Category Archives: Soups

Squash & za’atar soup


Wet day, start of the week – something wholesome needed ….SOUP.

This must be one of the easiest soups to make…

Butternut & za’atar soup.

1 whole butternut squash – cut into chunks, do not peel.

2 x onions cut into wedges

1 ltr veg stock

Juice of an orange

sprinkle of Za’atar

sprinkle of cumin seeds

Olive oil

freshly ground salt & pepper

Roasting butternut squash

On a baking tray, put the squash & onion drizzle with Olive oil, and sprinkle with Za’atar. cumin , salt & pepper, roast for 30 – 45 mins in oven 180 c.

Once roasted, put in a saucepan add veg stock, and blend skin & all  – add orange juice, adjust seasoning, heat through gently.

To serve, I like to add a handful of rocket leaves, a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a slice of lemon to squeeze.

Squash & za'atar soup

*Za’atar is a Middle eastern spice mix – each family often have their own recipe but most include, sesame seeds, salt, oregano, thyme & sumac .

It is also lovely mixed with Olive oil & vinegar for a salad dressing, or sprinkled on hot bread drizzled with olive oil.




The rain in Spain.


Well I suppose we had to have it eventually, and have it we have – continuous rain & storms since Monday, I’m deluged in water at La Rosilla & last night we had the most spectacular electric storm, keeping the house awake all night.

The thing is our idyllic setting, is just so in all seasons when it’s dry, but now matter how well we prepare, it’s never quite enough, to stop natures force of never-ending rain when it starts.  So today on the mountain I have been digging ditches & getting soaked in P.J’s & pink hunters, trying to persuade the water flow, to take not such a devastating course .  Located half way up a mountain, the water only goes one way, & that is down to the river at the bottom of our land and it doesn’t go slowly but at full  force.

My children’s fairy garden, their den, for making potions, hiding and living their Swallows & amazons’ lifestyle, had it’s own water feature today, it’s going to take some renovation, but at least they didn’t loose their teapot 😉

Check it out here – La Rosilla fairy garden, water feature.

So today at La Rosilla we have had wet dogs & that delightful, NOT  ‘eau de pouch’, Kitty & Cat  not wanting to venture out – A drenched ‘Me’ with backache and mud encrsuted nails, from shovelling ….. and two ravenous children about to return home from school.

Only one thought for lunch …It’s a home made soup, kind of a day ….

So raiding the fridge,

2 Onions chopped, sauteed in oil & butter until softened

1 head of broccoli, floretted ( such a word ? you know what I mean 😉 ) and stalks chopped .

Stalks added to onions .

Hot chicken or vegetable stock about 1 1/2 litres poured over.

Simmer until stalks al-dente .
Then add, broccoli florets , and simmer until just cooked and still lovely and green.

Whizz up with a hand blender & season with Salt & Pepper.

That’s it , easy !

I topped mine with a little crusty bread and a melting round of goats cheese, the children, mopped there’s up with hunks of bread, and refilled their bowls with seconds, before donning their wellies to investigate & have fun in the mud

As I type the rain has taken a breather, but the river torrents are still flowing and the clouds on the mountains in view are hanging low, but hang on a chink of blue & a ray of light.

Chink of blue 🙂

Buen fin de semana todos stay dry !

Warming the cockles.


Reading my Twitter line, it seems that the cold weather is sweeping Europe, well it’s certainly sweeping through La Rosilla, through all the window frames & door frames it’s blowing a whoolie. Our Spanish Finca (Farmhouse) perched in it’s mountain setting, was certainly not built to keep us warm, but to keep us cool in our hot summers climes, which today seem an age away, as temperatures plummet to the lowest of known here of -3.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining in fact I love the extremes, the weather is stunning, fresh, crisp and bringing with it skies clear and blue, all one has to be is prepared !! Ahem *note to self* .

This week-end sees our town pay homage to our saint, Virgen de Candelaria..we will all walk behind the majestic saint sat on her throne, through the winding & hilly streets of Colmenar, before the climax on Sunday evening of a grand fireworks display. With temperatures in the minuses, we will endeavor to keep warm , huddled with others, coated, scarved and gloved. Others will walk barefooted or blindfolded to give thanks to their Saint !!!

So to keep the cockles warm from the inside out, I’m creating some warming & hearty family favourites. I’ll serve these with hunks of home-made Rosemary and onion bread, with La Rosilla Olive oil for dipping. A hearty Rioja will fill our glasses too, and flush our cheeks.

 Have a great week-end , keep warm 🙂

 Carrot & Cumin Soup.

