A warming and nourishing soup for a cold February day.

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I feel really lucky that my clinic, The Little Green Clinic has its own little cafe on the ground floor where lovely Ann keeps a fire going for us and makes delicious, home made soups, drinks and cakes.

We keep everything seasonal and with a gentle, therapeutic angle as much as possible, so people can relax by the fire and have something to warm them up inside as well as out while the weather stays Wintery.

So Ann and I were really excited to be asked by our local magazine, Ulverston Now, to contribute a recipe for the March issue!

March has many of the same challenges, health wise, that February faces. It’s still a cold month, although some Spring greens start appearing as the month progresses. And aren’t they welcome when they appear! I know that we can buy almost anything all year round in supermarkets these days, but it’s not the same, somehow as the real thing! Take strawberries for example; they have no scent at all through the Winter, then there’ll be a day in Spring when you smell a punnet and suddenly remember how they should taste!

We wanted to put together a recipe to help people feel better. Everyone can feel run down by February and March. There’s the long, exciting run up to Christmas, with all it’s challenges; then the short, cold, wet days of January and February. We’re just not built to handle those conditions easily, although there’s lots we can do to make it all go more comfortably.

So both February and March are asking for food which is nourishing, warming, seasonal and has some therapeutic properties to ward off all the flues and coughs; aches and tiredness that are doing the Dr Cooper treating back painrounds  (every year February and March fill my waiting room with the sound of coughing, and I see so many sore necks and backs!) 

We wanted to give a recipe for something that would be both nourishing and warming; full of flavour but possible to make as both a vegan and a vegetarian version with simple changes.

So here it is! Our very own take on Ribollita soup. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Winter warming Ribolita with Chermoula and vegetarian parmesan  (V and DF if no parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese or vegan cheese)

·         3 red onions, medium, diced. Sweat in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent (approx. 5 min)

Add:

·         3 carrots, medium, chopped into 1cm chunks

·         2 leeks, chopped into 1cm chunks

·         3 cloves garlic – crushed

·         Approx 200g green beans, topped and tailed, chopped into quarters

·         3 sticks celery – diced, 1cm

·         1 large sweet potato, diced 1cm chunks

Put the lid on and sweat for 20 minutes until veg is soft

Add:

·         2 litres of stock (vegan marigold)

·         I bottle of passata ( about 750ml), and 1 tin plum tomatoes, (chop in tin before adding)

·         2 tins cannellini beans (incl their water from the tin) (1 tin roughly mashed with fork)

·         100ml cider vinegar

·         2 tsps chermoula or, if you want it even warmer than try baharat spice blend. You could make your own chermoula by grinding together coriander seeds, paprika, black pepper corns, chilli flakes and some cumin, all fried in some olive oil with some garlic and a splash of lemon juice at the end. Baharat uses the same spices and adds more warmth with cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and green cardamom. I particularly like this spice blend because the cardamom helps digestion (and the taste is AMAZING!). I make my own blends if I have time, but you can buy them online from the brilliant company, Spice Mountain, that trades from one of my favourite places; Borough Market. 

Cook for another 10 minutes

 Add

·         200 g chopped kale or spinach

·         1 tsp of ground pepper

Cook for 25 minutes for kale, 10 minutes for spinach

 Add:

·         25g ( a big hand full) of flat leaf parsley just before serving

Serve with sour cream and vegetarian hard cheese, or soya cream and vegan cheese.

I love to break lots of toasted sour dough into mine!

Enjoy!

 

A therapeutic, spicy, pumpkin soup to help eat up your pumpkins!

 

October 31st is here again and I’ve collected all my pumpkins into the safety of my green house before the first frosts.

It’s been a terrible year for growing pumpkins and all other Winter squash here in the Lake District. They thrive on late Summer sunshine and, although we had a beautiful Spring, July onwards rained more than I like to admit. The one squash that did well was a tromboncino, a beautiful squash that left the remains of my climbing bean supports draped in little, twisting, lime green trombones.

But Halloween has its needs, and I sacrificed two of my small collection of round squash to light up my clinic window for tonight. These, in the photo, are a delicious Rouge Vif d’Etampes and a little, blue Crown Prince.

Now both of these are far too tasty to throw away, so I’ve put together the recipe for the therapeutic, spicy, pumpkin soup that I’ve made with my pumpkin innards.

Here you go. Remember, the key with pumpkins is to do everything you can to add flavour. These two types of squash are sweet and nutty without too much help, but if you’re carving a big round American pumpkin, then up the quantities of spices a bit and keep tasting

  • Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the innards with your hand (very gruesomely appropriate for Halloween!
  • scoop out the flesh with a spoon and knife, cut up the big chunks a bit, place on a baking tray with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast until it begins to brown. This step really helps boost the flavour.
  • Meanwhile slowly fry up four chopped red onions until caramelising.
  • Add four chopped garlic cloves, a half thumb sized, chopped piece of ginger,  the same amount of washed and grated fresh turmeric (or three teaspoons of dried turmeric powder) and continue to fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add 3 chopped sticks of celery, three chopped, large carrots, a chopped, red pepper and a small red, chopped, chilli pepper. Stir, add a slosh of water to stop it burning and cook with the lid on and occasional shaking or stirring for 10 mins.
  • Add three teaspoons of marigold bouillon, three heaped teaspoons of baharat spice mix, one and a half litres of water and all the baked pumpkin (I hope you started with your biggest saucepan!)
  • Add a mug of red lentils and simmer for twenty mins.
  • Add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, a slosh of red wine vinegar and a few handfuls of spinach or chard leaves and cook for another ten mins.

Whizz it before eating and grate some cheese on top when you serve. I like a blob of rose harrisa too.

So from a therapeutic point of view the squash is a fantastic Yin tonic, which is just what we all need for going forwards into Winter with our batteries fully charged! It’s packed with minerals and vitamins;  lots of immune-supportive vitamin A, folate, B6 and potassium as well as loads of free radical- scavenging vitamin C. The spices in the Baharat (one of my favourite spice mixes) are warming and help fend off Winter colds. The turmeric is anti inflammatory and the chilli and ginger balance its coolness to keep the soup warming. So delicious and good for you too.

Now off to squeeze into my Witches costume (Oh I’m in it already!)