Spiced Leek & Sweet Potato Soup

Apologies for not posting in a while. I’ve been busy making countless cookie jar gifts and various balms in the run up to the festive season. These are just from today…

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Anyway, after a productive day of jar layering and labelling, I realised that the school run was looming, we had a parents evening appointment and the church prayer meeting, and I hadn’t thought about dinner. It had to be quick, it had to be nutritious and it had to be warming; it’s freezing today in the North West!

I sliced two large leeks and sautéed in a saucepan with some coconut oil and a couple of cloves of garlic. After a few minutes I threw in two diced sweet potatoes leaving the skin on. A teaspoon of ground coriander, one of madras curry powder, salt, pepper and a couple of dashes of lemon juice provided the seasoning. When the spices had had a couple of minutes to cook out I added some stock, tossed in a good handful of frozen spinach and left to simmer until the sweet potato was tender.

Meanwhile I roughly chopped some cavalo nero, sprinkled it with rapeseed oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin seeds and a little ground coriander.

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Spread the greens out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 160oC for about 10-15 minutes until crisp.

I love using my nutribullet to blend soups, it makes them beautifully silky smooth.

To serve I mixed some non fat Greek yoghurt with chopped coriander, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice and put a dollop on top of the soup, added a little mango chutney for sweetness, topped with the cavalo nero crisps, some more coriander and some finely chopped red chilli. We enjoyed a little treat of peshwari naan to dunk too. Delicious.

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Enjoy!

Spiced pickled pears

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Pears are bang in season in the UK at the moment, so when a friend presented me with more pears than we could possibly eat, I decided to get ahead with the homemade Christmas presents and make spiced pickled pears.

I’d had a look at a few recipes online but ended up just cobbling together a recipe based on what I had in. Which was roughly this:

Almost 2kg pears
700ml cider vinegar
Half a lemon
A few star anise
A teaspoon cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
A teaspoon juniper berries
A teaspoon black peppercorns
And 450g sugar, I used a mixture of dark soft, golden caster and demerara just because that’s what I had in.

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Start by slowly bringing all the ingredients, except the pears, to the boil, stiring occasionally. While that’s going on peel the pears, putting them in cold water as you go to stop them browning. Once all the pears are peeled and the sugar in the vinegar mixture has dissolved, drain the pears and add them to the pan. Cover and simmer for about 15/20 mins until the pears are tender.

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Meanwhile sterilise some jars with glass or plastic lids and once the pears are cooked put them in the jars before covering with the syrup and sealing. You’ll find the syrup has reduced and sweetened slightly (in fact mine had reduced so much I actually didn’t have enough to cover my fourth jar… We’ll have to eat that one pretty pronto… Shame!). In an unopened sterilised jar, immersed in the syrup, the pears should keep for around six months.

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They’re delicious served with cold cuts and cheese and would be a perfect boxing day alternative to the traditional pickles.

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Enjoy, I did! Well, it’d be rude not to 😎