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Ready, Steady, Click

Me: G’wan, make me something to eat.
You: Er, such as?

Me: Anything you like. Give it your best shot.
You: Anything?

Me: Yeah. Have you got a favourite killer dish?
You: Maybe, well, yeah, I guess I do.

Me: Well make me that then.
You: (looking skeptical) Umm, ok…

Me: Oh and take a picture.
You: A picture?

Me: Yeah, of you with the food.
You: Ah, g’way outta that.

Me: And put the words Cully & Sully somewhere in the picture.
You: Huh? (thinking this had better be good)

Me: …it could be worth €12,000.
You: Jaysus, where’s me camera?!! (and off you run…)

Yes, it’s quite the proposition.

Submit a photograph of yourself with your best kitchen offering and you might just win a fully paid up place on the renowned (and, let’s face it, not remotely cheap) three month cookery course at Ballymaloe.


Hard to believe, but that’s what Cully & Sully – those makers of fine soups and other meals – have up for grabs with their ChefFactor competition.

You don’t even have to be a good cook, though being enthusiastic about your food and your dish would obviously be a good starting position (I mean, you want to go to Ballymaloe, don’t you?). Anybody in Ireland can enter and the public gets to vote for two of the finalists, while Cully & Sully will pick a third.

You will, if you get to be one of those three finalists, have to present your dish for judging by Darina and Rachel Allen, though frankly, that seems only fair.

So… off with you now – make your way over here and get your name into that pot of chefs-to-be.

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Roasted Aubergine Soup

When I think Cully & Sully, I think soup.

Of course, they make things other than soup, but on those occasions where I haven’t been organised enough to bring lunch to work, I’ll often look for Cully & Sully tomato and basil soup to fill my lunchtime belly.

If, on the other hand, I have been organised, then I might just have some of my own roasted aubergine soup instead.

Roasted aubergine soup

The recipe is adapted slightly from one in the fabulous Green’s Cookbook. I’ve swapped basil for fennel and made it even more substantial with puy lentils. There’s an added bite from some cayenne pepper too. Might be one for Cully & Sully to add to their range…

You’ll need:
  • 2 medium aubergines (about 800g)
  • olive oil for coating vegetables and frying
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium red peppers (about 350g), halved and seeded
  • 1 large red onion (about 200g), halved but not peeled
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (about 250g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 100g puy lentils (optional), rinsed and drained
  • 1l vegetable stock or water
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice or to taste
  • natural yoghurt to serve (optional)
  • basil leaves to serve (optional)
  • bread toasted with a little olive oil and parmesan to serve (optional)
You’ll also need:
  • One or more baking trays for roasting the vegetables and a blender (hand held or otherwise) or food processor to blend the soup.
The Steps:
  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Wipe the aubergines, halve them, brush all over with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper and place in the oven on a baking tray.
  • Brush both sides of the halved peppers, the cut sides of the onion and the tomatoes (left whole) with olive oil and place in the oven on a baking tray after the aubergine has baked for about 20 minutes.
  • Bake for about another 20 minutes or until the aubergine is soft and starting to collapse and the skins of the other vegetables are loose and wrinkled.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, then peel the onion, remove as much of the pepper’s skin as you can and chop all of the vegetables into large chunks.
  • Place a large, heavy saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add about 2 tblsp olive oil, garlic, thyme and fennel and cook gently for a few minutes.
  • Add the puy lentils (if using), stir briefly, then add the roasted vegetables, stock or water, cayenne and about 1.5tsp salt (or less if your stock is salted). Stir to mix, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes. The lentils should be tender.
  • Allow the soup to cool slightly, then purée briefly using a blender or food processor. Return to the pot and add lemon juice to taste and additional salt and black pepper if you think it needs it. The soup will be quite thick, so thin with just-boiled water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
  • Serve garnished with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some torn basil leaves. Some parmesan toasts would go nicely too.
The Variations:
  • I quite fancy the idea of adding some mushrooms (shiitake, say) for some extra depth of flavour.
The Results:
  • Soup for 4-6


  1. Lori

    I find myself wishing I were in Ireland on many occasions. This would be another. What an amazing prize! That cooking school would be simply incredible, I have no doubt.

    I’m thrilled to have this soup recipe. I had cream of veg/pureed veg soups when in Ireland and I have not been able to recreate them myself. I can’t wait to make this!

  2. Lori @ RecipeGirl

    omg, this looks so amazing! Even so early in the morning, I’m drooling!

  3. Duchess

    You’re humor and spirit are infectious!

  4. Joanne

    This aubergine soup looks absolutely glorious! I love all of the spices you used…so very tasty!

  5. Daily Spud

    Lori: I know – it’s an amazing opportunity for whoever wins. Hope you enjoy the soup and there’s always more where that came from :)

    Recipe Girl: hope you didn’t make too much of a mess, lol!

    Duchess: why that’s very kind of you to say so ma’am

    Joanne: it is indeed tasty and belly-filling :)

  6. Yvette

    I have to say I’ve never entertained the idea of aubergine in soup! Dunno why! This sounds fab, Spud. With a VIP Veg’ian in my midst this weekend the recipe may be tested sooner rather than later!

  7. zerrin

    I love aubergine, but never tried it as a soup. Sounds so appealing to me. And I love the flavors in it. As winter is very close here, I must take this soup to my list.

  8. Jenni

    You are so good, DS! Lovely soup, and I hope you win Big. You’re in the running for two–count them, TWO–big prizes. Exciting! :)

  9. sippitysup

    If one of my ancestors (maybe, probably) lived in Ireland (or at least GB) am I eligible? GREG

  10. Daily Spud

    Yvette: so did ya make the soup for herself, then I wonder? no doubt I will find out in due course…

    zerrin: Yes, I know how you love aubergine – you’ve posted so many lovely aubergine recipes yourself! Hope you enjoy it as a soup.

    Jenni: exciting times indeed!

    sippitysup: well, if you don’t tell and I don’t tell, then who’s to know, really… :)

  11. Sophie

    Your rosated aubergine soup looks so tasty & delectable!

    MMMMMMMM,..lovely food! I bet it is loaeded with real flavours!

  12. Daily Spud

    It is, Sophie, it is :) And I still have a little left in the freezer so I think I might treat myself to some tomorrow!

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