New year, new start

Happy New Year! Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently. I have been working on some exciting new projects. For more information, you can see my personal blog, here.

I hope you all had a good Christmas. I certainly did, although having enjoyed so much good food over the last, well, month, I am turning my attention to some healthier recipes to start the year.

Although I don’t have any food allergies, I have plenty of experience at cooking for intolerances, as my boyfriend has been allergic to wheat, gluten and dairy for the last eight years. Yes, we eat freefrom when we are together, but I don’t always stick to it, so I am going to completely avoid gluten and dairy for the month of January. And sugar too, as running my own cake company, Go Free Foods, means that I eat more sweet things than I should. So, I will keep you updated on my progress. I want to see if I feel any different. Better? Worse? We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I have been focusing on eating more vegetables. I always get at least my 5 a day as I just adore fruit. But I do think I need to cut back a bit and eat more vegetables instead. I’ve given up drinking fruit juice too. I learnt that fruit juice is processed as sugar by the body, which really surprised me. Buying fresh, natural juices, as I was, I thought they were doing me good, but in fact, your body needs the fibre as well, so as not to process the juice as sugar, so it is always best to stick to whole fruit where you can.

One of my favourite ways to eat vegetables is in soups. Although I am rather fussy about the soups that I like and dislike. I hate anything too watery as it just feels too insubstantial, but don’t like thick, creamy soups either. So below are two of my favourite soup recipes. They are simple, economical and seasonal to make. I use my Cuisinart blender to blitz the soup as it works so well. I often use the puree function, which I find gives and even smoother result.

My Cuisinart blender - hard to make soup making look glamourous

 

Starting out with some nice, fresh ingredients

 

Although these recipes are some of my favourites, I cannot claim any credit for the recipes, which come by way of my lovely neighbour, Nickie, from her charity cookery book entitled With love from our kitchens and Rose Prince’s excellent The New English Table.

The finished product, which I had for lunch

Tomato, apple and celery soup from Nickie’s kitchen

Ingredients:

100g onions, finely chopped

150g tomatoes, quartered

150g celery, cut into 2” lengths

150g apples, cored and quartered (I used Cox’s, unpeeled)

50g butter or 4 tbsp olive oil

1 pint chicken or vegetable stock

Method:

1)   Melt the butter in a large pan or add the olive oil to the pan

2)   Add the onions and cook gently

3)   Add all the fruit and vegetables to the pan and cover with a well-fitting lid

4)   Leave for 1 hour to simmer gently

5)   After an hour, the vegetables should be nice and soft.

6)   Add the stock

7)   Blitz until smooth in a food processor

8)   You can sieve the soup for a smoother finish, but I prefer not to, just blend really well.

Chestnut and Honey Soup, from The New English Table by Rose Prince

Chestnut and honey soup

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used rapeseed today)

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

½ large swede, cut into chunks

1 large pinch dried thyme

200g chestnuts (I used frozen from Waitrose, but you could use vacuum packed)

2 pints chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon honey (any kind)

Method:

1)   Heat the oil in a large pan

2)   Add all the vegetables and cook gently until they are tender. Do not let them brown

3)   Add the thyme and chestnuts, pour in the stock and leave to simmer until the vegetables are tender

4)   Blend until smooth and then stir in the honey.

7 comments

  1. We love cooking soup and are definitely going to try the chestnut and honey soup… full of the things we like to eat and we have a vac pack of chestnuts left over from Christmas. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Charlotte Pike

      Thank you Louise and J! I have to thank Rose Prince for inspiration, but it is really excellent. Please let me know how you get on!

      Charlotte

  2. Hi Charlotte,

    Those soups look delicious! Do you fancy entering your own original recipe into our ‘soup of the month’ competition? http://bit.ly/rgIr0Q

    • Charlotte Pike

      Hi Beth,

      Thank you very much! I will certainly enter something. Thank you for letting me know about this.

      Best, Charlotte

      • That’s great to hear Charlotte! I feel I should warn you our ‘shape up’ theme closes on Thursday eve so if you’ve got a recipe in mind I’d enter it soon – we wouldn’t you to miss out!

        Thanks,
        Beth

  3. I love soup – it is such a tasty way of helping towards your 5 a day. I try to make some most lunchtimes, so am always looking out for new recipes and ideas – so thank you for this one.
    I have recently discovered the Crown Prince Squash – possibly the tastiest of squashes and will be writing up my soup recipe for that shortly.
    Good luck with your ‘free from’ diet. Will look forward to seeing how it goes for you and any positive effects you feel from it.

    • Charlotte Pike

      Hi Penny,

      You are absolutely right about helping towards your 5 a day (to be honest that’s why I tend to eat so much soup. Thanks for the squash tip – I will take a look at your blog to see your recipe. Feeling good on my freefrom diet, although, I think it’s partly not having an sugar either!

      Best, Charlotte

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