Tag Archives: home-made soup

Focaccia and nettle soup

It was the baking group again today, though they were slightly thinned out by holidays. It’s always good to see them because they are a happy lot. This is good when you’re baking (as some of my attempts have been horrendous and several, despite exhortations to “re-use the dough” have ended up in the bin – sometimes scraped from my fingers, and sometimes propelled with at speed). The fact that Focaccia was bread of the day was a bonus. It always smells so good.

I wasn’t baking today – I lost my baking mojo a while back and my enthusiasm has faded. I need to start getting it back now, particularly as several schools have been asking for bread making as an option when they come to visit. The smell of freshly baked focaccia and rosemary is just the sort of thing to bring back that enthusiasm. Not that I’m overly enthusiastic about the school sessions – it can be a bit of a dull day for the kids when you keep dragging them back into the kitchen for the next stage.


That reminds me, I have a teacher to ring back.

At the end of the session I gave out nettle soup. One or two slunk out without taking any (though I bear no grudges) but several drank it cold there and then and the rest took pots home with them. I’m easy with foraging and can take it or leave it, but it’s good to produce food from found ingredients and to introduce people to new experiences. It’s also, as somebody once said in a book, good to eat foraged food once in a while because it gives you a range of nutrients. However, there are reasons that we eat spinach instead of nettles, with the stings being just one of them.


I have actually set myself a target of learning something new every day this year. My learing for today was that I didn’t know how to spell focaccia. In fact I just had to check it after writing that.

Finally, can anyone tell me how ro swirl cream into soup and have it still look good by the time you’ve switched your camera on. In an effort to raise my game last night I swirled the cream, sprinkled the freshly picked chives and took this picture that looks like a curdled face.





The party day

The threatened children arrived, took the farm by storm, had nettle soup (in large quantity in one case), thoroughly enjoyed themselves and then left. The floors are actually looking cleaner than when I arrived to set up, thanks to parental input. Despite the noise and squeakiness and jollity I actually quite enjoyed it, though I am grateful to my kids for taking up martial arts and rugby rather than going to parties.

I was also able to take money off four passing ramblers and give out a number of leaflets for Julia’s Easter Event (biscuit making and Woodland Treasure Hunt).

If you’re about on Tuesday 7th April it’s 10.30 – 3.00, ages 5-11 and £7.50 per child including ingredients and chocolate. Bring wellies and a packed lunch.

Sadly many of my readers come from a long way away but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

We also had a visit from the Goat Lady, who was much cheerier and less bearded than the name suggests. She’s generally happy about the goats so we must be doing something right.

All in all, a happy end to the week.


Focus! First week report.

A week in and little has changed – seems like I’m going toi have to do some fine-tuning.

The intention was to narrow down my workload and achieve more by focussing relentlessly on getting results. The reality was that I’ve been given more to do and I’m still sprinkling my effort lightly over too many projects. Sprinkiling lightly seems to work with fairy dust, but in real life it doesn’t bring many results.

On the other hand, we did make nettle soup today, something I’d been meaning to do for two years. I’m hoping to move on to other nettle products as the year progresses. With luck, they will appear on my new nettles page, but considering my track record the result may well be that one of the other pages disappears.


It’s been a productive week with two days delivering the college course, a day of Woodland Trust training and a school so far. I’ve even had chance to try out my new soup and soda bread lesson, which went a lot quicker than I thought it was going to do. I’m going to be running it twice more next week so I’ll have to add a few bits.

Meanwhile Julia has landed me with running a party for twenty five-year-olds tomorrow – looking at lambs, making butter and being generally nice. It’s not really my forte.

Latest news on the guinea fowl is that several have gone in the pot and were delicious. The survivors are currently engaged in escspe-related activities and the outside group has risen to eight. They are so successful at escaping that we have been accused of helping them. If you remember when I first pased an opinion on the captivity I said that in a battle of wits my money was on the birds – seems I’m right.



This a picture of guinea fowl at liberty during a solar eclipse. Not much different to a normal picture of guinea fowl but I was bored after borrowing a welding mask and staring at the sun with a bit missing so just took some random photos.

