Butternut squash and pumpkin soup with a thyme and taleggio tart

Argh I’m drowning in a sea of recipes I keep meaning to post here. There are recipes from the summer in my backlog!! Really nice recipes like roast sea bream with salsa verde or an indian chickpea curry we had for the first time in Scotland back in June. Also our favourite blueberry muffins, a windfall apple cake and the fish curry Lewis makes for the whole family every year in France. But alas! The mood to write, she is not there as Hercule Poirot, for whom I always have time, might or might not say.

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To start, here is a recipe for butternut squash and pumpkin soup. Very ‘in’ right now, I’m sure you’ll agree, seeing as it’s proper autumn with the damp and the rain and the leaves. We are greatly enjoying stomping through the leaves this year. The pic above is Lexie posting her birthday party invites, although I had to tell her they were birthday cards for her friends. She wants to keep all her precious Peppa Pig invites for herself and also wants to do the pinata on her own!! This is an easy soup and Lexie loved it when she was weaning onto solids. I’d make it super thick and she’d feed herself (also I never did this but you could easily freeze this into ice cubes for quick baby meals). Now Lexie hates butternut squash so has to be coaxed into having a couple of mouthfuls, or dabbing her cheese toastie in the soup.

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A blob of gorgonzola or another blue cheese is heavenly in this soup and I keep meaning to fry a little pancetta to add on top. A dash of cayenne pepper/chilli powder, a swirl of creme fraiche and some chopped coriander works well too. This recipe is also a good way to make pumpkin taste nice (pumpkin really isn’t that nice on it’s own). Definitely roast the squash first for a richer, more flavourful soup. The pic above is the first time Lexie saw a pumpkin and the other pic is of her helping me buy lots of squash and pumpkins last year – little cutie pie!

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Because I’ve been making this soup for years and find it a bit boring I thought I’d add the recipe for a delicious thyme and taleggio tart. I can’t remember when Lewis first made this for me. It was definitely in the early years of our ‘long term relationship’ (that’s an ‘in’ joke) and it’s a staple from his family. It’s sooo easy and sooo good, a pimped puff pastry job – do try this! Using the same principles you can make a variety of tasty tarts – some that I’ve tried include cherry tomato, basil and goats cheese, very nice. Also a butternut squash and feta tart, a variation of this salad. 

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Finally we’ve gone a bit nuts for autumny crafts in our house now that Lexie is almost 3 and actually a joy to do crafts with (as opposed to when she was 2 when really all I should have done every day was build a massive tower of soft bricks, give her a Timmy Mallet style mallet and set her loose to destroy!). We’ve got leaf ghosts, egg carton spiders and bats, hedgehogs made out of paper plates or conkers, fingerprint or popcorn trees, I could go on.

Butternut squash and pumpkin soup

Prep: 5-10 mins
Cook: 20-30 mins
Budget: Less than £5 (£1.50 butternut squash, £1 pumpkin, £1 parsley)
Ease: Easy
Serves: 2 – 4 depending on portion size Ingredients:

  • A butternut squash and a pumpkin, halved
  • 1 sliced onion
  • Chicken stock
  • Chopped parsley
  • Olive oil and butter
  • Salt and pepper

Roast the squash in pieces (skin on) drizzled in olive oil and sea salt. Try to roast it for at least an hour, until it is all soft and squoodgy.

Gently fry the onion in the olive oil and a little butter for 10 mins. When the onion is soft add the peeled and deseeded butternut squash/pumpkin and cover with stock – as much as you want depending on if you want a thin or thick soup.

Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins. Use a juzzer thingimibob to puree the soup et voila, presto, listo, done.

This soup is lovely with a nice cheese toastie or served with a good cheese plate. We often have it with comte cheese.

Thyme and taleggio tart

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20-40 mins
Budget: £6 (£3 taleggio, £1 thyme, £1.50 puff pastry)
Ease: Easy
Serves: 4-6 depending on portion size

  • 1 sheet of bought puff pastry
  • 2 onions
  • Lots of butter
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Taleggio cheese

Preheat the oven to 200-220c and roll the puff pastry out onto a greased baking tray or a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Score the edges about 2cm apart to make a border (I never do this and it’s always fine, just leave a bit of a border if you want).

