And to honour the title of this blog, some bread.
In our house homemade bread is usually an accompaniment to soup (because that's the only way to convince Tom that a bowl of liquidised vegetables is in fact a meal...).
This is definitely my 'soup of the season'. I discovered it while flicking through magazines, waiting for a haircut (I think it was in Good Housekeeping). It's a perfect Autumn soup. Mildly spicy, velvety smooth, and downright delicious!
The bread was made roughly to Nigella's basic white loaf recipe from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess'. I went through a phase of saving and freezing potato water (water that potatoes have been boiled in, -apparently it keeps the bread fresher for longer). However, I realised that this was an unnecessary eccentricity, given that loaves rarely make it through to the following day.
The recipe goes something like this: 500g strong white flour, 1 sachet fast action yeast, 1/2 tbsp salt, 1tbsp sunflower oil (Nigella says butter, but I need it to be dairy-free), and about 300ml warm water. I dissolve the salt in the water and mix the oil in too. Stir the yeast and flour, then add as much of the liquid as is needed to just form a dough. Knead in a mixer for 4 minutes (or about 15 mins by hand). Cover with oiled cling film and allow to rise for an hour, until doubled in size. Knock the dough back, form it into a ball, and place on a floured baking sheet or in a loaf tin. Cover this with the cling film and prove for half an hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220C. Remove the cling film, slash the top of the loaf, and bake for 25-35 minutes, until there's a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of the loaf.
For the soup: roast a butternut squash with a little oil until soft (this can be done as unpeeled slices, or peeled and diced). I usually do this in with the baking bread, but it doesn't take quite as long to cook, so make sure it doesn't burn. Heat a little oil in a large pan, and add (chopped) a large onion, small red chilli, garlic clove, large potato, carrot, 1tsp ground coriander, and a bay leaf. Cook gently for about 20 minutes until soft. Stir it occasionally. Add the roasted squash flesh, along with a 400ml tin of coconut milk, 1 litre vegetable stock, and plenty of seasoning. Leave to bubble for a few minutes, then discard the bay leaf (remember to do this, unlike me! I had to do some emergency sieving to remove the flecks of green from the soup). Give the soup a quick whiz with a stick blender. I overdid the chilli the first time, and it was fairly fiery despite having fished out as much as I could see. This time, I overcompensated, and would've liked a little more spice.
I kept some of the roasted butternut squash aside for Westbaby, and both boys devoured the bread.