As autumn draws to a close and winter starts to edge its way in, the rhythm of the day shifts and changes. The hens are happy to be let out a little later, though the ducks shout at anyone passing their run that please, as soon as possible, could the gate be opened so they get to the pond or sit on the warm muck heap searching for worms. The field tracks are wet and muddy making walking hard work as feet slip. With damp, grey days and wintry showers forecast for the coming week, I feel the need to fill the kitchen with sugar and spice and all things nice.
Cinnamon rolls and apple cake provided the necessary lifting of spirits over the weekend with half devoured warm from the oven and the rest bagged and frozen, ready to slip into packed lunches to take out to the Christmas tree barn next month.
Outside there are still branches and trees to be collected from the fields following the winds a couple of weeks ago. While the trunks and large branches are stored ready for sawing, the smaller branches and brash made a good bonfire. It’s very comforting to stand in the heat of a bonfire, gradually stepping back as the heat intensifies, with a mug of something warming. Warm, spiced apple juice (with or without a slug of sloe gin) or a good, thick soup usually fits the bill.
This is my everyday basic soup that changes with the seasons. More a guide than a recipe. Some days we eat it as a chunky soup with pasta and haricot beans added, other days it’s pureed to make a smooth, rich soup topped with a scattering of herbs. If the stock is a particularly good one, I leave out the potatoes and finely chop the other vegetables. Infinitely adaptable. And no, of course I don’t measure out the vegetables when I make it.