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Another Wet January Day

Just for fun I thought I’d start this post with a photo of my husband (above) which I took this morning, busily cleaning out another radiator with the new radiator brush.  I asked him to stop for a moment so that I could take the photo, and it shows him bringing up the brush and as he did this, vacuuming it with the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner, ensuring that the dust didn’t fly everywhere.  It was easy to do. Time-consuming, but easy!

Meanwhile, I decided  – it being such a dark, wet and windy day – that soup would be a good choice for lunch. I’m afraid I’m not great at menu-planning for a week as so many bloggers tend to do.  I used to when we were a family here, with two growing sons, but after 53 years of marriage, I tend to know exactly what things to buy from the supermarket and what meals to cook that we enjoy (even though I do make a list for the supermarket; I seldom go without one.)  And so I tend to cook what we feel like eating on the day (or perhaps I retrieve something home-made that is in the freezer.)

So soup it was for lunch, and today I made carrot & red pepper soup.

It couldn’t be easier.  It could’ve been Potage Crecy, which is a lovely French carrot soup, but the addition of a red pepper makes it all the more interesting in flavour, I think (I sometimes make Potage Crecy, using the recipe in my very old Cranks cookery book.)

For the carrot & red pepper soup, and making sufficient for our lunch for today, with plenty for another meal, you need 1 onion, about 4 carrots, 2 potatoes and 1 red pepper, plus vegetable Oxo cubes or whatever vegetable stock powder you like to use, and at the end of cooking, a dash of cream (or crème fraiche, or milk) and a little vegetable or rapeseed oil in which to saute the chopped vegetables.

First, peel and chop the onion and add that to the heated oil. Then peel and chop the carrots and the de-seeded red pepper and add those to the onion, and saute for a couple of minutes.  Now add sufficient boiling water to cover the vegetables and then add the crumbled stock cubes (or whatever stock powder you use.) I then added a dash or Worcestershire sauce, but that is optional.

Now bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat (with the saucepan lid on) for about 20 minutes.  Now, add a dash of cream or milk or crème fraiche, and blend, either in a liquidizer or with a hand-held blender.  Now season to taste.

I also made home-made croutons to go with the soup (I just cut up a couple of slices of granary bread and fried them in just a little garlic butter and a little oil to stop the butter from burning, and a sprinkling of dried oregano.)  When I served the soup I added a dollop of cream and some chopped parsley.

In the two glass ‘salts’ are butter and soft spread (just to have the choice for our bread) and the two small white dishes hold our croutons.

I can certainly recommend this soup for a cold day, even the colour is cheerful!

Once I’d cleared away the dishes, put the dishwasher on, swept and steam cleaned the kitchen floor so all was tidy once more, I thought it would be nice to sit and watch a film this afternoon and I knew just the film for a wet January afternoon …

I am sure some of you will recognise this scene from the film which is The Enchanted April.  This is one of my all-time favourite films.  It is from the book by Elizabeth von Arnim and the film was made in 1991.  What I love about it, is that even though I know the story, no matter how many times I watch it, it simply goes on giving … it simply gets better when you know the dialogue and the nuances of the characters.  You can say that of few films!  It has a wonderful cast, too:  Dame Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker, Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent and Michael Kitchen.  So husband and I decided not to do any work this afternoon and simply enjoy this lovely film, with a tray of tea and biscuits …

and the fire and candles lit …

It was so enjoyable we didn’t notice the rain lashing against the windows. We were transported to a villa in Italy with these endearing characters.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. Hello, Margaret, what a lovely day! Your gorgeous table settings make meals look so special, and there’s nothing like soup on a rainy afternoon. Sounds marvelous!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Beth. Yes, we made the most of a very dank and dismal January day! Soup is always heartening, though, I find, the perfect food for this kind of weather. This evening it’s going to be home-made spicy meatballs, mashed potato and spinach. (I’m not keen on spinach but husband loves it, so now and again we have it.)

