Leek and potato soup

Soup is one of my favourite winter lunches. A delicious soup with a good hunk of bread is perfect for those cold days. Soup is such a simple dish to make, i don’t know why you would ever buy it. Just make a big batch up and freeze in portions ready for those days you just don’t have time to cook lunch.

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The recipe below is an adapted version from a Soup recipe book by The Women’s Institute, get the recipe book here. This soup book has tons of really simple, tasty and healthy soups to try out.

A couple of small tweaks to quantities and timings to get the soup a little thicker, but relatively similar to the one in the book. Let me know how you find it in the comments below 😀

leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 400g maris piper potatoes
  • 500g leeks
  • 50g light butter
  • 850 ml chicken/veg stock
  • 300 ml milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives to serve
  • Dollop of single cream (optional)

Method:

Slice onion into thin strips. Peel potatoes and chop into rough 1 inch squares. Peel outer layer off leeks and chop into 1cm thick slices.

Heat butter in large pan (with lid), once melted add all the chopped ingredients and put on a low heat with lid on and sweat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 15 minutes, make up stock using 2 stock cubes and once timer goes off add to pan. Place lid back on and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, add milk, (transfer to plastic bowl or blender) and blend till smooth. Handheld blenders are super cheap and really handy for soups and sauces.

Add salt and pepper to taste and then reheat and serve. This soup can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week, and frozen for up to 6 months. I freeze in soup bags like these one’s here. Super handy for stocks, soups and sauces.

Sprinkle with chives and a dollop of cream (if you so wish) and enjoy!

leek soup

4 simple steps to tapas heaven!

Lemon chicken skewers, sticky chicken skewers and patatas bravas

Tapas is one of my favourite cuisines. It allows you to try a great variety of tastes and flavours all washed down with a glass (or four) of wine. The difference between cooking a meal and cooking tapas is timing; timing really is everything, and a lot of the food needs to be cooked at the same time or within minutes of each other. This is where the difficulty lies, each recipe alone is somewhat simple, but then added together, preparation is the key to success. As a friend always says, prior preparation prevents poor performance.

Rory’s parents were up for the weekend and we decided on the Saturday evening to cook tapas for them, and hopefully showcase some of my culinary skills. Rory was mostly on the entertaining (drinking) side, although he did help with a lot of the preparation. I have been experimenting with a few of these dishes for a while now, others were first or second attempts.

I must have got my quantities wrong, I cooked enough food for 8 people, rather than 4, but it is delicious re heated the next day, and the day after. On the menu, I included two types of chicken skewers, first off I made a sticky chicken and pepper skewer (recipe here), and then I made a lemongrass chicken skewer (recipe here). These are delicious, I love skewers, so simple and easy to cook, marinated for at least an evening before and only ten minutes under the grill make these a simple go to dish.

Next on the menu was meatballs and sauce, this is the second time making these so I have not done a recipe, a few tweaks needed but a great deal of flavour. Then I made Spanish omelette, I tried a new twist on my usual recipe and it tasted delicious! You can’t have a tapas evening without patatas bravas, it shouldn’t be done (recipe here). This simple dish can be prepared ahead and re-heated the next day or evening.

Other dishes on the table included, halloumi, a mozzarella, tomato and spinach salad with balsamic glaze, mozzarella wrapped in parma ham on a stick with a piece of fresh mango, my first attempt at Arancini, although these ended up flat, so I referred to them as flarancini. Several appetisers lay about the table including olives, hummus and flat bread, oiled peppers and various nibbles. I had planned to flash-fry king prawns with chilli and garlic but once I saw how much food was on the table, I made the executive decision to quit while I was ahead.
Tapas-meal
Tapas is so much fun to make and even better to eat, a little stressful but totally worth it when you see the sheer glory of all the food in front of you. A wonderful evening with great company, delicious food and lots of wine.

