The Greenest Pea & Ham Soup You’ve Ever Seen

We’re nineteen days into this dieting malarkey and the pounds we gained over Christmas are slowly making a retreat. I’ve been running every week and even invested in some proper running trainers – they are bright raspberry and pink so that helps!

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As you know each week I’ve been making soup to take in to work for lunches and it’s been so good – I’ve spent so much less on food and I’m not snacking anywhere near as much. This week, it is the turn of pea and ham soup. This is one of my favourite soups but quite often, especially if you buy the tinned kind, it’s a weak, grey-green colour and the flavour doesn’t hit you the way a good pea and ham soup should. Peas have such a sweet fresh flavour, when this comes through in a soup, along with the saltiness of the ham, it’s wonderful.

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This recipe is from Good Food and can be found here. I’ve found lots of good, low-cal recipes on the Good Food site, I’d definitely recommend having a search on there next time you’re looking for a new recipe. The recipes are often rated and commented on too so you know they’re tried and tested!

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I checked the packaging for the split peas and it said to soak overnight, as did the recipe but having not realised this and needing to make the soup today I checked it out online. There seem to be differing opinions on this but as long as you rinse the split peas first, it only really affects the cooking time. If you soak them overnight the peas will cook quicker. I soaked mine for a couple of hours and didn’t have any issues with the cooking time.

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I love the contrast of the pink ham and the bright vibrant green of the thick smooth soup, it just looks so good! I’m really looking forward to this week’s lunches!

The comfort of chicken soup

There is something so calming about making a delicious batch of soup. As well as the fact that it’s super easy to whip up, you know it’s going to be good for you and taste delicious. It’s a comforting, homely sort of process too. And chicken soup, well, a properly thick, creamy, flavoursome chicken soup is right up there with the best of recipes. You just know it’s going to warm you right through and give you a pep, especially if you’re feeling under the weather, so it’s perfect for this time of year.

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Last week I had root vegetable soup for lunch at work and this week I’m making chicken soup. When I’m sitting at my desk looking at the winter weather outside, it’s going to feel so nice at lunchtime knowing that I already have my tasty soup, and don’t need to brave the wind and the rain to fetch it!

I sweated down potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and smoked garlic with some thyme and chicken stock until it was soft enough to blend. I thought I would bulk it out with some more potatoes but turns out, that can make your soup quite starchy and gelatinous! I thinned mine out with more water and it tastes ok – something to remember for next time!

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While the veg was cooking, I poached four chicken thighs in some water. I find that you get more flavour from thighs and wings and they’re a lot cheaper than chicken breast. When the chicken was cooked through, I shredded it ready to be added to the soup.

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When you’ve blended the veg, stir in your shredded chicken and add some creme fraiche or single cream, depending on how healthy you’re feeling! Season with salt and pepper and you’re good to go!
Approx. 292 calories per serving

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Winter Warmer: Pumpkin & Red Pepper Soup

The St Jude Storm is on its way, and while it hasn’t really hit home too badly yet, it’s still windy and wet enough to warrant a lovely bowl of autumny soup. Halloween is coming up so naturally there’s an abundance of pumpkin and squash in the shops and markets, so today I decided to make my favourite soup: roasted pumpkin & red pepper.

20131027-222348.jpgMy friend Carolyn took a great photo of a ridiculous number of pumpkins today, and it really got me in the bonfire night/Halloween/leaf-crunching-under-foot kind of a mood – and pumpkin soup seemed like the perfect Sunday food for that kind of a day.

I roasted the pumpkin with olive oil, salt and pepper and then added to a pot of sweated down shallots and red peppers. I added stock and seasoning and a pinch of chili and simmered until soft. When everything had softened, I blended the veggies and stock until smooth and then stirred in some creme fraiche. This is my favourite soup and it’s so easy to whip up – looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow!

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A Delightful Dinner Party

Firstly, let me apologise for my long absence from WordPress – it has been one of those times when there just seems so much to do that baking, and consequently blogging, have taken a back seat. It has been a time of both good things and sad things but I am back now and ready to bake! As I write this there are earl grey cupcakes baking in the oven (see my next post for photos!) and I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things.

This long-awaited post is about the dinner party I had quite a while ago now but I have the photos and the time now to do the post justice.

I posted a while back about the menu I was going to cook for a dinner party for the lovely girls I work with – and I have to say it was the smoothest, tastiest bit of cooking I have ever done…not to blow my own trumpet but I was pretty pleased with myself!

I altered the menu slightly, changing the soup from spiced carrot & lentil to a creamy, roasted butternut squash and sweet red pepper soup, but the rest of the menu remained the same: roast chicken breast stuffed with marscapone and home-made pesto, rolled in breadcrumbs, served with roast potatoes and vine tomatoes, followed by white chocolate and cranberry cheesecake and strawberry daiquiri cupcakes.

I prepped the soup the night before, giving myself more time the next day to have a bit of a lie in before making the rest of the dinner!

Our flat is quite small for dinner for 6 people so it was a cosy evening, but the food was tasty and the conversation hilarious so it was an all round success!

Pink lemonade cocktail

Home-made bread rolls

Butternut squash soup, with pumpkin seeds, crispy bacon and creme fraiche

Crispy breadcrumb coated chicken stuffed with pesto and marscapone, roast potatoes and roast tomatoes

White chocolate and cranberry cheesecake 

Strawberry daiquiri cupcakes