Tag Archives: butternut squash

Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms


Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
I’m not too fond of soup, which makes me strangely unRussian. In Russia it’s considered an essential part of lunch. One hasn’t eaten until one has slurped on soup.
I think it’s the childhood memories of mom’s voice ringing in my ears, “Eat your SOUP” and the promise to 8 year old self, “When I am a grownup I never eat soup again” that left my family soupLESS for most of my marriage. It’s a shame because Brad really loves soup.

I can’t remember saying the word “soup” as many times in 2 minutes as I have just now. It’s a fun word to say, don’t you think? Fun fact: the word for “soup” in Russian? “Soup”!

I am not 8 anymore and now know that soups could be incredibly healthy and nutritious while also being warm and comforting when the weather turns miserable – welcome hug for the soul.  You will fall in love with this Chestnut and Squash Soup with dried porcini mushrooms. I’ve used Coquina Squash for its sweetness but Butternut Squash will be beautiful as well.  This soup is such a wonderful blend of the nuttiness of chestnuts and sweetness of squash while dried porcini mushrooms bring in the deep aroma of the forest. Serve it with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Pure delight. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms

  • Pancetta or bacon- 50 gr.
  • Red Onions- 2
  • Coquina Squash- 1
  • Fresh Thyme- a few sprigs
  • Dried Porcini Mushrooms (or any other dried mushrooms)-40 gr/1/4 cup
  • Olive oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Chestnut puree- 400 gr/15 oz can
  • Chilli flakes (optional)- 1/4 tsp.
  • Stew Mix (barley, split peas and lentils) or barley- 1/4 cup
  • Chicken stock- 1 1/2 litres
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms


It’s a good idea to peel and chop all the ingredients before you get going with the soup making so you are prepared and organised.

Cut your bacon into 1 cm pieces, peel, deseed and dice your squash into 1 cm dice as well, peel and chop your onions and remove thyme leaves from the sprigs. Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms Prep

Set a large pot on the stove and heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in it, then cook your bacon over medium heat, add onions, chilli flakes if using and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes until onions are softened. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Now add squash, barley and lentil mix and stir to lightly coat the ingredients with oil. Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms Prep
Lastly add your pureed chestnuts, dried mushrooms with the liquid (make sure none of the grit get in there) and chicken stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, turn the heat up and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Check if your squash is cooked at the end, remove 1/2 of the soup and blend it in a food processor, then return it back to the pot and combine for a thicker texture. Alternatively you can blend all of it if you prefer a smoother soup but I love having a bit of roughness to it.
Chestnut Coquina Squash Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
Serve with lightly toasted bread and a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.Chestnut Coquina Squash with Porcini Mushrooms
This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Great Britain”.

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry


Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry Brad and I have considered Indian food to be our comfort food for ages. Although we are both of European decent somehow the taste of warm and slightly spicy curries make us feel at home. It’s no wonder we eat them regularly, especially since we moved to Britain where it’s basically a national dish. There are not too many things that are better than a good curry coupled with crispy poppadums dipped in mango chutney and lime chilli pickle! Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry
I get so many requests to post a curry recipe which tells me you guys love Indian food too! I am not claiming to be an expert so what I am sharing today is something I cook often and is loved by everyone in my family. It’s a vegetarian curry and so delicious you won’t miss meat! This particular curry is called Korma which is a blend of aromatic spices like ginger and coriander and yogurt.  If you are not familiar with Indian food it’s an excellent one to start with because of its creamy consistency and mild taste, even kids will love it. Traditionally, korma is cooked with meat but this version is meat free.

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry

Many people are very hesitant to venture out in the world of Indian cuisine. Rightly so, as the ingredient list is long enough to intimidate the most experienced cook!  Cooking is fun for me and the more complicated the recipe the better, so I usually have all the right spices on hand. However when we moved to England almost 3 years ago I had to get rid of my very large collection of spices and still haven’t replaced all of them. Since then I’ve discovered Patak’s Curry Pastes which I use almost exclusively for my curries. The taste is excellent and the variety is immense. Why worry about making it from scratch when someone has already put in all the hard work for you!
Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry
Ingredients: {Serves 6-8}

  • Oil-1 tbs.
  • Onion, chopped-2 medium
  • Garlic, chopped – 3-4 cloves
  • Cilantro, chopped (stalks and leaves separated, stalks reserved)- 1 bunch
  • Butternut Squash, diced- 1 medium
  • Chickpeas- 1 can
  • Patak’s Korma Paste or any other curry paste  (not cooking sauce)- 2 tbsp.
  • Coconut Milk- 1 can
  • Water- 2 cups
  • Spinach- 100 gr
  • Frozen Peas- 1/2 cup
  • Desiccated unsweetened coconut (optional)- 2 tbsp.
  • Salt- to taste
  • Basmati Rice- 2 cups

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry


1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large and deep pan and cook chopped onions, garlic and cilantro stalks over low heat for 10 minutes until soft and slightly coloured.

