The Changing Seasons, June 2020

museum matariki0623

Matariki lights at Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Matariki is the Maori term for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades or The Seven Sisters. Matariki rises during Pipiri (June/July) and marks mid-winter and the Maori New Year.

In recent years, Matariki has begun to be properly celebrated in Aotearoa New Zealand with many cities and communities holding festivals. This year, Auckland Council has scaled back many of the planned events and shifted others online. It was lovely then, to see the Auckland Museum lit up for the duration of the festival. The Harbour Bridge is also lit, but we’ve yet to have a clear night for me to try and photograph it.

According to Te Ara (Encyclopedia of NZ):

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year. But it was also a happy event – crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With plenty of food in the storehouses, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting.

There hasn’t been a great deal of singing and dancing in the ZimmerBitch whare (pronounced like farrie and meaning house), and not many photos taken either.

But there’s been plenty of eating, so for this month’s Changing Seasons post I’m giving you a recipe.

Anyone who joined me for afternoon tea recently will recognise it, but it proved such a hit with my (real life) dinner guests that I’m confident in sharing it.

Squash, fennel and orange soup

Adapted from a recipe in Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi (1) Serves 4-6 people

bowl soup and bread0613

Squash, fennel and orange soup, with homemade sourdough. Image: Su Leslie 2020


50ml olive oil

2 fennel bulbs

1.2kg pumpkin or butternut squash

1 litre vegetable stock

1tsp harissa (2)

small pinch saffron threads (3)

1 large or two small oranges

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C
  2. Trim fern from fennel bulbs and roughly chop
  3. Peel squash sand chop into small pieces (2-3cm)
  4. Put fennel and squash pieces in roasting dish, add olive oil, about a teaspoon of sea salt and a grind of black pepper.
  5. Toss to coat the veges in oil
  6. Cook for around 20-25 minutes at 200°C; until everything is soft and caramelised. Depending on your oven, you may want to check it before then to make sure the edges aren’t burning.
  7. While veges are roasting, finely grate orange (you want about 2tsp zest) and squeeze juice (4) from the fruit.
  8. Put stock, harissa, saffron threads and orange zest in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  9. Remove 1-2 ladles of liquid and set aside.
  10. Remove roasted veges from oven and add to pot of stock.
  11. Use the set-aside liquid to moisten and scrape up the
    caramelised bits in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add this to the pot (5) .
  12. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat, add orange juice and use a hand blender to blitz until completely smooth.
  14. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds (6) and cashew cream (7) .
soup and bread0616

Squash, fennel and orange soup. Image: Su Leslie 2020

  1. There is a version of this soup — slightly different to that which is in Simple — on Ottolenghi’s website. It includes a recipe for caramelised pumpkin seeds.
  2. Harissa is available from Middle Eastern shops, and some supermarkets. It varies a lot in taste and chilli strength, so you will probably want to experiment with how much you add. I would start with 1 teaspoon, and perhaps add more to the stock once it’s warmed up a bit and you’ve tasted it.
  3. Saffron gives the soup a distinctive, earty taste, but if you don’t have it (or don’t like the taste), I wouldn’t worry — leave it out.
  4. In Ottolenghi’s recipt in Simple, he adds 180g crème fraiche to the soup before blending it. Because I was making the soup for vegan friends, I omitted that, and used the orange juice instead to thin the soup.I think it also adds a nice amount of acid and tastes really good. If it is still too thick, you could add more orange juice, or a little water or stock.
  5. If you follow my suggestion to de glaze the roasting pan with stock, you will get dark flecks in the soup from the caramalised bits of veges. These taste good. But if you’re aiming for a more elegant look you could leave this step out.
  6. The simplest way to toast pumpkin seeds is to put a single layer in a heated, heavy frying pan. Toss them for a few minutes until they start to colour and pop. Tip into a bowl and add a good pinch of salt (and a teaspoon of olive oil if you like).  In the Ottolenghi recipe, the seeds were mixed with maple syrup and chilli flakes and roasted to make more of a praline. 
  7. I wanted to make this a vegan dish, so as well as omitting the crème fraiche (above), I made some cashew cream and put it on the table for my guests to add if they wished. 

