A Craft in the Life: Coconut and Courgette Soup

Over the last few weeks me and my mum have brought back several varieties of courgettes from volunteering at Cogges Manor Farm in Witney. The walled garden is currently packed full of courgette and marrow plants, covering the plots with their large green leaves, bright orange flowers with green and yellow courgettes hanging off twisted vines. In order to use up all the courgettes we now have in the fridge, I decided to make a large batch of Coconut and Courgette Soup. This soup is one my family’s favourites, as the combination of soft courgette and sweet coconut milk gives a refreshing and very moreish flavour 🙂

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Coconut and Courgette Soup

You will need:

2.2lb /1kg Courgettes (Around 8) or Marrows

Salt

1 Large Onion, Chopped (Either white or Red)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tsp Grated Fresh Ginger

2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed

2 Tbsps Chopped Basil and Mint

1L /35 fl oz Vegetable Stock

250ml /8½ fl oz Coconut Milk

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Let’s get started!

  • Peel, de seed and chop the courgettes/marrows into 2cm chunks.
  • Put them into a colander, sprinkle with salt and let them drain for 30 minutes to get rid of the excess water, then pat them dry with a tea towel/kitchen paper.

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  • In a large stock/soup pot, fry the onion gently in oil until softened.
  • Add the ginger and garlic, along with the salted courgettes, basil and mint.
  • Pour over half the stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

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  • Once the courgettes are soft, remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Blend in a food processor and return to the pot with the rest of the stock and coconut milk, then simmer for 5 minutes.

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  • Season to taste then serve topped with extra chopped basil/mint.
  • You are all done 🙂

This Coconut and Courgette Soup definitely works well as a summer soup, due to it’s light, refreshing flavour and bright green colour. The recipe makes a large batch of soup which you can store in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure to test the soup before you add any final seasoning, as salting the courgettes before cooking can be enough salt. I love the addition of the coconut milk in this soup, as it gives a delicious creamy taste which is really complemented by the mint and basil. Definitely try it out 🙂

A Craft in the Life…

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A Craft in the Life: Apple and Cucumber Chutney

Along with bringing home a rather excessive number of very large courgettes last week from Cogges Manor Farm, another vegetable we had quite a lot of was cucumbers! I really liked the look of this apple and cucumber chutney, as the combination of sweet apple, cool refreshing cucumber and a hint of chili sounded delicious. Most chutneys are made in a similar way to the Spiced Courgette Chutney I made alongside this one, however this recipe varied slightly in order to ensure the sugar was properly dissolved in the white wine vinegar.

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Apple and Cucumber Chutney 

You will need:

1lb 4 oz/650g Onions, chopped (Around 3/4 large white or red onions should be enough)

2lb 2 oz/1kg Cucumbers, cut lengthways, seeds removed and chopped

2lb 2 oz/1kg Cooking apples, chopped (Granny Smith work very well!)

15 ½ fl oz/450ml White Wine Vinegar

1lb 7 oz/500g Brown Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1 Red Chili, chopped (This will depend on how spicy you like your chutney, and the strength of your chili!)

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Let’s get started!

  • Add the chopped apples, onions, cucumber and white wine vinegar to a large stock pan and place on a medium heat.
  • Stirring regularly to prevent sticking, bring to the boil then simmer until softened.
  • Add the sugar, chili and salt, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

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  • Continue to simmer uncovered for around 2 hours until dark and thickened (Make sure to check on the chutney every 15/20 minutes and give it a good stir to prevent sticking!).
  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 1/140ºC/275ºF. Carefully wash and dry your jars (You can use large curry/pasta sauce jars or smaller jam/condiment jars depending on what you have! You can of course buy new glass jars, Steamer Trading Company sell 6 400ml jars with lids for £6. Lakeland also sell 6 110ml jars for £5.29, however you often are required to buy the lids separately).
  • Place the jars and lids separately in your preheated oven and allow to sterilise for around 30 minutes.

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  • Carefully remove the jars and lids from the oven. Spoon the chutney into the jars while it is still hot, before topping with a wax disc and replacing the lids.

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  • Label with it’s name and the date before leaving in a cool, dark place for at least 4-6 weeks before opening.

Our cupboards are certainly well and truly stocked full of chutney now! This recipe was easy and simple to make, resulting in a tasty looking chutney flecked with red chili and pieces of green cucumber. I’m a massive fan of cheese and crackers, and this chutney works very well with both 🙂 I would definitely recommend giving this recipe a go if you are looking for a sweet and spicy chutney.

