Indian Summer – Creamy curried sweet potato soup

I’m sure that the nature of holidays with children is well documented in the blogosphere.  Probably.  I’m a bit too lazy to actually go and look.  But as with all things online and parenting related I am finding that blogs fall into a few rather predictable patterns.  Many seem to be totally review focussed

* We went to [insert name of random resort] and it was all WONDERFUL (by that they mean free) and the kids had a FANTASTIC time because they had this SUPERB toy to play with that is loads better than ANY OTHER TOY EVER (because it was free) and although on the face of it you might assume that is just as pointless and plasticky as all other toys on the market and in fact that the kids didn’t like it as they hadn’t chosen it and it is not particularly pertinent to their interests, well if you assume that you’d be wrong.  No holiday is complete without one.  It kept the kids amused for at least 5 seconds.  And no, how very dare you suggest that I bribed the kids with haribo to get them to hold up the said (free) toy and smile as if all their teeny tiny Christmasses had come at once.  We all had a wonderful time with our free things and in fact life is wonderful [please PR folk give me more free stuff, more I tell you, I will never ever say a bad word about anything you care to send]*

Or the very very wholesome parenting blogs……..

*We spent the school holidays making spelt muffins and doing yoga together in fields during nature rambles*

Ideas for what to do in the school holidays abound.  Some of them great, some of them naff, some cheap, some stupidly expensive.  I started writing this on the very last day of the school holidays.  It was a strange limbo day as whilst it is officially the start of the school term the teachers feel the need for a day without children in school.  Personally I would have thought that children being there was a pre-requisite for the functionality of a school and that over 5 weeks of annual leave in one chunk would be more than enough to make sure that their classrooms were tidy and that they’d caught up with what they and their colleagues had done over the summer.  I can’t actually think of another job where you come back from holiday and then announce that you’ll come in to the office but won’t actually do the job you’re paid to for another couple of days thank you very much.  Sorry to my teacher friends…….. actually no, I’m not.  I know enough of you to know for a fact that inset days are a right old skive.

So, the school holidays are now officially over.  The teachers finally got their act together and let the kids go back to school and instagram and facebook have been full of shiny photos of children in shiny school uniforms holding up carefully written signs and pronouncing what they would like to be when they are older.  Status updates have veered between the tearful ‘oh I miss my baaaaaaabies, why have they grown up and left meeeeee’ and the ‘thank feck that ordeal of non-stop child entertainment is over and I can lie in a darkened room with a gin & tonic in a can and a family size bar of galaxy’.

Like I’ve said, I started writing a fortnight ago and it was meant to be a reflective piece about how we had spent the halcyon summer holidays.  Of course, real life intervened and husband got a stomach bug, both children got colds, I ran a 10k race (check me out!) and then I promptly got said cold.  So in between wiping snotty noses and using the entire Cheshire supply of dettol around the house there hasn’t been a whole lot of blogging (or indeed anything) time.  In fact the whole summer holiday thing seems like an entirely distant idea that may or may not have actually happened and may or may not have had, on the whole, more ups than downs.

Ups – we survived it, we saw lots of friends, the boys made a summer holiday plan of things they wanted to do and we ticked most things off it, we found lots of free activities to do, we had a lovely week in Norfolk and a wet week in Dorset and a visit to London, I went to Harrods, I drank wine or a suitable alcoholic equivalent every day for 6 weeks.

Downs – the boys learnt how to squabble and irritate each other big time, I was utterly exhausted for the majority of the holiday with what seemed like an inordinately large increase in shopping/cooking/ferrying around, I gave up even attempting to keep the house in any other state than terminally messy by the second week and it still looks like that now, my husband ate the cake I bought in Harrods, I drank wine or a suitable equivalent every day for 6 weeks and have continued this into September.

The dust is now settling, the boys are adjusting to new school routines, I am getting used to the varied schedule and whilst our livers are a little jaded our sniffles and coughs have abated to acceptable levels.  Autumn is as much of a time of new beginnings as Spring I guess.  I’m hoping that I will finally have the time to get cracking with writing my book, really carry on with getting fit and develop lots of healthy and yummy recipes. Who knows, I might even write coherent blog posts!

Naturally the same weather gods who think it’s hilarious to watch families shivering in cagoules and jeans in the drizzle on Bournemouth beach on bank holiday Monday think it’s pretty darn funny to crack open the sunshine once the kids are back in school.  So, although our heads say it’s Autumn and there’s things like conkers, apples and leaves on the ground – it’s also sunny and warm and not really Autumn food weather yet.

But in the interests of a halfway house I’ve cooked this soup for lunch.  It’s warming but still has that curry, exotic, sunny taste.  Hope you like it.  Well they do call this an Indian Summer, right????

Creamy curried sweet potato soup

Ingredients

 

1 onion chopped roughly

500g sweet potato peeled and chopped into medium size chunks

1 carrot peeled and chopped into similar size to sweet potato

100g red lentils

2tbsp of korma paste (I used waitrose own brand)

1.5 litres of hot water

50g creamed coconut (the dried kind that comes in a box) (or you could use a tin of coconut milk and reduce the water amount accordingly)

Salt and pepper to season

 

In a little oil fry off the onion for a few minutes then add the sweet potato and carrot and fry off for another couple of minutes.  Add the curry paste and cook for another minute or so.  Add the hot water, lentils and creamed coconut.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes (until the veg is cooked through)

 

I use a stick blender in the pan to whizz the soup smooth but you can use a food processor or any blender.

