Four Green Squares

the tiny little blog no-one will ever read

Super easy kid-tested cream of potato soup (AKA Squished Potato Soup) March 20, 2013

Filed under: recipes — FourGreenSquares @ 3:34 pm

I came up with this easy, high-protein soup for my potato-mad, protein-lacking, super-fussy vegetarian six year old. It has since become a once-a-week staple: home-made soup in under half an hour. I kid you not!

Ingredients (for 3-4 servings)

  • 4 -5 med/large potatoes (one per person plus one for pot)
  • Quarter of a cup tiny red lentils
  • Mixed herbs and bay leaf
  • Organic vegetable stock
  • Milk


  • Scrub and chop the potatoes. Since they’ll be mashed, the size of the pieces isn’t important but smaller ones will cook faster.
  • Put potatoes in a large saucepan, add boiling water two inches over covering, and turn on med-high heat.
  • Add lentils, veg stock (amount as recommended on package for soup–I use a teaspoon of Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon), herbs and bay leaf.
  • Cook for 20 mins uncovered–until lentils are pretty much dissolved and the potatoes have become soft. Check and top up with water if necessary while cooking. You don’t want to add too much back though, since this is a thick soup not a broth.
  • When done, remove from heat and fish out bay leaf. Check seasonings and add salt and/or pepper to taste.
  • Mash with potato masher. You want to end up with a watery mashed potato consistency, but you can leave thicker or chunkier depending on your preference as well. This is a very forgiving recipe!
  • Fill bowls about 2/3 with the concentrated soup and swirl in milk right in the bowl. You could do this in the pot but I find leftovers keep better in the fridge without the milk added. Plus adding it directly in the bowl cools the soup down to a kid-friendly eating temp pretty much right away.


I know, I know. I said a simple soup and here I am complexicating it right back up again. Well, hopefully the little one won’t be a fussy eater forever, and when that day comes, I’ll be ready! So, variations:

The lentils in this–which give it such a rich, hearty flavour and a big protein boost–mean you don’t have to worry about adding any other type of bean or pea. But broccoli, spinach, kale (cooked separately and added at the end) or cauliflower all could boost the veggie content.

You could also switch part of the potato to sweet potatoes, swede, turnip or parsnip. Or sauté the potatoes in some cumin and turmeric before adding the water. Or..or…or…hey, what about adding some, I dunno, leeks?

I serve it with carrot sticks and cucumber slices on the side but YMMV according to the fussiness of your eater!


A nice, heaping meditative scoop of something May 28, 2012

Filed under: recipes — FourGreenSquares @ 1:59 pm

I love working from home. Lunchtime becomes a moment of, “hmm, what do I fancy?” and a nice little meditative sliver out of the day (assuming, of course, that this meditative moment doesn’t comprise a mouthful of Nutella prised out of a mass solidified at the bottom of a forgotten jar, eaten with a cream cracker for afters).

Nope, today is Monday and the sun is shining. Definitely a day to hie myself over to the fridge and checkout the landscape.

So today’s creation is a warm pasta salad. I’m still American enough that I enjoy pasta salads but now Brit tastes have overridden childhood ones to the point that I no longer enjoy them cold. Hence this compromise.

Meatball and Grilled Asparagus Pasta Salad


  • Vegetarian meatballs (3 or 4 per person)
  • One medium onion
  • One bunch asparagus
  • Fusilli pasta enough for two people (about 2 cups uncooked)
  • Olive oil, soya sauce, vegetable stock, a dash of chilli or mustard


  • Slice the onion into rings, then halve the rings.
  • Heat a dribble of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and add the onion to one half and the meatballs to the other half, keeping them separate in the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, wash and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  • Add the fusili and veg stock to a pan of water and bring to the boil. Steam the asparagus over the cooking pasta.
  • Check on the meatballs and onions, turning down the heat. Splash the onions with some soya sauce and stir. The onions will cook faster than the meatballs, so shove the onions well off to one side if necessary. Give the meatballs a shake and stir. Keep checking while the pasta cooks. Turn off the heat when done. Generally, vegetarian meatballs take about 15-20 minutes.
  • The asparagus should steam in the same time it takes for the pasta to cook, so when the pasta is done, remove the asparagus from the heat and set aside.
  • Drain the pasta and tip into a serving bowl. Add the cooked onions and stir.
  • Check the meatballs and when done, they can be cut into quarters and added to the pasta and onions.
  • If you have a griddle pan, then this next stage can be done on the hob. If not, you can either use the grill in the oven or simply use the skillet. If using the griddle pan or skillet, add the asparagus to the pre-heated pan, stirring every few seconds so the spears get browned. If using the oven, place under the grill/broiler, turning every minute until grilled on all sides.
  • Slice the grilled asparagus into wide coins and add to the pasta salad.
  • For a dressing, add either a spoonful of wholegrain mustard or a dash of chilli sauce, another dribble of olive oil, and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. A shake of black pepper and you’re done.

Variation: Cherry tomatoes would make a great variation/addition, either griddled along with the asparagus and tossed in whole, or quartered and added raw. This would go better in a version made without mustard.

So there’s the day’s creation. The downside of a long lunch break, alas, is the need to then work through dinner. But at least I have yummy leftovers to look forward to.


perfectionist pie April 1, 2012

Filed under: recipes — FourGreenSquares @ 12:45 pm

I came back from the market laden with too much nice produce. I couldn’t bung it all in one big meal so I decided, it being brunch time, to start eating my way through the bounty in the order it would go off. Hence, spinach, top o’ the list.


This is my creation of the day:


Scrambled Eggs Florentine (serves two)


  • 4 medium eggs
  • a cup of washed, de-stemmed, shredded fresh spinach
  • a splash of milk
  • ½ tsp of cumin and turmeric
  • one small onion, diced
  • half a cup grated cheese, cheddar and/or feta


  1. saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes, until starting to brown
  2. add the cumin and turmeric and stir for another minute
  3. add the spinach and let cook for a minute or two until wilted, stirring occasionally
  4. break the eggs into a bowl and add the splash of milk, mix with a fork
  5. add the egg mixture to the pan and stir
  6. when eggs are nearly cooked, add cheese
  7. stir until eggs are cooked and serve.
  8. Add fresh black pepper if desired.


I suppose it goes without saying that if you don’t stir the eggs after you add them to the pan, you’ll have an omelette.  Which is fine, if you want an omelette. I have enough stress in my life without omelettes triggering my perfectionist guilt. Make the most of a situation where the path of least resistance works out just as well.


This is lovely served with granary toast or half a bagel.