1 kg of Carrots peeled and sliced into rings

Olive oil

1 large onion – Diced

1 large clove of garlic – Sliced

1 tsp of Cumin Seeds

1 liter hot Veg Stock

Natural Yogurt to serve

Fresh herbs to garnish

  • Saute the onion & garlic in a large saucepan in some olive oil, until soften but not coloured, add the carrots and cook for a few mins.
  • Add the cumin seeds to the pan, and fry to release their scent.
  • Add hot veg stock.
  • Heat thru, and bring to gentle simmer and cook until carrots are tender.
  • Blend until smooth with a hand-held blender, or carefully pour into liquidizer to blend.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Laddle into bowls, and add a spoon of Natural yogurt & a sprinkling of fresh herbs, even a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is good.


This next recipe, I have adapted from a family favourite brought from Blighty, using local ingredients to give it an Andalucian flair you can of course use English sausages & beans .


Cazuela de Chorizo Criolla – Or Sausage Hotpot


12 Chorizo Criolla – Uncooked chorizo with herbs. Herby bangers

1 large Onion Sliced

4 large potatoes sliced into rings skin on

6 carrots peeled and sliced into rings

1 large tin of Chopped Tomatoes – Instead or Tin toms and white beans you can add, Baked Beans

1 Jar of white beans, drained & rinsed

1 litre of hot stock & a slug of red wine or you can add a tin of Oxtail soup

Oregano or Mixed Herbs

Salt & Pepper


  • In a large casserole dish, layer the potatoes, onions & carrots alternately.
  • Season & sprinkle with oregano
  • Pour over the Chopped Tomatoes
  • Pour over the white beans
  • Lay the sausages on the top
  • Pour over the hot stock & wine, and season once more.
  • Put a lid on the casserole & bake in the oven 180 c for about 40 mins,
  • Take the lid off the casserole , give a gentle stir and return to oven to brown the sausages for approx 10 mins.


Enjoy in large bowls, with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices.


Pot full of goodness !


I needed to go food shopping, restock, fill the cupboards, so when I opened them they would be full of inspiration, bursting with goodies, little gems, just waiting to be created into something yummy. But today was not the day to go shopping, well I’m mean I couldn’t, logistics, chores, lack of enthusiasm were all upon me.

So I knew this meant, concoct, dream up and devise from the ingredients I had, normally more than I imagine, always one to like a full larder and all that. A ‘bit of this and a bit of that ‘ supper…or as I like to call it, to the moans and groans of my family…


A pot full of goodness !

This generally consists of vegetables, herbs, stock, maybe a little left over meat from a roast, if I’m lucky and rich earthy lentils …That’s the part that brings on the moans and the groans.


So today was no different, and I’d like to share my pot full of goodness with you, feel free to amend, add, substitute anything , I’m sure you have your own pot full of goodness anyway..Go on share it !



Ingredients & Method


Any veg lurking in the fridge, chopped small.

I used – Carrots, celery, onion and garlic & sweet potato.

Pan fry in a large saucepan or casserole to make a sofrito, in a little olive oil.

Add your chosen cooked meat, for me the last remnants of my Christmas jamon, rich and tasty.

Then stir in Green Lentils (puy) or Lentejas Pardina in Spain, usually I put in, a cup per person and one for luck. Stir till they’re all coated with oil.

Add garden herbs, rosemary, thyme, sage all good.

Then add enough veg stock to cover.

I like to tuck in the old rind of a Parmesan, add the bottom which adds a creamy richness.

Let bubble away, enjoy the aromas..

Then serve, in warm bowls, with hunks of bread, a drizzle of Olive Oil, and a sprinkle of herbs.

Enjoy the quietness that prevails, as everyone, even the little protesters absorb the goodness.





Soup for the Soul Spanish Style !


I was totally prepared this morning, for my day at the 19th Hole, I knew it would be wet and windy, and the cold would chill me to the bone, so I packed up my healthy lunch, filled my flask with homemade soup , grabbed a mandarina from the fruit bowl and  I was off.

On arrival my other half quickly dispatched me from the van, gave me my days instructions for work, and sped off, with my knapsack and lunch in tow !

I’ve been on a healthy eating regime now for 3 weeks, and it’s going great guns, so there was no way I wanted to sabotage my attempts, by consuming the snack bars chocolates and crisps that when you pop you cant stop ! But as the day progressed the faint rumbling of my tummy was becoming louder and my will power to deny myself of tempting treats was waning,

But low and behold, a rather wet looking Golf Pro, must have read my mind, or maybe my facebook and came up trumps, and delivered unto me, a steaming most delicious bowl of ‘Sopa de Picadillo’  The Spanish version of Chicken soup for the soul.

