Autumn comfort eating – Instant Pot Butternut squash soup

Today was a good day. E is almost 5 weeks old and it’s still very much a round-the-clock job looking after her. So days like today, when I’ve grabbed 15 minutes here and there to tick a few jobs off the list, feel like a triumph.

In the days straight after E was born, hot meals were hard to come by. My mum came to the rescue with stew and soup, and kept us going until we found our feet.

I’m still finding my feet, but making a concerted effort to start a routine, and part of that is home cooked food and a decent meal each night.

A timesaver and somewhat of a God-send has been the Instant Pot. If your food has finished cooking, then it automatically goes onto a keep warm mode – no cold food, and no burned saucepans!

Today E decided to have a quick 15-min nap after we’d been out for a walk, so I took advantage and threw together  some ingredients to make an earthy, autumnal soup. Perfect for these cooler days, and something I can store for a couple more lunches this week:
Cheap meals - Autumn Butternut Squash soup


  • 1 butternut squash, chopped & cubed roughly
  • 1 large floury potato (eg Maris Piper), chopped & cubed
  • 2 large onions ( I also added a few small homegrown banana shallots), diced roughly
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped & cubed
  • 2 – 2.5 cups of water
  • About two heaped dessert spoons of Marigold vegan bouillon
  • Liberal dash of cayenne pepper


1. Dice onions and add cooking oil (I use a mild olive oil mix). Press Sauté on the Instant Pot. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the rest of the chopped veg and continue to sauté for a few mins, sweating down veggies.

3. Add water and bouillon, then cayenne pepper to taste.

4. Place lid of Instant Pot on, set to Manual for 15 mins.

5. Once the manual programme has finished, allow steam to vent. Open Instant Pot and blend down ingredients to a smooth consistency.

6. Serve with crusty bread!


Spicy autumn soup recipe

Root vegetables and cucurbits rule in Autumn, which is partly why it’s one of my most favourite times of the year. Here’s a hearty, warming spicy autumnal soup recipe for these chilly September days and nights.

Spicy autumn soup recipe with butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot



Light olive oil blend or rapeseed oil
1 x medium butternut squash
1 x medium-large sweet potato
3 x medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 x floury potato (Picasso/Maris Piper/Desiree etc)
2 x large onions (red or white), peeled and diced
Salt & cracked black pepper
Generous heap of curry powder (or garam masala and cumin) plus sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper
Vegetable stock (Marigold)


1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6/400F/200C
2. Chop the butternut squash into thick wedges, chop the carrots and sweet potato into chunks, sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper if desired and roast in the oven in the oil until soft and slightly charred on the edges – this should take about half an hour.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potato until fluffy
4. When the roasted veggies are almost done, start softening the onions in a pan.
5. Once the veggies have roasted, if you’ve left the skin on the squash, allow to cool and scoop away the squash flesh from the skin. Then add into the saucepan with all roasted veggies and potato.
6. Add a generous splash of vegetable stock (make sure the water is boiling) to cover the vegetables with about half an inch over the top. Add the curry powder, cumin or ground cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5-8 minutes to reduce the water content down.
7.Take off the heat and blend with a hand blender. If too thick, add some more vegetable stock and blend again.

Serve with thick, crusty bread, grab yourself a book or find a film, and enjoy!

Changing Seasons, Changing Circumstances

I’m sorry. I’ve been awfully neglectful. I’ve intended to come and write a post, but something always gets in the way; a trip to Birmingham, a desire to steer clear of looking at computer screens at night, a quiet night in at the pub, freelance work… you know how it is.

About two or three weeks ago I took a picture of my butternut squash. There was a flower, which spawned a fruit, which then grew and grew. But I have a feeling it’s not going to get any bigger. I took another picture – it’s only a few inches long. Hmmm. I won’t throw it away, I’ll try and roast it or something. And then do what I usually do – hope I do better next year.

I’ve done some raking of leaves, collecting of crab apples and a bit of tidying here and there, but nothing meaty. I really really need to get hold of some green manure to grow in my sandy plots. They’re just so devoid of any condition or nutrition that I can’t see them being particularly productive next year. My question to you all is this; what is your preferred way of feeding your soil over the winter? I need to know!

The other thing I’ve been struggling with since my last post is a fairly major change to my work life. We found out that we’re moving offices, and the most likely move is going to be 30 miles away, in Northampton. That’s a 60-mile round-trip for me every day. I’m not a happy bunny. There could be a few options; perhaps a home-based contract and the option to go in a few days a week, but that’s not exactly conducive to learning. My role changed three months ago and I’m in a training position, and the best way I can do that is to be with people. Being on my own a lot isn’t really the best way to move forward.

But then being at home a few more days a week will be great for me and my smallest smallholding. It really will. A home-based contract isn’t a given yet, but it’s a real distinct possibility. In many ways, it’s what I wanted for a long time, but now that I’m faced with it, I’m wondering whether it’d be a bad move. I just spend my days flip-flopping between what I think I think about it all.

It doesn’t help that I’ve not been remotely enjoying myself at work lately, it’s been really hard going and I feel a bit demoralised. But I’ve tried to stay positive and see how it goes; new projects and more experience might make it better.

I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be commuting 60 miles in the car every day. I don’t want to stall in my professional development either. And I don’t particularly want to be looking for another job right now, it’s such a bad time.

What to do, what to do…