As a part of my recent transformation into a healthy eater I have become a huge soup convert! I have soup for lunch every day at work and most of the time it’s home made. I discovered that bread really doesn’t sit right with me day in, day out. Now it’s more of a weekend treat. But this meant that sandwiches were off the menu. I will never, ever, be a salad loving girl… Or at least, the kinda of salads I will eat will never be considered healthy! (Bacon, avocado, DRESSING!)
Soup was my salvation. It’s hot, a life saver for those of us with body temperature issues, filling, especially for a liquid, and most of all healthy! I like to eat my soup with 2 rice cakes for a little bit of crunch. (There’s another dieting secret, rice cakes are freakin’ delicious! No one ever told me that!) There really is no end to the tricks you can play with a basic combination of vegetables and stock.
This soup started life as a plain old Butternut Squash Soup. It was good but when I tasted it I thought “This could do with some zing!” So I added some lime juice. Then I thought “This needs a little punch” so the fish sauce came out. And then the coconut milk was just a natural progression and while I was at it why not add some chilli and spices and really give it some pep? And so, Spicy Asian Butternut Soup was born. Enjoy!
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chunked
1 onion, diced
1 chicken stock cube (vegetable if vegetarian soup is desired)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
100ml coconut milk (or cream, or powder, whatever you have is fine!)
1/2 tsp dried ginger (2cm fresh grated ginger would be better but I didn’t have any)
1/2 tsp dried coriander
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200C while you prep your butternut squash.
– Toss the chunks of butternut with the olive oil on a large baking dish or tray and scatter with a pinch of sea salt.
– Roast the squash for 30 minutes until just starting to colour and crisp up a little bit.
– Heat a splash of olive oil in a large heavy pan.
– Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until just turning translucent.
– Add the butternut squash, the stock cube the chilli and ~1.5l of boiling water.
– Bring to a boil then turn off the heat.
– Use a handheld stick blended to blend the soup until smooth. (Dependent upon your squash you may find you have quite a thick soup at this point. Just add more water if you prefer a runnier consistency.)
– Add the lime juice, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger and coriander and give a good stir to circulate everything properly.
– Make sure you taste it as you go! If you feel it needs a little something extra, go for it! This is your soup, tailor it to your preferences!
I love chilli. It’s such a comfort food. Especially when you get to load it up with cheese! Some weeks I know going in that work is going to kick my ass. So I try to be prepared. If I make a vat of chilli at the beginning of the week I know I have a home cooked meal ready and waiting for me whenever I make it home. The red meat is going to help me get through and give me a much needed iron boost and the veggies that are hidden in there mean that I’m not missing out on too many vitamins. All in all this chilli recipe is a real lifesaver. I love this mix of spices, if you don’t have smoked paprika in your arsenal I highly recommend it, it really adds an edge to the dishes you use it in. The chocolate is a nice little addition too, subtle but very worth it!
750g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 large pepper, finely chopped (I only used green to use the damned thing up! Nigella is right, they’re simply unripe!)
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
5tbsp tomato purée
1tbsp granulated sugar
50g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
– I love slow cooking because the directions basically boil down to this: Throw everything but the kidney beans in a slow cooker, give it a stir and then put the lid on and leave overnight/through the day. 8 hours is what you’re aiming for.
– When you’re ready to eat it you add the kidney beans and leave for another 30 minutes. If you left it to cook overnight and switched it off during the day you can put it back on high with the kidney beans in there until it heats through.
– Serve with rice or nachos, creme fraiche and cheese!
My mum LOVES sweet chilli sauce. I honestly think she’d have it on everything if she could. So I found this recipe for sweet chilli jam and knew I had to make it for her for Christmas. It’s got a bit of a kick to it but if you’re not keen on spicy then just don’t use so many chillies. I used a really big deep saute pan much wider than it is tall, which is a really useful pan to have around but any really large pan will do. If the pan is deep rather than wide the jam will take longer to reach setting point.
Makes about 4 small (~250ml) jars.
8 red peppers, chopped (I used 4 long sweet ones and 4 bell as the supermarket didn’t have 8) < would you look at that, didn’t know I could do that I meant 8 then)!
6 large red chillies, sliced
about 2 1/2″ root ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin cherry or plain chopped tomatoes
750g granulated sugar
250ml red wine vinegar
– Put the peppers, chillies, ginger and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped and pulpy. You may have to do this in two batches.
– Put this into your pan and add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar.
– Bring to the boil and then simmer at a rapid pace for about 45 minutes. Keep stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
– When there is a texture change and it goes very thick and sticky give it 5 minutes more while stirring.
– Put into sterilised jars while still hot and screw the lids on immediately.
