Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

There’s nothing like the cosy warmth and tasty autumnal feel of Butternut Squash Soup, particularly roasting the butternut squash first really brings out the sweet flavour. You can also use Pumpkin in place of butternut squash as a similar alternative.

Either way this super easy delicious soup is a great all rounder. Silky smooth and full of flavour, I have served this soup often and everyone has loved it.

  • Prep Time 10-15 minutes
  • Cook Time 35-40 minutes
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Butternut Squash
  • 2 Onions Red or White or 1 Leek
  • 1 Small Potato
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Dessertspoons of Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 pint of Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Chilli flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  • Warm the oven 200C/400F Fan 180C or gas mark 6
  • Peel, chop and de-seed the Butternut Squash, peel and chop the Potato into roughly 1 inch cubes.
  • Grease a baking tray with some of the olive oil place the Butternut Squash and Potato on it, pour over the rest of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper stir around with your hands ensuring everything has a coating and pop in the oven for 25 mins.
  • Peel and chop your Onions and Garlic Cloves and place in a large pan with the melted butter on a low heat for approximately 5 mins or until soft. Put to one side.
  • Prepare the stock and pour into the onion and butter mixture.
  • Once cooked add in the Butternut Squash and Potato.
  • Either blend in the pan with a hand blender or transfer to a liquidiser
  • Return to the heat and season with salt pepper and chilli flakes stir until warm enough then serve.
  • For a creamy version you can add in a splash of creme freche or cream, but personally I love it as it is.

Other Soup Recipes

Click on the links below to see some of my other favourite soup recipes you may like.

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Leftover Vegetable Soup

Roasted Sweet Potato Carrot and Lentil Soup

Leftover Vegetable Soup

This warming vegetable filled soup is an adapted version past down the family from what was probably originally Scotch Broth. It is the most favoured soup according to my husband, so if you prefer a more watery soups (as he does) This could be the one for you!

It is made with surprisingly little veg and/or meat, so can be made vegan and vegetarian, just by changing to a vegetable based stock and using oil and not butter to soften the onion. For a meat version adding a small amount of chicken, turkey, mutton or ham joint with a chicken stock, will work. It is literally made with leftover bits of whatever veg you have hanging around. If you are trying to avoid food waste or trying to make a meal out of next to nothing, this really ticks the box.

The vegetables do tend to sink to the bottom when your ready to serve enabling a watery version soup with a few bits for one person and a heartier version with lots of veg for another. This is one versatile cosy soup, and ideal in helping to reduce symptoms of a cold or flu, particularly if you are adding plenty of garlic and onion, and /or boiling a chicken carcass for stock or even using a chicken stock cube.

So how do you make this easy to make nourishing soup.. let’s start!

  • Prep time – 15 mins
  • Cook Time – 15 mins
  • Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion or leek
  • 1 Small potato
  • 1 Carrot
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves
  • 2.5 pints of stock either vegetable or chicken
  • 2 knobs of butter or 1 tablespoon of oil to soften onion
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons of Rice, Lentils or Broth Mix

Above is some basic ingredients to use, as you can see in the pictures below, I only actually used 3/4 of an onion as that was all I had. Other vegetables to that work well include :- swede, turnip, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, kale, cabbage. You only need small amounts, which is why leftovers from perhaps a Sunday lunch work well.

Method

  • Prepare all the veg you are going to use by washing, peeling and cutting them up very small, as small as you can manage.
  • Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan
  • Add the onion and/or leek as well as the garlic and soften for 2-3 mins
  • Add all the other prepared vegetables and stir to coat slightly with the fat/oil 1-2 mins but don’t allow them to burn, add a small amount of stock if necessary.
  • Stir in all of the stock, once it starts to boil turn down to a simmer add a seasoning of salt and pepper and cook for approximately 10-15 mins until vegetables are soft.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Other Soup Recipes

Click on the links below to see some of my other favourite soup recipes you may like.

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Sweet Potato Carrot and Lentil Soup

As mentioned above Chicken Soup is widely known as helping with cold and flu symptoms. For further relief of cold and flu symptoms see my blog post by clicking the link below.

