Courgette and Carrot Soup

A bit late but this is what we ate a LOT of when my vegetable garden was going crazy.  Got a little sick of it, to be honest, but now that I no longer have an abundance of courgettes just outside my front door, I’m missing its fresh, light flavour.  Can see some courgettes being bought this weekend…

Courgette and Carrot Soup

(serves 4)

1 tblspn olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, diced

3 medium courgettes, diced

1 tblspn tomato puree

Vegetable or chicken stock

Handful of fresh dill, chopped finely


  • Saute the onion in the olive oil for a couple of minutes.  Add the carrot and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the courgette.  Cook until vegetables are almost softened.
  • Add enough stock to the pan to cover the veg by 2 cm.  Stir in the tomato puree and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Once veg is completely softened, partially blend the soup being sure to leave some chunks for texture.
  • Season and stir in the dill.

Carrot, Cumin and Chickpea Burgers

It’s barely the end of August but already there is a distinctly autumnal nip in the morning air.  Having only sowed for the summer season, my vegetable garden is looking a little sorry for itself.  Gone are the peas, beans, berries and courgettes.  All that is left is a few hardy head of lettuce, the new potatoes and some gorgeously dumpy dwarf carrots.

Aren’t they adorable?  Wish I’d grown more of them as they are wonderfully sweet.  Precious as they are, I’ve been keeping it simple and eating these carrots raw dipped in humous or steaming whole and serving with fish.  Perhaps next year I’ll grow rows and rows of this root vegetable and be able to use my own carrots in the soups and stews I often make. 

A bunch would undoubtably end up in the following burgers too.  Adapted from a recipe from Good Food’s Vegetarian Summer, we’ve been enjoying these in big seeded buns with lots of tomato relish all summer.  Messy eating but absolutely delicious. 

Carrot, Cumin and Chickpea Burgers

(makes 4 large patties)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tblspn olive oil

425g tin of chickpeas

500g carrots, peeled, finely grated and squeezed a little to dry out slightly

2 tblspn tahini

2 tspn cumin

1 egg

100g  breadcrumbs (2 slices whizzed in a blender)

Zest of 1 lemon


Sesame seeds

  • Fry the onion in a little olive oil until softened.  Add 1/3 of the carrot to the pan and fry for another few minutes until softened. 
  • Whizz together chickpeas, the remaining carrots, tahini, cumin and egg in a blender until a thick paste is formed.
  • Add the onions and cooked carrot to the paste along with the breadcrumbs and lemon zest.  Use your hands to combine the mixture well.  Season carefully.
  • Shape the mixture into four equal patties, approx. 2cm thick.  Coat in sesame seeds and chill for at least an hour.
  • Fry in olive oil or brush with oil and place under the grill until golden and cooked through (10-12 minutes).

Serve in big buns with relish and lots of salad.

Tofu Dumplings

This term is shaping up to be one of my busiest yet.  In addition to all the normal prep and marking for classes, I’ve taken on some extra projects (including starting a part-time university course) which will take up a large amount of time.  Everything is worthwhile but I can see some fraught moments in the months to come. 

In preparation for the busy evenings ahead, I’ve been stocking up my freezer with some standby meals: tomato sauce for pasta, chicken stock for risotto, bean chilli, beef stew and about a hundred or so tofu chinese dumplings.

I just adore these wee things.  They are so tasty and so much fun to make and they can very quickly be cooked in a variety of ways straight from the freezer.  What’s not to love? 

Chinese Tofu Dumplings  (or find a meaty version here)

(makes 100)

2 heads of pak choi, finely chopped

225g firm tofu, crumbled

6 spring onions, finely chopped

15g ginger, finely chopped

150 ml ground nut oil

2 large eggs

2 tbs rich soy sauce

1 tbs rice wine

¾ tbs salt

1 tbs sesame oil

Wonton or dumpling wrappers

  • Salt the pak choi and leave for 30 mins then squeeze dry.
  • Beat the eggs lightly then using 30 ml oil stir fry the eggs over a high heat until they are golden and crispy.
  • Combine all the filling ingredients using your hands.  Taste and adjust if needed.
  • Put one teaspoon of filling in the centre of each wonton wrapper. Wet the edge of the wrapper and fold over, pinching to seal.
  • To freeze (without them all sticking together) – Line up dumplings on a baking tray making sure they aren’t touching.  Put in freezer. Once frozen remover dumplings from baking tray and seal in plastic bags. 

Cooking options:

  • Steam for 6-7 minutes.  Serve with dipping sauce made from a  mixture of soy sauce, crushed garlic and sesame oil.
  • Simmer gently for 4-5 minutes.  Serve with dipping sauce.
  • Turn in to Japanese gyoza (see below) by frying gently on one side until golden.  Add 1cm of water to frying pan, cover and let gyoza steam for 3 minutes.  Remove lid and evaporate water.  Serve with dipping sauce.
  • Simmer gently with a green vegetable (broccoli, beans etc) in either miso soup or beef and ginger stock.


Glen Torridan Bothy

We did another Munro earlier in the week: Maol Chean Dearg.  It was a stunning walk in but unluckily the summit was engulfed in clouds minutes after we reached it.  Should have snapped a few photos immediately but the need for a cheese sandwich after a 3061 ft climb was ferocious.

To reach the hill we walked though the beautiful Glen Torridan and it was here that we passed by this bothy.  At the risk of being scoffed at by serious hillwalkers, I think there’s something terribly romantic about it.  Don’t you?

Prize Winning Veg!

On Saturday our village held its annual flower and vegetable show. 

I entered a few things just for fun.  Can’t tell you how ridiculously thrilled I was when my peas won third prize and my monster courgettes won second!

Roll on next year, I say.  🙂

Soda Bread

The breakfasts in my Dublin hotel were good but fairly generic.  Cereals, preserves, grapefruit, eggs, sausages etc made for a very satisfying but pretty unexciting start to the day.  The one shining light in the morning spread, however, was the soda bread.  Spread thickly with sweet Irish butter, I ate mountains of it each morning vowing all the while to learn how to bake the loaf as soon as I returned home.

Joy!  Turns out soda bread is the easiest loaf to make in the world!  Just as well, I haven’t had much luck on the bread front this summer and was in dire need of some baking success to restore my confidence.  That this loaf turned out perfectly first time and was greedily devoured by David and his friends within a couple of hours of it coming out the oven soothed by bruised baking soul.  Shall be tackling sourdough again before too soon.  🙂

Soda Bread (adapted from Stephanie Alexander)

(makes 1 loaf)

450g strong white flour

1 tspn bicarbonate of soda

1 tspn fine salt

250 ml buttermilk

100 ml milk

  • Sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre.
  • Stir together the milk and buttermilk.  Pour into the well then use one hand to stir the wet and dry ingredients together until a rough dough is formed.
  • Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead quickly into a round loaf.  Place on a non-stick baking tray and cut a deep cross across the top of the dough.  Brush with extra buttermilk and dust with flour.
  • Cook in a 230 oC pre-heated oven for 15 minutes then turn the heat down to 200 oC and bake for a further 15 mins.
  • Cool on a wire tray.