This was the veggie option for the party. I made it in the slow cooker so that I could throw it together and leave it and then serve from the slow cooker and it would still be hot. It could easily become non-veggie by using minced beef instead of veggie mince but brown it in a frying pan first then proceed as below. Essentially this is just my chilli con carne recipe done a bit differently.
500g veggie mince
2 onions, chopped
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
2x400g tins red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp bisto granules made up with 200ml water
1 tbsp sugar
– Basically throw everything but the kidney beans into the slow cooker.
– Give it a stir to mix it up well.
– Add the beans and stir gently.
– Put the lid on and cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.
We eat these a fair bit in our family and now I have proved that they make a decent party food. Not the most graceful of foods to eat I’ll admit but so long as your not too precious about it and just get stuck in it’s a great food!
Serves 4 (I doubled it for the party)
3 chicken breasts, sliced into chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 chilli, chopped
1 tbsp ground corriander
1 tbsp fresh corriander, chopped
4 tbsp lime juice
2 bell peppers, sliced into chunks
1 pack of tortilla wraps
– Put the chicken, onion, chilli, corriander and lime juice in a bowl and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
– About 15-20 minutes before you want to eat heat a little oil in a very large frying pan (I used a paella pan here.)
– Add the marinated mixture, if a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl leave this out.
– Cook, stirring regularly until the chicken is cooked then add the peppers and the reserved juice.
– Keep cooking on a relatively high heat until the chicken just starts to char. (If using a strong chilli keep the extractor fan on as the chilli smoke can get to you!)
– Microwave your tortilla wraps as you need them for about 30 seconds (1minute for a whole pack).
– Make up the wraps as you like. Standard order is lettuce, fajita mix, salsa and creme fraiche then squeeze lime juice on top.
The best way to fold them is to place the filling along the centre but only go 2/3 along. Then fold up the remaining 1/3 over the filling and wrap the two sides over the top. Then eat! It makes a handy little pouch so you’re not dropping stuff all over yourself… well, if you’re careful!
Wow, what a week it has been! I’ve been pushing my cooking boundaries already this week and I had to do it again today with the Tortillas. It’s been a busy few days and I lost a few hours to that little mishap. I’ve updated the index here again and I’m going to try to keep on top of it this time. I’m coming up on 100 recipes! Yes, there will be cake. I’m generally working hard to get this blog to be the best I can make it. I’m also hoping to also be able to participate in Adopt-A-Blogger #4 over at Dine & Dish which will hopefully mean improvements around here. But that’ll be after the christmas madness. I’m already preparing to go gourmet with the gifts this year. I have a bunch of recipes lying about that’ll be just perfect for so-and-so so I’m gearing up to get cracking with those. I hope you’re all getting ready for an excellent holiday season, I know I’ll be stepping up on the Christmas recipes any day now!
Anyway, on to tonight’s dinner! These Layered Enchiladas were just supposed to be ordinary enchiladas, however, due to the supermarket tortillas going off and my first attempt at tortillas turning out rather brittle I had to go for Layered Enchiladas. I have to say I am impressed with how well they turned out. Instead of having a wrap we each ended up with a slice of ‘enchilada pie’, which was actually really handy for portion control. This certainly went down well with my dad who asked for seconds, which is almost unheard of!
1 pack tortillas or make your own with my recipe here.
~200g grated cheese
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 chicken breasts, sliced
1 tsp chilli powder
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 green pepper, chopped
– First make the sauce. Saute the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt in a little oil until soft.
– Then add the chicken and stir until cooked all over.
– Add the chilli powder and chopped chilli. Stir well.
– Pour in the chopped tomatoes with a little water to rinse out the tin.
– Add the sugar and tomato puree and stir until mixed.
– Bring to a simmer and add the green pepper.
– Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
– Assemble the enchiladas in a greased baking dish either in the traditional way or:
– Place a tortilla on the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle lightly with grated cheese then add a few spoonfuls the sauce and spread over the tortilla.
– Add another tortilla on top. Pour a little passata over and spread over the tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese.
– Add another tortilla and sprinkle with cheese. Add sauce and spread out.
– Repeat alternating layers of sauce and passata until all of the tortillas have been used making the last layer passata covered with a good layer of cheese on the very top.
– Bake in a hot oven at gas mark 6 for around 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and everything warmed through.
– Serve in slices while hot. It’s really good with creme fraiche and avocado slices.
I think my dad has been cooking this Chilli Con Carne recipe since before he met mum! The original recipe comes from this ancient ’70s St Michael’s cook book but it’s one of those family dishes that no longer needs a recipe, we just get on with it. I like this recipe as it’s a nice, tasty and warming way of getting more pulses in my diet and I’m trying to get away from eating so much pasta so rice makes an excellent staple carb alternative. My dad’s a bit of a spice maniac it has to be said. Back in his army days he once drank coffee with Tabasco in it and declared it to be delicious! I, however, am not so fond of chilli, I like a bit of spice, sure, but I like to be able to taste the food that comes with it and noone likes to eat a meal with their nose running constantly. So spicy food is always a bit of a compromise in our family. We aim for somewhere in the middle and I cool mine down with yoghurt or creme fraiche and dad adds Tabasco to his.