Quick Cold Remedy That Works

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

This seriously tasty comfort soup is smooth and full of flavour. It really is a meal in itself, an ideal curl up cosy dinner on a cold and wet day, when you just want to keep the door shut and the fire on. Having said that, I have also used it as a starter for a dinner party, perhaps limit the amount served and the breadbasket otherwise they will be full before main!

Like most soups it can be adapted and there are other versions to try that include cream and not potato, as well as other adaptations.

I like to keep it simple and easy, and as no oven baking is required it’s super quick!

  • Prep time 4 mins
  • Cook time 10-15 mins
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Broccoli
  • 1 Small Potato
  • 1 Onion preferably white, (you can use red, it just changes the colour slightly)
  • 80g of Stilton or blue cheese
  • 2 heaped tsp butter
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • Black Pepper for seasoning

Method

  • Chop up the onion, potato and broccoli (including the stalk- chop the stalk and potato small)
  • Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, allow to soften (around 2-4 mins) and add some water if needed.
  • Add all of the chopped broccoli, potato and stock. Once it starts to boil turn down to simmer for about 5-8 mins or until you can get a fork in the broccoli and potato.
  • Once soft, turn off heat add pepper and crumble or grate in the cheese, stir in to give it chance to melt, then hand blend or pop into a liquidiser.
  • Add more pepper to taste
  • Serve and enjoy.

Other Soup Recipes

Below are my other favourite soup recipes you may like

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

Leftover Vegetable Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Sweet Potato Carrot and Lentil Soup

Quick Cold Remedy That Works

I have been using this natural cold remedy for myself and family for years. It helps with all miserable symptoms of cold and flu…. runny nose, sore throat and coughing. If I feel a cold coming on I will usually have a drink as soon as possible to start increasing my vitamin C levels and boosting my immunity.

As staying hydrated is an important part of reducing symptoms this warm drink helps with that. The vitamin c in the fresh orange juice and lemon, the natural antibacterial properties and immune boosting properties of garlic and calming effects of honey which coats the throat helping coughs as well as being an antioxidant. All work together to help reduce and ease cold/flu symptoms.

(Honey should not be given to children under 1 as there can be a risk of causing Botulism, for information on this illness click here ).

Its a quick and easy recipe, and well worth a try. I will usually have 2 or 3 glasses of this per 24 hour period, as well as water and any other beverages.

Recipe

  • 80 ml fresh orange juice
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 slice of lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • hot water

Method

Pour the orange juice into a 1/2 pint glass or large mug, add the slice of lemon. Slice the garlic cloves in half and add, top up with hot water (1 cup or more), add the honey and stir. Allow to cool slightly before drinking.

Chicken Soup is also well known to help with cold and flu symptoms. My Leftovers Vegetable Soup recipe has a chicken version to see this recipe click here

Please note this post does not replace the advice given by a qualified doctor. If you have any health concerns or persistent symptoms you should contact your doctor/health practitioner.

What Can I do with my glass jars?

So if you’re swapping as much of your supermarket shopping from plastic to glass, you may have realised that you suddenly now have a growing number of glass jars, they seem to breed when you’re not looking! So what can you do with them? Well the quick answer is..lots of things! Here is a quick list of 10 uses just to get started:-

  1. Food storage in cupboard, fridge & freezer
  2. Water/liquid holders
  3. Candle holder/illuminating lights
  4. drinking glasses
  5. Toiletries
  6. Cleaning products
  7. Storage of household items
  8. Gardening – growing and storage
  9. Decorating
  10. Home made gifts

From storage of pretty much anything that fits into it. Glass is ideal for food storage , whether that be cupboard, fridge or freezer. Keeping things around the house, ideal space savers. They can be decorated, used in the garden, there are endless possibilities! Also if you can’t reuse it, you still have a greener option of recycling, glass is 100% recyclable every time, even recycled glass.

Continue reading “What Can I do with my glass jars?”

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

There’s nothing not to love about this easy, healthy, tasty, hearty, soup . You can also switch or add other vegetables so don’t be frightened to experiment.