Hope you enjoy the three recipes I have included below, very easy to make but so much flavour and delicious to eat! Like, share, comment and subscribe.

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Sticky chicken skewers

Marinated sticky chicken and pepper skewers

Overnight marinated sticky chicken and pepper, skewered and grilled for a delcious starter


Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. runny honey
  • 2cm knob of ginger peeled and grated
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper cubed (2.5cm2)
  • 500g skinless chicken breast cubed (2.5cm2)

Directions

  1. Prepare all ingredients and place in a glass bowl. Combine until mixed well, then cover and leave in fridge overnight (the longer the better). If possible, mix a couple of times throughout to make sure all is combined.
  2. On the day of serving, skewer the chicken and peppers, around 5 chicken to 3 peppers on each.
  3. This should make about 6 skewers, more if you use less chicken on each one.
  4. Place on grill pan, drizzle extra sauce on top and grill for 10 minutes, baste and turn halfway.

Lemongrass chicken skewers

Lemongrass chicken skewers

Marinated overnight, lemongrass chicken skewers, delicious as a starter


Ingredients

  • 2 lemongrass stalks finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (cut into 2.5 cm sticks)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 500g skinless chicken breast cubed (2.5cm2)

Directions

  1. Prepare all ingredients (except lemongrass sticks) and place in a glass bowl. Combine until mixed well, then cover and leave in fridge overnight (the longer the better). If possible, mix a couple of times throughout to make sure all is combined.
  2. On the day of serving, chop up the lemongrass stalks into small sticks (about 6 little sticks in total), then thread chicken onto a wooden/metal skewer, with 1 piece of lemongrass in the middle.
  3. This should make about 6 skewers, more if you use less chicken on each one
  4. Place on grill pan, and grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway.

Patatas bravas

Patatas bravas

Spicy patatas bravas, the perfect accompaniment for any tapas dish


Ingredients

    Equipment:
  • Hand-held blender
  • Large saucepan
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Roasting tray

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 kg potatoes, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil plus extra for roasting
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp.) white wine
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. crushed chillies
  • 1 ½ tsp. smoky paprika
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180oc. Roughly chop potatoes and par boil in cold water, bringing to the boil and boiling for 3 minutes, drain, pat dry with kitchen roll and transfer to baking tray, coat in oil and sprinkle salt, place in oven for 40 minutes, shaking every so often.
  2. Finely chop onion and garlic, fry onion in olive oil for 5 mins until soft, add garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the white wine and let this simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add all the other ingredients (tomatoes and spices etc.), and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Using a hand blender, blend sauce until smooth and return to pan. Once potatoes have finished cooking, add them to the sauce and serve.

Roasted butternut squash, pepper and pea risotto


Butternut squash is a vegetable I rarely ate until I met Rory. It always reminded me of pumpkins which I distinctly remember not enjoying. Then one night several weeks ago, Rory said he really liked squash, so I decided to try it. Cooking a fairly simple risotto from BBC good food, it was nice enough and the flavours were there, but after cooking it a few times I started to adjust the flavours and what went in my risotto until we created this recipe.

This risotto is still pretty simple, and I believe it is delicious, full of flavour and lots of different vegetables. I think it makes a really nice starter serving 4, or as a main meal serving 2. You could also replace the squash with chicken, and the recipe would still work well.

Hope you enjoy the recipe, let me know what you think

Roasted butternut squash, pepper and pea risotto

1 medium white onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 bay leaf (fresh of dried)
1 butternut squash peeled and chopped into chunks
1 medium bell pepper (red or yellow) cut into thick slices
150 g frozen garden peas
140 g Arborio rice
1 tbsp. Crème fraîche
2 vegetable stock cubes (can use chicken if prefer)
1 cal. spray

Peel and chop butternut squash into large chunks. The best method Rory and I use is to peel the squash, and then to chop the base off and scoop out the middle, chop into thick slices and then into lumps. Place a piece of foil in the roasting tin; add the squash and spray with low cal. spray. Place in middle of pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes, you want the squash to soften not crisp too much.
butternut-squash
Prep the other veg (peppers, onion, and garlic). Tip: For the garlic, chop the end off, and then press down the side of the knife to crush the garlic, this will make it easier to peel. Also, chop the pepper up nice and thick so it does not disintegrate while cooking.