 

This makes loads of soup and it’s pretty filling so serves a lot of people.  Leftovers freeze well too.
I served it for the grown ups with a bit or sriracha drizzled on top.  My 3 year old liked it with bug hunks of bread dunked in.IMG_7845.JPG

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A big fat (free) curry

Over at Tamsinsworld I blogged a recipe for fat free curry sauce ages ago.  It’s proved to be one of my most viewed recipes.  A couple of my Instagram friends reminded me last week about it and I’m cooking it this afternoon.

If you’d like to read the original post you can click here – be warned there’s some ramblings about weddings there too.  You know me, you can’t just have the recipe without having to read some general waffle as well.

Recently I’ve been cooking a lot of curries out of the Hairy Bikers rather excellent Great Curries cook book.  And great they are indeed.  Layer after layer of lovely authentic Indian flavours.  Ingredients so numerous it takes half an hour to read the recipe.  It’s the kind of cooking that I like.  Lots of faffy grinding and dry frying (during which I do usually pretend to be a chef) and I have yet to try a recipe out of the book that I don’t like.  BUT all of the recipes are pretty time consuming and involve a very well stocked spice cupboard and, pretty much without exception, while I am cooking them the boys come into the kitchen holding their noses saying ‘what’s that smell?’ and then proceed to lie on the kitchen floor making little sick noises while shouting something about Mr Poo Poo head would eat this.

This curry recipe has quite a lot going for it.  Store cupboard ingredients for a start.  The most exotic thing amongst the bunch is mango chutney.  I’m pretty sure you could buy all of the ingredients in your local corner shop.  You can make the sauce as spicy or not as you like it.  The base sauce itself is very mild – so for me and hubby I tend to whack loads of sliced chili and coriander in.  For the boys I make it a creamier version by adding some coconut milk.  Once you’ve made the sauce you can portion it out into freezable portions and then for a yummy pretty much instant, yet home cooked, dinner you can defrost and add whatever ingredients you fancy.

In a start of the year economy mission (which has not extended to the buying of shoes and boots my husband has been dismayed to see) I am trying to meal plan meticulously each week and use the same ingredients for multiple meals.  It’s a similar premise to the Save with Jamie idea.  Although it always makes me a tad suspicious when MILLIONAIRE celebrity chefs that have MILLIONS of pounds blather on about buying reduced veg at the end of the day in the supermarket and asking your butcher to cut some special economy scraggy but delicious part of a sheep/cow/pig that no-one has ever heard of but will be delicious if you add £20 of spices and slow cook it for a week.  Really Jamie, really?  Are we expected to believe that while you’re jetsetting round opening restaurants, publicising your books and saving the nutrition of the nation singlehandedly that Jules is at home trekking round the local Morrisons at 7.45pm just to see if their carrots have been reduced for quick sale? No. She is on first name terms with her local Ocado delivery men and has an Abel & Cole veg box that she looks forward to receiving each week until she remembers that actually her kids hate Kale and suspiciously knobbly looking turnip squashes just like every other kid.  Well I hope she is anyway.  In fact I kind of hope she occasionally eats a pot noodle in her pants while shouting at the telly while her husband is on that it’s all very well for him to slate a chicken nugget but when you have 4 (or is it more now?) children who haven’t seen their dad for weeks that’s what they’re having for tea thank you very much.

Anyway in the Save with Tamsin version I am mainly using leftovers better.  Planning them in to the weekly menu.  This is mainly so I can continue spending money on clothes and shoes.  Just in case you were admiring my utter selflessness.  So, yesterday in the midst of a very sorry prosecco/sambuca hangover I managed to roast a chicken.  I’ve used the carcass to make chicken stock this morning which formed the base of a yummy Thai chicken noodle soup for lunch.  (Mitch declined that needless to say.  He is going through a phase were he will only eat tuna sandwiches for lunch.  Every.  Day).  I’ve added more of the stock to the curry sauce and tonight the boys will have a fruity chicken curry and we will have chicken and spinach curry.

Just because it’s a bit annoying to have to flick over to another page to read a recipe I’ve pasted it again below.

Recipe – home made fat free curry sauce

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped small
  • 2.5 cm piece of ginger grated
  • 600 ml veg stock
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons medium curry powder (use mild or hot if you prefer)
  • 3 tablespoons mango chutney

Heat 100ml of the veg stock in a pan with the chopped onion – cook with a lid on for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the stock and the mango chutney and the tomatoes – stir well and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt.

Then blend the sauce  – I used my hand held stick blender but you can do it in a food processor or even leave it chunky if you like.

We’ve had this served with biryani rice or as a base for a curry.  I like it with prawns and yellow pepper (for this I dry fried some yellow pepper cut chunky with a chopped chili and some spring onion and then added the curry sauce and some king prawns and some frozen peas and cooked for about 5 minutes – hey presto – quick spicy low fat curry)

This sauce is spicy but not too hot, I think you can then add extra chili when you serve it or even cool it down with some coconut milk.

It makes 6 adult portions (fits perfectly into 3 takeaway sized containers)

Enjoy!