Besides making soup

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.


Please visit these bloggers to see how June played out for them:

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Suzanne at Life at No. 22

A Wonderful Sheep

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth


Katy at Wanderlust and Wonderment joins us this month

Darren at The Arty Plantsman


Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Gill at Talking Thailand

Brian at Bushboy’s World







76 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons, June 2020

  1. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – June 2020 – Reflections of An Untidy Mind

  2. I got a lovely orange-tone vibes from your post today, Su. What a nice balance of food, furniture finds and flowers. Orange grapefruit jam? Yes please. Miso yuzu dressing? Yes please please! (I also drafted my Changing Seasons post today. Excited to be back tomorrow!)♡

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – June 2020 – Little Pieces Of Me

    • Thanks. It’s suddenly become the trendy citrus fruit here, with articles about how to grow and use it. We planted two trees about a decade ago — thinking they were something else entirely — and so have been (inadvertently) ahead of the pack all these years 🙂


  4. Pingback: The Changing Seasons ~ And So Many Of Them In June – Tish Farrell

  5. Your photo gallery is exquisitely formed, Su. And what a yummy recipe. I love Ottolenghi. And the salute to the Pleiades – these stars seem to be so important – the planting stars in much of Africa, and also among the Inca if I remember rightly.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Tish. We seem to be modifying the handiwork of several greats in our kitchen at the moment (see my comment on your Nigel Slater recipe on your post) — which is what I think cooking should be about.

      I’m really glad that Matariki has begun to be celebrated again. Our adherence to European festivals means we’ve been divorced from the origins of these in nature (roast turkey and Xmas pudding in mid-summer anyone?). It’s a small thing, but seems very important to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree wholeheartedly about celebrating, or at least acknowledging indigenous festivals – all part of making deeper connections with place, planet and universe. And as for the cooking – well Yotam and Nigel are both so good at wholesome, spirit-lifting, yet simple meals – a true antidote (in every way) to all the rampant negativity and rubbish issuing from the mainstream media. Maybe not so good for the waistline though. I seem to spend most of my waking hours thinking about food. Also been watching the Dyfi ospreys at feeding time. The chicks are really big now.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. A most bountiful season, Su. I cannot wait to see how the tables turn out…such clean lines in both of them. In all my time of having jade plants, never have I seen them flower. What a lovely surprise.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The soup looks great, I have already copied the recipe! And it looks as if you have several projects in the pipeline. I have a Jade plant that is many years old, but never flowered. We just don’t get the heat for long enough. At least you are past the shortest day and can look forward to spring and summer! Here it is feeling pretty autumnal this week. A huge difference to the mini (or micro) heatwave of last week. I hope July is a better month for all of us, but I fear here we will be full of tourists and I really don’t want to come into contact with crowds of people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jude. One of the best things about the soup is how easy and quick it is to make.

      Our jade plants are at least 15 years old; and have flowered maybe 5-6 times, always in winter! I’ve “rescued” quite a few fallen off bits and they’ve grown really well — so much so that I can give them in pairs as housewarming presents, since they’re meant to bring good luck.

      I hope July is a better month too. I guess the best deterrent to visitors would be horrible weather, but that seems cruel to wish on locals.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Janet. The museum often lights up for different events. One of my favourites (cancelled this year) is at Anzac Day when they project old film footage from WWI and II on the walls. People take blankets and set on the lawn in silence. It is very moving.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I did some baking recently but it has been too hot to do a lot. We took a lot of pictures, but they are all the same. Except for Garry’s trip to the canal, it all “around the house.”

