Green chile herby carrots

Spring makes me think of wee lambs gambolling across clover-filled fields which then makes me think of adorable bunnies (second only to lambs in the cuteness category) and from there my mind leaps into the vegetable world and ends up at carrots. Because rabbits eat carrots, right? Only they don’t. A quick search of the ‘ole world wide web and I learned rabbits should eat mainly hay or grass (yawn). It turns out the whole carrot thing is a myth.

Sigh. What next? No Santa Claus?

I stubbornly stick on carrots and figure that if rabbits aren’t eating them, then there is probably a glut of them. Which means it’s our responsibility at Chile Trail HQ to get cooking. Carrots are naturally sweet (thus the no-no for rabbits) and are a partner for just about everything except the kitchen sink.

For something fresh and suitably spring-like, we’ve paired it with a heady blend of herbs, nuts, seeds, some toasted sourdough bread and last, but certainly not least, chile. The ingredients are whizzed up into a crumbly mixture that is a joy with carrots — any veg for that matter — or on top of eggs, a piece of fish or chicken. It’s so versatile that you’ll be dabbing a bit behind your ear and calling it eau d’ spring.

Green chile herby carrots

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 bunch carrots, about 1 lb.

1 thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted

3 Tbsp. roughly chopped walnuts

1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/4 cup roughly chopped dill

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 lemon zest only

2 tsp. Hatch green chile flakes

4-5 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt

To garnish:


Pumpkin seeds

Hatch green chile flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice the carrots lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the carrots. Place them in an ovenproof casserole dish, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over them, along with a healthy sprinkile of sea salt. Give them a toss to coat and place them in the oven for around 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and golden.

While the carrots are cooking, place the walnuts, pumpkins seeds and Hatch green chile flakes in a small frying pan. Toast over medium heat for several minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Tear the sourdough bread into chunks and blitz in a small blender with the nuts, seeds, chile, dill, mint, lemon zest and around 3 tablespoons of olive oil. It should form a rough and grainy paste that can be crumbled over the carrots. Add a bit more oil if needed.

Remove the carrots from the oven and place on a serving dish. Spoon some of the herby mixture over the carrots and garnish with more walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and chile flakes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Chile & Orange Lamb with Prunes & Black Olives

I just looked at the title of this blog and realized there may be a soul (or two) out there who fear this recipe calls for orange lambs. Before you start a fevered internet search looking for orange-fleeced lambs, let me stop you. The orange comes from the fruit, not the fleece. Although, I think it would be pretty nifty if lambs were orange-colored but that’s just me.

I digress…at this time of the year, when it’s almost spring but not really, citrus is a rare bright spot. Not only does it keep scurvy at bay (always a worry, right?) but it lifts (almost) any dish immeasurably. It’s like that perky friend who is so upbeat that they’re annoying after the second margarita.

Oranges — our best friend in this dish — give food sweetness and the requisite hit of acidity. It’s an ideal partner for lamb as it cuts through the rich ‘lambiness’ (this is not a real term, but you know what I mean). I’ve used blood oranges which are gorgeous and red like a fiery sunset and cost enough to fund retirement home on a small Caribbean island. If you can’t find them, fear not — regular juice oranges will suffice.

Prunes, aside from the gastrointestinal assistance they provide, add sweetness while black olives add a briny, savory bite to the dish. The star however is our Chipotle Rub & Mix which is a heady blend of three chiles, including that smokey superstar: chipotle (cue round of applause). Best of all, most of the work is done in a slow cooker or low oven so you can get on with other things like your taxes, a home perm, or shooting a tik tok video of your dog. Your choice. There is no shame.

Chile & Orange Lamb with Prunes and Black Olives

3 lbs cubed lamb shoulder

2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

1 banana shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Tbsp Chipotle Rub & Mix

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 tsp salt

2 blood oranges, juice from both and finely grated zest from one

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

5 oz pitted prunes, chopped (about 1 cupful)

4 oz pittled kalamata black olives, chopped (about 1 cupful)

Cilantro, to garnish

In a small food processor, blitz the garlic, shallot, Chipotle Rub & Mix, ginger, salt, blood orange juice and zest, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil until a rough paste. Place the cubed lamb in a bowl and combine with the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for up to four hours.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees farenheit. Remove the lamb from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. On the stove, heat an oven proof casserole to medium high heat, add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and sear the lamb. You’ll need to do this in batches. Make sure you sear the cubes on all sides. Remove and place in a clean bowl or plate and continue until all of the lamb is seared.