A Craft in the Life…

A Craft in the Life: Spiced Courgette Chutney

Now I am back home in Oxfordshire I have been able to return to volunteering at Cogges Manor Farm in Witney. I started volunteering last year, alongside my mum who has been helping out there for almost 4 years! This week we headed up on Friday to help out with weeding, harvesting and watering in the beautiful walled garden beside the manor house. We arrived just after 9am in order to avoid the very hot weather we have been enjoying this week, as it gets incredibly hot in the walled garden especially when you are working hard! After a catch up with the other volunteers we got the fun job of harvesting the vegetables that were ready to be eaten 🙂 One of the best parts of volunteering in the walled garden is getting to bring home some of this fresh produce, which this week included – courgettes, cucumbers, carrots, beetroot and lettuce! In order to use up all this delicious produce we decided to make some chutney!

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Spiced Courgette Chutney 

You will need:

7 oz/200g Onions, chopped (Around 2 large white or red onions should be enough)

1lb 10 oz/500g Tomatoes, chopped

1lb 10 oz/500g Courgettes, chopped

8 ½ fl oz/250ml White Wine Vinegar

14 oz/400g Cooking apples, chopped (Granny Smith work very well!)

9 oz/250g Brown Sugar

2 tsp Mixed Spice

1 tbsp Mustard Seeds

Thumb sized piece of root ginger, grated

4 Cloves of garlic, crushed

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Let’s get started!

  • Add all chopped vegetables, sugar, white wine vinegar and spices into a large stock pan and place on a low/medium heat.

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  • Stirring regularly to prevent sticking, bring gently to a simmer.
  • Continue to simmer uncovered for around 2 hours until dark and thickened.

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  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 1/140ºC/275ºF. Carefully wash and dry your jars (I used a collection of 6 re used jars that were a variety of sizes. You can use large curry/pasta sauce jars or smaller jam/condiment jars depending on what you have! You can of course buy new glass jars, Steamer Trading Company sell 6 400ml jars with lids for £6. Lakeland also sell 6 110ml jars for £5.29, however you often are required to buy the lids separately).
  • Place the jars and lids separately in your preheated oven and allow to sterilise for around 30 minutes.

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  • Carefully remove the jars and lids from the oven. Spoon the chutney into the jars while it is still hot, before topping with a wax disc and replacing the lids.

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  • Label with it’s name and the date before leaving in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks before opening.

Although my mum has made quite a lot of different jams, jellies and chutneys, this is actually the first time I have ever made some myself! This recipe was really easy to follow, and the only thing that takes time is all the careful chopping of the vegetables, as you need to prepare them the size you want them in the final cooked chutney. Once it’s on the hob all it needs is a gently stir every 15/20 minutes and a few hours good cooking so that it ends up being that thick delicious chutney texture.

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As the chutney takes 3 weeks to mature we haven’t tried out the batch made here, however I have tasted this particular chutney before once it’s finished and I think it has a good taste and texture. The addition of the mustard seeds gives the final chutney a really interesting look and the combination of spice and vegetables (Especially the courgette!) works well together. If you haven’t made a chutney before I would definitely recommend this as a good beginner’s recipe. It is also a great way to use up any fresh vegetables you have from the garden/allotment or weekly shop!

A Craft in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Potato and Leek Soup

This soup was originally made for me by my soon-to-be-boyfriend during our first few months at university. He was given this recipe by his mum – I assume in attempts to make sure he didn’t starve at university and so he didn’t live purely off takeaway pizza and curry… Since then he hasn’t cooked anything else (Which is probably a good thing!), but this soup remains a firm favourite for both of us even though I have made a few tweaks to it throughout our time in Lincoln together.

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Potato and Leek Soup

You will need:

1 Large Leek

3 Small/Medium Potatoes

2 Sticks of Celery

1 Clove of Garlic

1 Small Red Onion

Small handful of Coriander

1-2 tbps Sunflower Oil

1 tbps Butter

Salt, pepper and chili powder

16 fl oz/500ml Vegetable Stock

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Let’s get started!

  • Begin by peeling and chopping the onion, garlic and celery into small pieces.
  • In a large saucepan add the oil and butter and heat until gently sizzling.
  • Add the onion, garlic and celery then cook slowly until softened.

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  • Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and leek into small bite sized pieces.
  • Add to the saucepan and continue to cook gently for a few minutes.

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  • If you are using a stock cube, prepare your stock in a measuring jug then add to the saucepan.
  • Allow to simmer gently for around 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

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  • Season with salt, pepper and chili powder.
  • If you like you can blend the soup smooth at this stage as in my other soup recipes. Personally I prefer this type of soup unblended and so I just top it with a good handful of coriander leaves!
  • You are all done 🙂

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As with most of the soups I love, this recipe uses lots of fresh vegetables and takes no time at all to make. This is probably the only soup I make regularly that I don’t blend, but I really like being able to see and taste all the individual vegetables, colours and textures. When topped with fresh coriander it ends up looking a bit like one of the ramen bowls from Wagamama’s (Which I love!). If you wanted it to be more of a noodle soup, you could swap out the potatoes used for some precooked noodles! You could also definitely make this soup more Japanese/Thai flavoured by adding plenty of fresh chilies, lemongrass and maybe some ginger 🙂

A Bake in the Life…