Spicy ginger and carrot soup

When I heard this combination mentioned recently I thought it makes sense. I also thought it sounds like something that could benefit from a bit of heat from a chilli, as well as the usual suspects onion and garlic. And I always tend to add potatoes to pureed soups, for that rich, smooth texture. I have just been experimental and  thrown ingredients together for this soup, however I do think the ginger, sweet carrot and spicy chilli make a good team. And did you know that ginger, chilli, garlic, onion and turmeric are all natural medicines to fight off those colds too, so perfect for boosting your immune system when the weather is getting cold outside.

4-5 medium-large potatoes (900g), peeled and cut into pieces
1 kg carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
100g fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garclic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions (I used red onions)
1 small green chilli (the smaller the variety, the hotter it will be), chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 liter water
1/2 dl cream
salt and black pepper

1. Roughly chop onions. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and fry onion in medium heat for 5 minutes.

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2. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, and fry for few minutes. Add turmeric and cumin, and fry until fragrant.

3. Add the carrots and potatoes, as well as water. Bring to boil, and cook, covered, for 45 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are soft.

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4. Let cool slightly, and puree in a blender.

5. Add cream, and depending on thickness, a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper.

Vegetarian bake

This tasty vegetarian bake is a dish I learnt from my friend years ago, when we lived together as single ladies. Even though I’m more of a carnivore, this dish has stuck with me, and is something I make regularly, as it’s really flavoursome.

2 dl red lentils
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
3dl vegetable stock
handful of fresh basil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1-2 aubergines (eggplants)
4 large tomatoes
2 courgettes (zucchinis)
1-2 balls of mozzarella
grated parmesan cheese

1. Rinse the lentils, and drain in a sieve. Place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.

2. Finely chop onion and garlic, and fry in oil for 5 minutes. Add the carrot, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, stock, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Finally, add the cooked lentils.

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3. Slice the aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and mozzarella.

4. Layer in an oven dish. I tend to put a little bit of the sauce mixture at the bottom, as well as in between each layer, and also on top.

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5. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and cook in preheated oven 200°C / 390°F for 40 minutes.