When you’ve finished, place all of the lamb back into the casserole, cover and place in the preheated oven. Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker. Cook for around 4 hours until the lamb is super tender. Add the prunes and black olives, cook for another half an hour or so and serve garnished with cilantro.

Spicy chile cauliflower & garbanzo beans

Cauliflower is the gift that keeps on giving. Honestly, you hack off enough florets to feed a band of maurading pirates, come back the next day and it’s regenerated. I’m convinced that we’re still eating the same head we bought back in ’72.

Of course, on these dark days of winter that’s no bad thing, is it? You scratch your head and wonder what’s for dinner and the answer is there staring you in the face: cauliflower. Friends drop over unexpectedly and you’re stumped for what to feed them? Not any longer: cauliflower. Who needs to run out to the grocery store and buy something for dinner. It’s right there, taking up 99% of the veg shelf: cauliflower.

Yes, it’s white. Very white. Ghostly pale and let’s be honest, rather sulphurous when your old Aunt Edith cooked it for 3-4 hours before she was sure it had been beaten into submission. But tuck it into a roaring hot oven with a lick of some spices and suddenly — va, va, va, voom — it’s transformed.

Those of you impatient souls who race to the recipe will note that we’re using our Abiquiu Steak Marinade for this dish. You will also note that there is no steak in the recipe. Clever clogs. Just because we call it a steak marinade doesn’t mean you can’t use it in other things. Like cauliflower. Now get cooking.

Slice the cauliflower florets so they cook faster.

Spicy chile cauliflower & garbanzo beans

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish

8 oz. cauliflower florets (about 2 large handfuls), sliced thinly

1-14oz can of garbanzo beans, drained

2 scallions, sliced into large dice

1 Tbsp Abiquiu Steak Marinade

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

zest of one lime, plus the juice

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

To garnish (your choice – go crazy):

Chopped cilantro

Cumin seeds

Chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the sliced cauliflower and garbanzo beans in a large roasting pan. Mix together the Abiquiu Steak Marinade, turmeric powder, lime zest, salt, and olive oil. Spread over the vegetables and give them a good stir so the vegetables are evenly coated.

Place in the preheated oven and roast for around 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Add in the chopped scallions and cook for another few minutes. Remove from the oven, spritz on the lemon juice. Taste and add some more salt if needed and top with your choice of garnishes.

Red chile pink grapefruit & fennel salad

The shortest day looms over us like — well, like the shortest day of the year. It’s Wednesday 21 December and the winter solstice takes place at 9:47 p.m, in case you were wonderfing. As it doesn’t involve a delivery of food, a crate of wine or a jumbo box of chocolates, I can’t be bothered. I won’t be celebrating as I’ll be in bed with the covers pulled over my head.

If you need me, drop me an email and I’ll get back in touch next May.

I mean, honestly, it’s all I can do these days to get out of bed and get dressed, let alone take a shower. While some smiley so-and-so’s think winter is ‘cosy’ I think it’s cold, dark and far too long. Surely I’m not the only one who gazes longingly at the drinks cabinet at 3:00 p.m.?

The only solace this solstice is the fact that the days will get longer after the 21st. Slowly — and I mean slowly– but surely night will get shorter. Yes, it’s at a snail’s pace but it’s something and frankly I’m grasping at straws these days (*reaches for variety box of chocolates and pops another in mouth*).

If winter is dragging for you too and a trip to Barbados isn’t in your bank account, then might I suggest a sunny salad? Pink grapefruit cooked quickly in honey and chile. Roasted fennel because apparently vegetables are ‘good’ for you. And a gentle scattering of pomegranate seeds and poppy seeds if you’re a show off. And for heaven’s sake have some pride and take a shower. Please.