In a separate pan, gently fry the onion in lots of butter until soft and translucent, at least 10 mins of frying and don’t let it brown. When the onion is done spread it over the puff pastry and dob pieces of the taleggio on top.

Finally sprinkle the thyme sprigs all over the tart. Lots of thyme is good. Brush the pastry border with a little melted butter (again I never do this and it’s fine without), pop in the oven, and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden. You can turn the heat up if you want it to cook quicker/be more golden.

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Puy lentils with beetroot and goats cheese

I tend to make this when I’ve got leftover puy lentils to use up as it takes 5 minutes, it’s delicious and very nutritious – packed full of iron. Lentils are a great and very cheap way of getting protein into your kids without giving them fish or meat. If you cook the lentils from scratch it doesn’t take much longer to make and you get a warm salad which is nice in winter. It makes me laugh how much Lexie looooves this dish but hates mashed potato!?!

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Puy lentils with beetroot and goats cheese

If lentils and beetroot pre-cooked (or vac pac beetroot)
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 0 mins

If cooking lentils and beetroot
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 – 45 mins (depending on beetroot)

  • Puy lentils
  • Goats cheese – or feta cheese
  • Beetroot – fresh or vac pac
  • Salad leaves – spinach, rocket, watercress is nice
  • Spring onion (optional) – sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

If cooking the lentils and beetroot, put lentils in a pan, cover with lots of water (be generous, lentils guzzle water up), bring to the boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes until done. They should be tender but have a bit of bite. Drain and drizzle with olive oil. In another pan cover the beetroot (either whole or chopped in half) with water, bring to the boil then simmer until cooked through – generally 30-45 mins depending on size. Once done drain and leave to cool before removing skins and chopping into chunks. If you’ve never cooked fresh beetroot before be careful of it’s incredibly staining juices! Fresh beetroot is delicious, cheap and very easy to cook but it is stainy and faffy to peel. Vac pac beetroot is less of a faff (no boiling, peeling etc) but equally stainy and the texture is never as nice as fresh beetroot.

Once you have cooked lentils and beetroot assembling the salad is easy. Put leaves in a bowl, add the lentils, beetroot, crumbled goats cheese and spring onion if using (I leave it out for Lexie). Dress with oil and vinegar and season to taste!

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Butternut squash and feta salad

This is one of my staple salads. It’s a kids meal from Jane Clarke’s Yummy Baby book but I often make it if I have more than 3 people to feed because it’s delicious, cheap and really easy to make so I don’t get neurotic (I’m not a great host). Ironically it’s not Lexie’s favourite – she’s not into squash or sweet potato – but everyone else loves it and always asks for the recipe.

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It’s nice with sausages but today I’m serving it with lamb chops for a lunch with my mum and her best friend. It’s lovely as a warm salad using the squash straight from the oven but equally delicious served cold so you can roast the squash in advance and keep in the fridge till you need it. I’ve never made it with toasted nuts/seeds or bacon but I think both would be a great addition.

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Butternut squash and feta salad

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 45mins – 1 hour (to cook the squash, takes 5-10 minutes to put the salad together)

  • 1 butternut squash cut lengthways in half
  • Olive oil
  • Feta cheese (or goats cheese is nice too and what I used in the pics)
  • Spring onions
  • Lemon
  • Salad – spinach, rocket, watercress is nice (I used watercress in the pics
  • Salt and pepper (optional)
  • Toasted hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • Chopped, fried streaky bacon (optional)

squash ingredients

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or gas mark 6. Drizzle olive oil over the halves of squash.

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Put in the oven for 40mins – 1 hour depending on size. Do check the squash and adjust the temperature accordingly. Once it’s done either wait for it to cool, cover and keep in the fridge till you need it. Or remove the skin and seeds and chop the flesh into chunks.

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Slice the spring onions and cut the feta into chunks. Put the salad in a bowl and add the spring onions, feta and squash chunks. Dress with olive oil and fresh lemon juice to taste and season with salt and pepper if you want. Then if you are using them add the nuts/seeds/bacon to garnish (not used in the pics).

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