February 8, 2017
Posted in View from the table
God, I am so tired of being cold. Is this winter ever going to end? I need some sun on my skin – I can’t actually remember what my skin looks like, I wear so, so many layers of clothing at the moment, it’ll be like greeting a stranger when I see myself next, you know, without half my wardrobe laden onto my frame. Michelin woman.
I need my actual bones warmed. The fire’s good, I’m an expert now at fire craft, I have an axe (!) and my woodshed is full to the coffers, but it doesn’t reach it, right under the skin, if you know what I mean. A bath that makes me wince and draw breath it’s so hot to step into is a temporary fix, but feeling like you may faint and possibly drown (?) is not the most relaxing of ways to warm yourself up.
It’s the sun I need. It’s in my Sicilian DNA. I dream of lying in it, on my back, eyes closed, swallows and swifts swooping and circling on high, not a care in the world. But that’ll have to wait for a while; until our green and pleasant land warms up or it’s time for me to board the plane that’ll take me and my girls to sunnier climes, whichever comes first. Little patches of winter sun have been breaking through of late and I had a moment of bliss the other day in the quiet house, laying on the sofa in the path of the brightest sun I’ve seen for months; curled up like a lazy cat, with nothing better to do than watch dust dance in sun beams. Thinking I should probably get off the sofa and do something like hoover, or more pressingly – dust, perhaps do something other than pretend to be a cat. Nah. The dust will still be there tomorrow. That much I know.
But this is not a winter moan, I really do love the seasonal shift; I like these dark, cosseted days, I like closing the door and making the house ridiculously cosy with a fire and candle light, feeling justified in breaking out the single malt and the bourbon, and I like the food very much too. I just don’t like being cold.
Soup is possibly the best winter food solution. It’s easy to make and it warms you from the inside out, I like that a lot. It’s really high up there on the comfort food list for me. If it has any kind of melted cheese connected to it then I’m a happy woman.
This recipe was adapted from Nigella’s hangover black bean soup which is literally ready in about ten minutes. Mine takes longer as I use butternut squash – she uses chorizo. I’ve cooked mine with smoked paprika for that chorizo taste. It’s so good, dark and smokey, the black beans give it a Mexican air – a Latin antidote to a cold, grey English day. I serve it with little bowls of cheesy tortillas. Cover them in grated cheese and nuke them in the microwave or show them a hot oven so the cheese melts. Layer the nacho chips with grated cheese so you get cheese throughout – and not just a miserable bit on the top. Winter is no the time for being stingy with the cheese.
Imagine having a hangover with Nigella! Oh man, that would be so good. On the sofa with coffee, 40,000 calories worth of food and Sex and the City box set.
I wonder if she’d lend me her black satin dressing gown? I bet she would.
Smokey Butternut and Black Bean Soup
|Prep time||10 minutes|
|Cook time||25 minutes|
|Total time||35 minutes|
What you will need
- 1 small butternut squash (peeled, seeds removed and diced)
- 1 red onion (chopped)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 red, yellow or green pepper (diced)
- 1 tin black beans
- Good glug passatta
- 2 Teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 stock cube, or 2 teaspoons boullion
- Good glug olive oil
- avocado (peeled and chopped)
|Step 1||Warm the oil in a large pan and soften the onion and butternut squash for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add the smoked paprika. Stir well so it coats the veg.|
|Step 2||Add the tomatoes, stock and one empty tomato tin of water. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer. Add the drained tin of black beans and a generous glug of passatta.|
|Step 3||Cook for about 15 minutes or until the squash is soft.|
|Step 4||Serve with diced avocado. Plain yogurt, finely chopped red onions and coriander also work well.|