The darker evenings are starting to creep in a bringing a deathly chill along with it but look on the bright side - you get to break out the winter wardrobe AND it’s a great excuse to put the diet on hiatus, you can’t be expected to brace this weather with a skimpy salad now can you?!

Autumn has always been about homely, healthy hearty meals, food that you’d be excited to get home for, so here are a few of my autumn favourites:

Curried carrot soup

Ingredients:

150g butter

150g onions (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

500g carrots (peeled and chopped)

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp Madras curry powder

300ml chicken stock

1 bouquet garni

1 tbsp fresh coriander (chopped to garnish)

Preparation:

1.            Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the onion, garlic and carrots, with a pinch of salt, for 5-6 minutes, or until softened.

2.            Meanwhile toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant (not burnt). Add the toasted cumin seeds and Madras curry powder to the vegetables and cook a further 2-3 minutes.

3.            Add the stock, bouquet garni and 500ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

4.            Remove the bouquet garni, then blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Pass through a sieve into a clean saucepan and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5.            To serve, ladle the soup and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.

Simples!

Soulful Soups

Soup for the soul and the serious weather change that were having, cold and flu season is just around the corner so it’s not a bad time to start preparing for the worst! This recipe also freezes really well, so you can make a big batch and portion it out into sandwich bags for freezing. Think of it like stocking up on lemsips only way tastier.

Chicken Soup:

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil

3 carrots (diced)

3 sticks celery (diced)

1 medium onion (diced)

115g mushrooms (sliced)

4 cloves garlic (chopped finely)

750ml chicken stock

3 bay leaves

3 thyme sprigs

450g cooked chicken (shredded) I cook off a whole chicken and keep whatever I don’t use for sandwiches

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

1.            Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Dice carrots, celery and onion in that order and add to the pot as you go. Sauté 5 minutes. Slice mushrooms and add to the pot, then mince garlic and add.

2.            Add chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme. Season to taste. Bring to a simmer while shredding chicken. Add chicken meat, tarragon, parsley and cook a few minutes more until chicken is warmed through. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems. Season again and serve.

3.            If you like to add noodles or dumplings do so once the stock starts boiling. Add the chicken and herbs in the last few minutes of cooking.

Mushroom and Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

500g butternut squash (cut into cubes roughly the same size)

50g dried porcini mushrooms

1 vegetable stock cube

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

250g chestnut mushrooms (sliced)

300g risotto rice

1 x 175ml glass white wine

25g butter

50g parmesan (grated)

1.            Preheat the oven to 180◦C

2.            Mix diced squash with 1 tsp olive oil, season, and spread on a cookie sheet. Roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through.

3.            Put the dried mushrooms into a large bowl and pour over 1 litre boiling water. Soak for 20 mins, then drain into a bowl, discarding the last few tbsp of liquid left in the bowl. Crumble the stock cube into the mushroom liquid, then squeeze the mushrooms gently to remove any liquid. Chop the mushrooms.

4.            Heat the oil in a shallow saucepan or deep frying pan over a medium flame. Add the onions and garlic, then fry for about 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the fresh and dried mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 8 mins until the fresh mushrooms have softened.

5.            Tip the rice into the pan and cook for 1 min. Pour over the wine and let it bubble to nothing so the alcohol evaporates. Keep the pan over a medium heat and pour in a quarter of the mushroom stock and the butternut squash. Simmer the rice, stirring often, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Add about the same amount of stock again and continue to simmer and stir - it should start to become creamy, plump and tender. By the time the final quarter of stock is added, the rice should be almost cooked.

6.            Continue stirring until the rice is cooked. If the rice is still undercooked, add a splash of water. Take the pan off the heat, add the butter and scatter over half the cheese and the parsley. Cover and leave for a few mins so that the rice can take up any excess liquid as it cools a bit. Give the risotto a final stir, spoon into bowls and scatter with the remaining cheese.

I think it’s fair to say that nearly everyone as a child in Ireland enjoyed a good old fashioned apple crumble (with some HB ice cream) in their day, so here’s a little revamp of the classic – simple and delicious!

Apple & blackberry crumble

For the crumble topping

120g plain flour

60g caster sugar

60g butter (cut into squares at room temp)

For the fruit compote

300g Granny smith apples

30g Butter

30g Demerara sugar

115g Blackberries

¼ tsp Ground cinnamon

Vanilla ice cream (to serve)

Method

1.            Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter, then rub into the flour using your fingertips to make a light breadcrumb texture. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 15 mins or until it becomes a light golden colour.

2.            Meanwhile, for the compote, peel, core and cut the apples into 2cm dice. Put the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for 3 mins until the mixture turns to a light caramel. Stir in the apples and cook for 3 mins. Add the blackberries and cinnamon, and cook for 3 mins more. Cover, remove from the heat, then leave for 2-3 mins to continue cooking in the warmth of the pan.

3.            To serve, spoon the warm fruit into an ovenproof gratin dish, top with the crumble mix, then reheat in the oven for 5-10 mins. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Pecan pie

Ingredients

110g unsalted butter

110g golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

225g brown sugar

3 whole eggs (beaten)

1 x 245g shop-bought shortcrust pastry case (because it’s ok to cheat sometimes!)

285g pecan nuts, halved

1.            Preheat the oven to 180C

2.            Place the butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract and sugar into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.

3.            When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.

4.            Add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir well.

5.            Set aside a small handful of the pecan nuts. Arrange the remaining pecan halves evenly in the pastry case and carefully pour over the syrup mixture.

6.            Place into the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes - the pie will be golden-brown, but the filling should still be slightly soft.

7.            Leave the pie to cool on a wire tray. As the pie begins to set, decorate the top with the reserved pecan halves. Serve in slices.

An Autumn Palette with Edel Clarke

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