Late autumn weekend soup

It has taken me many years to get used to chunky vegetables in water! I used to prefer finely diced, whizzed up, cooked to a pulp. I can now eat carrots that have been cut in the round and enjoy them. Here’s a simple, hearty vegetable soup for a day like to day – icy, touch of snow, rather cold outside. Serve with a delicious herby homemade focaccia, warm out of the oven.

After a quick dash to the local market in the northerly wind – we have two veg stalls on a Friday and one on a Saturday – I came back with the following ingredients:

Turnip, leek, carrots, new potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower.

How much soup you want to make and what amount of veg you add, is up to you.

I add to the veg, some frozen spinach, dark green lentils.

Then a touch of olive oil, half a stock cube, herbs de provence, 1 bay leaf, pepper. I don’t put in salt – it’s a forbidden ingredient now. Water, of course.

Put it all in a large pan at the same time, bring to the boil then simmer. Stir occasionally  The lentils will take the longest to cook through, but they are worth the wait. In the meantime the focaccia is baking in the oven.

I think I’ll put together a sweet apple and walnut pita too. The rest of the day is for chores, geometric design, assignment writing and reading.


The Winds of March

I like mild, warm breezes, those sirocco winds on the Med and Adriatic which cool you down after a blistering day.

But the ill winds. Cold, sharp. Gales hurling themselves at the windows. They get under the layers and leave a body frozen until bed time. The sound can drive a person insane, night after night. I suspect people are driven mad by storms.

I have been blown around the Pennines, somewhat cheerily, recently. Enjoying  retiring to a fire in a pub, on the cobbles. A book and a beer then onwards up the hill for supper.

Once there  all of the previous arduous life of the Highlands melted away, forgotten, like I had never lived in tundra.

Then the return – with a creaking knee from walking up and down steep valley sides – and a sore eye – braised by a northerly.

Days of gales, howls, storms and a sudden raise in blood pressure. Rest. A slightly better feel today.

The strains of moving house are beginning to tell.

‘You sound like you need a glass of wine’ said someone.

I need a birthing pool to release the stress.

This change may not yet happen. Everything, as last time, may suddenly end.

There’s a saying from the old Yu – ubila me promaja – the draught is killing me.

Close the windows, shut the doors, everyone would exclaim, even in summer.

No one likes a sneaky wind at the back of the neck. No one likes an ill wind blasting through their lives.

Still it heralds change – not always liked. But that is change. That is wind.

There will yet be a friendly sirocco come summer time.



Planet Soup

It’s an icy December morning. Time to make soup!

You will need:

A big pan

1 Leek or 1 onion

2 celery sticks

2 large carrots

1 large potato

1 large sweet potato

Some neep (turnip)

Some squash (not vital but…)

1 small apple

1 tomato

Orange juice


Butter, sunflower oil, vegetable stock, fresh ginger, paprika, chili flakes, beetroot powder


Salt and pepper to season


Chop and peel all veg and fruit.

Start with oil, butter and onion/leek. Then add as per the list above with water/stock, slowly stirring.

Finally add ginger etc and season.

Let it simmer slowly until all the ingredients have disintegrated. Blend, and it’s ready to have with some nice wholemeal bread.

I always think of Mars when making it.

planet mars