Autumn eats

This season is one of my very favourite times of year to get out and enjoy the countryside. I’m no fair-weather picnicker either, although something more warming and sustaining is required. These recipes are just the ticket.

Tuscan bean soup

This soup is a complete meal in itself. It travels extremely well in a flask and will nourish and warm most effectively on chillier walks. The Parmesan rind is a wonderful way to intensify the flavour of the soup. Vegetarian hard cheese, such as Twineham Grange, makes an excellent veggie alternative.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 leek, sliced into thin rings

1 large carrot, peeled and diced into 1cm pieces

2 medium courgettes, diced into 1cm pieces

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

100g kale or cabbage, chopped into small pieces, with any tough pieces removed

1,300ml hot chicken stock

1 piece of Parmesan rind (often around 6-10cm in length, but even a small piece will make a difference)

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and leek and allow to cook over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes until softened and the onion is slightly translucent.
  2. Add the diced carrot and courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans and kale or cabbage and stir well.
  4. Next, add the hot stock and Parmesan rind and season to taste. Stir and allow to simmer for 45 minutes then remove the Parmesan rind and serve.

Apple cider cake

This cake is a wonderfully light sponge, filled with slices of apple and sweet spices. The cider adds an extra layer of delicious apple flavour. This cake is particularly nice to make and eat at this time of year, when apples are at their very best.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

2 medium eggs, beaten

200g self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

150ml good-quality dry cider

4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 5mm thick slices

4 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC fan/Gas 5.
  2. Grease and line a 20cm (8-inch) round cake tin with non-stick baking paper and set aside.
  3. Place the butter and caster sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together well until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the beaten egg a little at a time and beat well after each addition.
  5. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice and gently fold in.
  6. Slowly pour in the cider and stir into the cake batter. Add the apple slices and fold into the cake.
  7. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 50-60 minutes until a cocktail stick entered into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden brown.

Magazine of the Ramblers