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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Cheesy vegetable crumble

Ah October- the month that brings a chill in the air and an urge to hibernate in front of an open fire with all your favourite comfort foods. Well, look no further! This cheesy vegetable crumble makes the most of a range of seasonal vegetables and it is perfect as a main meal or a side dish. Potato, carrot, swede, kale and leek are my vegetables of choice which gives a balanced between earthy flavours and sweetness which marry with the creamy cheesy sauce which is topped with crunchy crumble.

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Ingredients- serves 4 as a main
1 small swede
3 large potatoes such as Maris Piper
1 large carrot
1 leek
Small bag of black kale
500ml vegetable stock
150ml milk
2 garlic cloves- whole
60ml double cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Pepper
Crumbly, tangy cheese such as Caerphilly
100g plain flour
50g unsalted butter
Freshly grated parmesan

1. Prepare the vegetables by peeling them and cutting the swede, potatoes and carrots into cubes. Take a large, wide pan and place the cubed vegetables into it along with the vegetable stock and milk. Place two whole unpeeled garlic cloves in that have been pricked with a knife to infuse a delicate flavour. Bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer; cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender to a knife point. Remember that swedes take longer than the other vegetables so keep the cubes of this smaller so they all cook at the same time.

2. Meanwhile, in a small pan sweat the leek with a splash of oil and small knob of butter. Cook until tender before removing and setting aside. Add the kale into the pan along with a splash of water; cover and allow to wilt slightly.

3. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Choose a large ovenproof baking dish that is large enough to fit all the vegetables in. When the vegetables are tender, take the pan off the heat and stir in the double cream along with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, the leeks and kale and mustard. Season to taste. Spoon half into the baking dish before crumbling some Caerphilly through before spooning the remaining vegetables on top followed by more crumbled cheese. Pour the creamy sauce over.

4. Finally, for the crumble topping simply place the flour in a large bowl along with the butter. Cut the butter into small chunks for ease and rub the flour and butter between your fingers to form a crumb. Grate in some parmesan if you like. Scatter the crumble over the vegetables and bake in the oven until golden and crunchy; this should take 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for a couple of minutes as it will be red hot! Serve as a main or as a side dish and dive in!

Cheesy vegetable crumble- a comforting autumnal meal that deserves to be centre stage on your dining table!

 

Traditional Welsh cawl

Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew that could not be simpler to make so give it a go. It is made with whatever meat (or meats) and seasonal vegetables were available so there is room for experimentation! The lamb could also be substituted with beef or a ham joint if you prefer. This is a perfect opportunity to try crumbly Caerphilly cheese if you have not had it before so dig in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
450g lamb casserole steak
25g pearl barley
2 sliced carrots
1 onion sliced
1/2 chopped swede
1 leeks in chunks
400g potatoes in chunks
Sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns

1. Trim the meat and cut into large chunks. Add to large heavy based pan, top up with plenty of water and bring to a boil. As the meat comes to the boil you will see residue that needs to be skimmed off the top.

2. Next in goes the barley, carrot, onion and swede; bring back to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Bundle together the thyme and bay leaves and drop these in alongside the peppercorns and simmer for 2 hours.

3. When the stew has been simmering for a couple of hours pop in the potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes followed by the leeks which need to be cooked for 5- 10 minutes until tender.  Serve in deep, warmed bowls with a good hunk of Caerphilly cheese and fresh bread.

Simple, warming and authentic!

‘Chloedethumps’

Burns Night is just around the corner and this is perfect as part of your celebrations although there is no reason that this dish has to be confined to being eaten on only one day of the year. Think of a Scottish version of bubble and squeak and you’re on the right track. Rumbledethumps (its official name!) uses seasonal vegetables to create a moreish dish which can be served on the side of haggis (for the fans) or something along the lines of sausage. Traditionally rumbledethumps uses a mix of potato, swede and either kale or cabbage however with the rise of the mighty flower sprout I used this instead.

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
1 medium swede
600g floury potatoes such as Maris Piper
100g unsalted butter
1 large red onion- finely sliced
200g flower sprouts, cabbage or kale
Salt and pepper
50g grated mature cheddar

1. Get going by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Prepare the swede and potatoes by peeling them and cutting them into large chunks. Bring a pan of boiling water up to the boil and cook the swede and potato until tender before draining well. I make sure the chunks of potato and swede are about the same size and boil them together but you could boil them separately in two lots if you prefer.

2. Shred the flower sprout leaves (or cabbage or kale). Melt the a knob of butter in a separate pan before adding the sprouts and onion to cook for a few minutes until softened. When they are ready simply set aside.

3. Take the drained swede and potato and lightly mash the chunks. You are after a rough mash so don’t overdo it! You will find that some potato pieces mash down a bit more than others and bits of swede will stay relatively chunky but that is exactly what you are after. Toss in the remaining butter and stir through. Next, stir in the sprouts before stirring to combine well and then season to taste. A good crack of black pepper doesn’t go amiss here! Place the vegetables in an overproof dish before topping with grated cheese, such as a cheddar. I cook mine in the same shallow casserole dish that I sautéed the sprouts and onion in; saves on washing up!

4. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and cook for 30 minutes before removing the cover and placing it back in the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve with your choice of meat and tuck in!

For those of you who indulge in haggis I have the perfect way to finish up any odds and ends… Crumble any leftovers into any leftover rumblethumps or a plain mashed potato and shape them to form potato cakes. Fry in a pan until golden and crispy and serve with a poached egg perched on top and a good dollop of tomato chutney.

Chloedethumps- a modern twist on a delicious Scottish classic!

Lamb, swede and feta bake

Think of this as a delicious twist on a traditional greek moussaka! It’s a perfect balance of sweet swede, savoury lamb and salty feta so dig in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
400g lean lamb mince
1 onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tbsp crushed chillies
1/2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp tomato puree
Splash of white wine
400ml tinned chopped tomatoes
200ml beef stock
1 swede- cut into thin slices

For the topping
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk
1 egg
200g feta

1. Take a large pan and heat the oil over a medium/ high heat. Brown the lamb and remove using a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain any excess fat before cooking the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Add in the chilli, oregano and nutmeg for a further minute.

2. Next up goes the tomato puree to cook out for another couple of minutes before adding a healthy splash of white wine. Wait for this to reduce by half and then pop in the stock and tinned tomatoes. Season well. Simmer for half an hour until starting to reduce and then remove from the heat.

3. Take one large or two medium size ovenproof roasting dishes and lightly oil. Add a layer of the thinly sliced swede before adding the lamb and then another layer of swede. Preheat the oven at this stage to 190c/ 170 fan.

4. You then need to make the sauce for the topping by taking a medium-sized pan and melting the butter and flour together. Stir well before gradually adding the milk. Bring up to the boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until you have a smooth sauce. Remember to keep stirring! Take the pan off the heat (this is really important) and then crack one egg into it and whisk in well to combine. The egg thickens and enriches the sauce so it is a worthwhile addition. Next in goes 100g of the feta and stir well again. Pour the sauce over the lamb and swede before crumbling the remaining 100g of feta over the top.

5. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes before removing the foil and then cooking for another 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve with bread or greens.

I served mine with purple sprouting broccoli which I had steamed lightly before finishing in a frying pan along with a small knob of butter, panko crumbs, one anchovy and a clove of garlic which complemented the lamb perfectly. Lamb, swede and feta bake- a break from the ordinary!