Saturday, 12 November 2016

Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup - a perfect Autumn warmer (gluten, dairy, nut, soya and egg free)

The world of blog analytics and blog 'success' confuses me. It is also probably the area of blogging which leaves me feeling most unsure, ambivalent and at times, quite down. This week has been particularly interesting for the wave of quite contradictory emotions that it has raised in me...... Perhaps I analyse my emotional responses too deeply (get a thicker skin I tell myself...), but I am who I am. So bear with me.... this may now get a little rambling as I try to make sense of my thoughts....

I love writing my blog..... It is my creative outlet in a crazy world...... my opportunity to crawl into a little bubble at the end of the day and do something which is far removed from my day job..... It is the thing I go to when I need my 'space' within the pulling demands of domestic life...... It is what I do that gives me an element of separate identity in a life where being a mum, a wife and a professional in public service is not always enough....

So why does it sometimes disappoint me? Why does it sometimes leave me feeling demoralised and lonely?

The lovely Vicki at the Free From Fairy recently wrote a post entitled Awards - A Controversial Post. In it she argued that blog awards are fundamentally flawed because they appear to rely on requests from nominees to get people to vote for them. Effectively they become a sort of popularity contest, which is not necessarily about the content or quality of the blog.......

Her post was published mid-way through the voting period linked to the Allergy Blog Awards (which run to the end of November) and for which I have been nominated. I am absolutely thrilled to have been nominated. Whilst I hate the idea of asking people to vote for me, the fact that someone (and I have no idea who) actually thought my blog was good enough to put forward, made my day! I love that I am in that list...... it gives me some degree of validation for what I do....

Then the self-doubt came in. Being nominated meant that I would also be judged and I became confronted with the possibility that I may get no votes at all (well..... maybe the person who nominated me might get me one!)..... and I would look like 'Billy no mates'. I looked down the list of nominees and thought..... I haven't got a cat in hell's chance against this lot. They are fab, have massive followings and many blog as their career! How can my tin-pot efforts compare?

As is the domino effect of the thought process within my head..... this question then got me thinking further about blogging in general, what I do and why. Those of you who have read past posts, will know that the blog is motivation to record my recipes for Miss GF and her future...... a sort of family recipe book that will be there for her when she grows up. We choose to share with the world, because it would be way too selfish to keep our successes to ourselves and if other people might benefit from our hard work.... then they should! (You can read a little bit more about us here)

Okay.... so that's bit's clear and solid and absolute. But I often worry about feeling so excluded from the blog world. I know I do it as an add-on to my day job, but I invest huge amounts of time into my recipe development and posts, so why do I feel so unsuccessful? I know that I have limited time to pull on social media and this means that I miss out on a driving force to bring followers and support, but this shouldn't dictate how relevant or successful we are..... should it?

My statistics are a constant source of bemusement to me. I recently went from within the top 250 on the Foodies 100 index to outside the top 500 in the same of a month...... I couldn't work that out at all.... I have climbed very little since.... Yet this week, I was notified that within a different set of analytics (Feedspot), I come up at number 45 on a global list of gluten free blogs. I was not only astounded and thrilled, but flummoxed at the same time......

My excitement however is tempered, as I watch on with envy at my favourite bloggers tales of invites to fabulous foodie events on the back of their success and popularity. I am really pleased for them and love to read about their adventures, but at the same time, I feel sad to not be a part of these amazing opportunities to spend time with each other and experience such amazing shared experiences..... and I have no idea how to bridge the gap without giving up a well-paid job and changing my world completely..... which I can neither afford to do or would want to risk..... And maybe that is the crux of it. I should be happy with my lot in life...... A (mostly) rewarding job.... a great family.... and relative financial security.... The blog is an optional extra. End of.

I have absolutely no idea why I am telling you all of this....... Perhaps I just need an opportunity to gain my equilibrium and to explore the constant question about whether I should be blogging at all. I guess I am just endlessly frustrated that effort and value in this world (whether blogging or anywhere else) rarely equates to success, whether real or imagined...... Perhaps I am just having a general confidence crisis. Either way.... for those of you who have bothered to stick with me to the end of this read.... thank you!