    We lost Bonnie today. This has been a long time coming, but it’s still sad. So those pictures are not new, but I wanted to tell everyone that she is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I discovered the other day that it’s possible to make a smaller batch using a frying pan to cook the squash and fennel instead of heating an oven and roasting it. I chopped the bits up slightly smaller and browned them on one side, then put a lid on and let them cook down a bit, took the lid off and turned them over to finish caramelising. I had about 400 grams of squash and about half a fennel bulb, and scaled the rest of the ingredients down. It made about two lunch-size portions.


  9. Pingback: June 2020 Doodle Calendar – Changing Seasons – A wonderful sheep

  10. Pingback: Changing Seasons : June 2020 – Living in Paradise…

  11. Such an interesting post Su, so much information. Things are certainly changing over there in good “ole NZ. I like the idea of using the Maori words and incorporating their traditions. That soup sounds so tasty. I’m into soups and freezing them as stand bys. I’ve never used fennel, never sure how to use it, so must try it. And “Yuzu”??? must google it… Had a rather traumatic month, but life goes on, especially in the

    Liked by 2 people

  12. So glad that Matariki is being celebrated again!! It’s amazing how every civilisation on this planet has their own myth gathering about this star constellation. 😀 I know it as the Pleiades and the Greek myth based on them. And I’ve been reading a book series loosely attached to them written by Lucinda Riley in the last years (‘The Seven Sister’). She writes beautifully and I enjoy every new book she publishes. 😊
    Thanks a lot for sharing your recipe! I’ll give this a try once Autumn is here as I want to use fresh squash. I once cooked red lentils in orange juice after a Mexican recipe and rather liked that acid tang. Will have to be careful with the spicy harissa though.
    The marmalade looks sooo good! 😍 And I can’t wait to see how the furniture turns out to look after your make-over! 💕💕

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – June 2020 & Corvid 2020 Wrap-Up | Art Expedition

  14. Pingback: Changing Seasons – June 2020 – Lockdown eases | RuthsArc

  15. Happy Matariki, Su. Soup always nicer when eaten from such a beautiful bowl. I will definitely try your recipe. I just need to find some fennel and I am ready to go. I love your op shop purchases. They look lovely as is so will definitely not be an eye sore while waiting for you to pay them attention.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Pingback: THE CHANGING SEASONS – JUNE 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

  17. Pingback: The Changing Seasons, June 2020 – Ladyleemanila

  18. Pingback: The Changing Seasons: June 2020 – Wanderlust and Wonderment

    • Gotta be a texture thing right? Cos soups can be so different in taste. I love soups, except for tomato, and pea and ham. My son would live on Beef Pho if only he had a mother with enough time and patience to make it for him.


  19. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – June 2020 – The Arty Plantsman

  20. Pingback: Goodnight June… | XingfuMama

  21. Pingback: The Changing Seasons: June 2020 – All things bright and beautiful

  22. It’s only now that I am able to catch up with The Changing Seasons family – distractions distractions! (mostly entertaining & diverting, so no complaints there!)

    You’ve got yourself a Curry leaf plant! Are you planning to cook with it?

    Can’t wait to see what exciting things you have planned for your new pieces …

    I am drooling over the thought of your soup (again). I can manage the squash & the orange (what a lovely citrus addition), but I need to go hunt down fennel – I like the idea of licorice-notes in the soup!

    Hope you are having a good visit with your Dad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay for fun distractions!!
      For various reasons, I’m not able to visit my dad yet, but am taking a wee road trip in lieu of. Not the same, but nice to get away.
      I hope you can find fennel for the soup. I was trying to think of alternatives, but the fennel bulb adds a texture as well as flavour and that would be difficult to replicate without introducing another taste.


  23. Pingback: The Changing Seasons – July 2020 – Reflections of An Untidy Mind

  24. Pingback: This is June 2020 – bushboys world

  25. Pingback: This is July 2020 – bushboys world

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s