pumpkin and bacon soup

Soup is the epitome of winter comfort food. Quick and easy to make, delicious and nutritious, and versatile…there is always something in the fridge and pantry that can be turned into a flavoursome, soul warming comfort food. While the beauty of soup is the ability to use leftovers and items in the refrigerator and pantry that may otherwise spoil, when you are setting out to make a memorable dish, head to the supermarket and purchase fresh ingredients.

Soup makes a wonderful addition to any meal, or can be a meal in itself with some fresh crusty bread or toast. Once you have made it once or twice, you’ll realise it isn’t really that hard to make. So what are you waiting for?


Last weekend, with the recent onset of cooler weather, and only half an hour before the arrival of self-invited lunch guests, we took to the kitchen and conjured up a pot of the most delicious pumpkin soup I have ever tasted!

And it went kinda like this…


1 largish Pumpkin – we used Butternut.
1 large Onion
50 grams butter
1 large handful diced bacon pieces
2 cm piece of fresh Ginger, grated
1 litre vegetable stock
Boiling water
Cream for garnish
Salt & Pepper

Sauté the diced onion and bacon with the butter in a large saucepan or stock pot. When the onion is soft, add the cubed pumpkin and grated ginger. Sauté for another 5 minutes then add the vegetable stock one cup at a time. Depending on how thick you like your soup, add 2-4 cups boiling water, then simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Once pumpkin is very soft, use a stick mixer to blend the soup. If you don’t have a stick mixer, you can use a blender or food processor to blend half or all of the mixture – again depending on whether you prefer smooth slightly chunky soup.

Season to taste.

Serve in warm bowls with a swirl of cream. Add some cracked pepper, croutons or crumbled, crisp, streaky bacon – just in case you didn’t have enough bacon in the soup (you can NEVER have enough bacon!).

The secret ingredient here… well, not such a secret now because I told you… is the ginger. I was unsure when Mr INTJ added it, but it added the ‘WOW’ factor to this soup without overpowering it, as ginger can sometimes do. If you are unsure, just add half the amount of ginger suggested, but don’t skip it. It just wont be the same.


Just a little more fancy than your average scalloped potatoes.

1 kg potatoes
50 g butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp freshly chopped herbs (thyme, oregano)
200 g piece speck or pancetta, cut into 1 cm cubes (or use bacon)
1/2 cup dry white wine
200 ml thickened cream
250 g  reblochon, raclette or gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C

Place potato in large pot of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for three minutes. Drain well.

Melt butter in large frypan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, thyme and speck or pancetta, and stir for 5 minutes.  Stir in wine, cream, potato and most of the cheese.

Transfer mixture to large baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Cover with baking paper and then foil. Bake 20 minutes then remove baking paper and foil. Bake for a further 20 minutes until bubbling and golden.

beef and guinness stew

I know, I know. I should have had this up for St. Patricks Day a couple of weeks ago. So I’m a bit behind the times. But it doesn’t have to be St Paddys day to enjoy this dish. And besides, I didnt make it myself until St Paddys day… and it will make the perfect warming food for those cold winter evenings which will be upon us soon.

The day I made this delicious stew, the aroma was permeating through the house by the time the kids came home from school and I faced the inevitable question. ‘Whats for dinner Mum?’… so I reply ‘Beef & Guinness Stew’.

They were horrified! Absolutely disgusted.

And this is why. In our house the word Guinness does not mean this…

It means this…

So yeah…you can imagine what they were thinking. Poor kids. I really do torment them sometimes.

Anywayyyyyyyy, it was delicious! And there were requests from the family to make it again. And even Guinness got to eat some too!

Try it. And if you have to buy the Guinness especially for this recipe and you can’t buy single cans, never fear! I have a few other Guinness recipes for you. Including Guinness Chocolate Cake.

Mmmm Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm……….

• 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
• 1.5kg stewing steak (blade, chuck or gravy beef) cut into 3-4cm pieces
• 2 stalks coarsely chopped celery
• 2 chopped carrots,
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 50g tomato paste
• 1 tbs plain flour
• 1 cup (250ml) red wine
• 440ml can Guinness
• 3 cups (750ml) beef stock
• 1 dried bay leaf
• 200g bacon, cut into strips
• 12 (300g) small shallots, peeled
• 150g button mushrooms
• 1.5kg potatoes, chopped into equal sized pieces
• 100g butter, chopped
• 1 cup (250ml) cream or milk

Preheat oven to 160°C. Heat 1 tbs oil in a dutch oven over high heat. Brown the beef, in two or three batches. Remove beef from pan and set aside.

Add 1 tbs oil to dish and cook celery, carrots and onion for 8 minutes. Stir in paste then flour. Cook for 1 minute then add wine and Guinness. Simmer until reduced by half.

Add beef stock and simmer again until reduced by half. Return beef to pan with bay leaf and bring to a simmer.

Cover dish with lid, transfer to oven and cook for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan. Add bacon and shallots and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes or until shallots are softened. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until soft. Add bacon and shallot mixture to main dish with beef and return to oven for 30 minutes.

For the creamy potato mash, steam or boil potatoes until tender. Drain well in a colander. In the pot, add butter and cream (or milk) and heat until boiling. Add the potatoes and mash. To get them really creamy you can use electric beaters and beat until smooth.

Serve stew on bed of mash, scattered with freshly chopped parsley.

Devour. Go back for seconds.