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I love butternut squash. It has a lovely texture, and works in so many things: risotto, roast veg, Thai currys, soup, etc. But there’s no denying that it’s a faff to deal with due to the peel. So I did a little experiment.

I wanted some soup to come home to on Saturday, and astonishingly, there was no mongrel soup on the go (which I must address). And there was a squash in the fridge. I cut the top off the squash, and then chopped the rest in half, scooped out the seeds, and put it in the medium slow cooker with about ½” of wine (all there was left in that bottle, although obviously in this house, other bottles were available). I then added about 1″ further of water. Switched it on, went away. Returned after a couple of hours and added a diced and peeled Bramley, because it struck me that it would work rather well.

In the small slow cooker, I put a big onion, chopped, three cloves of garlic, and some chopped sage leaves from the garden. Half of this mixture went to make sage and onion tear and share bread (which I baked in the Remoska when we got home),

After four, or maybe five, hours, the squash seemed well cooked, so I scooped a bit out, and lo – even the skin was really soft. So I put it, the apple, the onion and sage mix, into the food processor and blitzed it all. Returned it to the pot with a bit more water, tasted it, and decided it needed some toasted cumin, which Pete obligingly provided. Switched the slow cooker onto medium, and it was all done and dusted when we got home, just half an hour to bake the bread. Splendid.

And then …

I had planned to make Anjum Anand’s Gujarati lamb on Sunday, and had removed half a shoulder of the relevant beast from the freezer. I usually add a squash to this, because the texture is so nice, but there was a bowlful of soup left and it seemed rude not to use that instead. So instead we had a kind of use it up Gujarati lamb, which went like this.

one shoulder of lamb, browned on all sides.
one onion, finely diced
some garlic (I used about six cloves) and a big piece of ginger, made into a paste with some water
a couple of handfuls of dessicated coconut
ground cumin, coriander, turmeric
some chilli flakes
leftover butternut squash soup (I accept that most of you won’t have this to hand)
some chickpeas (I always used dried, so had them cooking in the small slow cooker while this was going on)
lemon juice – about a tablespoon’s worth
salt and black pepper

Soften the onion in some vegetable oil, then add the garlic/ginger paste and fry for about three minutes. Tip in the spices (quantities here are very individual – we like our foot spicy). Fry a bit longer. Put the lamb in the slow cooker, tip the onion mix in, add the soup, and a little water if required – I wanted it to come about half way up the meat. I normally add sweet potatoes, but mine had gone mouldy (oh the shame).

Cooked it for about six hours (adding the previously cooked chickpeas about two hours from the end)  and it was just beautiful. We gorged on it, and there was plenty left for today’s lunch. And indeed there’s still a fair bit of the sauce left, so I shall be adding red lentils and veg to that, and making it into this week’s  mongrel soup.

So there you go – slow cook your squash, and no need to peel. Win win.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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I don’t normally bother with recipes for soup – they’re a bit mongrel here. But I’ve started tracking what I eat on MyFitnessPal, so it’s worth writing stuff up, just for that. So hopefully there’ll be a lot more appearing here now.

We make this quite often, as Morrisons do three lamb bones for about £0.85, which make a fine soup. I roast them off in the Remoska for half an hour, then boil them up in some water. Let them cool, fish them out, and strip the surprising amount of meat off them and shred it. And there’s the basis for the soup.

In the slow cooker (or a big pot), put the stock and meat, two leeks and some carrots (couple of big ones, or five smallish assorted, as I did this morning), which have been chopped finely. I use the Magimix for this as a rule, but sometimes I will stand and chop; it can be quite therapeutic, particularly if you imbue the veg with human personalities :) Add 200g ish of barley, a couple of teaspoons of salt, and a good sprinkling of black pepper. Top up with boiling water if there is insufficient liquid.

About four hours in the slow cooker will do it, less if you’re in a pot on the hob. It’s very nice, and exceeding warming, which given the thermometer says -1C here today, is just what’s wanted.

calories carbs fat protein
per serving

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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Not terribly Reactive, I know, but still …

I had a ham shank in the freezer – they are ridiculously cheap, really; this one was £1.69, I think. And yesterday, our Morris side, Rackaback, was due to dance out in Bridlington, a seaside town on the East Yorkshire coast, where the wind blows straight from the Russian steppes, with nothing in the way to divert it.

So, I sautéd a finely chopped onion in olive oil, dumped the ham shank in the slow cooker with 500g of dried split peas, added the onions, a couple of teaspoons of Marigold bouillon stock, and enough water to cover the lot, switched it on, and went out.

And came home seven hours later, after a cold and rainy afternoon, to a glorious smell. Fished out the hock, and let it cool, then stripped the meat off it, We ate the meat separately (not all of it in one sitting!), accompanied by the soup and some ciabatta. Just wonderful. We shall be doing that again.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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This isn’t quite the first soup of the season, it’s the second. But never mind.

