Category Archives: Soups

* Beetroot and Pumpkin Dahl with Smashed Avocado and Coriander *


We’ve just returned home to Dunedin from an incredibly inspiring three month adventure in Europe, gratefully avoiding the bitter winter in New Zealand.  Apart from a few blustery days in Norway and England, we were basking in the warm European summer the entire time. Now that we’re home I’m acclimatising, as even though it’s officially spring, the warm weather doesn’t usually kick in until later in the summer – occasionally not until autumn. What I’ve been craving upon returning is a warming dahl to heat me from the inside out and provide a rejuvenating boost of nutrients which my body demands after living the good life in Europe.

I’m a big fan of beetroot and its incredible health benefits and antioxidant properties, which you can read about in my recipe for Beetroot, Feta and Mint Salad with Orange and Tahini Dressing. Another super food wunderkind is pumpkin, a highly nutritious vegetable that lends itself perfectly to a hearty dahl. Pumpkin is a low-calorie staple which is both filling and high in dietary fibre, which assists in lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels. Pumpkin’s bright orange colour is from its high concentration of carotenoids, which repel free radicals in the body and help prevent cardiovascular disease and other infections. Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, both of which boost the immune system, perfect for the inconsistent weather. It’s also a natural diuretic, which flushes out toxins and waste material from the body, leaving you spring-cleaned and detoxified.

This recipe was created completely by chance as I had to use up some of the tired looking veggies I’d all but abandoned at the bottom of the fridge. The beetroot gives the traditional pumpkin dahl recipe a beautiful depth of flavour and the ruby red colour is pure delight. The avocado also adds a rich creaminess which satisfies on a cosy night in. Thankfully beetroot and pumpkin are still in season, so make the most of it while it lasts. Serve the dahl with brown rice, quinoa or with soldiers (fingers of toast) drizzled with olive oil.

Beetroot and Pumpkin Dahl with Smashed Avocado and Coriander

1 1/2 cups of brown lentils, rinsed well

A large onion

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Olive oil, plus extra for the smashed avocado

A large knob of ginger (3 cm), finely grated

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

2 teaspoons of coriander seeds

2 teaspoons of mustard seeds

A teaspoon of tumeric, ground

A teaspoon of cinnamon

700 grams of pumpkin, chopped into small pieces

3 large beetroot, thoroughly washed and chopped into small pieces

6 cups of water (1.5 litres)

2 organic vegetarian bouillon cubes

Himalayan rock salt and ground white pepper to taste

A large avocado

A bunch of coriander (cilantro), rustically chopped

In a saucepan, cook the lentils in water until tender. In another large saucepan, heat the olive oil to a medium temperature. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute. Lightly ground the spices in a mortar and pestle and add to the saucepan and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pumpkin and beetroot and sauté for a minute or so. Add the water, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper and stir well. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 40-50 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and the flavors have developed. Puree with a stick blender, then add the lentils and cook for a further 5 minutes.

In a mortar and pestle or bowl, smash the avocado flesh, olive oil and coriander until a smooth consistency is reached. Arrange a good portion of dahl in a bowl with the chosen accompaniment. Place a spoonful of the smashed avocado with coriander on top of the dahl and garnish with more chopped coriander. Enjoy the warmth whilst dreaming of the forthcoming summer sun.

Serves a hungry crowd

* Tomato, Bacon and Sage Soup *


Oh my gilly gosh, you have never tasted soup this good.  This recipe was created by my Beau, who felt we needed something seriously nutritious on a Sunday afternoon following a rather social weekend – and the result was delicious.  The combination of flavours is perfect and the bacon gives the soup substance and heartiness.  In our home we tend to roast a free-range chicken once a week and create a stock from the leftover bits and bobs, which is used as the base for this soup.  I’ll also warn you now – this soup is seriously moreish so there is a high chance of a few spats over the last spoonful – and watch out for the cunning tactics of your fellow clan attempting to distract you from the pot’s contents for an extra morsel.  On the rare occasion that there are any leftovers,  a cannellini bean or lentil stew may be created, which I’ll write the recipe for another day.  Don’t be put off by the complexity of this recipe, the finished product will be truly be worth it’s weight in tomatoey gold.

Did you know that cooked tomatoes are better for you than raw ones?  Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, the phytochemical that makes them red and which also has significant antioxidant properties.   Research has shown that through the cooking process, tomatoes boost their antioxidant properties even more as the level of phytochemicals increases  The higher level of lycopene is good news as it devours at least 10 times more oxygenated free radicals than vitamin E.  And as the weather in Dunedin turns from balmy Indian summer to freezing overnight, we need all the warming goodness we can get.

2 cans of whole-peeled tomatoes

A can of tomato paste

6 bay leaves

8 fresh sage leaves

2 finely diced onions

2 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cups of chicken stock

3 – 4 rashers of free-range shoulder bacon, fat trimmed off and cut into strips

2 teaspoons of Worcester sauce

7 cloves of garlic, diced

2 -3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 a cup of white wine

A  teaspoon of white pepper to taste

A tablespoon of honey

Parsley for garnishing

In a saucepan, heat two cans of whole-peeled tomatoes and a can of tomato paste on a low simmer and add 6 bay leaves to the pot.  In a frying pan, saute onions at a high temperature until they start to sweat and add finely chopped sage leaves.  Add two cups of stock gradually and simmer until the onions are translucent.  Add the onions to the pot tomatoes.  Place frying pan back on the heat and add the other tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the bacon and two teaspoons of Worcester sauce and saute. When the bacon is getting nicely browned, add the garlic and fry for a minute.  Add half a cup of white wine to deglaze the pan.  Once the wine has been absorbed, add the last 2 cups of stock and simmer for a couple of minutes, then mix into the pot of tomatoes and simmer gently.  Add the Parmesan cheese, white pepper and honey, then, after a couple of minutes on the stove, give it a mash and allow to simmer for 5 to 10mins.  Garnish with parsley and serve.