So I hid myself awWild Mintay, in my little hidey hole of the office, with Soup in hand, a squeeze of lemon from a lemon picked from the tree outside, a sprig of mint taken wild from the flora on the golf course, and I sat and devoured the warming, comforting and filling soup.

Sopa de picadillo, like many ancient, and family recipes that are passed down, taught and shared, have many guises, but this is my favourite…I hope you enjoy it,  a squeeze of lemon for me, adds a piquant touch and a little more vitamin C.

Sop de Picadillo

Sopa de picadillo

For the stock:

1 chicken carcass (leave plenty of spare meat on the bones)
1 ham bone (leave plenty of spare meat on the bones)
4 leeks
3 celery stalks
1 medium-sized onion
Salt, pepper to taste

For the soup:

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 large spring fresh mint, chopped

A squeeze of lemon

Heat enough water to cover the first 2 ingredients in a cooking pot and add the chicken bones, ham bone and onion, cut into large pieces.

Cover the pot and cook on a low heat for between 2 to 3 hours or 40 minutes in a pressure cooker.

After this time, remove from the heat, take the chicken out of the stock, de-bone it, then de-bone the ham and set aside.

Strain the stock through a strainer and also set aside. Place the strained stock in a pan and heat, and when it is hot, add the diced ham and chicken meat and remaining vegetables.

Cook on a medium heat for 25 minutes, then just before serving, add the hard boiled eggs and mint; warm briefly and serve.

Serves 4-6

My Bounty – Wonderful Avocados fresh from the tree.

My Bounty – Wonderful Avocados fresh from the tree.

Everyone loves to receive a gift, an offering, I am no exception, and if it comes in the guise of food even better.  My bounty  at La Rosilla this week was huge bag of Avocados, scrumped ! no picked by a local for me.

The perfect avocado season, but like when all fruits and vegetables are at their prime, glut always springs to mind,  so I set myself up on a challenge...gosh my New Year is full of these..and decided to investigate the not so humble, but luxuriously rich Avocado.
  • An average avocado tree produces about 1200 avocados annually.
  • The avocado is a climacteric fruit (the banana is another), which means that it matures on the tree but ripens off the tree Once picked, avocados ripen in a few days at room temperature (faster if stored with other fruits such as apples or bananas).
  • A ripe avocado yields to gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed. The flesh is prone to turning brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lemon juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled and if you keep the stone from the avocado with the pulp in a dish this help too.
Thought this was a funny anecdote; oh how much more we know about food now !!

In the UK, the avocado became widely available in the 1960s when it was introduced by M & S  under the name ‘avocado pear’. However, many customers tried to use it as a dessert ingredient like other pears (e.g. with custard), and complained to the store that it was inedible. As a result, Marks and Spencer dropped the word ‘pear’ and labelled it simply ‘avocado’.
The healthy part :

Avocados are high in valuable fats and appear to have a beneficial effect on blood serum levels. For a typical avocado:
  • About 75% of an avocado’s calories come from fat, most of which is good fat, which can significantly lower cholesterol monounsaturated fat.
  • Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas.
  • They are rich in vitamins B, E & K.
So forget the calories…these little babies are good for you.

The yummy part

Obviously there many dishes we all know using avocados, Guacamole, Avocado and prawns, salsas to name a few but I have come across an unusual Avocado and Lime soup, hopefully you may enjoy .
Avocado Lime Soup
  • 1 Cup Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks  Cup Celery, finely chopped
  • 1  Leek (white only), finely chopped
  • 1 clove of Garlic, finely chopped
  • 25g Unsalted butter
  • ¼ Cup Flour
  • 2 Pints Chicken stock
  • 3 – 4 ripe Avocados, pureed
  • Juice of 1 lime.
  • Handful of fresh coriander , chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper – to taste
  • Creme fraiche or sour cream – as needed for garnish
  • Roasted pimiento or red  pepper, julienned – as needed for garnish
Sauté the onion, celery, leek and garlic in butter until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour; cook over low heat, stirring constantly 3 or 4 minutes. Whisk in the stock; simmer until vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in the avocado; simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the lime juice, coriander, salt and pepper.
To serve chilled or hot, garnish 1-1/2 cup soup with a dollop of crème fraiche / or natural yog and a few strips of pimiento.and some nachos or baked tortillas or perhaps add chopped toms and red onions..
The fun part

You can also quite easily grow your own avocado tree, a great fun thing for kids to do, you can find instructions for this on my site  mini chefs.
The ME part

So as I’ve ventured on my new healthy eating plan,thanks to I’ll enjoy the goodness of these lush fruit, what  with these and my other new detox recipes, my body will believe its a temple, next thing you’ll know is that I’ve started chanting 😉