  2. Your soup looks delicious, Margaret. I have been bookmarking your recipe posts, and I definitely want to try out this recipe sometime. I love both the movie and book The Enchanted April! You have reminded me that I need to watch and read it again. The only other book I’ve read of von Arnim’s is Elizabeth and Her German Garden, which was good, but I enjoyed EA more. I must plan to read more of her books in the future. Your tea to accompany your film looks lovely. And another pretty table setting! Also, nice to see your husband; he’s a fine looking fellow! :O)

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Bess – the soup was very tasty.
      Elizabeth and Her German Garden was the first von Arnim book I read and I absolutely loved it.
      Yes, husband scrubs up well (he didn’t intend to do the cleaning of the radiators, he had a rather nice pale grey Gant top on, but it wasn’t a particularly dirty job, the way he was dealing with it, so didn’t change into working clothes.) I will tell him you think he looks a fine fellow!

  3. I will have to try your delicious looking soup. I tend to go to pumpkin as it is a favourite of ours. I bought a soupmaker last winter and it is a very handy. It cooks and blends the soup in about twenty minutes. You can have chunky soup if preferred. It makes enough for two meals for us.
    I haven’t seen your movie but love watching A Room with a View multiple times.

    • Margaret Powling

      I have never had pumpkin soup, Pieta, only butternut squash soup (which I think would be similar, pumpkin being a squash.) But today’s soup was lovely – indeed, although I say so myself, I love all the soups I make, there isn’t one I wouldn’t recommend. I have a cousin who uses a soup maker, but in order to make a large quantity so that I can have some for the freezer or even the next day, I just use a large saucepan for my soups. If I want it chunky I either leave the ingredients as chunks, or for a smoother soup, I blend it.
      Oh, I love A Room with a View (film), too, and have watched that many times. Ditto 84 Charing Cross Road.

  4. Gee that soup looks and sounds great. I’m going to copy the recipe and make it soon. What do you personally do: put it in a blender or use one of those handheld blender gadgets? I don’t have one of the latter, but I’m wondering if it would be a well used thing to buy. Any thoughts? Thanks for the movie recommendation.

    • Margaret Powling

      I use a hand-held blender, in the pan, Jeannine. I used to always use a jug liquidizer but that meant having a bowl to put the blended soup into while I decanted it from the saucepan, as there was more than enough for one whiz with the liquidizer, so I ended up using three things rather than just blending it in the saucepan. I don’t mind if a few of the pieces are missed as they invariably are. I’ve had my hand-held blender for years and it’s been really useful, it was made by Braun.

  5. Thank you once again Margaret for another soup recipe, it looks delicious, I do appreciate you taking the time to post this. You are certainly giving me excellent ideas for varying our meal choices, my husband is so pleased. He works from a home office and I am retired, ( apart from my selling on eBay), so we are together and at home much of the time. We eat out sometimes but mostly I cook at home.
    We find it hard to find a nice place to eat with good food and reasonable prices, we try to avoid the fast food places.
    I so enjoy your accounts of the snacks and meals that you and your husband enjoy, I wish we had some similar places.
    You and your husband had such a lovely day even though the weather was so horrible.
    Pam in Texas.x

    • Margaret Powling

      The soup is easy to make, Pam and, once made, that quantity should provide two good lunches or suppers, or three adequate ones. Husband and I love soup and if you want something more filling to go with it, you can add some bread and cheese. There are so many lovely cheeses available – well, there are here – now, that we’re truly spoilt for choice. And, yes, thank you, we have had a good day, regardless of the pouring rain. But we mustn’t moan about our British weather, extremes are rare, we don’t have prolonged drought or freezing temperatures, we have much to be thankful for, living at the crossroads of weather here in the UK.

  6. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    Red pepper is a flavour I enjoy. I make a tomato and red pepper soup which is really tasty.
    As a great fan of Jim Broadbent ( who stars rather wonderfully in the film version of my favourite book, Any human heart) and Miranda Richardson, I shall definitely look out for your film recommendation, Interestingly I feel just the same in terms of the film getting better as I watch it more.

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Eloise. Yes, tomato & red pepper soup is delicious, too.
      I don’t know the book or the film Any Human Heart, so maybe that’s one I might look out for. Yes, a good film, as with a book, just gets better somehow.

