The Preservation Game

Because we have a seasonal climate, we are unable to produce crops steadily throughout the year: sometimes there’s loads and other times there’s very little to harvest from the garden. And so, we preserve… those courgettes that we are sick and tired of in August will be welcome in our hearty soup in December, when the days of glut are a distant memory.

So, this week I have been preparing for winter by stocking the freezer with soup –  carrot and courgette and mulligatawny (see pictures above) – and passata made from oven roasted tomatoes.

Now, I look in the freezer and can savour the prospect of all sorts of goodies through the winter:

And as soon as I can manage to collect a load of apples from Perkin, I will be bottling those like mad too.


I don’t really like sandwiches, especially ones that have been hanging around in a lunchbox for hours. This is one of the reasons that I’m very glad that I work from home these days. It means that I can make something fresh each lunchtime, even if it is only a piece of toast.

Hand-thrown soup bowls (by my friend Joe Finch) just waiting to be filled with homemade soup

Hand-thrown soup bowls (by my friend Joe Finch) just waiting to be filled with homemade soup

As winter approaches, however, I start to want something warming for lunch and so I’m always glad if there is homemade soup in the freezer. This is why, in recent weeks, I have been busy converting lovely fresh vegetables (from the garden or local organic farm) into soup. There were two squashes that got to about 15 cm across and then stopped growing and started to go soft. I knew that unless I acted quickly, these would rot, so they were converted into squash soup, flavoured with freshly ground coriander seeds (which I grew a few years ago) and coconut cream (which it’s not possible to grow in west Wales!)… delicious. The spare courgettes have been gradually turned into courgette and carrot soup or Mulligatawny. Although I could never make enough soup to last the whole winter, it is great to think that there is some tucked away for later use.

As the winter progresses, different vegetables will become available and I will move on to making leek and potato soup, curried parsnip soup and Russian vegetable soup ( a soup of root vegetables with shredded greens added a few minutes before the end of cooking). Served with fresh bread, all these make for a healthy and delicious meal. If I could get my act together and start cultivating mushrooms, that would add yet another option…

So, what are your favourite soups to make?

Glut busting

Some of the ingredients (not in the right proportions, though!)

Some of the ingredients (not in the right proportions, though!)

It’s the time of year when lots of produce is coming out of the garden. In the past week I have made courgette and carrot soup for the freezer, and moussaka with courgettes rather than aubergines as ways to use some of the abundance. Despite this, I still have five or six courgettes in the fridge and many more growing in the garden, so I thought that I would return to a favourite recipe: Mulligatawny soup. The recipe I use is adapted from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery course, although there is a slightly more ‘modern’ version on her Delia Online website.

I make this with olive oil rather than butter as I am lactose intolerant and I vary the curry powder according to whim (the original recipe recommends Madras curry powder, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it).

3 large onions, chopped
75g butter or oil of your choice
700g courgettes, diced
225g tomatoes, chopped and skinned
I large potato, diced
425ml stock or water
1 dessertspoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
about 200g cooked rice
salt and pepper

  1. Cook the onions in the oil until they are golden brown.
  2. Add the potato, courgettes and tomatoes
  3. Season, cover and cook over a low heat until soft (20-30 mins)
  4.  When cooked, puree the vegetables.
  5. Mix the puree, stock/water and cooked rice together with the Worcester sauce and curry powder (to taste) in the saucepan.
  6. Reheat and cook for 5 minutes.

I love this recipe because, in a good year, all the vegetables are available from the garden at the same time. Sadly this year, I don’t have any onions, but other than those I think I should manage a good few batches using homegrown produce. We have an organic farm not far away who grow onions, so I will be using those and supporting a local farmer too.

This is a lovely warming soup for the winter, so I will be freezing batches of it for use in the cold and gloomy days of November and December.

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