I couldn't go without sharing an amazing recipe with you..... Made with left-over pumpkin from Halloween, this delicious Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup is a perfect winter warmer. It is cheap and healthy and with a hint of ginger and smoked paprika, it will leave you feeling like you have been internally hugged better. Just what I need today......

I am sharing with the following linkies :

No Waste Food Challenge with Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Free From Fridays with Free From Farmhouse and Le Coin De Mel

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma

Recipe of the week with A Mummy Too

No Croutons Required with Lisa's Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes

Meat Free Mondays with Tinned Tomatoes

Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice

Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie

Tea Time Treats with Lavender & Lovage, Travels for Taste and Jo's Kitchen - this month's theme is comfort food.

Roasted Pumpkin, Ramiro Pepper & Leek Soup


1.2 kilos pumpkin flesh - chopped into chunks
2 large Ramiro (red pointy) peppers - deseeded and sliced
1 large leek - trimmed, washed and cut into slices
olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1 large onion - chopped
3 large cloves garlic - crushed
small piece of fresh ginger - peeled & chopped
½ to ¾ litre GF vegetable stock
1 tablespoon shoyu GF soy sauce
salt & black pepper to taste

Optional Roasted Pepper Soured Cream/Dairy Free Yoghurt
1 additional small Ramiro pepper - roasted & chopped
150 ml soured cream or dairy free yoghurt


  1. Use a large roasting tin and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil onto the bottom. Add the pumpkin, peppers and leek and drizzle a further tablespoon of oi over the top.
  2. Add the paprika and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and using your hands, toss the veg in the oil and spice to coat lightly.
  3. In a hot oven (220 C/425 F/Gas 7), roast the veg for about 40 minutes until soft and beginning to char at the edges. Whilst roasting, stir from time to time to ensure an even roast.
  4. When the pumpkin, pepper and leek are roasted, get a very large saucepan and using a little olive oil, saute the onion, garlic and ginger until soft.
  5. Add the roasted vegetables to the pot and stir through.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, shoyu sauce and a good grind of black pepper and bring to a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow the flavours to deepen and infuse.
  8. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  9. Using a liquidiser, blend the soup until smooth in small batches, transferring to a clean pan as you go.
  10. Once all the soup has been blended, stir thoroughly and add extra seasoning to taste.
  11. Heat through to piping hot before serving.
  12. If you are adding Roasted Pepper Soured Cream/Yoghurt : Take your additional pepper and blend until you have a smooth paste.
  13. Mix the pepper paste with the cream/yoghurt and dollop onto or swirl through the hot soup before serving.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated


  1. I can't tell you how many amazingly famous gf recipes I have tried, even some books, only to be hugely disappointed. Your recipes are truly amazing and absolutely reflect your love and determination. I elect to be gf so to a coeliac, they must be a god send. I write for my son and then other family members, no-one else. My comment section is tiny compared to others but I enjoy them all. Keep up the good work and tell your negative thoughts to go take a hike!

    1. Thank you DC for your lovely thoughts. It is so good to know that other people do actually find something useful in what I do and write. I will try my very hardest to ignore the gremlins in my head!!! x

  2. Statistics are a mystery to me - they seem to be different depending where I look and I know mine go down when I have less energy so imagine how much they might go up if I had more energy! Yet I have made a decision that it is a hobby for me and I enjoy it and don't get too worried about statistics. Because the other thing you can be sure of is that the digital world moves fast and if you feel you are on top of it one moment, you can be sure it will suddenly be different in the next and you will be scrabbling to keep up. I think what you do is great - it is entertaining and really informative to read your blog and look at your lovely photos. And I am sure you are giving Miss GF a great example of creativity and wonderful cooking that she will learn from (actually looks like she does). And the first reason I fell in love with blogging was the inspiration to cook well - you definitely help out with this (I still dream of making your bread bouquet) and your soup sounds lovely!