  7. Hi Margaret,
    I do like to see a man with a vacuum cleaner in his hand, they should all know how to operate all household gadgetry! When we were first married, I picked a few bits of fluff up off the floor, vauumed around, then dropped the fluff again. My husband decided that I was so useless with a vacuum cleaner that he would do it all in future. Thirty three years later he still
    hasn’t caught on to my ruse, ssshhhhh!
    You mentioned in your pea and mint soup post about the bag of peas being an odd weight at 907g. It’s a two pound bag of peas, 454g to an imperial pound! I swap imperial and metric weights easily, the secret is 113g is a quarter pound bag of sweeties, 250g is roughly a half pound pack of butter, 454g is a one pound jar of jam and so on and so forth!
    I made Carrot and Coriander soup for my husband once, he described it as “okay, but not really to my taste”. I was fine with that until he went out for dinner with some colleagues one evening, and came home to tell me about the delicious Carrot and Coriander soup they had to start! I wasn’t entirely thrilled that apparently it’s just MY soup that he didn’t like! I make lots of soups, and he likes them all, but I’ve never made Carrot and Coriander since!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Colette, lovely of you to leave a comment, thank you. Yes, men should know how to operate household gadgets, but then we should also then know how to operate the things which men tend to use – electric sanders, drills, and all manner of power tools, none of which I’ve ever used nor wish to. But of course, those aren’t generally in operation each and every day whereas we need to wash clothes and iron them, so yes, men ought to be able to operate all the things required to run a home. And, thankfully, my husband is pretty good at such things. Have you noticed how vacuum cleaners, for the most part, are in what I would consider ‘masculine’ colours – deep maroon is a popular colour and at one time some were in a shade known as British Racing Green, whereas irons tend to be in the more ‘feminine’ pastel colours – my daughter-in-law swapped an iron I had bought for her spare one as the handle on the new one was too wide for my hand and the ‘swapped’ iron is a pretty pastel pink! I rest my case! Of course, there are men who would adore to have a pink iron, but really, it’s a very girly colour (although, in the history of the colour pink, this was originally a shade for men) and I think the subliminal message here is that it’s for women to use. Husband here actually enjoy vacuuming, so naturally I let him do it!
      How silly of me, of course, the 907g is the old imperial pound!
      Oh, how funny that your husband praised someone else’s carrot & coriander soup and yet he’d dismissed yours! I have made carrot and coriander soup myself and, actually, wasn’t very keen on it. I think one has to take care with the amount of coriander, I think it needs just a hint of this herb and then it’s fine, but a little too much and, well, as I say, not to my taste.

      • Hi Margaret,
        I agree that we women should know how to operate power tools, I can, and quite frequently do!
        As an only child and the daughter of a great DIY-er, I learned, literally at my father’s knee, the skills needed to safely work with drills, electric saws etc!
        My husband even bought me a ‘Snap On’ toolbox and various tools to fill it with as I was constantly grizzling at him that I couldn’t find the tool I wanted in his toolboxes. Husband was an engineer, so has a shed full of toolboxes containing tools of every shape, size and purpose, but he puts them away in what to me seems a totally random order!
        I get unusual presents too, for Christmas husband bought me a pair of Golden South Sea Pearl earrings, and a Dewalt hammer drill! I don’t wear pearls whilst using the drill though, the dust and grit wouldn’t do them any good!😉
        My vacuum cleaner is a Miele, in white, so gender neutral and my iron is a Philips steam generator, which is dark purple, and virtually silent, so ironing (my most hated household job) gets done whilst watching TV!
        We have no demarcation lines in this house, if a job needs doing, whoever is there first does it, apart from the vacuuming obviously!
        I’m off to do a pan of pea and pesto soup for lunch, the village Church bells are ringing a wedding peal, poor lass is getting married on a day of cold and torrential rain!

