Roasted beetroot and garlic soup

Cooking with beetroot is relatively new to me, but after reading a lot about its health benefits it`s an ingredient I am enjoying getting to grips with. I do have a couple of warnings for you though if, like me, you are a beetroot novice. First off, it stains like a bugger. Combine this with the fact that I am possibly the messiest eater and cooker on the entire planet and I have learnt NEVER to wear pale clothing whilst cooking, eating or even being in the same room as the stain-devil-beetroot and to ALWAYS wear a pinny. I also cut the skins off rather than peel (yes it wastes a teency bit but you can hold it a tad more gingerly so less pink fingers). You could wear rubber gloves but I hate them myself.

Secondly, and I apologise my friends for there is no way to put this politely, beetroot goes right through you with rather colourful results. A couple of years my usually stoic and healthy husband phoned me virtually in tears from whichever godforesaken business park he was working in at the time. `I think there`s something terribly wrong with me` he plaintively wailed `can you find me an emergency doctor?`. After some sympathetic phone support `what the feck are you talking about? You were fine when you left home last night? Man up you nutter` *wife of the year award goes to………* I established that his symptoms were massive internal bleeding. From the you know where. At which point I virtually killed myself laughing. And then reminded him of the beetroot gratin he had eaten for lunch the day before. He then pretended he had an important meeting to go to and hung up on me. He has lived to see another day and eat another beetroot. I can also attest to pale pink wee after beetroot. I`m not showing off. Just preventing you from potentially looking like a right dick at the dr.

Anyway, I made this soup for lunch today and it`s proper lush. Healthy and hearty and that lovely sweet/salty combination which I just can`t get enough of.

Ingredients

About 8 small whole beetroot – now these vary massively in size so use your judgement, mine were a mix of red and golden
Olive oil
6 cloves garlic
Sprigs fresh thyme
1litre chicken or veg stock
2tbsp sherry or white wine
1 chopped onion
2 sticks of finely chopped celery
1tsp fennel seeds
70g red lentils (to thicken soup)
Small amount of feta/chopped chives to garnish

Wash and roughly peel the beetroot and then chop and put on a baking tray – drizzle over about 2tsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the garlic cloves whole in their papery skins and the thyme sprigs.

Roast in a preheated oven 180c for 45 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and remove the garlic and toss the beetroot round a bit, put the beetroot back in the oven but the garlic should be done by now so keep it out.

Take the garlic out of its skins and set aside.

Once beetroot is roasted heat 1tsp olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes or until soft.

Add the chicken stock, sherry, lentils, garlic, beetroot, fennel seeds and bring to boil – reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

I like to take my soup off the heat and puree it in the pan with a stick blender. You could do it in a blender in batches though.

Taste and season with salt & pepper. Serve in bowls with a bit of feta crumbled up over the top and maybe some chopped chives.

Enjoy!

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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!