Red chile pink grapefruit & roasted fennel salad

Serves 3-4

2 heads of fennel

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pink grapefruit

2 Tbsp. runny honey

1/2 tsp Chimayo blend New Mexico Red Chile powder


Pomegranate seeds (optional)

Poppy seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

Wash the fennel and remove any cute little fronds and set those aside. Aren’t they adorable? Slice the fennel in half lengthwise and then each half into four so you have eight wedges in total. Trim the core from the base slightly but leave enough so the fennel wedges stay together. Place in a baking pan, toss with the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until you can easily insert a knife into the base of a wedge. You can crank up the heat for the last few minutes to get some nice browning if you can be bothered.

While the fennel is cooking, prepare the grapefruit. Take a slice off the bottom of the grapefruit and then one from the opposite end. You can now stand the grapefruit on your chopping board without it rolling off the table, hitting the dog and creating a scene. Take a sharp knife and cut away the peel, starting from the top to the bottom and following the shape of the grapefruit. The aim is to remove the bitter white pith without taking away the juicy flesh. Got it?

Then take a smaller knife and make v-shaped incisions to remove each grapefruit section — again leaving the fibrous white bits behind. Do this over a small bowl so you can capture all of the juice. Set the grapefruit slices aside. To the grapefruit juice, add the honey and the chile powder along with a healthy sprinking of salt.

Heat a skillet and place the grapefruit sections with the liquid in the pan and cook for a few minutes, reducing the liquid and coating the grapefruit. If a grapefruit section or two breaks up, don’t fall apart yourself. It’s really not the end of the world.

Place the fennel on a platter, top with the grapefruit slices and the syrupy liquid. Gently scatter some pomegrate seeds on top (if using and of course you’re using pomegranate seeds — they’re a super food) and some poppy seeds. Finish off with those cute fennel fronds and hey, presto! — you’re done. Look smug, serve and then get back to bed. It’s bound to be dark outside.

Green beans with red chile tomatoes & crispy onions

Is it just me or are stores cranking up the Christmas tunes around Halloween these days? “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” No it isn’t. It’s not even Thanksgiving, although at least that holiday is days away. Note to self: buy a turkey. Speaking of which, why don’t we have Thanksgiving carols? “It’s beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving!” Now that’s a tune you could belt out.

And then there is Black Friday…don’t even get me started…Bah humbug.

Green beans, chile roasted tomatoes and crispy onions. What’s not to like?

I love Christmas as much as the next die-hard Scrooge. I even gave someone a Christmas present back in ’72. It was a tie. But I digress. I’d simply like to celebrate one holiday at a time. I’d like to enjoy New Year’s without feeling like I had to buy a Valentine’s card. Or celebrate Valentine’s Day without feeling like I need to stock up on Easter candy. Do you know what I mean?

On principle, I almost didn’t share this green bean recipe. Why you ask? Is it not delicious? Oh, yes it is. Is it not an excuse to open up a can of crispy onions, eat half of them while no one is looking, sprinkle the rest on the beans and then hide the can so no one knows your dirty little secret? Oh, yes it is.

It’s simply because it’s red and green. There, I said it. It shouts Christmas when all I’m thinking about is how can I wedge a 25-pound turkey, sweet potato casserole and dressing all into the oven at the same time. When I’m wondering why I invited Aunt Rose (again). And how many naps I can fit in post-Thanksgiving meal stupor. These are the things on my mind — not Christmas carols. I’ll deal with that later. Right after Black Friday.

Posole spice blend? Are you mad? Perhaps, but it’s just the ticket to spice up your green beans.

2 cups cherry tomatoes

3 Tbsp olive oil plus a splash more for the green beans

Scant 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp. New Mexico red chile (Chile Molido)

1 lb. green beans, tops removed

1 Tbsp. Posole spice blend

Store-bought crispy onions — as many as you want, go ahead it’s Thanksgiving!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the red chile tomatoes, wash the tomatoes and slice them in half. Pour half the olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish that is large enough to hold the tomatoes in one layer. Place the tomatoes cut side up in the dish and drizzle the rest of the oil on top. Dust with the salt and red chile powder and place in the oven and cook for around 1 1/2 hours — until the tomatoes have shrunken but are still soft and jammy. You can make these ahead of time and store in a container in the fridge.

