Beetroot, cumin and coriander soup

A nod to the BBC good food site, which is a source of reliable recipes. I was looking for new ways to cook beetroot, of which there is a plentiful supply in one of our local supermarkets. I had also grown a few more puny specimens which I added to the mix. 


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions in wedges
  • 1kg raw beetroot (about 3 very large beetroot) peeled and diced (or you can add a carrot if you don’t have enough beetroot)
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.2 litres marigold stock, or other vegetable stock
  • 30g hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • natural yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • (I also added some chopped celery)


  • Heat the oil in a large soup pan, and gently fry the onions, optional celery, and a good pinch of salt.  Cook for around 10 minutes
  • Add the Chilli flakes, and 1 tbsp each of cumin and coriander, turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes until the smell is fragrant with spice.
  • Add the vinegar, stir and add the stock. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for an hour. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • When the beetroot is tender, use a soup wand to blend. 
  • Meanwhile, chop the hazelnuts roughly. In a dry frying pan, add the nuts, sesame seeds and 1 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp coriander, and gently toast until the nuts are golden. 
  • Serve the soup with a swirl of yoghurt in each bowl, topped with a good sprinkling of spiced toasted nuts. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

We had some ground hazelnuts, so we tried this recipe. It was delicious, and it would have been even better if I had a cake platter. It also keeps well, and can be frozen. If you don’t have ground hazelnuts, you can start with whole nuts. The recipe is from ‘Chocolate’ by Patricia Lousada.


  • 90g Hazelnuts, toasted and rubbed to remove skins, or 90g ground hazelnuts
  • 140g fair trade caster sugar
  • 90g fair trade continental plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 90g fair trade dark cooking chocolate (50% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 180g organic salted butter, chopped
  • 4 free range organic eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30 organic plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • 90g fairtrade continental style dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 90g plain cooking chocolate (50% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 125g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup


  • Prepare a 23cm springform tin: grease the tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  • Heat the oven to 190C
  • Grind the hazelnuts with 2 tbsp of the sugar.
  • In a double pan, melt the two chocolates with the butter
  • Whisk the egg yolks with 90g of the sugar until pale, thick and creamy
  • When the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, mix it with the egg yolks and sugar
  • Mix the flour and salt with the hazelnuts, and fold that into the chocolate mixture as well
  • Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until ’soft peak’ and then add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until the peaks are stiff.
  • Fold the egg whites carefully into the chocolate mixture, and scrape into the prepared tin.
  • Bake for 35 minutes; the centre will still be moist, and the torte should not have risen much, if at all.
  • Cool the torte in the tin on a wire rack. Quick note: at this point, you could cool the torte, turn it out of the tin and then freeze it for up to two months.
  • When the cake is cool, make the glaze. Melt the two chocolates with the butter and golden syrup in a double pan.
  • Spread about a quarter of the glaze over the cake, and then chill: this stops annoying crumbs getting into the surface of the glaze later on.
  • When the first bit is set, rewarm the glaze a little, and pour over the cake. This is best done on a wire rack over a large plate.
  • If you are feeling really creative, melt 1 oz white chocolate and 1 oz milk chocolate separately, and pipe designs into the setting glaze. Circular stripes feathered with a skewer are suggested in the book.

We served this with pouring cream.