Regular readers will know I’m not a fan of supermarkets, but if I have to use one, the local Morrisons is my favourite. We popped in there yesterday on the way back from picking up my new melodeon (yay!) for some wine, and popped some lamb bones into the trolley for soup. At £0.57, it would be mad not to, and I don’t have anything like that in the freezer right now.

As always, I popped them in the slow cooker with some water when we got back, much to Iggy’s delight; he loves warmz, and likes to sit beside that when it’s on. This morning, I finely chopped leek, swede, carrot and courgette and started them in the Remoska (what a surprise – love it love it) and realised that I should have roasted the bones in that first. So, undeterred, I fished them out of the stock, and bunged them on top of the veg, sprinkled with a bit of olive oil and left it for about 20 minutes, just to kick start everything. Lovely lambish smell ensued, and I shall combined everything with some barley to get the soup ready for tonight’s supper (eating quick and earlyish, as it it is music night).

Also, in Morrisons, I bought a shoulder of pork. Was discussing roasts in the gourmet conference on CIX, and realised that we haven’t had roast pork in absolutely ages. I have a red cabbage to cook up in the slow cooker, and I shall give the Remoska a try for roasting meat.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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Well, not quite … But this week’s soup includes broccoli stalks, leek tops and cabbage stalks!

Into small dice were cut one courgette, two carrots, and the aforementioned veg leftovers, and they went in the slow cooker on low for about six hours with a little bit of olive oil to soften them up.

Then this morning, I added a mug of red lentils, a good pinch of chili flakes, about 2l of boiling water, the very last of last week’s lamb and barley soup, and some seasoning, put the slow cooker on high, and with a bit of luck and a following wind, it’ll be ready for lunch.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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We returned to Morrisons on Sunday, and had a good wander about. Picked up some undyed smoked haddock, which we consumed with a mountain of cauliflower cheese last night (I’m trying to cut my carb intake considerably).

While checking out the meat counter, I spotted some packs of lamb bones at £0.57, and fell upon one with glee. I put them in the slow cooker with some water and left them in there (switched on, of course :) all day. Then this morning, I skimmed the stock and reboiled it in a pan, and rescued the quite surprising amount of lean meat from the bones.

Last night I chopped two carrots, a courgette and a leek into teeny tiny pieces, so I’ll sweat those off tonight, add the stock and some barley (and the last spoonfuls of last week’s lamb and lentil soup, which was itself a remnant from the lamb and lentil curry!), and voila – this week’s soup!

Currently, there is a whole chicken in the slow cooker – not sure how well it’ll work, but I’ll write it up later. And there are chickpeas and spinach for lunch – this low carbing ain’t all bad :)

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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Here’s the forecast for Kingston-upon-Hull for the next few days – not really what you might call an Indian Summer, is it? Pete and I both have a Lurgy, so soup is called for.

Last night I Magimix’d four carrots, a courgette and a leek; the food processor does well with the first two veg with its chopping blade, but it really doesn’t like leeks, so I had to fish out the big bits and chop them by hand. Dumped all the veg in the slow cooker with some olive oil and left them on low for a few hours.

Pete then had to get out of bed to turn the slow cooker off, as we’d forgotten it …

This morning, I dumped in about 1.5 pints of goulash stock from the weekend, together with assorted bits of veg and beans and pork, about 2.5 pints of boiling water, and a mug of lentils, and hopefully it will make a rather nice soup by lunchtime.

This is what’s known in this household as mongrel soup, and generally is far finer than any contrived soup recipe I’ve tried :)

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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P and I have been struck down by some summer lurgy, and fancied soup for lunch; it’s a standard comfort food for us. However, we had no suitable ingredients in, and no energy to make it either, so I toiled up to the local small supermarket. We always call it Jacksons, because that’s what it was before Sainsburys took it over about ten years or so ago. God knows why *I* call it Jacksons, because it’s always been Sainsburys to me, but there you go – I’m being assimilated.

Anyway, I digress. They had cartons of fresh soup for £1 each, so I bought a lentil and bacon, which we ate on Monday, and a tomato and basil. Yesterday morning, I put a mug of lentils in to soak in some cold water for a couple of hours, then into a pan went the soup, the lentils, and about 1.5 soup pots of water. Simmered it for about 35 minutes, and while not anywhere near as nice as home made tomato/lentil soup, it really wasn’t bad at all, and there’s enough for today too.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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I’m getting the hang of this winemaking lark now, and I’m much more confident than I used to be.  We did our monthly trip to Makro on Saturday (first time the car had been out for a fortnight!), and they had a 5kg bag of carrots reduced to £2.30.   “Wine!”, I thought, and bore the bag home in triumph, along with 96 cans of cat fud and other essentials.

5kgs is a *lot* of carrots, I may tell you, but Pete and I topped and tailed them and chopped them up, and then I boiled them up in my preserving pan (bought from eBay a couple of years ago, and so useful).  We had to do it them in two batches.  You want the liquor for wine, and the carrots can be repurposed for eating.