Ingredients

  • 200g Tomatoes
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 pepper
  • handful of mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 750ml of vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 heaped tsp dried or fresh basil
  • olive oil

Method

  • Preheat the oven 200 C (Fan 180 ) 400F (Fan 375)
  • Generously cover a baking sheet with olive oil
  • Wash and cut vegetables and place on the baking tray
  • Garlic – remove as much of the outer skin that you can and slice of the top of the whole garlic
  • Season with salt and black pepper
  • Generously sprinkle more olive oil on top and with hands mix and turn everything together ensuring everything has a coating of oil.
  • Pop in the oven for around 30 minutes.
  • Once out put the garlic carefully to one side
  • Place the roasted vegetables into a large saucepan, add the tin of tomatoes and the stock and place on the heat.
  • Return to the garlic place on a breadboard the skins should pretty much be falling off or squish out once pressed with the side of a knife. If it does not pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Place garlic in saucepan with other veg, basil and chilli flakes.
  • bring the contents nearly to boil and then simmer for 10 mins.
  • Take off heat, and use a blender to create a smooth consistency.
  • Serve with your favourite crusty bread and enjoy!

Top Tips

  • Serves 4
  • For increased volume without losing flavour add another tin of tomatoes and/or 500ml 1/2 pint of stock, you will have a thinner consistency.
  • Freezes well if using a jar to freeze, remember to keep an inch space from the rim and preferably stand upright.

Other Soup Recipes

Click on the links below to see some of my other favourite soup recipes you may like.

Leftover Vegetable Soup

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Sweet Potato, Carrot and Lentil Soup

Growing Tomatoes For Beginners

Growing tomatoes is hugely rewarding, and a great beginner crop as they are so versatile for both eating raw and cooking. There can be some effort involved, they have quite a long growing season and need plenty of water. They are however worth the effort. I will be covering:-

  • What Variety
  • Where to grow tomatoes
  • Best time of year to grow tomatoes
  • Can I grow a tomato from a tomato?
  • What you will need
  • How To Start

What Variety

Cherry, Roma, Beefsteak, Early Super sweet. There are many varieties of tomato. It really comes down to your own taste. What type of tomato you prefer, eat the most, or cook with. One of the easiest to grow is the Cherry tomato. Bush variety tomatoes need little support and easily grow in containers. San Marzano Tomatoes are a long and thin meaty tomato, an early producer and cope well in a wet cooler climates like the UK and excellent for sauces.

Where to grow tomatoes

Tomatoes can be grown in pots, grow bags, raised beds, hanging baskets and the ground. Literally anywhere that you have space and sunshine.

They need watering and try not to let them dry out too much then flood them or you will have burst skins.

Depending on the variety you will need to provide support for the plant as it grows, this can be against a fence or wall or by using canes and/or cages.

Best Time Of Year To Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes thrive with 6-8 hours of daily sunshine, however mine have grown on less. They can be grown indoors, in greenhouses and outside. When planting out they will need to be after frosts, but seedlings can be grown inside so that they are ready to plant out once your frosts have passed.

Can I grow a tomato from a tomato?

Yes you can, you can take a slice of a tomato with the seeds in and plant it, keep it moist and within 7-14 days you will start to see seedlings.

What will I need

  • Some sort of container with drainage holes (If no drainage holes you can use Stones/broken pottery/used tea bags)
  • A waterproof container for the above container to sit in household plate/ lid/tray/gardening trays
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Water

How To Start

You can purchase ready made plants at nurseries and garden centres, however, if you wish to grow from seed, see below.

  1. Make holes in your container or fill with alternative drainage option
  2. Put in the compost allowing allowing about 2-3cm clearance from the top.
  3. With your finger just make a line I have made 2 lines in the soil in the square plastic container shown roughly 5-7 mm’s deep.
  4. Sprinkle or place seeds as recommended on the packet.
  5. Cover them back over with the compost.
  6. Water and place them where you want them to go depending on your climate, space or season.
  7. Once large enough to plant out (after first truss flowering) and your frosts have passed, then choose your container, area, or grow bag and move them into their new space.
  8. Once growing you may need to add a cane or some sort of support and carefully and gently tie the stalk to the support.
  9. As they grow cut or pinch of side shoots (those that are between the leaf and the main stem).
  10. Tomatoes need reach fertile soil, so feeding is recommended, there are many tomato fertilisers around. I tend to feed mine from my kitchen scraps, for example, coffee and tea pot leftovers, including the water. Onion and garlic leftovers, cut small and surrounding stems, to help keep slugs and snails away. I top up with home compost, I have tended to find that this is enough to provide a fruitful delicious harvest.

