Slow Cooker Spicy Carrot and Pumpkin Soup

There’s something comforting about a bowl of hot soup in the middle of Winter. Even more so, knowing it is a bowl of homemade soup.

Last weekend was a typical ‘four seasons in one day’ kind of weekend. New Zealand’s weather can be a little unpredictable sometimes. Saturday was brilliant – sunny, and even pretty warm! For the people that aren’t local, everybody in Wellington has a little smile on their face and a little extra spring in their step when Wellington is given a stunner of a day.  Trust me, we don’t get them often! There’s a saying here: ‘You can’t beat Wellington on a good day!’

But………..Sunday, like after every not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day, we got a little payback. Sunday was rotten, the air was bitterly cold and it actually consistently rained alllllllll day. Not long into the day, I decided it was going to be a soup day! Despite not being able to exit the house in the event I returned a drowned rat, I got the slow cooker out and a whole lot of vegetables and made a delicious, spicy soup. It warms your insides and makes you feel a little bit happier about being tucked up inside while it rains cats and dogs, outside.

Here it is, enjoy.

Slow Cooker Spicy Carrot and Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 4 cups pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 pinch ground chilli
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pepper, ground
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup additional water
  • fresh mint, chopped (optional)

In a large pan heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened. Add the prepared vegetables and the flour and mix as well as you can, allowing the flour to absorb the oil.

Put the whole lot into the slow cooker. Add the spices, salt, pepper, stock and water and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. When the vegetables are tender, purée or process the soup until smooth and return to the slow cooker to keep warm.

Adjust the consistency to suit your personal taste and add some chopped mint. Served with a slice of hot toast and butter on a rainy, cold evening! Thanks to Healthy Food Guide for the recipe!

Advertisements

Pumpkin, Spinach & Feta Muffins

These muffins are fantastic!

One, they are pretty versatile and two, they are often the result of the great-big-fridge-clear-out. And to honest, they also make for a damn good, healthy lunch.

Okay, so my latest addiction, the Ministry of Food Cheese Scone gives these muffins a more than decent run for their money in terms of lunch material. But give this recipe a go anyway, you will not be disappointed!

Pumpkin, Spinach & Feta Muffins
Makes 12

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 packet feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups pumpkin, cubed and roasted
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups spinach

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. It is best to prepare your choice of vegetables before you start, like roasting the pumpkin cubes and chopping the onion and mushrooms – set aside in a bowl.

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and feta. Add vegetables to dry ingredients. Melt butter and combine with milk, egg and sweet chilli sauce. Add to dry ingredients. Mix to combine, but remember to not over mix. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tray.

Bake at 180 degrees for at least 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta

Carbs: I  love ’em and I bet you do too.

Pasta, rice and potatoes seem to be a regular staple in our diets. Too much of them of course isn’t necessarily a good thing but eaten in moderation, they are sooooo good. I am  such a fan of a good pasta dish because pasta is a great ingredient for putting together quick and delicious meals.

The following recipe comes from the dynamic duo, Alison and Simon Holst. Although it includes a few pricier ingredients (hello, pesto!), I found overall it was quite good value for money and the flavours were pretty incredible! Of course you can mix it up a bit and add all sorts of different  roasted vegetables to the mix.

I found it was wonderful hot for dinner, and equally as delicious cold for lunch the next day. The roasted vegetables add so much flavour, you don’t really need to use too much cheese. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta
4 servings 

  • 400 grams pumpkin
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 large portobello mushrooms
  • 300 grams short pasta
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk or cream
  • 5 tsp basil pesto
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 225 degrees. While the oven heats, peel the pumpkin then cut into small pieces. Cut the red onion into about 12 thin wedges. Halve the yellow pepper, remove the seeds and then cut into 1cm strips.

Place the prepared vegetables into a large bowl. Add the garlic and two tablespoons of oil and toss gently until the vegetables are coated with oil. Spread the vegetables in a single layer over a baking paper-lined roasting dish, then place in the oven. After 10 minutes gently turn the vegetables, add the mushrooms and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Depending on your oven, the vegetables may need a little more time roasting so they don’t go mushy when added to the pasta.

While the vegetables roast, cook the pasta in plenty of lightly salted, rapidly boiling water. Drain the cooked pasta, return it to the cooking pot and toss with the remaining oil. Add the evaporated milk or cream, pesto and salt and stir to combine.

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and cut the mushrooms into strips about 1cm wide. Gently stir the vegetables and the feta into the pasta. Season to taste with pepper and garnish with the remaining feta.

Serve with a simple mescalin salad.

Warm Roast Pumpkin Salad with Feta

I’m a real salad person. I can order a bowl at a cafe or restaurant and be completely content. It is just so refreshing and tasty. Sometimes there is nothing quite like a roast vege salad. Infact it is one of my favourite things to have as a light, quick meal or a really delicious lunch for work. Salads are so easy to throw together and best of all, there are no rules! Choose whatever you like and throw it together. You’ll have yourself a delicious salad in no time!

I usually use a mix of pumpkin and kumara (sometimes potato) as a base and then the world’s my oyster. Tomato? Cheese? DIY dressing? Sure, why not!

This salad is really tasty so make sure you bookmark it! Roasted veges are so heavenly so feel free to play with this recipe and use whatever veges or ingredients you have on hand!

Warm Roast Pumpkin Salad with Feta
Serves 2

  • 1/2 a pumpkin, chopped into cubes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cooking salt
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 spring onion
  • 40 grams creamy feta
  • 25 grams sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp light sour cream
  • 1 tbsp hummus (of your choice)
Mix the chopped pumpkin with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a tsp of salt. Place the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake on 200 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.
Remove the pumpkin and place in a large glass bowl to cool down slightly. Chop up some spinach and place in the bowl. Add spring onion, feta and sun-dried tomatoes.
For a quick dressing, mix together 1 tbsp of hummus (I used a spinach and feta one but anything goes!) with some light sour cream. Add a small splash of balsamic vinegar and mix until combined. Add to the bowl and toss salad until lightly coated in the dressing! This salad is best eaten straight away, or refridgerate immediately for lunch!
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a warmed slice of ciabatta bread.

Pumpkin, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

I have a few recipes for Risotto hidden away in various cookbooks. They all look incredibly delicious but unfortunately I don’t always have that much time to rustle up an evening meal.

This recipe is fairly nutritious and one of those really easy-to-make meals.

Pumpkin, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

  • 4 to 5 cups of quality chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1¼ cups of risotto rice
  • 400 grams of pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
  • ½ cup of fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup of fresh sage leaves
  • 4 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • Shaved parmesan to garnish
Place stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy-based pan, add the onion and garlic, then cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft. Add risotto rice and pumpkin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
Add a cup of hot stock to the pan and stir until the stock is absorbed. Repeat, adding cupfuls of stock until it is all absorbed and the rice is tender to the bite or al dente (this takes 15 to 20 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan, baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fry the sage leaves in a hot pan with a little oil for 30 seconds or until crisp. Serve risotto topped with crisp sage leaves.