June 23, 2015

When it gets cooler outside, we look to hearty comfort food to keep up our spirits. Think chunky soups, freshly baked goods and kitchen-warming roasts. Here, star local chef and pickler Julie Sullivan shows us ways to use fresh, homegrown veggies all through winter, and gives us the lowdown on the best jams, pickles and pastes to try out this season.

Classic winter warmers
Using the oven is a great way to warm up a kitchen, so slow-cooked roasts and casseroles are among my winter favourites. When the weather turns cold I also declare open season on soup. I love pea and ham, minestrone, pumpkin, or any soup thick with barley, vegetables and dumplings.

Harvest-time for leeks, potatoes & herbs
Leeks and potatoes grow well during winter and can be used to make another delicious soup. Herbs grow well too, once established, and deserve a place in
the garden. I like to add heaps of freshly picked parsley and other fresh herbs to soups, stews and casseroles.

Simple steps for a perfect Sunday roast

  1. Bring the meat to room temperature, for no more than 30 minutes.
  2. Place finely diced onion, carrot, celery and fresh herbs in the base of the roasting tin and put the meat on top to enhance the flavour during cooking.
  3. When cooked, rest the meat for at least 30 minutes. The tender result is worth it!

Instant pumkin soup
Pumpkins are my favourite vegetables to grow and they make the best soup. The following recipe, which serves four, is a family favourite, and I call it ‘instant’ because if you dice all the vegetables very small it can be ready in less than 30 minutes. For a special grown-up version, I add a diced chilli, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, 1 tablespoon curry powder or paste and 1 finely chopped pear. I usually omit the cream and just serve the soup with a good dollop of Greek-style yoghurt.

4–6 cups diced pumpkin (Kent pumpkins are sweet and easy to cut)
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 medium potato, diced
750 ml–1 litre chicken stock
200 ml reduced-fat cream

  1.  Add all ingredients except the cream to a saucepan, using only enough stock to cover the other ingredients.
  2. Simmer over low heat with the lid on until the vegetables are really soft.
  3. Remove from the heat and blitz with a stick blender.
  4. Add the cream and blitz again.
  5. Garnish the soup with pepper and chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

It’s also baking season, and my jams are delicious with treats such as scones, pancakes and freshly baked bread. Winter is citrus time, so look out for my orange marmalade, mandarin jam, and lime and ginger jam. And don’t miss my new organic quince paste – serve it with cheese or add it to a casserole for an extra hit of flavour!

Julie sells her jams and pickles at the Windsor Mall Markets on the second, fourth and fifth Sunday of each month. Find her on Facebook.

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