Soup and Santa Claus

Warning: Several animals were killed in the making of this post – sorry if it upsets you but farmers don’t keep pets, as we tell all our visitors.

It was an eventful end to the week, with 35 wanting soup and a variety of other things taking place, including a double-booking that slipped through the system and another college visit.

I’m going to concentrate on the soup, because the rest aren’t so easy to photograph.

Here’s picture number one, consisting of a mass of bones in a pot with a few veg (known as mirepoix when making stock). We had the bones of several pigs available after sending some off for slaughter last week and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. First we roasted the bones for the additional flavour, then set the whole mixture to bubble away for hours. How long? Well, from when it was ready till it was time to go home. Sorry, I really will start to do proper recipes soon.

With three pots of bones steaming away the place was, to be honest,  starting to look like Jeffrey Dahmer’s hobby room. I’m not sure if the addition of the vegetables made it look better or worse.


                                                                                                                                                The “before” and “after” of the stock

Three pots of bones produced nine pints of stock. It lost a bit of flavour as I had to dilute it to make 20 pints of soup. First add barley to the liquid and cook for 15 minutes to half an hour – recipe suggestions varied so I just cooked it till it tasted half cooked. Then I softened onions and celery and added them plus 24 diced potatoes, a packet of frozen vegetables (carrots, peas, cauliflower, brocolli, onion) more diced carrot and swede. A bit later I added the cut up turkey left over from the turkey tasting event at the weekend then right at the end of cooking I added chopped kale.  If you’re going to reheat it leave things with a little bite to them so they don’t get overly soft. This isn’t a great picture because it shows the soup before it was properly re-heated so there’s a bit of fat on top. That’s something else that needs improving before I start doing more recipes.

I’m not particularly proud of the packet of frozen veg or the ready to use carrot and swede but I had plenty to do without spending all morning chopping veg. In my defence I would like to point out that I used our own free-range pork and turkey and picked the rosemary, thyme and bay leaves from the garden.


You may spot a small red dot on top of the soup. That’s because I’ve had complaints about seasoning in the past. Each of the three pots got two tsp of sea salt, two of ground black pepper, a six inch sprig of rosemary, four big springs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves, a finely diced red chilli with a few seeds left in and a piece of fresh ginger about the size of the top joint of my thumb.

It had a good rich taste of stock and herbs and a bit of an afterburn. I’d say it was a satisfactory warm soup for use after a morning disturbing game birds.

Two of the pots contain enough for ten portions or so and the bigger one should do a bit more. In the end there were fewer than 35 wanting soup, but we still got through 27 portions with no complaint.

Meanwhile, to ensure the contents of the blog match the title, here’s a picture of me trying out my costume for the Christmas Event at the weekend.


I’m not big on the concept of jollity but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.


There’s been a lot of soup about this week. There’s been a lot of many things to be fair, but I happen to have a photograph of the soup and photographs are important for blogs.


It isn’t the greatest picture of soup: I clearly need to work on the presentation.  I had intended to take a better one today with a swirl of cream and some chopped herbs but I forgot the cream and nobody wanted any chopped herbs.

We had someone renting the main room for a couple of days and they asked if we could do lunches. Soup seemed a good idea, being warm, nourishing and within budget. What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?

Well, on the first day it turned out that three of the six attendees didn’t like soup. Unfortunately  I didn’t find out until I had made the soup for the second day.

On the second day it turned out that we had two untouched bowls and one half eaten (or drunk?) bowl. Progress indeed.

I would offer you the recipes but with that sort of success rate it probably isn’t worth your time. If you want a couple of imprecise recipes for Carrot and Parsnip soup or Pea Soup feel free to ask.


Up to date

Wednesday news posted on Wednesday – up to date at last!

We’ve levelled the plot from the ill-fated “ploughing” attempt, we’ve spread compost, we’ve made pumpkin soup and we’ve had two parties.


One party was to say goodbye to Beth, our office supremo, who is moving on to a job in catering management and the other was a surprise one to celebrate 25 years of marriage for me and Julia. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve eaten too much cake today!



We’re off for a few days in the Lake District now so no new posts for a few days. See you all later.