Its late September in the UK as I write this. I have been busy the last few weeks and rather neglected my raised bed tomatoes and they have gone crazy so this week as we are largely quickly running out of sunshine hours and certainly any sunshine, should we get any lacks any intense heat. I have therefore cut them right back, Only keeping anything with fruit on it. I would normally allow my tomatoes to get to the 5th truss before stopping any further growth. I tied them high out of the way of slugs and snails that are around as it is also wet. I’m hoping the sunshine due this weekend will help turn the last of them. There was also some flowers, I suspect it is too late for them, but it will be interesting to see if they develop should we have a blast of some sunshine come October, even if I get green tomatoes, they can still be used.

So you have a harvest…what now? Initially you are bound to have a few at a time. I love nothing more than picking my lettuce some tomatoes and herbs for a side salad with dinner or for a wrap with Falafel. As more start ripening, I then start using them in recipes or pasta sauces, and this time of year I love to make Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup, its one of my favourites…. Warm and hearty summer tastes on a chilly autumn night.

For Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup recipe click here

Other Posts You May Find Helpful

Gardening For Non Gardeners

7 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Soup

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

5 Easy ways to reduce plastic in your food shopping

5 Instant Happiness Tips For a Bad Day

Gardening For Non Gardeners

Most people will admire a beautiful, well maintained garden with diverse plants and colours, food crops and/or flowers. Whether big or small, they can amaze and inspire you. For the non gardener wanting to start however, it can seem daunting. Below are 5 very easy tips on how to get going for beginners…… real beginners, the type of beginners that have no gardening equipment, possibly not even a garden!

I will be covering:-

  1. What To Grow
  2. How To Start
  3. Space
  4. Equipment
  5. Growing Your Own

What To Grow?

This really is the first decision. Sometimes if you have been given something as a gift or offered plants and you’ve taken them, you can give it a go and start there. Otherwise, you need to decide, or browse around a nursery and see what inspires you. Flowers, shrubs or fruit and veg? Perhaps a little of each. This may change over time. I know plenty of people with beautiful gardens, that really enjoy gardening but only cultivate plants and flowers to and don’t touch fruit and vegetables and others who are more the other way. The rest of us are somewhere in the middle.

If you like to cook, or have a cook in the household, the chances are you’d like some of your own fruit and veg. If you are going to try fruit or veg then the next question is what do you like to eat? If you are going to go to the trouble of growing something, you really want to be making sure that you eat it, otherwise what’s the point!

Another pointer, particularly if you are going to grow things in the ground is, if it grows in a neighbouring garden, the chances are it will grow in yours! So getting to know your gardening neighbours, friends or family who may be local, if they are in to gardening, the chances are they will be happy to help. I’ve admired pretty plants before in peoples front gardens and when the opportunity has arisen, I have asked what they were, usually people are very accommodating.

I am in the UK so I’m in a temperate climate, www.gardenia.net gives extensive international information and links regarding what you can grow in your climate.

Easy plants to grow

Flowers – (From Seed or purchased as young plants) Sunflowers, Zinnias and Pansies

Shrubs – (from young plants) Lavender, Daisy & Dogwood

Fruit & Veg (from seed) – Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Radishes, Spinach, Turnip, Carrots, Mint, Strawberries, Potatoes, Onion, Garlic.

How To Start

How to start? – Just start! It really is that simple. Don’t be overwhelmed.

It really is all about confidence and having a go, letting yourself make mistakes, which you will laugh about later, but would have learnt a lot in the process. Everyone has been a non gardener at some point! My poor house and garden plants spent years having to deal with flood and drought, as I would forget to water them, or leave them too long in the sun until I would finally notice they had gone brown.

Here are some starting options:-

1. Buy a ready made pot or plant that you like the look of and nurture it. Watering them when they need it and dead heading (removing dead flower heads as they die off) You will soon get to know when they are thriving and when they are well…..not so happy!They are mainly found in supermarkets, home and garden stores and nurseries, usually come with instructions, mainly plants and/or flowers although you can find vegetable ones and can be for inside or outside.