I had a little ham hock in the freezer, and I put it in the slow cooker yesterday before I went out.  So, in a serendipitous style, I had a load of nice ham stock for soup.  One half of the Jordan carrot mountain went through the Magimix and into a big pan with the stock, and that’ll be this week’s soup, or the start thereof.  And I have some coriander to go with it, which will be nice.

The other batch of carrot will be liquidised and, somehow, shoehorned into th freezer for another soup.  I really can’t get used to living with just one freezer, and it’s always full to bursting, with me wanting to cook still more.

I have a big batch of Gujuerati beef curry in the slow cooker right now, and space will have to be found for that too … I’ll write the recipe up tomorrow.

And there are cheese scones and some cocktail sossidges in the oven for supper …

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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I stuck the chicken carcass in the slow cooker (how I love that thing!) with just some water, and cooked it overnight to make stock. And then I cooked it again the next night, as I hadn’t got round to removing the chicken from it and stripping the last of the meat from the bones (Pete did it for me in the end).

I had quite a lot of elderly veg languishing in the fridge, so I peeled (where necessary) and diced one sweet potato, one huge carrot, one courgette, and a big leek.  Cooked them down in some olive oil to start them off.  There was so much veg that one tubful went into the freezer, which will be nice the next time I’m making soup.

Then in went the chicken stock, some cracked wheat (which I bought by mistake instead of barley), seasoning, and as a final flourish the last of the gravy from Monday’s roast duck, nicely flavoured with cider, and thickened with arrowroot.

Topped up with water, and cooked it slowly the next morning for 3 hours, before devouring some for lunch.  There’s enough there to do at least four days, if not more.  A chicken is a wondrous thing :)

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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It worked really well, the sweet potato soup.  But we were out and about all weekend, so I put the remainder (a litre or so) in the fridge, and of course it went very gloopy.

So this morning, I fished it out, added a mugful of lentils and about the soup’s volume in water, together with a good teaspoon of harissa paste to warm it up a bit.

It’s been on a low heat for a couple of hours, and we’re going to consume it with toast for lunch.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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I have a bag of sweet potatoes in the fridge – lord knows why, we never use more than a couple at a time, but I was surprised by them in the Co-Op.

In the freezer, I have a tub of stock leftover from making a coconut chicken curry, and a small tub of butternut squash and apple purée.  It seems to me that these combined could make a very nice soup, so I have removed the tubs from the freezer, and will boil up the sweet potatoes tonight for a shoop.

I’ll let you know.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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Not cooking much at the moment, but here’s a recipe from my mate Mym, which I will try when I am ensconsed in my new house.

Radish Top Soup
made this for lunch today
v nice, and uses an often thrown away ingredient.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Shallot, finely chopped
2 Cups Radish Greens, roughly chopped, packed
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Fresh Chives for serving
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add finely diced shallots.
Sauté, stirring often, until shallots are soft and translucent.
Add the radish greens and wilt, then add the stock.
Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the chopped parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Remove from heat; purée with an immersion blender or in blender, in
batches. Top with with freshly chopped chives just prior to serving.
Makes 4 servings.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cups radish greens, roughly chopped, packed
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh chives for serving

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; add finely diced shallots. Sauté, stirring often, until shallots are soft and translucent.

Add the radish greens and wilt, then add the stock. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley and mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove from heat; purée with an immersion blender or in blender, in batches. Top with with freshly chopped chives just prior to serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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The weather was unseasonal and rainy, and forecast to be like that for the week. Neither P nor I are feeling particularly well, either, and so we decreed Soup.

There wasn’t much in – we’ve cancelled the box from Box Bush Farm, as we weren’t happy with the service. The last box we had contained spinach, lettuce, a limp cabbage and some chard, and two bunches of carrots – not very varied, we thought. There were a few apples and bananas too, but we have been disappointed. So we are currently veg boxless until I decide whether to give Abel and Cole a try.  Anyway, I digress.

We had lots of carrots.  Lots.  But not much else.  So I sliced them very thin with the fancy addon for the Kitchenaid mixer, and hurled an onion in there too, and sweated them down in some oil.  Rummaging in the fridge brought forth a jug of stock from the Moroccan rack of lamb I did last week, so that went in.  And a carton of creamed tomatoes, and a mugful or so of lentils.  Left it to cook for about 90 minutes.

Lovely – the stock gave it a lovely spicy flavour.  And it will do us for the week.

Mirrored from Reactive Cooking.

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Bit late with this, as first we finished last week's soup, and yesterday we had -shock horror- Tuscan bean soup from the Co-Op, as I have a cold and hadn't made any and wanted soup.

The Co-Op was selling bags of "stew pack" veg reduced to 99p - a bunch of carrots, a swede, a parsnip and some onions. Seemed ideal, so I hurled one into the basket ...

Read more at Reactive Cooking.


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March 2016

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