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So one of the joys of long haul flights is that the change in air pressure can cause a toothache to rear its ugly head. So after a trip to the dentist I have been confined to eating soft foods this past week. Nothing beats a good bowl of soup so I stopped by my local mart and grabbed a couple of the green squash and a bag of sweet potatoes. I knew the soup could be knocked up in an hour but I was craving bread. I didn’t have the time or inclination to go to the bakery to pick one up and neither did I want to wait over 2 hours myself to let one rise. I had bought the Paul Hollywood book for the Fat Boyfriend for Christmas as he has recently taken up baking. I was flipping through and found this soda bread recipe which is super quick and easy because it has no rise time. Hurrah dinner was saved and an hour and a half later I was enjoying a delicious bowl of soup with a slice or three of homemade bread smothered in butter.

Ingredients

Soup

2 kabocha squash

4 small sweet potatoes

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

500ml of milk or coconut milk (optional)

Soda bread

500g/9oz  of plain white flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

420ml/15fl oz buttermilk (make by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into regular milk and waiting 5 minutes)

1/2 a red onion

100g of cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon of mixed herbs

Extra flour for dusting

Directions

Soup

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cut the squash into pieces and discard the seeds. Although you can roast them with a little oil and salt if you like and have them as a crunchy snack.

2. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and arrange on a tray with the squash. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt. Bake in the oven for about 30 – 40 minutes until they are soft.

3. Meanwhile finely chop the onion and garlic and fry off in a little olive oil in a large saucepan. When the squash has cooked remove the flesh from the skin and add to the pan with your onions. If you like to eat the skin, sprinkle with a little spice or seasoning add a touch more oil and pop them back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes until they are crispy. I find them more addictive than crisps! Peel the sweet  potatoes or just pop them in the pan with their skins on. I left mine on because all the goodness is in the skin and because  I’m lazy.

4. Turn the heat on and add the curry powder and cumin and cook for a minute or two before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes to bring it together before blending. Once you have blended it, add the milk or coconut milk until you reach your desired consistency. Reheat and season to taste.

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Bread

1. To make the bread Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

3. Grate in the onion, cheese and herbs if using, then mix again.

3.  Add the buttermilk and mix until a sticky dough forms.

4. Lightly flour a work surface and tip the dough onto it.

5. Gently roll and fold the dough a couple of times to bring the mixture together. Do not knead.

6. Shape the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball gently with your hand. Score the dough with a deep cross dividing it into quarters. Dust the bread with flour.

7. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 30 minutes at 200C/400F/Gas 6. The loaf should be golden-brown.

8. Leave to cool on a wire rack. This is best eaten on the day of baking. Thanks Paul!

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