13 superb soup recipes

Hand ladling out soup from a pot into a bowl

Try out these delicious plot-to-bowl recipes
Image: Chainupong Hiporn

Homemade soup isn’t just good for the soul – it’s a healthy, wholesome and cost-effective meal that makes excellent use of homegrown veg. 

If you’re taking part in this week’s Big Soup Share, or you’re looking for new ideas to fill your family’s soup bowls and lunch flasks, check out some of our favourite bloggers’ recipes for inspiration…

 

Beetroot Soup

Kev at An English Homestead grows such beautiful chioggia beetroot that it’s almost a shame to blend them. His velvety red soup is a feast for the eyes as well as a vitamin-packed winner on a cold winter’s day.

Borage Leaf, Pea and Garden Mint Soup

At The Seasonal Table, Kathy & Tom use borage as a companion plant alongside tomatoes. The fact that the cucumber-flavoured leaves make a beautifully light and delicious soup is an added bonus. Top with a fresh hen’s egg and serve with crusty bread – sensational.

Carrot and Saffron Soup

Come November, Milli at the Crofters Cottage is looking forward to harvesting ‘Jaune d’Obtuse’ carrots that range in colour from almost white to a vibrant yellow. Her beautifully delicate-flavoured soup is simply divine.

Nettle Soup

Nettle soup isn’t rocket science,” says Janie, dismissing a disappointing celebrity chef’s version to come up with her own. Want a good excuse to let weeds run riot in your garden? This iron-rich bowl of green goodness is it! See Hedgecombers for the recipe.

Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup

Celeriac can be expensive to buy but it’s easy to grow. Blitzing to a silky consistency, this ugly root veg is perfect for winter soups. Over at The Veg Space, Kate’s festive flavour combination would make the ideal starter for Christmas dinner…

Image: chomplearn

Creamy Avocado Soup

Served warm rather than hot, Shaheen’s “delicious blanket of green velvet lushness” combines the flavours of Mexican guacamole in an exciting new way. Homegrown onions, tomatoes and chives raise it to a new level. See Allotment 2 Kitchen for the recipe.

Wild Garlic and Farro Soup 

Over at Recipes from a Pantry, Bintu loves foraging for wild garlic. Her soup is the ideal way to warm up after a brisk winter walk in the woods – just think nutty farro, garlicky greens, lemony tahini and sweetness from toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Roasted Roots Soup

Roasting only improves the flavour of root vegetables, enhancing their earthy sweetness, say Sophie & Ade from Agents of Field. For the ultimate bowl of comfort soup, this is the recipe for you.

Marrow 'Tiger Cross' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Image: Marrow ‘Tiger Cross’ F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Marrow Soup

Marrows make for a silky smooth soup, say Maria & John at Allotment Garden. But if you’re looking for texture, simply add some cooked rice or soup pasta – along with a generous dash of chilli sauce to turn up the heat.

Sweet Potato, Green Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fancy a comforting and hearty soup that’ll help you get to your five-a-day in one sitting? Try Jacqueline’s sweet potato, green lentil & spinach recipe. Check out Tinned Tomatoes for this amazing recipe.

Curried Brussels Sprouts Soup

Don’t like Brussel’s sprouts? You’ll be surprised what a difference a little garam masala makes! Blended until smooth, Annabelle’s high fibre soup is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to see you safely through winter. Visit The Flexitarian for the recipe.

A leek and potato soup with croutons

Image: grafvision

Vegan Leek and Potato Soup

Leek soup is one of Lucy’s favourite homemade wintertime treats – especially if it’s made with fresh, flavoursome leeks and onions that she’s grown herself. See her easy recipe over on The Smallest Smallholding.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Sweet Chestnut Soup

Nic says “there’s nothing better than soup…to warm your cockles when your heart’s feeling chilly, for whatever reason.” A glut of Jerusalem artichokes required her to get creative, but you’ll want to plant more when you’ve tasted this soup! Visit dogwooddays for the recipe.

That’s it for now. We hope you like our favourite soup recipes and you’ve bookmarked some to try later, and if you’re planning on planting out some ingredients, check out our veg plants range. Let us know if you’ve come across anything that we’ve missed. We’re especially keen on soups that use edible pumpkin innards…!

Grow your own summer drinks recipes

People sitting around a table in the summer

Enjoy sharing homegrown food and drinks this summer 
Image: Jack Frog 

There’s nothing more satisfying than sharing fresh, homegrown produce with friends and family on a warm summer evening. Except, perhaps, relaxing with a cool sundowner to properly enjoy the garden you’ve spent all year working on!

We asked green-fingered bloggers to tell us their favourite homegrown summer drinks recipes. From light and refreshing cordials the whole family can enjoy, through to something a little stronger to keep you warm as the sun goes down, here’s how to distil a glut into a glass.

Non-alcoholic summer drinks

 

Richard’s mint lemonade

Stock image of a lemon and lime drink

Zesty and refreshing, this lemonade tastes even better with local honey
Image: Artsyslik

Richard over at The veg grower podcast has a quick and easy recipe for homemade lemonade that tastes so much more delicious than anything you can buy in a shop. To get the maximum flavour from your garden mint, he recommends making the ‘syrup’ the night before and adding soda water just before serving.

