Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the days get shorter and colder there’s nothing better than hot soup and home made bread. Soup is a student’s best friend, myself and my flatmates have soup for at least one meal a week. Making your own soup is often cheaper than buying supermarket alternatives, and gives you the freedom to experiment. It’s pretty fool-proof, get some vegetables, add stock et voila…soup. Roasted pepper soup is one of my staples, roasting your vegetables gives the flavour extra depth and the addition of sweet potato makes for a thicker texture.
Roasted Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup
5 red, orange or yellow peppers, deseeded and cut into rough, thick, slices.
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp chilli powder
150g dried red lentils
2tbsp olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed.
1 litre vegetable stock.
salt and pepper to taste
1) Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6, place the peppers, red onion and garlic into a large roasting tin, pour over the olive oil and stir to ensure it covers all the vegetables. Sprinkle over the dried oregano and season well. Roast in the oven for 25-20 minutes.
2) Once roasted place in a large saucepan with the cubed sweet potato, lentils and vegetable stock, bring to a fast boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes until the sweet potato has cooked.
3) Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly (if you blitz it straight away you run the risk of scalding hot soup being flung into your face, not fun) Once cooled slightly, blitz with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Stir in the chilli powder and season to taste. Return to the heat and heat but do not boil. Serve hot.
Red Onion and Cheddar Soda Bread
Soda bread is extremely versatile not to mention quick and simple to make. It’s stodgy, moist and, unlike most breads, contains no yeast (hence why it is so quick to make). An Irish favourite that relies on the reaction between baking powder and buttermilk to form bubbles of carbon dioxide to give it its rise. I used one of Paul Hollywood’s recipes for a twist on the original plain recipe, although I have to admit I added more cheddar than he recommends as I am a dairy fiend. I’m not going to do his recipe the injustice of rewriting, so here’s it word for word.
(makes two loaves)
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, and extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
300ml/ 1/2 pint of buttermilk (I just used natural yoghurt and 2 tbsp of lemon juice)
30g/1 oz caster sugar
25g/3 oz butter, softened
20g/1/4oz baking powder
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
75g/3oz strong cheddar cheese, grated
1)Preheat the oven to 220c/gas mark 7. Place a baking tray in the oven.
2)Put all the ingredients except the onion and cheese in a food mixer and, using a paddle blade and medium speed, blend together for two minutes. Alternatively, put into a bowl and mix well by hand for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cheese and incorporate, either by hand or in the mixer (don’t overmix), into the dough.
3) Divide the dough into two pieces and tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a ball, then flatten each with your hand so they are approximately 5cm/2cm inches thick. Cut a deep cross into each, dust with a little flour and put on to the hot baking tray.
4) Bake for 30 minutes, then serve warm.
This track has nothing to do with anything mentioned in this recipe, surprisingly there are very few songs about soup or sweet potatoes, but its a great song none-the-less, so enjoy..