The breakfast waiter gave my daughter a loaf to take back to her flat in London. They had been talking about rugby after he realised that we were ‘Kiwis’ from New Zealand – he even knew about the women’s World Cup Rugby which has just finished.
When my daughter mentioned how much she liked the Irish Soda Bread, he gave her a loaf of it. “It’s our traditional bread” he mentioned and “the chef makes our own version of it here at the hotel. It’s made with baking soda and not yeast.”
The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Apparently, this makes it quick and easy to make compared with yeast breads.
We are here in Dublin, Ireland to bring my live and updated Masterclass on Menopause to the lovelies in Ireland. When I tasted the Soda Bread, I knew that it would go well with my own Pumpkin Soup recipe, so I wanted to share this with you in the MyMT Kitchen this week.
What fascinated me last week when I was at a Women’s Health and Ageing Conference in America, was that there are going to be menopause supplements developed by a company which have pumpkin seeds as their main ingredient.
I already know the relevance of pumpkin seeds in hot flush management and both pumpkin seeds and pumpkin soup are a feature of my programmes too. But there is another reason why women in menopause and post-menopause should add the goodness of pumpkin to their diet – it’s great for your heart health too.
Pumpkins and Squash offer nutrients that protect and support your heart. These include Vitamins A, B1, B6, and C, copper, fiber, folate, and manganese. Pumpkin also provides calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which can help keep your heartbeat regular and your blood pressure low.
I talked a lot about blood pressure and the new evidence linking higher blood pressure in my seminars this week. If you want to tame your hot flushes, then control your blood pressure.
Ever since I was a young nursing student, I’ve been making pumpkin soup. My father grew pumpkins on our farm and we used to sell them at the gate to passers-by. My father put them on a large cart that he had on the farm and throughout the winter months, my sister and I would fill up the cart with pumpkins and empty the honesty box. I’m sure it helped to give my mother extra cash to feed us all!
I tend to add any types of vegetables to my Pumpkin Soup and this recipe features two fabulous vegetables that are important for women in menopause – sweet potato and parsnip. I hope that you can enjoy the benefits of these vegetables whether the weather is cooling down as it is here in Ireland and the UK this week, or you are down-under and heading towards summer. Have the soup cold!
Soda Bread (BBC Good Food Recipe)
- 250ml whole milk
- 15ml lemon juice
- 170g plain flour plus a little extra for dusting top surface
- 170g self-raising wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 200c.
- Pour the lemon juice into the milk and allow to curdle.
- Sieve the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour over the liquid and mix thoroughly.
- Knead into a round and tip onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof baking paper. Dust the top surface with a little flour.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
Wendy’s Pumpkin, Kumara and Parsnip Soup
• 1 x medium Pumpkin or Squash
• 3-4 small Sweet Potato (Kumara)
• 2-3 Parsnip
• 8 gloves garlic roasted
• 2 tablespoons of vegetable bouillon; sprinkle of dried rosemary
• Butter (1 tablespoon); Himalayan salt
Chop up enough pumpkin, kumara (sweet potato) and parsnip to fill a large soup pot. Cover with water and add a good sprinkle of Himalayan Salt and a knob of butter.
Cook on medium heat until the vegetables are soft and I add in around a teaspoon of dried rosemary.
As the vegetables are cooking, roast about 8 gloves of garlic in olive oil in the oven (180 C/ 350F.) They burn easily so watch them until they soften.
When the vegetables are soft, drain the water into a glass container or bowl (you are going to add this back into the soup once you mix the bouillon in the hot water). Mash the vegetables roughly.
Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable bouillon (I use an organic one) to the hot water you have drained off the vegetables. Pour this slowly back into the mashed vegetables – you might not need all of it, but just pour in enough to make the consistency of soup that you like. Add in the roasted garlic.
Blend all with a hand-blender/ whizz stick.
Serve garnished with parsley, grated cheese or chopped, cooked bacon if you aren’t vegetarian. Add a slice of the Irish Soda Bread on the side and enjoy.
This is great to make a large potful in the weekend and then keep some in the freezer for when you are too busy to cook dinner. On a busy night when I am re-heating the soup I add in a handful of spinach and ½ cup of rice too, which turns it into an easily digested meal.