You will need:

  • mint leaves
  • lemons
  • limes
  • honey
  • soda water

Katie’s strawberry and elderflower cordial

Katie's Strawberry and elderflower cordial from Lavender and Leeks

Intensely fragrant and delicious
Image: Lavender and Leeks

According to Katie over at Lavender and Leeks, the combination of elderflower and strawberries is “a match made in heaven.” Not only is the smell of her strawberry and elderflower cordial amazing, it’s lovely with plain water, soda water, lemonade, prosecco or even added to cake mixtures and jams. In short, it adds a welcome shot of sunshine to almost anything you like.

You will need:

  • strawberries
  • elderflower heads
  • lemons
  • limes
  • caster sugar
  • citric acid
  • water

Lou’s ginger and thyme fizz

This spicy mocktail is a winner with all ages
Image: Little Green Shed

Over at Little Green Shed, Lou’s simple recipe for a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail is a great way to jazz up an impromptu barbecue. Family-friendly, and healthier than reaching for a beer, a long glass of this ginger and thyme fizz has a botanical undertone that’s hard to resist.

You will need:

  • fresh ginger
  • fresh thyme
  • lemon
  • runny honey
  • ice cubes
  • sparkling water

Choclette’s strawberry rose mint fizz

This simple alcohol-free aperitif is the perfect way to start any summer event
Image: Tin & Thyme

The strawberry hit is as good as a Wimbledon grand slam – it’s delightful with subtle undertones of fragrant rose, fresh mint and cooling ice” says Choclette, sharing her Strawberry rose mint fizz recipe over on Tin & Thyme. The secret to this delicious drink is the rose syrup, which Choclette makes herself. Check out the full recipe on her blog to find out how.

You will need:

  • strawberries
  • rose syrup
  • mint
  • ice cubes
  • fizzy water

Robin’s nettle cordial

Red nettle cordial from Eat Weeds

Turn annoying weeds into healthy elixirs!
Image: Eat Weeds

If keeping on top of weeds is a constant battle in your garden or allotment, you’ll be delighted for this delicious excuse to relax courtesy of Robin Harford over at Eat Weeds. His nettle cordial tastes like nothing you’ve ever tried before. What’s more, nettles are good for you – naturally high in antioxidants and polyphenols – powerful compounds believed to help with inflammation, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. Keep this pink cordial in your fridge for up to four weeks and add to water, soda water or lemonade when guests arrive. They’ll never guess your secret ingredient!

You will need:

  • freshly picked nettle tops
  • granulated sugar
  • citric acid
  • water

Grace’s strawberry, cucumber and mint infused water

A healthy alternative to sugary drinks
Image: Eats Amazing

Inspired by tall jugs of perfectly chilled Pimm’s, Grace from Eats Amazing suggests a alcohol-free version that children will love. “I’m a great believer in eating with your eyes,” says Grace, so she serves her strawberry and cucumber and mint infusion in clear bottles or mason jars to give it real visual impact. If your children aren’t keen on plain water, perhaps growing their own simple ingredients will encourage them to experiment with healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. Check out Grace’s blog for the full recipe and more inspiration.

You will need:

  • cucumber
  • strawberries
  • mint sprigs
  • water

Alcoholic summer drinks

 

Nick’s ‘cool as a minty cucumber’ cocktail

This cool classic tastes even better when you’ve grown the ingredients yourself
Image: Two Thirsty Gardeners

We’re not suggesting that Nick grows mint and cucumber just to give his ‘cool as a minty cucumber’ cocktail a more interesting twist, but when you’re a ‘Thirsty Gardener’ it’s entirely possible! This zesty aperitif is a great way to welcome friends and family to a summer drinks party. Not to be outdone, the other ‘Thirsty Gardener,’ Rich, shares his delicious rhubarb collins recipe in the same post. Two Two Thirsty Gardeners’ drinks recipes for the price of one…

You will need:

  • gin
  • mint leaves
  • a slice of cucumber
  • half a lime
  • tonic water
  • ice

Janie’s blackcurrant cassis

blackcurrant drink

Deliciously more-ish cassis can be added to a wide number of cocktails
Image: 5PH

If you grow blackcurrants, this one’s for you. Janie at The Hedgecombers describes this delectable blackcurrant cassis syrup as a bottle of pure summer: “At first sip you get the scent of fresh blackcurrants, quickly followed by a nice warm glow before tailing off with the sweet childhood taste of Ribena. Weird and wonderful all at the same time!” Check out the full recipe over on her blog.

You will need:

  • blackcurrants
  • sugar
  • brandy

Eli’s elderflower champagne

Elderflower champagne is not as difficult to make as you might think
Image: Antonina Vlasova

Ever tried making your own elderflower champagne? Eli and Kate share two slightly different recipes over at their blog In the garden & the kitchen with Eli & Kate, including useful tasting notes to help you decide which is best for you. If you’re surrounded by elders in bloom, brewing your own bubbles is a great way to celebrate nature’s bounty! Read their full post to see just how easy it is to make.