    1. Thanks Johanna for your kind comments. Most of the time, I manage to put stats to one side, but just occasionally, the inconsistencies and expectations come up and bite me..... I know for sure that the blog has had a wonderfully positive influence on Miss GF and her confidence just keeps growing. x

  3. Aw, this post made me so sad. Your blog is one of my favourites!! Please don't let statistics and measurements get you down. You are doing an amazing job especially given that you have a job as well. I don't know how you do it! And think as well of all the successes you may never get to hear about...the people who have made your recipes and loved them...the parents whose children have recently been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and don't know what to do...I'm sure there's loads of them out there who will probably never let you know how much you've helped them (because I've learnt that real people are often scared to leave comments), but they are there none the less! Not to mention the most important person in all this...Miss GF who I am sure thinks you and your blog are amazing and what other accolade than that do you need than that! Sending big virtual hugs Xx

    1. I'm sorry Eb..... It wasn't meant to make anyone sad! But thank you so much for being lovely about it. I know I shouldn't compare myself with others or get stressed by figures, and I also know that given I work as well, what I manage to achieve is something I should be proud of. But I have always had a tendency to set myself unachievable expectations and sometimes I let them get in the way of seeing the good stuff! Hugs much appreciated..... thank you xx

  4. Oh and also, thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare. :-) Eb x

  5. The whole blog thing bemuses me too. I have NO IDEA how it all works...why some people get invited to things and others don' the ranks are worked out. I try not to focus too much of my time thinking about it but I like you get down about it sometimes. But the fact is what you do makes a difference to people's lives. Your recipes are a constant source of inspiration for me and your photos make me go wow. The people that don't know about you are missing out on one of the best blogs on the net. You should be listed in the top blog global list because you really and truly are flipping fabulous. Ignore what goes on around you. Ignore what I wrote (I'm's because I couldn't bare asking for votes and therefore didn't tell anyone I had been nominated) and keep up your incredible work. We LOVE you!

    1. Thank you Vicki. Your kind comments mean a lot! Especially coming from someone that I admire so much...... x

  6. I'd have to second everything that Eb's just said. I think your posts are amazing and it's fantastic what you are doing by creating and testing so many GF recipe for Miss GF. I'm sure many other children in her place would end up eating a limited range of food or would simply eat bought GF options. I don't follow a GF diet but I am still tempted by your recipes and I know there will be many people who eat GF who follow your blog but never comment. I think on the whole only other bloggers comment unless someone has a question. I do hope you feel more positive soon and thank you so much for linking up with #CookOnceEatTwice as well x

    1. Thank you Corina. I know deep down that I am achieving good gluten free things and that Miss GF is really lucky to live in a family where being GF is no barrier and nothing to feel negative about. Just occasionally, I let my expectations and comparing myself with other people's 'ratings' get in the way. I shouldn't, but I do. Mostly I am fine. But thank you for your kind support while I wobble! xx

  7. I completely agree with what the others above have said and it completely echos what I was thinking. I still do not get the whole charts business. But I love your blog and whenever I want a GF recipe this is the first place that I come to. You work full time, I admire that you even have chance to blog, I struggle and I don't work. When I read Vicki's post I nodded my head all the way through, awards are often just popularity contests, who has the most friends. They used to bother me but now I have realised that as long as I am happy with my blog and what I am doing that makes me happy. I sincerely hope that you are happy with what you do because it is amazing! xx

    1. Thank you Kirsty for your support. It is reassuring to know that I am not the only one to be confused by charts and stats. I will have to try harder to ignore them..... xx

  8. I appreciated your post - recently, I had a significant (for me) spike in blog views and then...I was back to my historical normal (which isn't much). I have to keep pulling back and reminding myself why I do this (creative outlet, I love to cook, love to share recipes, connecting with other amazing bloggers). Love this soup recipe - it looks like great comfort food.

    1. Thanks Ali. It is a strange world in blogging. I do wonder whether the spikes are sometimes algorithms..... I get the same, and they are always form specific countries!
      I just checked out your blog. You have some lovely recipes over there..... I have just followed you xx

  9. Of course you should be blogging! I think it's really easy to get bogged down in statistics and rankings (honestly, I have no idea how the Foodies 100 one works - it's completely random!) so as long as YOU are enjoying what you are doing, don't worry about stats or what anyone else thinks. And this soup is awesome. :) Thank you for sharing with the #NoWasteFoodChallenge! :)

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. It does all seem rather confusing! I know that I should just ignore stats, but sometimes it is quite distracting. But hey, the soup was awesome for sure and it would be unfair to have kept it to myself xx

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely soup with NCR. Regarding blogging, keep on focusing on what inspires you to create and share on your space.


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