Beetroot Soup and #JanuaryJoy roundup!

One of the things about starting to wean Bea is that it has made me re-evaluate my own diet. That and New Year optimism made me think I should be making more soups and when my friend Jess said she had made beetroot soup I thought I’d give it a go too, fascinated by the idea of the colour it would come out. I really enjoyed it and as they say it’s good to include a variety of different coloured vegetables in your diet, I think this will cover pink and red for a while. 😉

Adapted from this Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe

Makes 1L soup

4 large beetroot, cut into chunks
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
500ml low salt stock
1 can of plum tomatoes

1. Chop the beetroot and throw into a roasting tray with the garlic clove and some olive oil. Roast at 200 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft.
2. Dice the onion and soften with some oil in a large pan.
3. Add the beetroot and garlic, then the tomatoes and stock.
4. Simmer for ten minutes
5. Blend or blitz to a smooth consistency before storing in the fridge or serving with crumbled feta cheese on top or a dollop of creme fraiche.

Let me know if you try it! Now lets recap #JanuaryJoy so far…

So far I have done:
(Another) new recipe (for Gingerbread!)…
Talked about a few of the smaller projects I plan to tackle this month/year…
and I have embarked on learning a new skill with the Pen and Peplum #52handlettered challenge.

Erin also talked about your style updates for January (see how she’s wearing them here,) and Esme shared how she gets organised as a working mother.

Other posts from around the web:
Sarah from Glasgow Mummy set some health and fitness goals
Sian from Little Star & Me captured the memories with a round up of baby books.

How are you getting on – please do leave a link to your #januaryjoy moments (- even if they are just photo’s, it doesn’t have to be a whole blog post!) Or tell me about what has been making your January Joyful in the comments box!


Friday Food: Laksa Soup

This morning we are welcoming Bex from The Olive Dragonfly back, who is sharing a soup that I can’t wait to try – A little like the Tom Yum I shared a few weeks ago, it’s packed with flavour and perfect for winter whilst remaining light… give it a go!

Here is a yummy, spicy, substantial soup – Rachel Allen’s Laksa soup recipe, which she usually serves with Thai Sticky Chicken on the side. It is delish, but time consuming and messy so I do it with pieces of cooked chicken breast or prawns instead. Prawns are my favourite and make it look nice with the pink and green colours, so I have written my adjusted quantities to serve 4 – for her original recipe see here.

I love how quick and simple this recipe is – don’t spend too much time chopping as it’s all getting blitzed in a processor anyway. You can even make the paste a day in advance and keep in the fridge so it takes even less time in the evening. It’s also great to serve if you have people round for dinner as you don’t need to spend much time in the kitchen but it looks impressive and tastes great!

Ingredients (Serves 4)
375g pack of the fresh rice noodles from the veg aisle (they don’t need to be soaked – just zap in the microwave)
2 red chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer leaves removed, soft inner core roughly chopped
25g fresh coriander, roughly torn
1-2 limes, juice only
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk (use the reduced fat version if being healthier)
400ml vegetable stock
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla) or soy sauce
150g sugar snap peas, halved
75g beansprouts
200g raw king prawns
4 spring onions, trimmed, finely sliced at an angle


  • Place the chillies, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander (reserving a few leaves for serving) and juice of one of the limes in a food processor or mini chopper and blend to a paste.
  • Heat the toasted sesame oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes, or until aromatic. Add the coconut milk, stock and one tablespoon of the fish sauce or soy sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around ten minutes.
  • Add the sugar snap peas and bean sprouts to the pan and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, or until almost cooked but still a bit crunchy. Taste, and if necessary, season with more lime juice and/or fish/soy sauce. Add the prawns and heat through for about 1 minute until they turn pink. Meanwhile heat the rice noodles in the microwave according to packet instructions.
  • To serve, divide the rice noodles among 4 warm bowls, ladle the hot soup over and scatter the sliced spring onions and reserved coriander leaves on top.


January Food: Tom Yum Soup

I found this recipe years ago in one of Rachel Allen’s cook books, Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends where it is described as ‘clean food’, a description that I’ve often returned to for food.

It’s basically a cloudy broth with a kick, full of beautiful thai flavours and juicy chicken and I tend to pad it out a bit with some rice noodles and leaves like pak choi. You can’t help but feel virtuous after eating it and thanks to the spice it’s also perfect for when you’re suffering from a heavy cold.

Image Credit: Martha Stewart

Here it is…

Serves 4
4 stalk’s worth of coriander leaves, chopped. Keep the stalks.
2 x chicken breasts (this is delicious and even lighter when made with giant prawns too.)
3 x 1/4inch thick slices of ginger (skin on)
1 green chilli squashed with the flat side of a knife.
1/4 – 1/2 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass, outer layer removed, then squashed and bruised.
1L of light chicken stock
3tbsp thai fish sauce
Juice of one lime
5 Basil leaves


  • Add the coriander stalks, chicken, ginger, both chills and lemongrass to a large pan and cover with cold chicken stock.
  • Bring to the boil and heat for 3 minutes to cook the chicken.
  • Take off the heat and add the fish sauce, lime juice, chopped coriander and basil leaves.
  • (At this point you can add some ready cooked rice noodles (or any noodles really) and/or some chinese leaves or spinach to bulk it out a bit.)
  • To serve remove the coriander stalks, ginger green chilli and lemongrass.

And that’s it!

Do you like Thai food or is it a bit of a faff for at home? Although this looks like a long ingredient list, they all come in little convenient packets in the veg aisle of a basic supermarket, so it’s not hard to give it a go.


