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Premonitions and intuition

The whole ‘let’s move myself back to Ireland’ was a whim that was fueled purely by my internal compass. When I began the process, I had a voice notifying me to do this, and the same one letting me know it would be bumpy, but I would be fine. One of the major bumps has been living with Toastie, my toaster oven/hot plate. As a baker by hobby it has been nearly comical that I have kept my starter, Sponge alive with twice daily feedings, and no sign of a bake in my future. But I still have to eat, and I’m making it work, sometimes I truly surprise myself. This soup was one of those surprises.

For those of you who have a stove top, I am jealous, and with basic cooking knowledge you can adapt my directions.


Butternut, tomato & cod soup

Hotplates are on or off, either raging hot or not. The way to manipulate heat is to turn it off and on or remove the pan at intervals.


1 Medium sized butternut squash roasted

Bit of butter

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 shallots, minced

½ of a large or one small zucchini diced


Can of diced tomatoes

Splash of balsamic vinegar


Chili flakes

2 Cod filets

First, roast the squash and the garlic. I found the most amazing method of putting the whole squash in a crock pot, with nothing else, cover, turn on to high and it will roast fully in 4-5 hours. 2 hours into this process I added a whole head of garlic and let that roast up too. Let both items cool in the crock pot. Once cool to touch, cut the squash in half, scoop out the flesh and set aside.

On to the main event. With a hot plate I have learned, have most everything ready as once things get going, they get going and I’d rather be waiting on the soup than it waiting on me.

First, turn the hot plate on with a large pot, throw a knob of butter inside. Once this has melted, add the celery and a pinch or two of salt, then let the celery soften, I like to go for around 7-10 minutes. Next, add the shallots and zucchini, again add some salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Stir around and then cover for another 7-10 minutes, maybe stirring once or twice during this process.

Now, once it all looks a little soft but not broken down into a mush, turn the hot plate off, take 4 cloves of garlic that roasted with the squash and add them to the pot. Put the lid back on and, walk away for 15-20 minutes, when you return everything will have melted together into something that looks awful but smells amazing.

Next add the chili flakes, I would say a small pinch to 1 full teaspoon, but this is really depending on what you prefer. Add a glug or two of vinegar and stir, the residual heat, and the addition of the vinegar will help deglaze the pan.

Next, turn the hot plate back on, add the squash, stir until you have a consistent looking mash. This needs to mingle before the addition of tomatoes, so add 8-12oz of water, and stir to combine, bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, and then another can or two of water. The amount of water is very flexible, depending on the thickness you are after. Let this boil covered for 10 minutes. Finally, take the cod and break up into chunks and add it to the pot, it will eventually flake apart within the soup so don’t worry about the size being too consistent. After 5 minutes, turn the hot plate off, but leave the pot on the burner. Once the soup has stopped simmering, it's ready to eat. I garnished mine with fresh parsley and a dollop of plain yogurt.

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