2.  Meanwhile dice your butternut squash to match the size of chickpeas.  I leave the skin on as I discovered it cooks very nicely and eliminates a lot of unnecessary work. When the onions are tender add the curry paste and cook for a minute or so stirring the whole time, then add your squash, chickpeas, coconut milk, desiccated coconut, water and a pinch of salt,  bring it to a boil by turning the heat up, then turn the heat down to a low-medium and simmer it covered for 35-40 minutes.  Stir it occasionally to prevent from burning and add a few splashes of water if it gets too dry.

3. Start on the rice. Cook your rice in the rice cooker according to the manufacture’s instructions.

4.  Test the butternut squash, it should be fork tender by this point but not falling apart. Your curry should be thick so if it’s too runny, uncover and let the liquid cook down for a few more minutes. When you are satisfied with the consistency of the curry stir in peas, spinach and cilantro leaves, cover with a lid and take off the heat.

5. Serve with steaming hot basmati rice. We love having  naan bread or chapattis and various Indian pickles and chutney with our curries. My children go crazy for crunchy poppadums!

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry

Reindeer and Butternut Squash Winter Stew or How to Survive a Snow Day in London


Reindeer and Butternut Squash Winter Stew
It’s blistery cold here in London, it’s been snowing for the last 24 hours and many trains have been delayed or altogether canceled. The whole country is in the state of a national emergency judging by the frequent TV, radio and other media “sever weather” announcements. Every Facebook status update, Twitter feed and any conversation refers to this awful snowfall, yet when I look outside my window this is the picture I see.Snow Day in London
Yep, a light dusting of snow. Being a Russian Canadian I need to dig deep to find compassion or understanding for this hysteria. However I have to admit that although my husband and I have experienced much colder weather  in our days we found ourselves unprepared for how overwhelmingly ‘chilled to the bone’ this winter day feels! Right now London is wet, windy, snowy and grey and after a long way home the best remedy to combat this misery  is the comfort of a warm and homey stew brightened with orange chunks of butternut squash. If that still didn’t peak your interest I know the fact that it’s also made with a reindeer meat would!  You are probably wondering where in the world one would find reindeer meat (you can read my story here) but did you know that reindeer also live in North America under the name of caribou? I beg you not to discard this recipe if  reindeer meat is not stored in your freezer. Truth be told whether you use reindeer, caribou or plain beef this stew is a winner and your family will love you forever!


  • Reindeer steaks-350 gr
  • Stewing beef-500 gr
  • Italian pancetta (cubed) or unsmoked bacon- 200gr
  • Onion- 2 medium
  • Carrots- 2 medium or 4-4 baby carrots (cubed)
  • Celery- 2 stalks
  • Butternut Squash- 1/2 of a medium (cubed)
  • Tomato paste-1 tbsp.
  • Red Wine-1 cup
  • Juniper Berries-3-4 (crushed to release flavour)
  • Thyme- leaved of 2-3 sprigs or 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • Flour- 1 tbsp
  • Garlic- 2 cloves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 350F/180C.

I like to cook my stews and stew-like dishes in a cast-iron pot. It cooks everything much fast due to the even heat distribution and a heavy lid that traps the heat and moisture producing magical results. If you can’t invest money in the most popular brand like LeCreuset, don’t despair there are other brands that are more affordable like Ikea(worldwide) or Sainbury’s for those living in the UK. I have both of those brands in different sizes and I prefer the Sainsbury’s brand as their pots are enameled and the Ikea ones aren’t.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to your pot and cook your pancetta on medium-high heat until golden and most of the fat is melted away.


Cube the reindeer steaks and beef into 1″ cubes and add to the pot, sear the meat on each side for 3-5 min for extra flavour.

Reindeer Stew

Peel your onions and slice them, do the same with celery and cut the carrots in big chunks if using the whole ones or half the baby carrots. Add the vegetables, stir everything and cook for 10 min., adding thyme, minced garlic and crushed juniper berries. If you don’t know what juniper berries are look up what gin is made from!
Juniper Berries

Put your tomato paste in and sprinkle flour, give it another good stir to coat all the ingredients.

Now pour in your wine and top it up with water so the vegetables are just covered, add your butternut squash, stir and add a pinch of both salt and pepper. The reason I add the squash at the end is because I don’t want it to overcook and turn mushy.

Butternut Squash Bring your stew to a boil, cover it with a lid and put it in the over for 2 hours, check on it occasionally making sure it’s not too dry, add more water if necessary.

At the end of 2 hours your meat should be incredibly tender and delicious. If your stew is too soupy, take the lid off and leave it in the oven for 20-30 min. longer. Serve it with crusty bread or over creamy mashed potatoes. Stay warm!!