You will need:

  • elderflowers
  • lemons
  • sugar
  • champagne yeast

Helen’s rhubarb and ginger gin

Don’t waste a glut of homegrown rhubarb on crumbles and fools!
Image: Fuss Free Flavours

After receiving a bottle of rhubarb gin as a gift one Christmas, Helen set out to create a homemade version of her own. The resulting rhubarb and ginger gin recipe is shared over on her blog – Fuss Free Flavours – along with some clever twists and serving suggestions. The trick for achieving such a beautiful colour? Pick the pinkest rhubarb stems advises Helen. “Stronger, cheaper and far better tasting than buying a ready made – what is not to love?

You will need:

  • rhubarb stalks
  • white caster sugar
  • gin
  • fresh ginger

Milli’s rhubarb vodka martini

A summery twist on the classic cocktail
Image: Crofter’s Cottage

Milli over at Crofter’s Cottage describes the blustery beauty of her homegrown rhubarb with infectious joy: “Slender long legs in an elegant shade of green, a hat, bigger and floppier than anyone else’s, wearing those daring, bright pink shoes; she’d be well at home at any summer party!” Who could refuse a sip of Milli’s rhubarb vodka martini after that show-stopping introduction! And adding a dried rose petal to finish your summer cocktails is simply inspired.

You will need:

  • rhubarb
  • vodka
  • sugar
  • vermouth
  • dash of bitters
  • dried garden rose petals (optional)

Wendy’s strawberry cocktail with basil

strawberry and basil cocktail

An unexpected hint of basil takes this simple cocktail to a whole new level
Image: AnikonaAnn

If, like Wendy over at Moral Fibres, you’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of strawberry season, you’ll love her strawberry cocktail with basil served over crushed ice. When in season, British strawberries are bursting with flavour in a way that imported counterparts simply cannot match, says Wendy. Do you grow your own strawberries? If you suddenly find yourself with more ripe fruits than you can eat, Wendy’s clever tips for making them last longer are a great way to prevent wasting this precious summer fruit.

You will need:

  • strawberries
  • fresh basil
  • gin
  • tonic water
  • lime
  • granulated sugar
  • ice cubes

Sarah’s rosehip liqueur

Similar to sloe gin, rosehip liqueur is an excellent way to enjoy local hedgerows 
Image: Craft Invaders

Sarah’s rosehip liqueur is so good that she hides it from her husband in case he drinks it all before it matures! Made from hips collected from the wild dog rose bushes growing in hedgerows around her house, Sarah harvests after the first frosts and stores her foraged bounty in the freezer until she’s ready to make her liqueur. Prized for their health benefits and packed full of vitamin C, Sarah says “syrup made from these fruits has a long history of being used here in the UK to prevent colds.” If you return from your summer holiday with a sniffle, or just fancy something a little different for cooler evenings around a camp fire, this is the drink for you. Get the full recipe and instructions over at the Craft Invaders blog.

You will need:

  • rosehips
  • lemon
  • cloves
  • cinnamon stick
  • brandy
  • soft brown sugar

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of homegrown and foraged summer drinks recipes. If you do decide to try some of them over the next few months, tag us on your photos and show us how you celebrate long warm summer evenings in your garden.

Plot to plate recipes for National Vegetarian Week

assorted raw vegetables on a wooden board

Celebrate National Vegetarian Week with delicious recipes from gardening bloggers around the UK
Image: monticello

At Thompson & Morgan, we’re passionate about growing our own food. But sowing, growing and nurturing delicious produce is only half of the story. Harvesting, preparing and eating these vitamin-packed wonder foods is just as important, right?

This year, 13 – 19 May is National Vegetarian Week. To celebrate, we asked our favourite green fingered bloggers to share their best vegetarian plot-to-plate recipes. Here are some of their ideas and delicious serving suggestions to help you make the most of your fresh fruit and veg.

 

Main courses

 

Richard’s tomato and coconut curry

tomato and veg curry from Richard at veggrowerpodcast

Packed with antioxidants, fresh tomatoes make a healthy and flavour-packed curry
Image: theveggrowerpodcast

Richard, from The Veg Grower Podcast, loves a good curry, and this is one of his favourites. A great way of using a tower of homegrown tomatoes, it’s so tasty that people don’t miss the meat!

Ingredients:

  • A splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped.
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped.
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped.
  • 1 chilli chopped. (I used a scotch bonnet from my greenhouse which is fairly hot. However use any chilli that you would like)
  • 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • 1 vegetable stock cube.
  • 1kg of tomatoes.
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder.

Method:

  • Gently sweat the chopped onion in the olive oil.
  • After a minute or so, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Gently stir for a couple of minutes until softened.
  • Add the coconut milk and crumble in the stock cube. Stir to blend.
  • Add the tomatoes and curry powder.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Serve with cooked rice.

Richard’s top tip: “I’ve also served this curry with cauliflower rice. Simply take a cauliflower and blitz it up in a blender. Boil the cauliflower ‘rice’ for a few minutes, drain and serve.”

Jane’s fried halloumi with lentils and sweet chilli

Jane’s fried halloumi with lentils and sweet chilli

This tasty recipe is a firm favourite with Jane’s friends and family
Image: Onions and Paper

Jane, who blogs about food and craft at Onions and Paper may not even know that her famous fried halloumi recipe is being featured here, as it was sent to us by her lovely husband Mark! Let’s call it a team effort though, as Marks Veg Plot provides the homegrown produce for Jane’s gourmet prowess!

