Season of soups...

... yes, the season of soups is upon us again! But there's definitely something about autumn that's in the air well before the leaves start to turn. The light, for instance. As the days get shorter, the light takes on a luminous quality which makes colours seem to pop more, as if someone's flicked a switch and transformed the bright and brash hues of high summer into the sultry glowing technicolours that we all love in autumn. Also there's a slight nip in the air in the mornings, often not even enough to feel chilled by it, but you know it's there. Then there's the mist. The kind that burns off once the sun is up, but it's nature's gentle reminder to stock up the larder and the wood pile in preparation for whatever the winter might bring.
Here's one I made earlier, beetroot chutney waiting to be labelled!
Once I notice any of the above, regular as clockwork I start to respond. At the moment there's beetroot chutney on the stove and a huge pot of red lentil and vegetable soup for supper. I can't say that I do a lot of canning and bottling these days, but I just can't imagine not putting to good use the free bounty that's on offer, even if you don't grow them yourself there's often people putting windfalls of fruit and surplus veg at the end of their gardens, free to good homes. Courgettes, apples, plums, beetroots are all plentiful right now and so suited to being preserved in lots of different ways as well as enjoying them fresh.
Love the patterns of the slanting light as the trajectory of the sun gets lower
I've been asked for the recipe by a few friends, so I promised to put it on my blog. The problem is I'm not good with recipes, and don't really do quantities in any exact way, but what I can do is give you the ingredients and bare bones of what to do with them and you can make your own version. I learnt to make this soup from Sadie, my mother-in-law, when my kids were tiny. I think it might be the understatement of all time to say that Sadie was not well pleased when told that we had become vegetarians and that chicken soup was no longer on the menu. Being a typical Yiddishe mama she thought that depriving the kids of chicken soup was tantamount to child cruelty. In an effort to compensate we started to devour double-sized portions of her lentil soup and I asked for the recipe. Sadie was more than pleased to teach me how to make her soup, a recipe her own mother had passed on to her and I've used it ever since with a few tweeks of my own now and then. My kids have grown up on it and their grandmother is now immortalised through her lentil soup as well as being the unique and wonderful woman that she was.
Lentil and veg soup
So... the recipe for the soup above:
325gr/12oz red lentils
160 gr/6oz mung beans (or you can use split peas)
110gr/4oz butter beans
1 large carrot, thinly sliced in rounds
1 medium potato, chopped in smallish pieces
1 large onion finely chopped
*4 cloves garlic finely chopped
*1/2 fresh chilli, or pinch chilli flakes
4 bay leaves
Olive oil to cover bottom of pan
*2 teaspoons veg bouillon
salt and pepper to taste
4 pints water
For Sadie's original soup omit the starred ingredients.
Put the onions, garlic, chilli and bay leaves in a large pan with the oil and sauté gently until soft. Add the lentils, and beans and stir in the pan for another five minutes. Add the water, bouillon, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and add the potato and carrot. Simmer for about an hour or until the beans are tender, adding more water if necessary to stop burning. Makes about 6 large bowls. Enjoy!

So what else have we been up to since I last posted, which I'm sorry to say was about a couple of months ago. I'd be here till Xmas trying to mention everything, so here are some photo highlights. 
It's been a bumper summer for figs - we've been eating them every day for a month!
We spent nearly a week in Wales with Izzi, Ava and Felix. This was a real treat and we did lots of fun things. The weather was great to begin with, in fact warm enough for the girls to don their swimsuits and go messing about in the stream at the bottom of the garden.
We had quite a few wet days, so we paid a visit to a nearby slate mine, then on to the Centre for Alternative Technology. We're so lucky to have this wonderful resource practically on our doorstep and we spent an interesting afternoon learning about wave power and woodcraft, riding on the funicular hydro-powered railway, and other innovative things just too numerous to mention. Follow the link above to read about everything that goes on there.
We were particularly struck by this caravan, completely insulated by upcycled CDs. It's a sweet pic too of the girls who had been expecting good weather when packing, so ended up wearing our old gardening fleeces and a couple of my numerous knitted hats.
Small is beautiful at CAT. We loved this rustic gateway with 'Smallholding' written in found objects above it.