When you’re ready to get the show on the road, wash the beans, trim the top (stem end). Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Add the posole mix and let it boil happily for a few minutes. Add the beans and cook until just tender. This is not the time to go and make a Tik Tok video. Drain the beans and posole spice mix in a fine mesh strainer so you don’t lose any of the chile goodness.

Toss the beans in a bit of olive oil, top with the tomatoes and sprinkle some of the crispy onions on top. And be generous. It is a holiday after all.

Fried Green Chile Tomatoes

There comes a time when even the most die-hard, speedo-wearing, sun tan-lotion-slatherer (yes, I know this isn’t actually a word), has to admit that summer is over. Gone. History. Perhaps it’s the fact that when you wake up it’s pitch black. Or that you spend your weekends in the Sisyphean act that is called raking leaves. Or you find yourself humming ‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley, a tiny tear in the corner of your eye…

It would be so much easier if we could act like a bear and hiberate for the next five to six months, wake up refreshed and enter a world covered with daffodils. Sadly that won’t happen. And sadly the vegetables of summer — the corn, tomatoes and berries — are gone too. Yes, I know parsnip puree is a treat but you know what I mean.

Not to go all glass half full on you — perish the thought — but there can be the odd upside to Autumn. Take the aforementioned tomatoes. If you can get your hands on some green ones then you have the beginnings of something truly spectacular: fried green tomatoes. To state the obvious, they’re not ripe so they hold their shape when you fry them. They’re coated with flour and egg and then a crumb of some sort and then — did I mentioned they’re fried?

Because there are two basic rules of culinary science: everything is better with bacon and everything is better fried. If you’re still unconvinced, name another dish that has it’s own movie. See, I told you so.

Fried Green Chile Tomatoes

Serves 6 as a side dish

1 lb. green tomatoes, about 6-7 smallish ones

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have any, don’t despair, use milk, reduce it by a tablespoon and replace that with lemon juice — voila!)

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tsp salt

1 tsp Green jalapeño powder

1/2 cup vegetable oil

This is a military operation so snap to it! Get three shallow bowls. In one combine the flour with 1/2 tsp salt. In another, places the eggs, another 1/2 tsp of salt and give them a good stir. In the last, place the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, the last teaspoon of salt and the green jalapeno powder. Give a stir to blend.

Remove the stem from the tomatoes and cut them into slices — about 4 or so per tomato. Heat the oil in a skillet to medium-high. The oil should generously cover the bottom. If you have a friend, partner, spouse or neighbor rope them in to help you. Dust the slices with flour, dip them in the egg and then coat them with the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture. Place them in the hot pan and cook them in the oil until nicely browned — about 2 minutes or so — then flip them and repeat on the other side. Cook one or two first — taste them and adjust the salt or chile powder if you feel it needs more.

Cook the tomatoes in batches — you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Keep the cooked tomatoes warm and then serve at once with wedges of lemon. But to be honest, they’re not bad room temperature either.

Red chile apple tart with pistachios & honey

Ah summer, you elusive temptress…you’re here and then in a blink you’re gone. You bat your eyes and shoot us a sunny smile and we think — silly mortals that we are — that you’ll stay forever. Was it the Hawaiian shirt we wore at the last barbecue? The zinc oxide we slathered on our noses at the beach? What did we do to send you off in a huff, leaving us with untold months of greyness before you deign to make your return?

Now hold on just a darn minute. Before we go too far down that rabbit hole, let’s remember that it’s not over yet. We have 24 hours before it’s officially Autumn. And if we’re lucky, we’ll tuck in a few more warm days before we have to dig out the snow shovels. And be honest — is summer really that wonderful? Sure there’s ice cream but there’s no law against eating frozen treats 365 days of the year (just think how much slower a scoop melts when it’s below freezing outside). Summer means flies and other insects and weeds growing like — well, like weeds.

Keep the pastry chilled until you’re ready to fill it! Got that?

Let’s face it, summer is not all it’s cracked up to be. Autumn is elegant. It’s golden leaves turning umber and orange. It’s restrained and glamorous. Think of it as the Julianne Moore of the seasons. And in the world of food it’s a bonanza, a veritable cornucopia of fresh fruit and vegetables. So stop whining. Buck up. Get a grip. And for heavens sake, get cooking.