Make up the stock (800 ml) about 20 minutes after the squash goes in the oven. Next, heat up the frying pan on a medium to high heat, spray with low cal. spray and add the onions to soften. Fry for about 2 minutes, spraying more 1 cal. spray if needed. Turn down to medium heat and add peppers and garlic, fry for a further minute, and then add the risotto rice and fry for about 3 minutes.

* After 30 minutes take ¾ of the squash out of the oven and mash into a bowl and cover and leave on side. Turn oven down to about 140°c, place the rest back in the oven to crisp up. *

Turn the heat down to 3 and add the bay leaf. Slowly incorporate the stock, making sure after every addition to stir and let the rice absorb the stock. Make sure to do this section slowly to allow the rice to fully absorb all the stock; this will help with a thick delicious flavour.
butternut-squash-risotto
Once all the stock is incorporated, taste the rice and check its cooked through, then add the mashed butternut squash, and the frozen garden peas. Let this heat through and then add the Crème fraîche and then add to bowls (leave out the bay leaf). Place the roasted squash from the oven on the top of the risotto to serve. Enjoy!
Simple! Such a great meal, very tasty and full of healthy vegetables. Find the print friendly version below.

Roasted butternut squash, pepper and pea risotto

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

    Equipment:
  • Large saucepan
  • Roasting tray
  • Spatula
  • Measuring jug
  • Kitchen foil
  • Grater

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 medium white onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh of dried)
  • 1 butternut squash peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 medium bell pepper (red or yellow) cut into thick slices
  • 150 g frozen garden peas
  • 140 g Arborio rice
  • 1 tbsp. Crème fraîche
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes (can use chicken if prefer)
  • 1 cal. spray
  • Parmesan (optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Peel and chop butternut squash into large chunks.
  3. Line the roasting tin with foil; add the squash and spray with low cal. spray.
  4. Place in middle of pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes
  5. Prep the other veg (peppers, onion, and garlic).
  6. Boil kettle and make up 800ml stock 20 minutes after the squash went in.
  7. Heat up the frying pan on a medium to high heat, spray with low cal. spray and add the onions to soften. Fry for about 2 minutes, spraying more 1 cal. spray if needed.
  8. Turn down to medium heat and add peppers and garlic, fry for a further minute, and then add the risotto rice and fry for about 3 minutes.
  9. * After 30 minutes, take ¾ of the squash out of the oven and mash into a bowl, cover and leave on side. Turn oven down to about 140°c, place the rest back in the oven to crisp up. *
  10. Turn the hob heat down to 3 and add the bay leaf.
  11. Slowly incorporate the stock, making sure the stock is absorbed by the rice each time.
  12. Once all stock is incorporated, it should be a little runny but cooked.
  13. Then add the mashed butternut squash, and the frozen garden peas.
  14. Let this heat through and then add the crème fraiche
  15. Serve this in bowls with the leftover roasted squash on top (don’t eat the bay leaf)

Simple spicy salad drizzled in balsamic glaze


Yum. Yum. Yum.

This concoction of random foods all came together one Tuesday evening when my boyfriend had rugby and I got in late and didn’t have the energy to go food shopping.
Not having a car sucks; I sold my car about two weeks back and it really makes me remember how difficult doing a good sized food shop is without one.

Thankfully I have a lovely boyfriend who doesn’t mind driving me around, except for on Tuesdays when he has rugby.  Back to my original point, I had no food in. All that was left was some almost out of date mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, new potatoes that may or may not be out of date and some peppers in my fridge. Along with the usual wine and cider, but not sure how well that would have turned out on a Tuesday.