Ingredients:

  • 100g small green or brown lentils (e.g Puy lentils)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150g Halloumi cheese, cut into 4 slices
  • Generous dash of chilli oil
  • 2 x tbsp Sweet Chilli sauce
  • 2 x tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

Method:

  • Cook the lentils, onion and carrot in plain, unsalted water until tender.
  • Drain the lentils, and while still warm, add the chilli oil, and season to taste.
  • Meanwhile, fry the sliced halloumi in the sunflower oil, turning at least once, until nicely soft, brown and bubbly. (This only takes about 5 minutes.)
  • Arrange the lentils on plates and top with the halloumi.
  • Drizzle the sweet chilli sauce over the cheese.
  • Serve with a nice salad – we had a Tabbouleh made with herbs from the garden (mostly mint and parsley), and a (deliberately!) burnt shallot and tomato salad with watercress.

Jane’s top tip: “Don’t use commercial stock to cook your lentils. It often contains a lot of salt and this prevents the lentils softening.”

Belinda’s smoked ‘salmon’ carrot lox

For an impressive amuse bouche or a simple brunch, this is a carrot, but not as you know it!
Image: Plot 7 Marsh Lane

As Belinda of Plot 7 Marsh Lane blog hasn’t eaten meat for about 30 years, she can’t be sure if this tastes more like smoked salmon or bacon, but it’s a tasty and unusual way to transform a humble carrot! She first came across this recipe back in 2017 via Shaheen’s Allotment2Kitchen blog.

Ingredients:

  • 360g sea salt
  • 3 large washed carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

Method:

  • Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Tip half of the sea salt into the loaf tin, lay the carrots on top and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
  • Cover the loaf tin with foil and place in the oven for about an hour.
  • Remove, and allow the carrots to cool on a chopping board.
  • When cool enough to handle, brush away any excess salt, using it to help peel off any loose skin.
  • Finely slice the carrots into long, thin strips using a mandolin, and transfer to a glass container with a lid.
  • In a small bowl, make the marinade by whisking together the oil, liquid smoke and vinegar.
  • Pour over the carrots, pop on the lid, and leave in the fridge for 2-3 days for the flavours to develop.
  • Serve on warm bagels with vegetarian cream cheese.

Belinda’s top tip: “I’d probably add a little more smoke to the marinade and use a little less salt next time.”

Claire’s summer pasta sauce

Claire’s summer pasta sauce

This simple summer sauce is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds
Image: Daria Vinek

According to Claire over at Sowing at the Stoop, this delicious pasta sauce is a firm family favourite that uses up any gluts of precious produce whilst completely capturing the taste of summer. What’s more – it’s super simple too!

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Aubergines
  • Garlic
  • Fresh basil

Method:

  • Roughly chop all of the veg and pop it into a roasting tin with some chopped garlic. Spray with a little oil and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  • Put the tray into the oven at 180°C and roast for 30 minutes.
  • When cooked, use a hand blender to blitz the roasted veg and add some freshly picked basil.
  • Add to cooked pasta. We love it with penne.

Claire’s top tip: “This is ideal on a meat-free night but it also tastes great over oven roasted cod. It freezes really well too, so even after summer is long gone, you can still get that fresh flavour of home grown veg!”

Hazel’s crowd-pleasing cauliflower cheese

stock image of cauliflower cheese with two wooden spoons

This is comfort food at its best!
Image: AS Food studio

Mother of four, Hazel from The Newhouse Family blog, knows how to cook up a tasty storm to please a large family. This green-living bunch don’t like to waste a thing, so the tip for adding homemade breadcrumbs is about more than just texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 4 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 500 mls of milk
  • 100g cheddar cheese (you can add more if you like a really cheesy sauce!)

Method:

  • Take your cauliflower and break it up into pieces. You’ll want a nice mix of large chunks and some smaller pieces.
  • Boil the cauliflower for 5-10 minutes until cooked, but still firm. Drain and leave to one side.
  • Grate the cheese into a bowl.
  • To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan, stirring continuously. Sprinkle in the flour and mix into the melted butter to form a paste.
  • Slowly add the milk, stirring rapidly continuously with a whisk.
  • Add ¾ of the grated cheese to the sauce, whilst stirring quickly with the whisk to eliminate any lumps.
  • Tip the cauliflower into a large dish. Pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top.
  • Place into a hot oven for around 20 minutes, until the cauliflower cheese is bubbling and the grated cheese on top has browned a little.

Hazel’s top tip: “We like to use homegrown cauliflowers as they have the best flavour. When you sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top, just before popping the dish in the oven, try adding breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper as well.”

Kev’s beetroot tart

image from An English Homestead of chopped beetroot

A clever way to show off a variety of unusual homegrown beets
Image: An English Homestead

Is there a better match for gloriously sweet beets than salty white feta? Kev from An English Homestead says his beetroot tart is even more impressive when made with a variety of different coloured beetroots that you’ve obviously grown yourself!