Gently fold the pastry the pastry over the filling and you’re ready to go.

1-8 oz. puff pastry round

1 lb. hard, crisp apples (about 6 small-ish ones)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 Tbsp honey (a bit more if you like things sweeter)

1/2 tsp Chimayo Blend New Mexico Chile

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Squeeze of lemon in a bowl of water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Cut the apples in quarters, remove the core and slice each quarter in half or thirds. Place the slices in the water with the lemon juice (this will prevent them from turning brown). When you’ve sliced all the apples, drain and place in a frying pan with the butter. Cook over medium heat for about four minutes before adding the honey and chile. Continue cooking for about another four minutes. The apples should be tender but firm. Place the apple mixure in a bowl and allow to cool.

Place the pastry in an oven-proof round pan with an 8″ base, preferably a cast iron pan. The pastry will go up the sides of the pan a bit. When the apples are cool, spread them out onto the pastry. Sprinkle all over with the pistachios and gently fold the edges of the pastry over the fruit mixture to form an open-faced tart.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked and nicely browned. Serve warm out of the oven or at room temperature.

Habanero Peanut Noodles

Smooth and creamy thanks to the peanut butter with a kick courtesy of your friend and mine, the habanero.

I won’t keep you long. You’re probably busy burning burgers and fighting off smoke inhalation due to an overly aggressive use of charcoal briquets. The beer is warm and the potato salad has been sitting out far longer than recommended by food hygeine experts. You’re surrounded by guests and you wonder who invited them over and then remember that you did.

Congratulations: it’s the Fourth of July. The good news is that tomorrow is the Fifth of July and things go back to normal. In the meantime, smile and wave, as we say. Your guests will leave (eventually) and you can slink back to your lair and watch a boxed set.

And if you’re feeling a bit hungry later today (ever notice how you’re the only one who never gets anything to eat at these shindigs?), then might I suggest a bowl of habanero peanut noodles? It’s spicy, crunchy, and addictive. Heck, you could even serve some at your Fourth of July party. On second thought, forget that. No reason to encourage folks to stay longer than necessary.

The habanero (lower left hand corner) may be small but it is mighty (hot)!

Habanero Peanut Noodles

serves 2-3

1 package — about 7 oz. — udon noodles (or use another noodle)

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 Tbsp white miso (if you can’t be bothered, you could add another tablespoon of peanut butter and I won’t tell)

1 tsp coarsely chopped fresh ginger

1 small clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 dried habanero chile

To garnish: Your choice of chopped green onions, julienned carrots and cucumber, sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, lime wedges, bean sprouts and cilantro.

Snap off the stem of the chile, remove the seeds and place in a small bowl. I strongly encourage you to wear gloves when you do this so you don’t do what I do and rub your eye. Pour boiling water over the chile and allow to rehydrate for 5-10 minutes.

Place the peanut butter, miso (if using it), chopped ginger and garlic, lime juice, soy sauce and the habanero chile (ditch the water it was soaking in) in the small bowl of a food processor. Blitz. You’ll probably need to add a tablespoon or two of hot water if it’s too thick.

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Scoop the noodles out of the pan, place into a serving bowl and add several spoonfuls of the sauce. If it’s a bit claggy, add a bit of the noodle cooking water. Serve in bowls with your choice of garnishes.

Slurp the noodles up making an unwarranted amount of noise. Sigh and repeat.

Baked Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with a chile, lime, pecan butter

Hey fellows, did you dodge the bullet? C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. Valentine’s Day. Yesterday. I saw you at the gas station buying a slightly — scratch that, very — suspect bunch of carnations that looked like they’d seen better days. It was the panicked look in your face that said it all: ‘Yep, I totally forgot it was Valentine’s Day.’

Or you, the fellow standing in the frozen food section, wondering to yourself if a pepperoni pizza says ‘I love you’. In case you’re still wondering, it doesn’t.

But let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is a ruse, a ploy to strike fear in your heart and empty your wallet. Love — or even mild affection — doesn’t need a day. It doesn’t need a smaltzy card or roses and baby’s breath. You don’t need February 15th to say I-think-I-sort-of-perhaps-might-somewhat-like-you-only-not-during-a-major-league-baseball-game.