I often make a very simple mozzarella, spinach, tomato and balsamic glaze salad as a starter (literally the most simple starter to do!!), and thought what if I added pepper and red onion to the mix and heated it up. Add some roasted potatoes and I’ve got myself a hash of a meal. Turns out, my idea was great, with a few little tweaks, and some timing changes I have created a delicious healthy-ish light lunch or starter which is sure to wow any guests or even just yourself!

Equipment:

1 large pan with lid (for potatoes)
1 baking tray
1 large frying pan and wooden spatula
Sharp knife and chopping board

Ingredients (for 4 starters / 2 light bites)

15 new potatoes (baby ones, use less if bigger pots)
1 pack of mozzarella (2 if you like it extra cheesy like me)
½ red onion
1 red/yellow pepper
15 cherry tomatoes (a couple of handfuls)
Spinach (2 good handfuls)
Garlic clove
½ red chilli (deseeded)
Balsamic glaze (this stuff is incredible!)
1 Cal spray/oil
Black pepper
Salt

Method:

Fill your pan with cold water covering your new potatoes, heat up to the boil, and then leave to simmer for 15-20 mins. Turn your oven on to heat up to about 180oc  (fan)

72f1f-potatoes

Once your potatoes are cooked (you should easily be able to put a knife through the centre, it shouldn’t feel tough or hard), drain these and place on the baking tray, spray with oil/drizzle in oil and sprinkle salt on them, place in the middle of your oven and leave for 20 minutes.

1361b-veg-chopped

While your potatoes cook you can start prepping the veg; slice your red onion into thin slices, chop tomatoes in half, and cut your pepper into strips. Crush your garlic and finely chop this and the chilli. Cut your mozzarella into large chunks.

By this time your potatoes should be browning nicely and looking about ready, heat up your frying pan and add some spray oil/tbsp. olive oil. Add your red onions and fry off for about 2 minutes.

Next, add the pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes, then add the garlic and chilli, everything should be softening now.

880a3-veg-frying

Roughly pull apart the spinach and sprinkle in, fold this into the pan until the spinach reduces, add the mozzarella and keep folding the mixture. Don’t cook the mozzarella too long as it will become a bit of a lump, which tastes great but doesn’t have the effect you want.

Take your potatoes out and add them onto the plate, add the stir-fry mix and then drizzle in balsamic glaze and serve. It’s that simple! Tastes great and is so easy to make.

db322-recipe_2

Hope you enjoy this recipe, have a go and let me know how it turns out!

Simple, spicy salad

  • Servings: 4 starters
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A tantalising, spicy potato salad served with balsamic glaze


Ingredients

  • 16 baby/new potatoes
  • 1 pack of mozzarella (2 if you like it extra cheesy like me)
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 red/yellow pepper
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach (2 good handfuls)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ red chilli (deseeded)
  • Balsamic glaze
  • 1 Cal spray/oil
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Pre heat oven to 180 oc (fan). Fill pan with cold water covering potatoes, bring to the boil, simmer until tender (about 15 minutes) and drain.
  2. Place potatoes on a baking tray, spray/drizzle in oil and sprinkle salt on them, place in the middle of your oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, start prepping the veg; slice your red onion into thin slices, chop tomatoes in half and cut your pepper into strips. Crush your garlic and finely chop this and the chilli. Cut your mozzarella into large chunks.
  4. Potatoes should be browning, next, heat up your frying pan and add some spray oil/tbsp. olive oil. Add your red onions and fry off for about 2 minutes.
  5. Then, add the pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes, add the garlic and chilli.
  6. Roughly pull apart the spinach and sprinkle in, fold this into the pan until the spinach reduces, add the mozzarella and fold for 30 seconds.
  7. Take potatoes from the oven and place onto your plates, add the stir-fry mix on top and drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.