Comfort food … Sunshine soup for a rainy day

I don’t know about you but these last couple of days of rain have had me hankering after proper food, thick warming soups, hearty stews with dumplings and of course, cake.  Lots and lots of cake.

My fridge and larder are looking a little Mother Hubbard, but it was raining and I really didn’t want to go out for more supplies.  Sometimes you just want to stay in and hibernate!  So I had a good rummage in the fridge and found a butternut squash (I found 3 actually … no idea why I had 3 in the fridge), some slightly past their best yellow peppers and a bag of onions.  Soup! That was the cry from my hungry tummy, soup with cheese scones!

‘Feed me!’ cried my belly.  ‘Bake!’ said my procrastinating head.  So I did, and rather yummy it was too.

Roast squash, pepper and onion soup

Serves 3-4

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 2cm dice

2 or 3 yellow or red peppers chopped into large chunks

3 small or 1 large onion chopped into quarters

Olive oil

Pinch of salt to taste

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp smoked paprika

A 2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated finely

About 1pt water


Put all the veg in a baking tray with the olive oil and spices, roast at gas mark 4/180c until all the veg has softened and is starting to go a bit toasty


When the vegetables are cooked, tip them into a saucepan, add about 1/2 pt of water and whizz up with a stick blender.  I like my pumpkin and squash soups to be velvetty smooth so I whizz until I can whizz no more ;).  Gradually add more water until you get the consistency you like, taste for seasoning and reheat gently.

I served mine with a dollop of creme fraiche and some chopped coriander.soupsquash

Cheese scones (My favourite accompaniment to homemade soup)

250g self rasing flour

75g cold butter (always proper butter, always)

125g mature cheddar cheese

125ml milk

Pinch of salt


Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.  Cube the butter into 1cm pieces and add to the flour and salt.  Gently rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips and thumb until it looks like sharp sand with a few small pebbles.


Grate most of the cheese into the flour and butter mix, saving some for the top of your scones.  I like to use a dinner knife to stir the cheese into the flour – I find it disperses more evenly that way.

Again using the knife to mix, slowly add the milk – you may not need all of it.  You want a soft, malleable but not gloppy texture to your scone dough.  Once it has all come together, gently shape into a ball with your hands and place on a floured work surface.

Using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten the dough to roughly 2cm in depth.  Any thinner and you’ll end up with cheesy Welshcakes (ooh, now there’s a thought!).  Cut out your scones using a small circular cutter in a sharp downward motion, if you twist the cutter as you use it then the scones can sometimes rise in a rather wonky manner.  Not that I mind anything wonky and rustic looking!

You should get about 6-7 normal scones and 1 funny shaped scone from the trimmings (I always like the funny shaped one, baker’s perks you know).  Place on a lined baking tray, brush with milk and sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese and some smoked paprika if you fancy.


Bake in the centre of the oven at gas mark 4/180c for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.

Serve warm with the soup and lashings of proper butter!


Well, Shazbot!

I imagine most of the western world has heard of the untimely passing of the great Robin Williams by now.  It’s so sad and hard to believe that someone you grew up laughing with has now gone. He made us laugh, made us cry and now he has made us think.

Depression is a cruel disease, stripping away your joy, your love of anything and everything. Taking away your life. You tend to exist, not live when depression takes hold, everyday tasks become huge obstacles and if something unexpected should happen, something as small as a friend knocking on the door, it throws everything off kilter.

I spent 15 years on antidepressants. At some points in these years I was doing just fine and no one would know, at other points during this time I wouldn’t leave the house, answer the phone or socialise at all.  Being alone and hiding from the world was my way of living with the black dog.

6 years ago things started to change for me, I became involved with helping new mums breastfeed their babies. Through this I started to see how I could make a difference, that I wasn’t worthless, that there was a purpose to everything.

I stayed on the tablets though, not ready yet to let go of that safety net, besides my life was about to go through some huge changes and I’m not sure how I would have coped. Slowly I started to live again, something that wasn’t actually welcomed by a few people. I started going out and doing things for me. Things that made me happy, like dancing, meeting friends, smiling again.

More life changes followed, including the breakdown of my marriage and moving 140 miles back to the south coast which has always been home.  I was still taking the tablets, again I wasn’t ready to feel or deal with my emotions.

18 months ago I stopped taking the Prozac, don’t know why.  I can’t think of an out and out reason for knowing I didn’t need them anymore. I just knew I didn’t want to feel numb, that I could now cope with my emotions, that I wanted to be me again.

I’ve not looked back, I love my life. I have an amazing family and the most wonderful friends that I could wish for. I’m meeting more and more fabulous people and seeing the beauty in everything.

Depression sucks. You can’t ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull yourself together’ as gets suggested so many times. Some people are lucky, they can unchain the black dog and let him run far, far away and know he won’t come back. Others cannot. If someone you know reaches out to you and tells you how they are feeling, be there for them.  Ask them what you can do and avoid the clichés.

RIP Robin Williams, thank you for the giggles.