Ingredients:

  • Various fresh beets
  • Puff pastry (ready made is fine!)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Feta cheese

Method:

  • Boil the beets in a pan of salted water until they just start to soften.
  • Remove from the water, roughly slice and lay in a roasting dish.
  • Drizzle the beets with a little olive oil, a good slug of balsamic vinegar, and some sea salt.
  • Lay a sheet of puff pastry over the top and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden and puffed up.
  • Remove from the oven, place a large platter or chopping board on the roasting dish and turn it over, so that the tart is removed and the right way up.
  • Crumble good quality feta over the top and bring to the table while still warm.

Kev’s top tip: “The tart is also nice cold, so perfect for a lunch box the next day if you have any left over!”

 

Sides and small plates

 

Michelle’s zingy tzatziki

Michelle's tzatziki recipe from Veg Plotting

Fresh and light, this is a real taste of the Mediterranean
Image: Veg Plotting

Low fat doesn’t necessarily mean boring, as Michelle over at Veg Plotting found when she came up with this delicious way to use up her glut of cucumbers. Her recipe makes a cool and refreshing lunch for one, or a perfect side dish for two alongside a main meal or BBQ.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cucumber, diced (include the seeds if desired)
  • 4-5 large teaspoons of Skyr Icelandic yogurt
  • Black pepper
  • Za’atar to taste (an Arabic spice blend combining toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, and sumac)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1 wholemeal pitta bread, toasted

Method:

  • Place the cucumber in a small bowl, add some freshly ground black pepper, and a generous sprinkling of za’atar.
  • Add the Skyr and mix well.
  • Garnish with the thyme leaves and serve with the freshly toasted pitta.

Michelle’s top tip: “If you’re growing outdoor cucumbers like me, don’t forget to rub off the outside bristly bits first.”

Adam’s potato pancakes

Adam’s potato pancakes from Carrot Top Allotments

Homegrown potatoes take this recipe to a whole new level
Image: Carrot Tops Allotment

Hash browns, rosti, platzki: call these what you will, says Adam of Carrot Tops Allotment. His grated potato cake recipe originates from Poland and is super easy to make. Cold, wet, tired? This is comfort food personified.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl and season to taste.
  2. Remove some of the excess water by pressing the potato mixture into a sieve.
  3. Return to the bowl and add the beaten egg, stirring well.
  4. Set a frying pan over a medium heat and add a generous amount of oil. It needs to be hot enough to sizzle when you start to fry your potato.
  5. Drop a tablespoon of the potato mixture into the pan, flattening it down so it cooks evenly. If your pan is large enough, you should be able to fry 3 or 4 platzki at once.
  6. Cook each side of the platzki for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Place the platzki onto a piece of kitchen roll before serving, to soak up any excess oil.

Adam’s top tip: “Delicious served with sour cream, or (vegetarian) goulash!”

Alexandra’s corn on the cob ‘cookout’

stock image of corn grilling on a BBQ

Roast fresh corn on the bbq and you’ll never want to eat it any other way again!
Image: Anan Chincho

Freshly picked home grown produce often needs very little messing with to deliver a powerful flavour punch. Just to prove it, this BBQ ‘cheat’ from Alexandra over at The Middle Sized Garden is pure genius in its simplicity. With a smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt, it doesn’t get much better than this for a taste of summer!

Ingredients:

  • Freshly picked corn on the cob, one per person
  • Butter and salt

Method:

  • Pick your sweetcorn, leaving the leaves intact (don’t peel anything off)
  • Place the cobs straight onto a warm bbq, simply as they are.
  • Roast on the bbq for around 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Alexandra’s top tip: “When ready, peel the leaves back (but don’t cut them off) to use as a ‘handle’ to hold the cob.”

Katie’s wild garlic and cheese scones

Wild garlic and cheese scones from Lavender and Leeks

Serve warm with butter or alongside a big bowl of vegetable soup for a hearty supper
Image: Lavender and Leeks

Katie from Lavender and Leeks is a little bit in love with garlic, and when she discovered a hoard of this lovely ingredient growing wild, she couldn’t resist experimenting to make one of her other favourite things of all time – scones!

Ingredients:

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 25g strong cheddar, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100ml milk
  • Small handful of wild garlic, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
  • Chop the cold butter into small cubes and rub into the flour.
  • Add the grated cheese and wild garlic.
  • Beat the egg and milk together before gradually adding almost all of the liquid to the dry mixture, kneading gently until you have a soft dough. Keep a little of the milk mixture for use later.
  • On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 2 cm thick. Use a round 2 inch cutter to stamp out 10 scones.
  • Place them on a greased tin and use the remaining milk and egg mixture to brush over the tops. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the scones turn a golden colour.

Kate’s top tip: “They aren’t the type of scone you have with jam and cream but they are very delicious served fresh and hot from the oven with a spread of butter. This recipe makes 10. Be warned though… you might want to double the ingredients!”

Caro’s broad bean and mint hummus

broad bean and mint hummus from Urban Veg Patch

The ultimate snack to enjoy with a sundowner at the end of a long day in the garden
Image: The Urban Veg Patch

Caro from The Urban Veg Patch loves her snacks so much, she grows extra broad beans just for this recipe! As she says, who wouldn’t want to loaf around with a glass of wine/beer/gin (not in the same glass or even sitting) on a balmy evening, with this tasty homemade hummus and some flatbreads…?

