Hearty Heaven

Liz Nicholls

Katie Kingsley serves up some wonderfully mellow autumn dishes –perfect for those cosy November evenings…


Hearty in every sense, generous to the stomach and the soul and just what we need this gusty time of year – a sturdy soup to keep us grounded. Very simple to prepare with ingredients to stave off the most stubborn of colds.

Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and a knob of butter to a casserole and heat then add two finely diced onions, cooking for about five minutes on a medium heat until softened. Add one finely diced carrot, one finely diced parsnip, two finely diced celery stalks and continue to sauté for another five minutes or so until softened. Add 2 tsp of grated ginger, two bay leaves and five minced garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes before adding six skinless, boneless chicken thighs, stirring to coat then 500ml of chicken stock, 250ml of boiling water, 150g of red split lentils and ½ a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 35 minutes. In the meantime, add 100ml of hot milk to 50g of flaked almonds and let this stand for as long as possible before blitzing it up with a hand blender or food processor. Remove the chicken and shred using two forks, then return this to the soup with the almond milk, cooking for a further five minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve in bowls with chopped chives, mango chutney and lemon juice to taste.

Warm Salad of roast beetroot, blue cheese and pear with horseradish cream

This salad hits all the right notes as well as being easy on the eye. A sophisticated yet practical recipe, open to additions/exclusions depending on cupboard love. Serve with a nice loaf for happy and contented lunch guests.

Heat oven to 200°C. Remove the greens from about 10 small beetroots (a mixture of red and golden) then either peel or lightly scrub under a running tap. Halve or quarter them, depending on their size then drizzle over some olive oil, season generously and roast for about 25 minutes. Make a salad dressing by whisking together 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of runny honey and lemon juice to taste then stir through 1 tbsp of finely chopped chives and toss through salad leaves to coat. Arrange the dressed salad leaves on the plates and add the roasted beetroot then dot with small chunks of blue cheese, fresh slices of sweet pear and a scattering of chopped walnuts, pistachios or toasted hazelnuts. Finish off by mixing fresh or jarred horseradish through crème fraiche (to taste) and dolloping over the salad.

« Tip: Add fresh thyme and honey to the beetroot before you roast it.
« Extra tip! Sauté the pear slices in butter then add brown sugar to caramelise.

Maple pecan pie

This is deep and delicious, gratifyingly simple to make and a worthwhile recipe to master. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this. I always manage to find a reason if I fancy a slice and it keeps well if you have no guests! I like to serve this with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Heat oven to 200°C. First prepare your pastry case: it needs to be 23cm wide and about 3.5cm deep. I make a sweet shortcrust or buy 500g pre-made pastry, roll it, line the tin, prick the base, blind bake then remove your baking beans and bake for longer to get a nice golden base. Make your filling by using an electric whisk to blend together 75g of softened butter with 100g of caster sugar. Add 175g of golden syrup, 175g of maple syrup, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, ¼ tsp of salt then blend again. Gradually add three beaten eggs while whisking then stir in 300g of pecan halves. Pour into your cooled pastry case and bake for 10 minutes then turn down your oven to 160°C and continue to bake for an extra 30-35 minutes. The pie should only wobble slightly in the centre, if the pastry is beginning to burn, lay a sheet of foil over the top while it cooks. Leave to cool in its tin then serve warm or at room temperature.