Sunday, February 8, 2015


This blog is for Judith.
 Judith is a lady I met last year just after she had arrived in Shanghai from Holland. As with all the "newbies" she was suffering with the culture shock which comes with arriving in Shanghai. She had reached out to a local web site which offers help to people like herself, and I had realised she lived close by, and that I could offer her help, or support, to settle in. Soon we were sitting in a coffee exchanging our stories and enjoying a coffee.

Judith's journey to Shanghai had been a bit of a whirlwind. Living with her partner of many years, working at a job she loved, and had been doing for a long while, she was suddenly having to make a big decision. Well, to be honest several big life changing decisions, all of which were going to have to happen very quickly and change her life dramatically.  Her partner was moving to Shanghai, and of course Judith was willing to come with him, to give up her job, her family and her home to accompany him. But with, I'm sure a lot of thought behind this decision. Then she realised the Chinese will not give visas to an unmarried partner. So within one month she was married, gave up her job and took a leap into the unknown. Phew. This would have caused many of us to think again. A brave lady.

People often scorn the life of the expat wife seeing it as an easy ride. I agree it's a great life but has it's drawbacks. These these ladies as strong, independent and very resilient. We support our husbands, making our homes, in a strange place, feel as comfortable and as like home as we can. A place they can come home to and relax at the end of what can be very long hard days. Also we spend a lot of time on our own, we have to learn to enjoy our own company, how to deal with various issues that arise, either with workmen, landlords or whatever is thrown our way.

But all this gives us a strength that often we didn't know we had. Some find it harder than others, but we all offer support to each other. Judith embraced it. She did what many of us do. She uses this time to learn new skills she never had time for before. Some work some don't. I'm sure won't mind me saying the knitting didn't work! However the quilting did. She also is using this time learning to cook. This is something I can help her with. So Judith this recipe is for you as you are always asking me to post my soup recipes. I hope you like it.

RECIPE Serves 4

Onion chopped, butternut squash (1 small or half a large one), cubed,
1tbsp curry powder (more if you want it spicier), 1 box/tin coconut milk, water, S&P, 1 apple, coriander (fresh)

Using twice the amount of squash to the onion, (doesn't have to be exact) is my mantra to soup making.

Gently sweat off the onion with a pinch of salt until it starts to soften. Add the curry powder and continue cooking until you can smell the spices. Add the cubed squash and stir to coat with the spices.

Add the water until it just covers the ingredients in the pot, add S&P. Bring to a boil, turn down and cook until squash is soft.

At this point I liquidise the soup then add the coconut milk to the consistency you like. Now a bit strange I know, grate an apple into my soup. But this is optional. I think it gives it a bit of texture and another layer of sweetness which goes well with the curry flavour.

Check seasoning and adjust to your liking. Add chopped coriander and heat through. I like to serve with naan bread and an extra sprinkling of coriander.

Once you've made your first batch you can then mess around with amounts of curry powder, coriander and seasonings. All my soups start simple and can be added to as you feel fit. It means if one element is missing from your store cupboard you can replace it with something else. I have replaced the squash with sweet potato before, and it worked. The apple is completely optional and I'm sure pear may even work. Mental note to try it next time!

Happy cooking Judith. It has been a delight to get to know you and I hope your time here in Shanghai is as good as mine. Make the best of your time here.


  1. I made some butternut squash soup last week, but like the thought of adding some apple or pear. It's the perfect weather for soup here - sunny but cold. I used chopped sage for extra flavour, as I'm not a lover of coriander.

  2. Sage would be nice. We do love soup in this house. Easy too for hubby to take to work next day.

  3. I love those flavours. Butternut squash (or BNS as it's known in our house) has become the standard food chez nous. If 3 or 4 days pass without eating BNS then something has gone badly wrong. I often add apple to soups but I don't usually grate it in towards the end and that sounds like a very good idea to me. I must try it.