Ingredients:

  • 400g un-podded broad beans
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (more to taste)
  • Juice of half a small lemon
  • 2 stems of mint, leaves only
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  • Pod the beans and boil lightly in salted water for about 8 minutes. Small beans will take less time.
  • Drain the beans and remove the skins.
  • Blitz in a blender with the lemon juice, olive oil and mint leaves until you have a smooth paste.
  • Add more oil if needed and season to taste.

Caro’s top tip: “Use good quality olive oil. It really does make a difference.”

 

Something sweet

 

Kate’s cucumber ice cream

cucumber ice-cream from Diary of a Country Girl

We can’t think of a better dessert on a hot summer day
Image: Diary of a Country Girl

Last year Kate from Diary of a Country Girl had a mountain of homegrown cucumbers on her hands – so she decided to try and make cucumber ice cream. Apparently, back in the day, it was really rather fashionable! This gloriously refreshing and crisp dessert is what she came up with.

Ingredients:

  • 160g diced cucumber
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 60g runny honey
  • 240ml double cream
  • 240ml whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Method:

  • Peel, de-seed, and finely chop the cucumbers. Purée them in a blender with the lemon juice until very smooth.
  • Beat the eggs, sugar and honey until foamy and light with an electric mixer. Stir in the puréed cucumber, cream, milk and vanilla.
  • Strain through a sieve before whisking in the nutmeg.
  • Freeze in ice-cream maker.
  • If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into an air-tight container, freeze for an hour, then mix in a food processor. Freeze for a further two hours and mix again. Repeat the process after another two hours and return to the freezer until ready to eat.

Kate’s top tip: “I now make cucumber ice cream all throughout the year, but it’s always miles better with homegrown cucumbers!”

Lucy’s easy apple tart

stock image of glazed apple tart

Assemble the apples in a rustic or beautifully arranged pattern, depending on time available
Image: hlphoto

If you’re looking for a recipe with minimum prep and maximum flavour, Lucy from The Smallest Smallholding is a fan of letting good quality ingredients speak for themselves. What better way to celebrate a bag full of fat, autumnal apples than this super simple tart?

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 large Bramley apples, peeled & cored
  • Ready-made rolled puff pastry
  • Demerara sugar for sprinkling
  • Apricot jam for glazing

Method:

  • Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5/190C/375F
  • Line a tart tin or flan dish with baking parchment.
  • Using the upside down tin as a rough guide, cut a large disc of puff pastry to size, leaving an extra 2cm or so for the crust.
  • Press into the tin, moulding gently to the sides. It doesn’t have to be too neat!
  • Thinly slice the apple and create a spiral pattern on the pastry. Start at the outside edge and working in, overlapping each slice.
  • Sprinkle demerara sugar over the top and pop the tin onto the middle shelf of the oven.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown. Make sure it has baked thoroughly in the middle.
  • Remove from the oven and glaze with apricot jam.

Lucy’s top tip: “Want to make this vegan? Simply buy ready made rolled vegan puff pastry. The serve it with vegan ice cream or Alpro custard. You can also make bite-sized tartlets using a greased, shallow muffin tray.”

Tanya’s honey and almond baklava

Honey and almond baklava from Lovely Greens

A sweet treat for those who grow their own honey
Image: Lovely Greens

Tanya over at Lovely Greens grows her own fruit and veg, but she also makes her own honey, hence her appreciation for this middle-eastern inspired treat. If you have a sweet tooth like Tanya, you have to try these sweet and crunchy morsels of deliciousness, oozing with rich honey and marzipan-like filling. For the full step by step instructions, make sure to head to Lovely Greens.

Ingredients:

Honey syrup

  • 1½ cups honey
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 whole cloves

Filling

  • 2 cups chopped almonds
  • 2 cups chopped mixed nuts of your choice – peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup of caster sugar
  • 1 cup of melted butter

Pastry

  • Filo pastry – you need 24 sheets the same size as your dish. For my 12×9” dish, I used a single 250g pack.
  • ½ cup of melted butter

Tanya’s top tip: “I used my own raw honey for the syrup and highly recommend you source local honey too – the flavour will knock your socks off! Make baklava the day before you serve it to allow the syrup to really soak into the dish.”

We hope our bloggers have inspired you to try new and exciting ways to serve up your home grown fruit and veg. Tell us which of the recipes is your favourite? We’d love to hear your comments and see photos of your own creations over on Facebook and Instagram.

From Rake To Bake – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Welcome to my Baking Blog. Each month will feature an in-season fruit or vegetable dish to make with a little bit of grow-your-own information on the side.

April is perfect for making Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage. It’s one of those leafy green vegetables that are often overlooked Cabbage doesn’t have to be just a side dish for the Sunday roast, or as a main ingredient in coleslaw. Have a go at making it the star of the show, with this tasty dish. Although are many different varieties to sow, grow, and eat, this recipe makes use of the large savoy leaves, that are nutrient rich.

Cabbage contains lots of goodness including Iron, vitamins B and K, as well as dietary fibre.

Prep Time 20 minutes. Cooking Time 1 hour 20 Minutes. Oven 180°c Fan 160°c Gas Mark 4

Skills Level Seasoned Kitchen Gardener***

Utensils.

