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ROAST SQUASH AND GARLIC SOUP WITH CRUSHED CHILLI, NIGELLA AND FENNEL SEEDS

ROAST SQUASH AND GARLIC SOUP WITH CRUSHED CHILLI, NIGELLA AND FENNEL SEEDS

I’ve literally just made this very tasty soup and wanted to share the recipe with you. Today is one of those frantic ones where I am working from home during the day, so pretty calm, but the second I collect the kids from school it all goes mad with one thing and another leaving no time at all to prepare any food for dinner. So – I have just made this really easy soup. I roasted the veg while clearing up the breakfast pots. When I stopped work for a coffee, I whizzed up the soup and at lunchtime heated some up and tucked into a small bowl while clearing up. The kids can have a bowlful with in minutes of getting home, scattered with cheese and crushed breadsticks (a new favourite of theirs), and it will do a great job as a light evening meal, with some warm seeded bread and the remains of the cheeseboard from the weekend for my other half and I when we finally get a chance to sit down!

INGREDIENTS

1 medium-large butternut squash, peeled

8 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 carrots, peeled

2 onions, peeled

olive oil, for drizzling

approx. 1.3 litres vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp crushed dried chilli

1 ½ tsp nigella seeds

1 ½ tsp fennel seeds

METHOD

Heat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/gas 6. Cut the squash, carrots and onion into chunky wedges. Put in a large roasting tray with the garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Turn to coat everything in oil and roast in the oven for about 50 minutes, turning a couple of times, until cooked through and just becoming golden.

Once cooked, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin, into a liquidiser and blend with the rest of the roasted vegetables and stock until smooth. This will need to be done in batches, so tip any blended soup into a large saucepan as you go. Add any extra stock or water until you reach the consistency you prefer.

Gently heat the soup and season with salt to taste.

Crush the chilli, nigella and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle the seeds over the top, serving any extra separately.

PS…

The soup will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezes really well in individual portions.

If making this for children,  you can sprinkle theirs with parmesan cheese or crushed breadsticks will even go down a treat.

Speedy Moroccan Chicken Couscous

SPEEDY MOROCCAN CHICKEN COUSCOUS

For a speedy mid-week dinner this is a real treat. It’s healthy yet filling and perfect for those times when you are really limited on time.

Serves 2

2 tsp Harissa paste

6 dried ready-to-eat apricots, halved

150ml very hot chicken stock

150g couscous

2 x roast chicken breasts fillets (from the supermarket)

4 spring onions, finely sliced (including the green part)

Handful pitted green olives (optional)

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Small handful of chopped coriander

2 tbsp flaked toasted almonds

50g pomegranate seeds (optional)

Small pot of natural yoghurt

Small bunch of mint

Stir the harissa paste and apricots into the hot stock and pour over the couscous in a bowl. Stir and cover with cling film. Leave for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile remove the skin from the chicken and tear the meat into strips.

Once the couscous has been left for 5 minutes, fluff up with a fork and stir in the chicken, spring onions, olives (if using) olive oil, lemon juice and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls or plates. Scatter over the almonds and pomegranate seeds, if using.

Mix together the yoghurt and mint and serve separately to spoon over.

Healthy Midweek Stir-fry

CHICKEN, GINGER AND PINEAPPLE STIR-FRY

You can’t beat a simple stir-fry midweek and this is full of flavour and goodness.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

4 small chicken breasts, cut into strips

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

1 small ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into 2-3cm (about 1in) pieces

25g (1oz) root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

250g punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved

200g (7oz) beansprouts

1 bunch of spring onions, sliced into 3-4cm (1¼-1½in) pieces

2tbsp oyster sauce

2tbsp caster sugar

75ml (2½fl oz) chicken stock

Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Cooked wholewheat noodles tossed in a little sesame oil or Thai rice, to serve

METHOD

Heat a wok over a high heat and add 1tbsp of the oil. Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper and stir-fry with the garlic for 3-4 minutes until it has browned. Remove from the wok and keep warm.

Add the remaining 1tbsp of oil to the wok and add the pineapple, ginger, tomatoes, beansprouts, spring onions, oyster sauce and sugar. Stir fry for about 1 minute before adding the stock.

Providing you still have the wok over a high heat, it should instantly come to the boil.

Cook for about 3 minutes until the sauce is becoming thick and sticky. Return the chicken to the pan along with the coriander.

Toss to combine and serve with the noodles or rice.

PS…

Strips of pork or raw tiger prawns can be used instead of the chicken, simply cook as above.

Photography, thanks to Gareth Morgans.

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