Curried root vegetable soup with parsnip crisps

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When the days are short and the nights are long there is only one thing for it- soup! A big pot of soup simmering away is the perfect answer to the dilemma of what to take to work for lunch in the week but is also great for a dinner if you want to make meals ahead for the coming week. This curried root vegetable soup is a classic which makes the most of seasonal vegetables whilst warming it with a little spice which complements the sweetness and earthiness of the roots. When prepping the vegetables try and make sure the chunks of carrot and parsnip are the same size but keep the swede a little smaller as it takes longer to cook. To keep things quick you can use a premade curry powder blend or make your own with a balance of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and chilli so you can make it to suit your tastes.

No soup is complete without a topping and this is no exception! Parsnip crisps are ideal for this and can be made by peeling an extra parsnip and ribboning using a peeler. Toss with oil and season. Place on a baking tray and bake at 160c/ 140 fan until crisp and golden.

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Ingredients- serves 6
Glug of vegetable oil
1 large onion- peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves- peeled and chopped
4 carrots- peeled and chopped
2 parsnips- peeled and chopped
1 swede- peeled and chopped
1 litre of hot vegetable stock
300ml milk
2 tbsp curry powder or to taste
Salt and pepper to season

  1. Start by heating a glug of oil in a large pan that will be big enough to fit the soup in. Gently cook the onion for a few minutes before adding the garlic and continuing to cook until both and softened.
  2. Add in the root vegetables and stir to combine with the onion. Cover the pan and allow to sweat for 10-15 minutes. Next up goes the hot stock and simmer for a few more minutes.
  3. Use a stick blender and blitz the vegetables until thick and creamy. Add in the milk, curry powder and season well to taste. Blend a little more if you like to you achieve a consistency you like; you can also add more stock or milk if you need. Serve in warmed soup bowls with crusty fresh bread and top with parsnip crisps.

Curried root vegetable soup- the perfect antidote to blustery autumn days!

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Indulgent autumn gnocchi

Gnocchi AKA little pillows of joy are the star of this dish! Combine this with seasonal vegetables, a dash of creme fraiche and a liberal helping of hunger and you have the perfect dinner. If you can’t find speck, then a good parma or serrano ham can be used.

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Ingredients- serves 4
40g unsalted butter
Pack (approx. 70g) speck- cut into thin strips
250g chestnut mushrooms- washed and sliced
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
2 garlic cloves- crushed
60ml dry white wine
3 tbsp creme fraiche (full or half fat)
Handful of shredded curly kale
Salt and pepper to season
400g pack of ready made gnocchi

1. Boil a kettle of water and cook the kale in a large pan for 3 minutes- refresh in cold water, drain and set aside.

2. Start off with melting half of the butter in a large non- stick frying pan over a medium heat. Pop in the strips of speck and fry until starting to crisp up. Remove from the pan and set aside on a piece of kitchen paper.

3. Next you need to fry the mushrooms until the water evaporates (you don’t want a watery sauce!) and the mushrooms turn golden. Again, remove from the pan and set aside.

4. Add the remaining butter and cook the shallot and onion until softened. Pour in the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the creme fraiche, season to taste, and simmer for a couple of minutes whilst you cook the gnocchi. Gnocci only takes 2 minutes so drain when the gnocchi rises to the surface in a boiling pan of water.

5. Stir the mushroom, kale and speck through the sauce before also adding the cooked gnocchi. Cook for a further minute to make sure it is all heated through and serve in warmed bowls. A sprinkling of parmesan is also called for!

A warming autumn gnocchi which is a sure fire pleaser!

Quick plum chutney

Time to use all the beautiful ripe plums in a seasonal chutney. Think chutney takes too much effort? Think again… This chutney can be yours all in two steps! It’s so glossy that it puts all other chutneys to shame so make it and see the finished product for yourself !

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Ingredients- makes 2 jars
900g red plums- halved and stones removed
240ml cider vinegar
360g caster sugar
Cinnamon stick and 2 star anise

1. Prepare the plums and pop into a large heavy based pan with the sugar,  vinegar and spices.

2. Simmer on a low heat for around 45-60 minutes until the plums have reduced and thickened to a glossy chutney. Sterilize a couple of jars,seal well and store in the fridge.

Quick chutney is ideal with hams and cheeses and beautiful with rich duck so dig in!

Sausage, squash and sage pasta bake

Pasta has to be one of the most used ingredients in the average household however what you do with it needn’t be average. Butternut squash has to be one of my favourite autumn vegetables and it brings an appealing flash of colour to any dish. Fresh sage must be used here as the flavour of dried sage is too harsh with the delicate flavours of the squash and cheeses.

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Ingredients: serves 4  (can be halved for 2)
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh sage roughly chopped
8 seasoned pork sausages
Pinch of nutmeg
350g rigatoni or conchiglioni
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
850ml milk
50g parmesan
Small ball of mozzarella chopped
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)

1. Get cracking on the squash by peeling and deseeding it. With a sturdy knife, cut the squash into small cubes and place in a microwaveable dish with a tablespoon of water. Pop it in the microwave on a high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until tender.

2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and cook the sage leave for 1 minute until fragrant. Pop the sausages out of their skins and roll gently into balls which are the size of hazelnuts. Add these to the pan with the sage and cook until golden.

3. Add half of the squash to the sausages. Take the remaining squash and mash with a pinch of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper before setting aside.

4. Heat the oven to 200c/ 180fan and cook the pasta according to the packet. Rigatoni works well with the sausage but conchiglioni also works well as the sauce fills the shells so choose whichever you prefer. Whilst the pasta simmers, take a saucepan and melt the butter before adding the flour and keep it moving until it forms a base. Carefully and slowly add in the milk and continue to stir to avoid any lumps forming. Next add the mashed squash, parmesan and more seasoning.

5. Take a large baking dish and layer the left over squash over the bottom. Drain the pasta and stir through the sausage and cheese sauce. Grate over the parmesan and dot on the chunks of mozzarella before baking for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. You may also drizzle over a little truffle oil before baking to give it an extra richness.

An indulgent pasta to warm up a chilly Autumn day!

Sausage and barley roasted butternut squash

Make the most of the new season’s vegetables in this colourful, vibrant recipe. You can also make the recipe vegetarian by omitting the sausages. You will need to use a hard veggie friendly cheese as parmesan is not suitable for vegetarians.

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 butternut squashes- cut lengthways and with seeds scooped out
100g pearl barley
100g kale or cabbage greens
4 sausages- Lincolnshire work well
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion- sliced into small wedges
200g feta- crumbled
1 tbsp harissa paste
Handful of chopped flatleaf parsley
100g cherry or baby plum tomatoes
20g grated parmesan
1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Place the halved butternut squashes cut side up on a roasting tray, give them a light drizzle of oil and cook until tender. This will take around 50 minutes.

2. In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil and pop in the pearl barley. Cook the barley for 40 minutes or until tender. Towards the end add in the kale or cabbage greens for a couple of minutes; drain and then set aside in a large bowl.

3. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the sausages for 12- 15 minutes until golden and cooked through. 5 minutes from the end, add the red onion in and cook together.

4. Cut each sausage into 3- 4 chunks and add to the bowl with the pearl barley in along with the red onion. Mix the barley and sausage together with the feta, harissa, parsley and tomatoes. Season to taste.

5. Scoop out the tender flesh from the squashes leaving a 2cm border at the edges to the squashes hold their shape. Stir the flesh into the barley mixture and then divide between the squashes to stuff them. Sprinkle over the freshly grated parmesan and chilli flakes and roast in the oven for 10- 15 minutes until sweet and golden.

A seasonal celebration of autumn veg !