Jan 2016




When creating food plans for my clients I find myself repeating : Batch cook soups, add beans and lentils for protein, freeze them, take to work for lunch. It has become a mantra.
I think that soups should be the first thing a person learns to cook. They are incredibly easy, versatile and practical, especially since they keep, freeze and reheat very well. They are an easy way to get a variety of vegetables into those who don’t like eating many (pesky children…).

The most difficult process about this soups is cutting up the pumpkin, I don’t particularly enjoy cutting through the hard skin of the squash. Even my large chef’s knife seems to get stuck inside the cut. Sometimes I feel that hammer and chisel would be a much better tool than a knife. However after struggling through the first cut things get easier. Of course you can make your job even easier and use a butter nut squash. (Or as I often do enlist the help of another person, usually my husband)

Finding a good curry powder is essential for this soups flavour. I tend to get mine from an Indian supermarket or use Steenbergs organic blends. Spice blends sold in supermarkets tend to have rather strange things added - milk powder???!!! Noooo! Yes, if you don’t want any dairy in your diet you have to check curry powders too. Madness! Some of the commercial curry blends tend to have funny aftertaste that just spoils the taste of the finished dish.

You can blend to soup but I do like a bit of a texture - I do get bored with the sameness of a large bowl of blended soup at times. This soup lends itself for a variety of toppings, coriander leaves, lime wedges, sliced chillies, sourdough croutons, coriander and mint chutney… I like to eat mine with fresh chopped coriander and a big squeeze of lime. And of course this soups is ideal for freezing!


Serves 4-6

1 kaboocha or sweet mamma squash
2 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped (or grated with microplane grater)
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 tbs madras spice mix (I used Steenbergs organic madras blend)
1/2 cup red lentils
6 cups vegetables stock
1 tin of coconut milk
fresh coriander


  • Using a heavy chef’s knife cut the pumpkin into wedges, remove the stringy inside with seeds.
  • Place onto a baking tray and bake at 200C for 30-40min till pumpkin flesh is soft and caramelised. Set aside and let cool.
  • When cool enough to handle remove the flesh from the skin (by the way the skin is edible too, use if you are planning to blend the soup smooth).
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large stock pot (this makes a big batch of soup) and add the onion. Saute till softened before adding the ginger and garlic and cook for another minutes stirring constantly taking care not to burn the ginger and garlic.
  • Add your curry spice and cook briefly for about 30 seconds.
  • Next add the pumpkin flesh, red lentils, 6 cups of vegetable stock and 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30minuted until the soup is thick and lentils are cooked tender (falling apart into the soup).
  • I like to take a potato masher and mash any large pieces of pumpkin into the soup.
  • Add lime juice to taste and garnish with coriander leaves or any other toppings as suggested above.



If you have never cooked your own chickpeas you simply have to. Yes, you need to plan and yes, they can take 60-90 min to cook but it is so worth it. My reasons for doing this:
  • The taste is far superior. Hummus from home cooked chickpeas is so much tastier than one made from tinned ones.
  • They are more digestible (tinned ones are not soaked properly and are more likely to cause digestive issues - i.e. excessive flatulence and bloating)
  • The cost! You will end up with about 4-5 tins worth of chickpeas from dry

How I do it:
  • Soak your chickpeas for 12-24hrs, the soaking not only reduces the cooking time but it reduces they phytic acid in chickpeas. This has a knock on effect in increasing the mineral absorption from your chickpeas. (this applies for all legumes )
  • Drain the water, put the chickpeas into a large stock pot with large amount of water, about 4x the volume.
  • Add couple inches of kombu seaweed, this is meant to further reduce the gas-producing properties of the legumes. Kombu is used in stock making in Japan and will add to the flavour of the cooking liqour and the chickpeas. I also add an onion (left whole as it is easier to remove) and couple of bay leaves. You can also add other herbs and vegetables like carrots and celery.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 60min, check and cook longer if the chickpeas are not tender. Generally anywhere from 60-90min should do, the cooking time does depend on the age of the chickpeas.
  • Helpful tip: If you want to freeze the chickpeas freeze them in the liquor.

I always cook 500g pack of chickpeas all at one. I generally use a portion for soup or curry, and make hummus with the rest. You can easily make 3 dishes with this amount of chickpeas. This is one of my favourites; chickpea and coconut curry. I love it as a part of a larger Indian meal, next to a saucy creamy curry. It is also great for a midweek meal with an indian flat bread topped with soya or coconut yoghurt and mango chutney and Kuchumbar on the side for freshness.



Serves 4

2 tsp coconut oil
15 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups of cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup (or more if needed) water
salt and pepper to taste
200g (half pound) of spinach
3 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut


  • In a large lidded sauté pan heat the olive oil and add the curry leaves and spices, let cook for about 1 minute or until the spices begin to pop. Take care not to burn the spices.
  • Next add the onion and cook till softened and golden brown.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (when ginger is not cooked enough the whole curry can have a bitter undertone). Add the turmeric and cook further 30seconds.
  • Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or till they soften.
  • Add the chickpeas, coat well in the spices and flavours.
  • Pour in the water, add salt and pepper, put the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook till most of the sauce has evaporated.
  • Next add in the spinach and let it wilt into the chickpeas.
  • Sprinkle in the coconut, stir it through and serve garnished with some fresh coriander.





This recipe was meant to be up before Christmas but I got busy with Christmas preparations, cooking, spending time with family, socialising, reading my new books and simply lazying about…and yes eating far too many chocolate cherry liqueurs… my Christmas weakness.

In my defence, a jar of chutney is not just for Christmas. I like to have it with just all sort of foods. My favourite would be on top of veggie burgers, as a dip for potato (or sweet potato) wedges, with samosas or sweet corn fritters…My dad told me he recently used caramelised onion chutney as a base for a sauce. Not a bad idea at all.

I was scouring Christmas markets, tasting different chutneys but as impressed as I can be by the flavours I find it difficult to spend money on something I can make myself for a fraction of the price.

My chutney is the result of having too many red onions and some tomatoes that were about to turn and a secret stash of dates, these I used in place of sugar to add sweetness. Add as much or as little chilli as you want, I used two very spicy red chillies, they were hot enough to give the chutney a kick without being hard to handle.

This recipe made enough to fill a 1 litre jar. It will last in the fridge for couple of weeks after opening ( I am a daredevil and keep eating it even after the two weeks). With this amount be prepared to eat quite a bit of chutney or decant into smaller jars and share with friends.


Makes 1 litre (4 cups)

6 cups red onions, sliced (about 7 medium onions)
2tsp oil (rapeseed, rice bran or coconut)
2-4 red chillies (depends on your heat tolerance and strength of chillies), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs tomato puree
5 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
10 regular dates, stones removed and chopped.
1/2 cup fruity vinegar (I used ikea’s lingonberry vinegar)
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a medium large onion heat the oil and gently sauté the onions till very soft, this will take about 20minutes or longer, be patient with this step. Stir occasionally and taking care not to let them crisp up.
  • When the onions are soft add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil than reduce to simmer and cook slowly for about 30-40 minutes until the chutney is thick and jammy.
  • Put the hot chutney into a sterilised jar, let cool in the jar and store in the fridge afterwards.
  • I love it on top of veggie burgers or with potato (or sweet potato) wedges.

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