2. Buy a starter kit. These usually come with everything you need with them, pots, soil, seeds. They can make nice gifts, and often in shops leading up to Christmas. Nurseries with gift shops and home stores are likely to stock them. They will often have flowers, herbs or salad to help you get going. I have been given a few over the years. One of my favourites was this below, particularly as it came in a box with biodegradable pots, sadly it did have plastic labelling sticks, however I did have some success with it.

3. Buy ready made baby plants from a nursery, supermarkets or home and garden centres for re-potting into a container or direct into the ground.

4. Growing your plant from seed. You will need seeds, soil (compost) and a container, reusing supermarket fruit containers is fine, or anything else you might have in the house.

Space

The incredible thing about gardening is that you can do it in a tiny space like a windowsill or balcony, to an allotment or large garden and land. A few choice pots may be all you need to get started and gain confidence. The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell is a great book for balcony gardening or small space ideas and inspiration.

Container gardening is an excellent way of managing plants and flowers, and reusing unwanted items in the house. You don’t need to necessarily buy expensive or plastic pots. If you are purchasing plants, rather than growing from seed, you very quickly acquire them anyway! It also enables you to move pots to another part of the garden, if there is a season change, or it its unhappy in a location. You are also more likely to notice changes or damage when you have less to look after or move them around because you fancy a change.

Continue reading “Gardening For Non Gardeners”

How To Make Dairy-Free Milk

Making your own dairy-free plant based milk is easy, eco-friendly and good for you. Here are 3 options – Oat Milk, Almond Milk and Rice Milk. I frequently make these at home mixing with a blender and storing in glass jars that I constantly reuse. Think of all those plastic bottles and cartons that no longer need to be processed or possibly going into landfill, depending on your recycling options.

It’s super easy and very satisfying. See the recipes below.

Oat Milk

Although I have soaked for just 2 hours when in a rush, for best results soak oats overnight.

Ingredients

  • Oats 1 cup
  • Water 4 cups
  • Salt 1/4 teaspoon
  • Maple Syrup 1 tablespoon

Method

Start by soaking your oats overnight. It doesn’t matter how much water you use as long as they are covered in enough water.

Once soaked sieve or strain them getting rid of the old water and giving them a rinse with cold water.

Place in your blender, add the fresh water, salt and maple syrup then blend for 1-2 minutes, or until you have a smooth consistency.

Then simply strain the contents of the blender through a strainer, sieve or muslin cloth, and voila! You have a creamy tasty oat milk!

The milk will last approximately 4-5days. So it is important to make enough for your use but not too much. Once you have done it a few times you really get very quick, its just remembering the soaking. You can play with the sweetening flavourings too.

Almond Milk

For best results soak the almonds in water overnight.

Continue reading “How To Make Dairy-Free Milk”

5 Instant Happiness Tips For a Bad Day

Here is a list of 5 go to tips when you’re having a bad day or suffering from low mood, and why they work.

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Go outside and look at a tree
  • Think of something or someone you are thankful for
  • Check your happy list
  • Breathe more deeply

Drink a glass of water

It really is that simple. Up to almost 60% of the human body is made up of water, and according to H.H. Mitchell, (Journal of Biological Chemistry 158) the brain and heart are composed of almost 73% water. The diagram below effectively shows the functions for which water is required throughout our bodies, and its vital importance.

Graphic showing what water is for in a human body.

As the water composition is high in our brains, and it is needed to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters. Its easy to see the correlation between water and mood. Its worth seriously considering the daily requirements of our bodies (in general 3 litres for an adult male & 2.2 litres for an adult female) (Information from US Geological Survey) click here for further information.

There is also further evidence as to why a glass of water will effect mood. In Dean Burnett’s fascinating book The Happy Brain, (can be purchased through amazon here) he explains how we are able to do lots of things without thinking, its called habituation. We stop noticing things we do all the time because they are not biological relevant. It means we stop responding to things that have no biological consequence. Pain for example is something the brain must respond to as it means damage has occurred, this is biologically relevant, and so can’t be ignored.

Continue reading “5 Instant Happiness Tips For a Bad Day”