January Food: Delia’s Slow-cooked Root Veg Soup

So why has a bog standard root vegetable soup made it into the best healthy recipes I have to offer you to start 2012? Firstly, because it is fat free. Completely fat free. However, if you think it’s boring you’ve got another thing coming. It’s super tasty and it’s filling, what more can you ask for?

Image Credit:

Serves 6
225g peeled carrots, chopped into chunks.
225g peeled celeriac in 2 inch pieces.
225g trimmed washed leeks, halved and cut into chunks.
225g peeled swedes, cubed.
1 small chopped onion.
2.5 pts of Swiss Bouillon stock
3 bay leaves

  • There’s no science to this recipe. After chopping all the veg, throw them in a an oven proof pot with the stock and bring it up to a simmer.
  • Put the pot into the oven at 140 degrees and leave for 3 hours.
  • When you take it out, the veg will be soft and all the flavours intensified.
  • Take the bay leaves out and liquidise the veges to a soup, then reheat to serve as required.
  • The soup can also be served with a swirl of fat free Greek yogurt, or a blob of creme fraiche if you’re feeling less virtuous.

    It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon make, can be left in the oven while you get on with your day, and sets you up with healthy lunches for the rest of the week.



Friday Food: Gemma’s Grandma’s Butternut Squash Soup

Happy Friday readers! Whoop whoop!
This morning we have a guest post from the very lovely Gemma who deserves an intro all of her own for 2 reasons. Not only am I delighted to have snaffled her to write the occasional blog post when she finds the time, because she is absolutely hilarious, but she has actually been doing rather more than that. Gemma has the super important role of editing Florence Finds. My spelling/grammar/typing is notoriously bad and I didn’t want that putting you off all the lovely finds we have to share with you, so each and every post has been edited by Gemma behind the scenes. I hope you’ll all join me in saying a big Florence Finds thank you. Gemma has also been my personal cheerleader of late for which I’m ridiculously grateful. 🙂 A big heartfelt thank you from me too Gemma!

So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the fabulous lady herself!

Hi everyone, Gemma here. I’m a friend of Florence. In fact, you could call me the founder of the Florence Fan Club because I have been lucky enough to see some bits of this lovely blog behind the scenes while Rebecca’s put it together, which has been like being invited to a premiere screening of an incredibly cool movie. I’ve unashamedly loved it but also been a tad worried about what shoes I should wear. Anyway, I’m going off the point. In true we-heart-it-when-it-begins-with-an-F style, today is the best day of the week. Make sure you nip back for your fashion fix later on, because today is Friday! Friday is for Frock O’clock and Friday is for (fantastic) Food. Which is where I come in.

Another reason (as if I needed one!) that I am a wee bit envious of Mrs Norris is that she has an allotment. The woman has an Important Grownup Job, (capital letters entirely intentional) runs this brilliant blog in all its many-faceted stylish glory in her spare time, and grows her own food. I can’t even keep a tub of coriander from Sainsburys alive long enough to last the journey from the checkout to my flat.

Said allotment is thriving apparently and has produced some butternut squash just perfect for lovely Autumny things.

Here’s the first one:

This recipe for butternut squash soup was originally my grandmother’s, but I’ve added more vegetables to it over the years because, well, I’m lazy. I like to boast that this soup is your 5 a day, but my husband pointed out that the 5 a day concept is to have 5 servings of fruit and veg, not 5 different types of fruit and veg in one serving of soup. Whatevs.


1 onion
1 smallish cluster of garlic
2 butternut squash (or more if you have a fancy allotment and want to use them up)
1 head of cauliflower
3 or 4 tomatoes (I normally skin these before I put them in the soup and if that’s too much of a faff for you, a tin of peeled tomatoes with no added salt or sugar is just as good)
3 or 4 carrots, peeled
2- 3 litres of stock (once, and I mean once, I was organised enough to use chicken stock I’d made myself but normally I use vegetable bouillon powder so that it’s vegetarian friendly, or chicken stock cubes, and ham flavoured ones work well in this soup too)
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1 tablespoon of curry powder (that’s grandma-style, bright yellow curry powder)
A pinch of chilli and/or garam masala powder if you like them/have them kicking around
1 cup of apple juice
A dash of olive oil

How to do it:

Cut the squashes lengthways, brush with olive oil, and put them in the oven at about 180 degrees for 2 hours or so. I’ve left them for 3 and a half on a slightly lower heat too, and if you want to be environmentally friendly and you’re baking cakes or a roast and have an oven rack free, you can always do your squash the day before. Pour a cup of boiling water over the garlic to soften it and stop it from burning and then pop it onto the tray with the squash.

Once the squash has baked it will be incredibly soft – just scoop out the seeds etc and then the flesh will be almost a puree.

In a big soup pot brown the chopped onion with some olive oil and then roughly chop the carrots and cauliflower and toss them in with the onion, coriander, cumin and mustard powder before adding the tomatoes and apple juice and about a litre of stock and simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat.

*Image Credit

After simmering, add the squash and garlic (which should also be pleasingly squashy and not too pungent) and you’ll be able to see how thick your soup will be – add more stock to get it to the consistency you like, and then blend in a blender or with a hand held ‘stab mixer.’

Serve with a little bit of coriander on top, and if you’re feeling naughty, a swirl of sour cream and/or some crispy bacon. (ie, put a couple of bacon rashers under the grill until they’re brown and crumbly)

Give it a try and see what you think!

Please do leave Gemma a comment below if you’ll be trying this one at home this weekend and if you’re feeling particularly technical, tweet us a picture of your creations! @FlorenceFinds and @prettiesthobo


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