Uncle Filo brought his 3D marbling kit, so candles, stones, plates, boiled eggs and more were instantly transformed into bright and colourful objets d'arts.
Ava's marbling bucket
Great to see Toej and Wyck, who came over for coffee one morning with their grand-daughter, Sofie, and Klaas, her boyfriend. They live in Holland and Sofie came bearing gifts from her Mum, aka Madame Sanspareille. This gorgeous green box was filled with hand-made tea bags, each containing a detox mixture of herbs and flowers. What a glorious gift! And although I was warned it might be a little bitter, with added lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey as directed, it tastes delicious.
Back in the real world though, when we arrived home in York the work on replacing lead pipes to every house in the street was starting. So a couple of days of deafening noise ensued, whilst the most enormous contraption dug large holes. Just an observation, but I don't know what it is about men and holes - whenever I went out into the street there would be two or three male residents looking down with great interest into a hole 🤔. 
By the third day I needed a serious walk to clear my aching head and ears, so off I went with P down to the river. It was lovely and I was so glad to be away from all the noise that I forgot about my peripheral neuropathy and overdid it a bit. However, I was absolutely over the moon when I looked at my phone to find I'd walked 2km. Red letter day!!! 😊.
Went up to the moors the other day to pick up some organic veg from Newfields Organics. On the way back the combine harvesters were out in force, confirming the inevitable - autumn has truly arrived!
Right now Django and Arlo are doing their usual sit-in when they would like more food - the next thing they try is scratching sofas and knocking coffee cups off the table. Partners in crime, they know just how to get their own way. What was that about dumb animals? 😉

This is the first summer I can remember when I've had no knitting on the go. I sit and look at yarns and put colourways together, but I must say I haven't felt moved to pick up my needles. Someone said it sounds like burn out and I think they might be right - there's been an awful lot of knitting in my life up to now. We'll see! But I have been playing tons of guitar and enjoying my new Guild F30 enormously. Anthony, if you're reading this, I didn't have time to get in touch in Wales as we were with the girls, but I'll bring the Guild next time, I'd love you to see/play it and hear what you think.
Can't finish without telling you briefly about a visit to one of the best gardens I know - the Piet Oudolf gem, Scampston walled garden. It would take another post to show you everything but I'll finish with a pic of P taking a break amongst the plants in one of their lovely wooden bench/chairs.

Thanks for dropping by. Come back soon xo


  1. Good morning from New York to you Jean, and thank you so very much for this grand post with its many interesting topics. It's hard to pick favorites amongst them, so I'll just mention a few.

    With a slight cooling in our own city air, even while the farmers markets still offer a harvest bounty, it's definitely a time to consider soup making and I appreciate your sharing your version of the traditional recipe. I've recently been making curries for the first time in...well, let's say decades, and enjoying mixing up all sorts of veg.

    Lovely to see the little girls having fun in the sparkling stream. I could just about hear their giggles.

    The dying adventures also look like fun.

    Your cats are beyond beautiful, and I type this as more of a dog fan.

    In the past few weeks, lots of noisy roadworks have been underway around my neighborhood. I am so pleased to report that it seems as if the deep hole digging, pipe replacement, and street resurfacing on my own block has been completed. It was sort of fascinating to see all the workers and equipment and materials required to do the work. I am sorry not to have taken some photographs of the "show." This was all done during extremely hot weather. Wow!

    Let me finish with another thank you for sharing your beautiful garden views, and to let you know how much I like the colors in that photo of the figs. xo

    1. So good to hear from you Frances. Hope by now your own road works are nearing completion/have been completed. Here they are replacing the stone flags at the moment - it's the final thing. We're all glad it'll be over for our annual street party which is this coming Sunday. Phew... only just though!

      Hot weather here too, in fact it's quite debilitating as there's rarely any sun, it's the sultry, brooding type, with thick cloud - not very nice at all, but better than rain I suppose.

      It was the final day of the holidays for Izzi and Ava so we took them to the Yoprkshire Sculpture Park - another hot grey day, but we had an interesting time among the sculptures. When things get a little cooler I'll post some pics, I think you'd enjoy seeing them xox

    2. Dear Jean, please do post those photos from your visit to the Sculpture Park when you have a good opportunity. Suddenly, more heat than I would wish for has returned to NY.

      Just in time for the final days of the U.S. Open Tennis tournament. Maybe you've seen the amusing (to some) news that when it rains upon the newly debuted roof over the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the rain on the roof is a major league percussion performance. The competing tennis players are not all amused.

      I am knitting more mitts while watching the tennis. xo

    3. Sadly we can't watch the US Open as we don't have Sky TV. I've always been very keen on tennis, resulting in middle son becoming a tennis pro, and now a coach. Will post the Sculpture Park photos over the weekend xo

  2. This is the first itme I have commented on a blog although I read quite a few regularly.

    I still find it amazing that I am reading an account of teh life of Jean Moss whose books I have loved for many years

    Thank you Jean for this and all your inspirational knitting over the years

    Clare in Sussex

    1. Thanks so much for your appreciative comments. It's always good to hear that a knitter has enjoyed my books, in fact it still gives me a thrill after all these years. Hope you're still enjoying knitting... the autumn is a wonderful time for choosing new projects, even if we don't get round to tackling them all 😉. All my best x


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