We find ourselves halfway through October with the temperature starting to drop, so now is the perfect time to think of of steaming bowls of Autumn comfort food.

T-shirts and shorts are now packed away and the woolly jumpers and jeans now bulge out from the drawers.

Now is the time to start thinking about changing our menus and start making those hot, full of flavour bowls of soups and stews. Hearty autumn comfort food is the best food to come home to and curl up on the sofa with your favourite program.

Soups and stews are a great way of making a little go a long way and nothing is wasted. If you have any left over you can take it to work for your lunch or, use it as a base to start your next stew.

Like to slow cook? perfect. Pop all your ingredients in your crock in the morning, set the timer and let it do its thing. When you walk in the door at the end of the day and smell those yummy aromas all your daily stresses will melt away.

What is the difference between a soup and a stew. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer but I would say it is down to thickness of liquid and volume of ingredients. The thicker the liquid and the more and chunkier the ingredients, I would say is a stew. Soups can range from a thick and creamy to a light bisque. For a good heart warming meal I would certainly go for a creamy soup or a thick stew.

My idea of a traditional stew is slow cooked beef with potatoes, carrots, parsnip, swede and onion, and the must have dumplings all in a rich beef gravy. And the best bit……… mopping up the left over gravy with a thick slice of bread.

This time of year being Halloween, a great soup to make is pumpkin. When you scoop out the flesh to make your pumpkin lantern, use it to make a satisfying soup. You can spice it up with some curry flavours or keep it subtle with just cumin powder and black pepper. Add some butternut squash and sweet potato and really bulk it out. The colour is amazing and the sweet flavour is just so satisfying. You can find this recipe on the Confident Cooking recipe page.

Here are some ideas for easy tasty soups and stews.

Creamy Tomato and herb soup

Broccoli and stilton (or any cheese) soup

Creamy Potato and leek soup

Butternut squash and sweet potato soup

Chicken and sweetcorn soup

Rich beef and vegetable stew

Chicken and bean stew

Lamb stew with rosemary dumplings

Winter root vegetable stew

Get those big pans out and start soupping and stewing. Why not make a larger batch and portion into freezer bags for instant meals.

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