A bright but blustery Sunday morning has turned into a rather dark, threatening afternoon. Icy plops of rain are falling and the bare birch trees across the road are swaying in an increasingly strong wind. I don’t mind though. Marco’s been walked and I’ve already been for a run. There’s nothing I need do other than read my book (The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler), drink peppermint tea and make soup for the week ahead. Nice.
Today’s soup will be a wintery minestrone (this one). More often than not, however, I’ve been making the below soup. It’s David’s current favourite. He likes his soups hearty and, in this weather, so do I.
Chorizo, Spinach and Chickpea Soup
150g chorizo, skinned and chopped into small cubes
2 celery sticks, chopped finely
2 onions, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tspn smoked paprika
½ tspn cayenne pepper (optional – really not necessary if your paprika is spicy)
½ cup brown rice
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500g frozen, chopped spinach (Whole leaf is fine too but it will need to be defrosted then chopped finely first. Fresh spinach should be chopped finely first too.)
1.5 litres of stock (ham for preference but vegetable or chicken is fine too)
- Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan. Throw in the chorizo and cook over a medium heat until the chorizo releases its fat. Add the onion and celery and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and smoked paprika. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the chickpeas and brown rice. Stir well.
- Finally, add the tomatoes, spinach and stock. Simmer gently for an hour then taste for seasoning. It’s unlikely to need salt but a grinding of pepper would be good.
There’s a Scottish saying: Ne’er cast a clout till May is oot. It means don’t pack away your winter clothing until the end of May. The following pictures show why this is sound advice in these parts…
Last Tuesday. 22 oC. Sunny. Still.
This Tuesday. 0 oC. Snowy. Windy.
Marco’s happy, at least. He loves the snow. 🙂
The days are starting to stretch and we have snowdrops under our birch tree. I bought a bunch of daffodils at the supermarket last weekend and there’s a cherry tree down our road that has a few blossoms on it. I’m not saying Spring is here or even that it’s on its way, but I am slowly starting to remember what spring is like and that’s really rather nice indeed.
All this said, it was -5 oC this morning and my fingers almost dropped off scraping frost off the car. Soup season is most definitely still here. This one’s a cracker. 🙂
Smokey Tomato & Rice Soup
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
25g red lentils
1 tspn smoked paprika (you may need to increase this if your smoked paprika isn’t really smokey)
1 tspn paprika
1 tpsn cumin
½ tspn cayenne pepper or chilli powder (if your smoked paprika is hot you won’t need this – taste the spices)
500g passata (sieved tomatoes – you could use normal tinned tomatoes but the consistency will be less velvety)
1.5 ltr chicken or vegetable stock (made from a cube is fine)
150g frozen sweetcorn
- Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and celery and fry gently until softened (about 10 mins). Add the garlic and spices to the pan and stir well.
- Cook for another minute before adding the rice, lentils, passata and stock. Simmer gently for 20 mins. Add the sweetcorn and cook for a futher 10 mins until the rice and lentils are soft.
- Season and serve.
I am a fan of things that go cheep cheep and caw caw and tweeter tweeter and… Well, you get the idea. I like birds. Winter can be a struggle for our feathered friends and I like to do my bit to help them out.
My plan was to write a big post collating all the tips I’d learnt about the best way to support winged wildlife in our gardens but I just don’t have time just now or, I suspect, any time soon. So I’m posting some birdy pictures (one new, the rest old) and I’m suggesting you visit the following pages for advice on feeding the birds this Winter.
Autumn Watch – Guide to Bird Feeding
RSPB – Feeding Birds