        • Margaret Powling

          I confess I’ve not used power tools as husband has always done the home maintenance, but perhaps one day I might get my hands on the drill and bash a few holes in here and there! But how great is that, that your hsbvand bought you a Snap On toolbox! Well done, that man! Oh, that’s so funny – a present of pearl earrings and a hammer drill! I wonder which you loved the best? Your Philips steam generator iron sounds wonderful, I must say? I must Google that – it sounds like one of those large ones with a reservoir? We don’t have space to keep such a thing, unfortunately. Yes, that sounds like us; whoever sees the job needs doing does it. This is how housework should be, total gender neutral (like your vacuum cleaner.) Oh, pea and pesto soup sounds good – I’ve not tried that combination, maybe I should add that to my repertoire!

          • Margaret,
            The earrings were my favourite present, but the drill is infinitely more useful!

            My Pea and Pesto soup is actually a Nigella express recipe, I’m still struggling to get over the bronchitis which is a left over from having Flu, so don’t feel much like standing at the hob or chopping board for long!
            This only makes a small amount, but it’s so simple and quick that it can be done whenever we get a craving!

            750ml water
            375g frozen peas
            2 spring onions, trimmed but whole
            1 tsp Maldon salt or ½ tsp table salt
            ½ tsp lime juice
            4 tbsp fresh pesto (from a tub, not a jar)

            Fill a kettle and put it on to boil. When it has boiled, measure the amount you need into a pan and put on the hob to come back to the boil.
            Add the frozen peas, spring onions, salt and lime juice to the pan and let everything bubble together for 7 minutes.
            Discard the spring onions and blitz the peas and their liquid with the pesto in a blender.

          • Margaret Powling

            Oh, that sounds a lovely soup, Colette … I shall have to copy that for my recipe file, so easy to make. I wonder if 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice makes a lot of difference to it? I don’t often buy limes, but I always have lemons, but limes are sharper. And there’s always a tub of pesto in the freezer as I make a sauce using that for tagliatelli, with other bits added, such as peas, chopped spring onions, pine nuts, indeed anything I think suitable and which I have in the fridge or food cupboard (and I use Maldon salt, too.)
            Hope you will feel really well again soon. The bronchitis after flu sounds awful.

  8. Your soup recipe sounds quite easy. The last few batches I’ve made have been more ‘green’ soups, with cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, etc giving a greenish hue to the final product. Prior to that I’d mostly made pumpkin (with whatever else was at hand) soup which had a dull orange colour. I like to add a good dollop of sour cream, a swirl of olive oil and ground black pepper once heated in the bowl – it gives some colour as well as adding to the flavours. Grilled cheese on toast is a good accompaniment to any soup and makes an excellent lunch or light dinner.

    I hope your husband enjoys being the model for the new radiator brush. A new career, perhaps ?? Our washing machine was making a distressing sound during the wash cycle so my husband removed the load so he could investigate. After removing the agitator and fiddling about it seemed something tiny (a screw from the pocket of his work shorts) had been jammed and was the cause of the fuss. Within minutes he had the machine back together, clothes in and cycle recommenced I told him I was glad I’d married a clever man 🙂

    Today (26th January) is a public holiday here for Australia Day. We went to the beach early for a swim and then used the public barbecues to cook bacon and eggs which we ate on fresh bread rolls with tomato sauce. A very Australian dish ! Kids return to school next week for the new year so this is the last hoorah for many people’s summer holiday. Temperatures are still high.

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Lara, you would’ve laughed … I mentioned to husband that Bess had called “a fine fellow” on my blog and he said that I shouldn’t have shown that photo as he looks all old and jowly! I said he didn’t look old and jowly at all! But he didn’t mind being the model for the radiator brush – as you suggest, he could have a whole new career ahead of him, cleaning out radiators rather than as a model, ha ha! Seriously, he has only done two so far, but he will do more, all in good time.
      Your soups sound lovely, and I like the idea of a swirl of olive oil (that would be rapeseed oil in our case) and black pepper before serving.
      I hope you have had a good holiday for Australia Day – how lovely that sounds, going to the beach for a swim and then using public barbecues – we don’t have such things here as the weather doesn’t encourage the building of such items, it could be sunny in the morning but raining by noon. But that’s the UK for you! We love bacon & eggs, too, very much a traditional “full English” breakfast.
      Oh, that’s wonderful – just a tiny screw in the wash cycle making the noise. Yes, it’s good to be married to clever men, or rather to a clever man!

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