Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Winter Warmer: Pumpkin and Chickpea Soup

After I mentioned that we'd had some lovely pumpkin soup on Twitter (mentioned on Twitter - clearly we didn't have the soup there; that would make a mess of the keyboard), @Talkinrubarb has been poking me to post the recipe. So thats what I'm doing!

This makes quite a lot of soup. You may want to scale it down a bit.

Put a good lump of butter (about 15-20g) in the bottom of a big saucepan and melt it on a gentle heat. Add 2-3 roughly chopped garlic cloves and two chopped red onions. Add a couple of bay leaves if you like, but don't forget to remove them at the end.

Soften the onions/garlic on a medium heat for about 10 minutes and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of chilli powder if you want to spice it up (add cumin, coriander and turmeric for a slightly curried variation).

Add about 400-500g of peeled, chopped pumpkin (the more you add the thicker and more pumpkinny your soup will be), and cook with the onions on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Then add two cans of chickpeas (drained) to the mix and leave for another 5-10 mins.

Add about a litre and a half of vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you prefer - I find this detracts from the taste, though). If you don't have any fresh, try Knorr StockPots - they're pretty good, and I find two of them make a litre and a half of decentish stock - you want it to be slightly weaker if using cubes, as you won't taste the veg so much otherwise!

Thats it! Remove bayleaves and blend. I use a hand-blender in the pan while it's still on the heat. Although this introduces some risk of airborne-soup-napalm-related-injury (especially if I am involved), it produces a nice thick soup with some bits left in it. You can liquidise properly if you want a really smooth soup - Pumpkin, like most squashes/roots will liquidize down into a really lovely silky puree.


And if like me, you get a whole pumpkin, you'll either have to double/treble the recipe, or find other interesting things to make.. anyone got any other good pumpkin recipes?

Credit to Levi Roots for the original recipe which I have duly adjusted by use!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Still using less electricity and happy about it!

In August I blogged about our rudimentary efforts to use less electricity - not purely out of a desire to be greener, but because it's damn expensive and reducing the bill is worthwhile.

We've had another bill so I thought I'd post a quick update. It also stops my blog looking quite so neglected.

We have averaged 15.5 units a day over this quarter, compared to 22.8 for the same quarter last year, saving about 7.3 units a day. There were 82 days in last quarter, so that means 598.6 units saved at 13.11p (ignoring tax) - so thats £78.50ish in theory. The real saving was just under £70 on the bill, because the number of days differed.

Still not bad. I'm very happy with saving almost 30% on our electric bill!

Whats next?

The kettle needs replacing, so I'm hunting for the most eco-friendly (yet practical/functional) one I can find within a reasonable budget (upto about £30 - I use the kettle A LOT so I figure its worth it) - recommendations welcome.

We are also going to update our heating soon, getting rid of the old power-gobbling wall mounted ones in favour of some low energy flat panels (or similar). Then it's onto the white goods - the fridge and freezer are not currently very energy efficient... can't afford to change those until we've saved more on the bills though!