Jazz up your sweet potato with an easy chile, lime, pecan butter

If you really want to win someone’s heart, then cook for them. Make them a plate of food and you’ve got them wrapped around your little finger. This isn’t Valentine’s Day, it’s every day. It doesn’t have to be complicated or cost a lot — it just has to taste good.

And our baked stuffed sweet potatoes tick all the boxes. They’re quick, easy and taste delicious. You can’t ask for more than that.

A quick rub of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt adds extra flavor

4 small sweet potatoes, about 5-7 ounces each

1 stick, 4oz butter (softened)

1/2 Tbsp New Mexico Red Chile (mild or hot)

2 Tbsp chopped pecans

Zest of 1 lime


Olive oil

Optional extras:

Crumbled goat’s cheese

Chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the sweet potatoes, dry them and give them a light rub of olive oil. Sprinkle them with sea salt and place them in a casserole dish. Bake them for 45 minutes to an hour, until you can easily insert a knife or skewer into them.

While the sweet potatoes are doing their thing, make the chile, lime, pecan butter. Place the softened butter in a small bowl, add the pecans, chile, lime zest and about 1/2 tsp of salt. Mash it around like you’re a toddler playing with your food. Taste and add more chile or salt.

Slice the baked sweet potatoes down the middle and add a generous dollop of the butter mixture. Top with goat’s cheese and cilantro, if using and get eating. No one’s extending any invitations around here.

Dinner, my friends, is served!

Spiced Butternut Squash & Bean Soup

‘Tis the season for multi-tasking madness! Yes, it’s the time of year to over extend yourself and your credit card. Commit to far too much. Eat and drink yourself silly. Send holiday greetings to friends you haven’t seen or spoken to since you sent them a card last year. Ask yourself why stores insist on playing Christmas music months in advance. Buy your nearest and dearest something they’ll dislike and discard. Then collapse and promise you’ll never do this again.

Or you could turn your phone onto silent. Channel your inner Scrooge. No Christmas cards. No Christmas sweaters. Scowl at those cute carollers who come to your door. Then slip into the kitchen and make yourself a restorative pot of soup.

Accompany said soup with a hefty wedge of bread, some really good butter and a good book. The book, I might add is to read, not eat. Although if you enjoy reading you’re a voracious reader who devours books so maybe you do ‘eat’ them up. I digress…Perhaps something to listen to (not Mariah Carey singing ‘All I Want for Christmas’ for heavens sake). Something classy like Elvis.

Breathe deep and sigh. Do feel smug if this feels appropriate. For soup, you’re spoiled for choice. At our Scrooge Grotto this year, we’ll be serving a Spiced Butternut Squash & Bean Soup. It’s packed full of health-giving goodness (yawn) and is easy to make. Do share with someone if you must or store the rest in the freezer for a cold winter’s day.

Spiced Butternut Squash & Bean Soup

Serves 4

1 butternut Squash, around 1.5-2 lbs.

14 oz. can of beans (garbanzo, black eyed peas, you get the idea)

A hefty handful of cavolo nero (black cabbage), kale or spinach

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 New Mexico red chile pod

1 1/2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. ancho chile powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

Heat the oil in a medium-large saucepan over low heat. Saute the onion slowly until soft and translucent. Don’t rush this step folks. While the onion is cooking, peel the squash, slice in half, remove the seeds (you can save them to roast if you’re feeling energetic) and chop into 1/2″ dice.

Add the garlic to the softened onion, saute for another minute then add the spices, including the chile pod. Stir to coat and cook for a minute or two to bring out the flavours of the spices. Add the diced butternut squash and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes then add the stock. Increase the heat to medium (it should be at a low simmer). Cook until the squash is tender — this won’t take long, perhaps 15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, wash your greens. If using kale or cavolo nero, strip the leaves from the woody stems and chop. If using spinach, take a break, check your Instagram ‘likes’ and then get back to work.

When the squash is cooked, drain and rinse the beans, add them to the soup along with the greens. Stir, taste and add salt and more chile if desired. Remove the chile pod and serve.