Perfect food for this cold and wintry day … Broccoli & Lemon Soup and a Pear & Ginger Cake

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Winter is most definitely here. It’s cold, wet and rainy outside with a top temperature of about 12 degrees today. The mist is swirling around the house, as it does when you live on top of a mountain, and the only thing to do is make soup… and a yummy ginger and pear cake.

Back in February I was making the most of a bumper crop with pots of zucchini and basil soup. This winter version is a way to use the masses of broccoli I have coming on. This gorgeous soup is quick and tasty and you can have it on the table in about 30 minutes. Perfect Sunday night supper.

Lemon and Broccoli Soup

1 large head of broccoli
1 leek
3 cloves of garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Good handful of parsley

Thinly slice the leek and fry till soft with the garlic in a little olive oil.
Roughly chop the broccoli. Include the stalk. It will all get whizzed up in the food processor and it is such a waste to throw it away. If you would rather not whiz the soup you should just use the flower of the broccoli.
Add broccoli to the saucepan and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to bubble away until the broccoli is tender.
Add a good grinding of pepper, nutmeg, parsley and zest and juice of the lemon. Feel free to go to town with the lemon. If it’s only small or not very juicy use two.
Whiz it all gently in a food processor or buzz with a stick mixer.
You can add some creme fraiche or light sour cream for serving if you like but it really doesn’t need it.

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Now onto the cake. This cake is a lovely hark back to Grandma style baking. It’s simple, makes a big yummy tray full and is perfect for lunch boxes and morning teas all through the week.

I have made this version pear and ginger but feel free to play around with other flavours. We have had great success with apples and cinnamon, quince and honey or fig and vanilla. Just use what you have in your garden or fruit bowl.

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Pear and Ginger Cake.

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups brown sugar
125 g butter
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup milk of your choice
1 egg ( or 1 tablespoon of no-egg mixed in 1/4 cup water)
4 pears, peeled and sliced into sixths
1 teaspoon good vanilla
1 heaped teaspoon of dried ginger

Place flour, butter, bicarb soda and sugar in the food processor and whiz till it forms a fine crumb.

Press half of this mixture into the base of a baking tray or large cake tin then lay pears on top.

Add milk, ginger, baking powder, egg/egg replacer and whiz together until just combined.

Pour this mixture over the pears and bake for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Stay warm.

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