We’ve become a bit of a laughing stock among our friends for our soup obsession – they’re just so comforting, easy and good for you! They are also one of the most flexible meals out there, they can be light or hearty, winter-y or summer-y and can incorporate nearly any ingredients you have lying around. This one was partly inspired by the flavours in one of our favourite pasta dishes and partly by the fact that we bought 10 sausages when they were on offer and then divided them up and froze them, it’s been a sausage fest here lately *snigger*.
Ingredients for 2 people:
1 tsp olive oil
1 small white onion, finely diced
1-2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
(optional: a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
1 tin of butter beans
1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube made up with about 200ml hot water
Start by taking the skins off the sausages, squidging all of the meat up and then rolling into small balls. Pop them in the fridge for later.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and celery together for about 5 minutes. Add in the fennel seeds (and chilli flakes if you’re using) and cook for a further minute until they smell beautifully aromatic.
Tip in the butter beans, the tomatoes and the beef stock, topping up with a little more water if necessary. Bring to the boil and cook for around 10 minutes, then drop in the sausage meat balls. Don’t stir for the first 5 minutes while the meat cooks or you’ll break them up. Cook for about 15 minutes then season to taste and serve. It’s extra good with some crusty homemade sourdough!
Sticking firmly to our autumnal theme here, we picked up 4 mini squash at the absolutely brilliant farmers market held at St Nick’s on a Wednesday. We’re not 100% that we have the varieties right but we think we have an onion squash (the orange/red one), a harlequin (the green and yellow patterned one), a mini tiger striped pumpkin (the striped pale yellow one) and a gem (the very dark green smooth one). We bought them not having a plan for what to do, we knew we wanted to keep it fairly simple so that the lovely qualities of each squash came through, and we veered away from soup because they’re so small it would have been very fiddly! The stuffing for this is inspired by a Jamie Oliver pasta recipe called “Pregnant Jools’ Pasta” which uses sausages to create a fast ragu to go with spaghetti. We love this dish, especially the combination of sausagemeat with aromatic fennel. This makes far too much stuffing mixture (about double) but it will freeze brilliantly and you can use it to whip up some quick stuffed vegetables another time.
We stuffed the two flat squash and cut the rounder ones into wedges, roasted them and had them along with nutmeg-spiced cabbage as a side. This is an extremely comforting, autumnal dish and because of the size of the squash it could easily be made after work too.
4 mini squash of any variety
50ml chicken stock
A small handful of sultanas
For the stuffing
2 pork sausages (we used Cumberland to remind Fats of home)
About 100g rice, cooked and cooled (we didn’t measure so this might be a bit out!)
1 tsp olive oil
1 stick of celery
1 shallot/small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tomato puree
Pepper to season
Carefully take the lids off the two flatter squash and scoop out the seeds. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a knob of butter inside each of the flat squash, put the lids back on and place in a roasting dish in the oven for 20 minutes to soften. Meanwhile slice the other squash into wedges and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
After the flat squash have had about 15 minutes add the wedges to the roasting dish. Roughly chop the carrot, celery and onion, peel the garlic and
add all of these to a food processor/mini blender and pulse to finely chop. Add the fennel seeds and pulse a couple of times more to combine. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the chopped vegetables. Fry these for about 5 minutes until softened. Squeeze two sausages out of their skins straight into the pan, then use tongs/a wooden spatula to break them up – this will become easier as they cook, you want them to break up so they resemble minced meat. Once all of the meat is browned and mixed with the vegetables add the balsamic vinegar, the tomato puree and a splash of water to create a rough sauce. Mix in the rice and turn off the heat.
By this time the squash should have had 20-30 minutes and be starting to soften. Carefully stuff them with the stuffing (they’re hot!) and turn the wedges of squash so they colour evenly. Return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes. When they’ve got about 5 minutes to go heat 1 tsp of butter in a large pan/wok and grate in about a quarter of a nutmeg with a fine grater. Add 50 ml of chicken stock and allow them to bubble together for a few seconds and then throw in the sliced cabbage. Toss to coat in the butter/stock mixture, add the sultanas and then cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat stirring occasionally.
Dish everything up and tuck in, snuggled up in a cosy jumper!
On a completely unrelated note, as we’re writing this we heard about the sad passing away of Lou Reed. He was one of our absolute favourite musicians, singing and dancing along to Transformer is one of Bird’s earliest memories. He had a pretty good innings and produced some incredible music both with The Velvet Underground and solo for decades and BBC 6 Music’s thoughtful honouring of him could not be more inspiring to write to.