Not the best photo, it's all a bit white!
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
750g minced beef
1 tsp chilli powder
1 chilli, chopped (either leave this out if you’re not a fan of spice or put more in if you’re mental!)
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
150ml beef stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
1x400g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
– Heat a few tbsp oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft.
– Add the minced beef, chilli powder and chilli. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally.
– Add the tomatoes, beef stock, tomato puree and sugar and stir until well combined.
– Put a lid on the pan and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring a few times. *
– Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes.
– Serve with basmati rice.
*Normally we cook it up to this point early in the day or evening then leave it standing until dinner time when we heat it up again then add the beans for the final 5 minutes.
I’m in a very autumnal frame of mind at the minute. I’m home alone this week so I’m not so keen on the howling wind and getting dark early part but I do love walking through the leaves and huddling up inside in the warm. I find that although I’m happy to eat sandwiches for lunch throughout the summer come autumn I feel the need for soup. The warmth you can gain from a bowl of soup and lovely buttery bread is better than the central heating sometimes! I’ve usually been a Heinz fan but this autumn I’m really enjoying making my own soups. The latest one is this Spicy Butternut Squash Soup. It’s not actually what I would call spicy, the chilli comes as a lovely wash of heat over your tongue and complements the mellowness of the butternut wonderfully. Plus I like the colour!
1 butternut squash (about 1kg)
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (mine was quite hot, if yours are milder then add 2)
1 1/2 pints hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp creme fraiche
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
– Peel and chop the butternut squash into chunks. (I slice mine in half above the seeds then quarter it vertically, scoop out the seeds in that half and then chop into slices no bigget than 2 cm thick. Then I use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin.)
– Place in a roasting tin and toss in a little olive oil.
– Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
– In the meantime prep your onions, garlic and chilli then put it all in a large pan with a knob of butter and a splash of oil.
– Keep on a very low heat for about 20 minutes until the onions are completely soft.
– Take the squash out of the oven and tip into the pan.
– Add the stock and creme fraiche and stir a little to start mixing it.
– Then take a hand blender and blend the soup until smooth.
– Reheat it when you’re ready to serve.
Filed under Easy, Starters
1 pork fillet (I’d give you a weight but I threw away the package. Mine was about 6″)
1 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp mixed spices
1 litre chicken stock*
1 clove garlic, bruised (press down on it with the flat of your knife)
1 chilli, cut in half
1″ chunk ginger root, cut into smaller chunks
3 pak choi
2 packets instant miso (Mine has tofu in it too)
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 bundles of ramen noodles if you can find them or 2 nests of egg noodles if you can’t
1 carrot cut into matchsticks or julienned
1/2 can bamboo shoots (select the best looking ones)
2 hard boiled eggs
– Heat the oven to Gas mark 7.
– Drizzle sesame oil oven the base of an oven proof dish then put in the chilli flakes mixed spices and sesame seeds.
– Roll the pork fillet in this until it is coated all over.
– Leave it to stand for about 10 minutes to absorb the flavours and then roast it for 25 minutes.
– Let the meat stand for 10 minutes then slice into thin slices.
– Take the chicken stock and add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Bring to the boil in a large pan for 5 minutes.
– Fish out the bits so you’re left with a clear stock.
– Slice the pak choi into quarters and cook in the stock for 7 minutes. Drain and put 3 quarters in each bowl.
– Add the instant miso and soy sauce to the stock. Stir until it’s combined.
– Cook the noodles as per the packet instructions then divide equally between the bowls.
– Divide the carrots, bamboo shoots, half a boiled egg** and sliced pork between the bowls.
– Arrange everything nicely then ladle the stock over the top.
– Serve with a dash of chilli oil.
* See next post for how to make chicken stock from scratch.
** Obviously you see no hard boiled egg in that photo. That is because they are still sitting in the fridge. I forgot them, oops!
An excellent low fat burger option. Delicious and nutritious!
Chilli Turkey Burgers
500g turkey mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp fresh corriander, chopped
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
– Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl using your hand. Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
– Divide the mixture into four and shape into patties by slapping the mixture between your hands to remove the air, then shaping it into round burgers.
– Place the burgers on a plate and cover then leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
– Cook under the grill or on a bbq for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
– Serve on buns with lettuce, Red Onion and Tomato Salsa and creme fraiche.
Red Onion and Tomato Salsa
1/2 a red onion, chopped
12 baby plum or cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh corriander, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
– Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mix thoroughly and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Filed under Easy, Mains, Sides