftover roast chicken, chopped or shredded

  
1. Chop the onions and throw them into a soup pot which has a little of your favourite oil heating in it – medium heat. 

  
2. Repeat with the leek, and give everything a good mix. 

  
3. Chop the carrots and add in, before grating in the garlic. Make sure the heat isn’t so high that the onions are browning because that will burn your garlic. 

  
4. Let the vegetables sautée for around 10 minutes before adding the stock, herbs and nutmeg. 

  
5. Peel the potatoes and chop into bite-sized chunks. This is a hearty, chunky soup. Add them to the soup so far, put the lid on, and allow to simmer for around 20 minutes. 

  
6. Season, taste, and add in the chicken.

  
7. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test the seasoning and check the vegetables are nicely cooked. 

  
Please, please remember that this soup contains cooked chicken, so be really careful to really heat the soup through if you’re reheating it later. 

  
Otherwise, enjoy! And feel better!

Simple Tomato Soup 

Tomato soup. Even just the thought of it is like getting a big, warm hug. Is there anyone who doesn’t like tomato soup? It’s not quite Heinz Cream of Tomato but I’m pretty sure it’s a damn sight better for you.  

You will need:

2 onions

1 leek

2 cloves garlic

2 medium carrots or 3 small ones 

2 litres chicken stock (I used 2 cubes) 

Tomatoes – use as many as you like, whichever rules you like. For this recipe I used 12 salad tomatoes and 3 punnets of cherry tomatoes 

2 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper

Dash lemon juice 

Sprinkle of sugar 

Dash Worcestershire sauce

8 leaves or so of fresh basil 

  
1. Chop up the onion, leek and garlic. Add a splash of olive oil to your soup pot, heat on a medium heat, and chuck in the veg. Let those start to soften for 10 minutes before chopping and adding the carrots. 
  
2. Add the stock, stick the lid on and allow to simmer on a low heat. 

  
 3. The next part is what makes things simple! The worst part of making tomato soup, for me, is the process of blitzing and sieving the cooked soup. To try to make that a but easier, I’ve come up with a bit of a process. 

  

4. Chop the tomatoes. Put a large saucepan on the heat with a little oil in the bottom. Gradually chuck in each punnet of tomatoes as they’ve been chopped. The tomatoes you add earliest will have a bit of time to break down before you add the next, meaning you should be able to fit all the batches in. If not, use another saucepan. 

 5. You don’t need to add anything else at this stage. Stick the lid on and allow the tomatoes to cook down. If you have other things to do, this is the time for it. Clean, watch a movie, bake, whatever – just give these time.   

  
6. When the tomatoes have cooked down nicely, push them through a seive into the vegetable and stock mixture. This is time consuming, but trust me, it’s much easier then pushing the blitzed soup through the seive. You want to push as much tomato pulp through, whilst separating out the seeds and skins. 

  
7. Now add the rest of the flavourings and seasonings, apart from the fresh basil, which should be added in at the end to make the most of the flavour. 

  
8. Take the soup off the heat, pour into a bowl, add the basil, and blitz until smooth. You can do this in the pot if you’d like, I just like to pour it out into another bowl to avoid scratching my non-stick soup pot. Now taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary. 

Salmon and Cream Cheese Croissant

This is such a quick, easy, indulgent lunch. I know flinging a few things together doesn’t really constitute a recipe per se, but I know myself that it’s easy to get into a rut with lunch, so I figured I’d share this idea anyway because it’s pretty delicious.

  
You will need:

1 good quality croissant from the fresh bakery section of the supermarket or from a bakery 

2 slices smoked salmon

Cream cheese, Philadelphia will do

Salad leaves 

  
1. Preheat the oven. Slice the croissant open but leave it folded shut. Put it on a tray and allow it to heat through for 5 or 10 minutes, until nice and warm and slightly crisp on the outside. 

2. Remove from the oven. Open it up and spread both sides with cream cheese. Add a layer of salad leaves and lay the salmon neatly on top. 

3. Close it up and enjoy your indulgent lunch with some more salad. 

Bon Appetit!