  • Chopping Board.
  • Vegetable Knife.
  • Sieve
  • Colander.
  • Measuring Spoon.
  • Spatula.
  • Frying Pan with Lid.
  • Saucepan with lid.
  • Saucepan without lid.
  • Small saucepan.
  • Measuring Jug
  • Scales,
  • Fork.
  • Blunt knife.
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Pyrex Dish.
  • Tin foil
  • Serving Dish.
  • Tin Opener.
  • Food Processor.
  • Kitchen Paper.
  • Plate.

Ingredients.

  • 8 Savoy Cabbage Leaves.
  • 1/4 Aubergine.
  • 6 Button Mushrooms.
  • 1 Onion.
  • 4 Mini sweet peppers.
  • 200g chopped tin tomatoes.
  • 100g rice.
  • 75g Cheddar Cheese.
  • 75g of Bread made into Breadcrumbs.
  • 1 Egg.
  • Vegetable Oil.
  • 2-3 Teaspoons of Turmeric.
  • 2-3 Teaspoons of Black Pepper.
  • Basil.
  • Oregano.

Method.

  • There are a few elements to the finished dish, it’s best to start with preparing everything first, rather than as you go along. This way things can be cooking at the same time.
  • Wash and de-seed the pepper and cut into thin strips.
  • Wash dice a quarter of the aubergine Clean the mushrooms and chop roughly.
  • Wash the cabbage leaves thoroughly.. Remove the the central stem splitting the leaf in two lengthways.
  • Cut the onion in half, dice each half of the onion and keep separate.
  • Grate the cheese.
  • Use a food processor to make breadcrumbs.
  • Rinse the uncooked rice in a sieve under cold water.
  • Fill a saucepan with required amount of cold water, for every 75g of rice use 175ml of cold water.
  • Put the washed rice into the water and add the turmeric stir and bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling simmer until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. If the rice is still hard, you may need to add extra boiled water from a kettle.
  • Meanwhile in a large frying pan heat the vegetable oil gently with the black pepper. Add one half of the diced onions and fry till translucent. Add the aubergines and red peppers and fry for another five minutes. Finally add the chopped tin tomatoes, oregano and basil and reduce heat. Cover with a lid and simmer for as long as the rice cooks.
  • Crack the egg into a jug and beat with a fork.
  • In a small saucepan use a few drops of vegetable oil to gently fry the other half of the onion for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. When done leave to cool in a large mixing bowl.
  • As these are frying boil a kettle to fill a second saucepan with boiling water
  • Put the oven on to preheat.
  • Once the rice is cooked drain and rinse in a colander under cold water. Leave to drain, whilst
  • transferring the water from the kettle to the large clean un-lidded saucepan. Ensure that the vegetables in the frying pan are not sticking and taste for further seasoning if needed.
  • Using a low heat, keep the water boiling and drop in two cabbage leaves, blanch for two minutes, use a fork to lift them onto a plate covered in kitchen roll. Repeat with all cabbage leaves. Then pat them dry when cool enough to handle.
  • Turn off the heat under the frying pan, but leave the vegetables in the pan.
  • Put the cooked rice into the bowl with the mushroom and onions, using a blunt knife stir in the breadcrumbs, then the cheese. Slowly add the egg, teaspoon by teaspoon, until the mixture sticks together like sausage meat, and holds its shape if you roll some into a ball.
  • Spoon some of the fried vegetables into a Pyrex dish. Next using a clean chopping board lay the  cabbage leaves flat and where the stem used to join the crown, fill the leaves with the rice mixture.
  • Roll it into a cigar shape, and tuck the sides in afterwards. Place it in the Pyrex dish with the rolled edge downwards.
  • Spread the rest of the mixed vegetables over the leaves, cover the dish with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Note: You may want to add salt to your pot of rice as its boiling, as I don’t cook with salt, but you might.

Serving Suggestions.

Serve hot with breaded chicken or fish. Alternatively serve with good quality sausages.

Serve cold with strong cheese, crusty bread and salami or ham or warm bacon.

Grow Your Own.

Cabbages can be grown from February to April/May for summer harvests, and April to July for winter harvest. Then from July to October for a spring harvest. Whether direct sow in a warm bed, or in singular cell seed trays in a greenhouse before transplanting outside. Cabbages will grow best in firmed soil in an open space. They are not suited to grow bags, but some success is possible in a deep container. Sow at 1.25cms deep, and thin seedlings to 30-45cms apart.

They are hungry plants so prepare their final growing position with well rotted manure, and use a liquid feed. It’s best to ensure that the soil is moist before planting out as dry roots can cause club root causing the plants to wilt and die.

The RHS has a wealth of information on growing cabbages, as well as information on pests and diseases such as club rot. They recommend netting your plants to deter cabbage white butterflies as well as pigeons.

 

*Easy Peasy – Basic techniques/Suitable for Children with adult supervision/help.

**Treat as Tender – Intermediate Skills required/Children may need more help with this.

***Seasoned Kitchen Gardener – Confident Baker/Children might not be suited to this.

From Rake To Bake.

Welcome to my new monthly Baking Blog. Each month will feature an in-season fruit or vegetable dish to make with a little bit of grow-your-own information on the side.

January is perfect for making Parsnip Scones!

Parsnip GladiatorThe humble parsnip, a mainstay of the Sunday Roast has been cultivated since the Ancient Greek and Roman times. Long before Sugar Canes were harvested this tapered cylindrical cream coloured vegetable acted as a sweetener for foods. Originating in Eurasia (Europe and Asia) and closely related to both carrots and Parsley this root can be eaten in both its cooked and raw forms.

Fibre-rich Parsnips contain plenty of vitamins and minerals so by baking them you can sneak one of your five-a-day into the kids’s lunchbox without too much drama.

Prep Time 10-30* minutes. Oven Temp 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Cooking Time 15-30 minutes**

Skills Level Easy Peasy.***

Utensils
  • parsnip scone ingredientsMeasuring Scales.
  • Measuring Spoons.
  • Measuring Jug.
  • Vegetable Peeler.
  • Sharp Knife. Blunt Knife.
  • Sieve.
  • Mixing Bowl.
  • Rolling pin.
  • Rolling Mat (optional).
  • Scone or pastry cutter.
  • Baking Tray.
  • Baking Parchment/grease proof paper.
  • Cooling Rack.
Ingredients
  • 500g of Parsnips.
  • 375g of Plain Flour.
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Powder.
  • 275ml of Milk.
  • 2 -3 Teaspoons of Rosemary or Mixed Herbs.
  • 1 -2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper.
  • 1-2 Teaspoons of Turmeric (optional).
  • 50-70g of your favourite cheese.
Method
  • parsnips steamingPeel and Dice as many parsnips as it takes to measure 500g. If you have an electric steamer cook them until they are soft enough to mash around ten to twelve minutes. If you intend to boil the parsnips do not use salt as this recipe does not require salt.
  • While the parsnips cook measure out the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Add the herbs and spices and turn gently with a blunt knife or metal measuring spoon. Cover until parsnips are ready.
  • Drain and mash the parsnips allowing them to cool completely.
  • Heat the oven then add the cold parsnips to the dry ingredients and combine with a blunt knife until the mixture sticks together.
  • Gradually add the milk in 50ml increments constantly blending it with the knife. Once it begins to form a dough use your hands to knead it well. Do not worry if there is plenty of milk left over as you can use it to brush the scones with later. Leave dough to rest while you line a tray with baking parchment. (Alternatively grease tray with a little butter.)
  • Once you have a crack-free dough use a little flour on your rolling mat and pin then roll the dough into 2cm thick even layer.
  • parsnip scones - ready to bakeUse a scone/pastry cutter to cut the scones and place them on the baking tray. Re-roll the leftovers until you have used all the dough.
  • Lightly brush with leftover milk or an egg if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of each scone.
  • Place on middle shelf and bake for around 15 minutes or until they are a warm golden colour and the cheese has melted.
Serving Suggestions

Parsnip scones ready to eatSlice and fill with pickle/chutney and cheese.

Slice, butter and dunk into soup.

Freeze for eating with a ploughman’s salad in summer.

 

Grow Your Own

It couldn’t be easier to grow your own parsnips as they virtually look after themselves. To start off pick from the following varieties: Albion, Gladiator, Panorama or Tender and True all available in the The Seed Catalogue (page 54) or online. Prepare you ground over winter – they like a light weed free deep bed, in a preferably sunny and open site. Sow the seeds in March April or May 15cm apart and 13mm deep. Then thin the weakest so that once the seedlings’ first two true leaves show they are 30cm apart. Continue to hand weed to avoid root damage. Catch crops such as Radish can be sown alongside them – finally ensure the soil is kept moist to avoid the roots forking. Also consider covering with Enviromesh or horticultural fleece to protect from Carrot fly and other pests.

More information can be found from T&M online How to Grow Parsnips guide.

*Depending on if you have pre-cooked Parsnips.

**Depending on if you have pre-cooked Parsnips.

*** Easy Peasy – Basic techniques/Suitable for Children with adult supervision/help.

Treat as Tender – Intermediate Skills required/Children may need more help with this.

Seasoned Kitchen Gardener – Confident Baker/Children might not be suited to this.

 

Green tomato and chilli chutney

Do you have a glut of green tomatoes? Then why not have a go at this simple recipe and make a delicious Green tomato and chilli chutney that will go perfect alongside cold Christmas meats. Recipe kindly provided by our pumpkin expert and e-commerce marketing assistant Jon.

Ingredients:

820g Green tomatoes – quartered
2 Large onions – finely chopped
9 (green) Heatwave Chillies – sliced. This can be changed according to taste, but 9 gives it a nice kick!
1 Bulb Christo Wight garlic – finely chopped
8 Table spoons garam masala
260g Cane sugar
6 Table spoons of red wine vinegar
75g Sultanas
Olive oil

Method:

1.    Fry the onions, garlic and chilli together in the oil until the onions are golden brown.
2.    Add the garam masala and fry gently for about a minute.
3.    Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
4.    Cook until a thick consistency is achieved, stirring occasionally.  45-75 mins approx.
5.    Sterilise the jars while the ingredients are reducing.
6.    I personally spoon the finished mixture hot straight into the jars (carefully!) and seal straight away.
7.    Eat when cool or keep for a few weeks to let the flavours mature. Excellent with the Christmas cold meats!

No children or animals were hurt in the preparation of this preserve (not until it was eaten though)!

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