You must follow Foodtropia on Instagram, right? Well, Paola Freire is the woman behind the profile. Paola cooks delicious, healthy and beautiful recipes. Whether you need ideas for your day to day, to meal prep for the office or for a dinner party with friends, you can’t not follow her.

We love the way she combines ingredients, getting amazing results and creating really inspiring pictures. So many of the office tuppers tend to be her recipes ;)

Today, we want to get to know her a little better and see the woman behind the project. Don’t miss the recipe she shares with us!

What inspires you in life? So many things inspire me in my daily life. I find my inspiration in the small, day to day things. My mother’s sense of aesthetic, my father’s reasoning, my husband’s desire to find a solution to any problem, conversations with my sisters. A meal with family and friends, my house in Mera and the sunsets there, an evening with a cookbook, visiting Madrid’s markets, diving into Pinterest or Instagram, a trip and enterprising people, with ideas and a desire to work. But without doubt, what inspires me most is my sister Ana’s way of seeing life.

When and how did Foodtropia come about? 3 years ago, thanks to my sister Ana, creator of the jewellery brand Small Branch. I’ve always liked cooking, I’ve lived it at home and it’s in my genes from my grandmothers, but honestly, in my time as a lawyer in an office I rarely had time to cook, although I always tried to steal a moment. This moment was usually when I stopped to eat. I used to eat with my sister, I cooked something quick but healthy and tasty, and sometimes she would share photos of my dishes on her Instagram. According to her, people would write asking for the recipe. She created the profile so she could share my recipes and my husband came up with the name Foodtropia and little by little I started to use the account more and more. I had a break from work when my husband was sent to London for 6 months with his job and I decided to join him on the adventure. Over these months I had to think about whether I really wanted to turn my hobby into my profession. I dedicated many hours to driving Foodtropia forward, to different cooking courses and finally I decided to take a chance on it. I returned to Madrid and signed up for Le Cordon Bleu Madrid and a few weeks ago I graduated with the Gran Diplome de Le Cordon Bleu, thus becoming a Chef and Pastry Chef.

Is it easy being a woman in your world? The truth is that to now I haven’t encountered any obstacles in my profession for being a woman, not as a lawyer or a chef. We’re in a moment of female empowerment and I love seeing how we support each other. It is true that in the catering sector and cooking classes, which is where I see myself in the future, women dominate and it’s something I like very much. Even so, I do all I can to promote the idea of the “entrepreneurial woman”, supporting other girls who, like myself, have the dream of starting their own business and watching it grow.

What is your favourite place on the planet? My house in Mera, La Coruña.

A place, a plan and an unmissable restaurant in Madrid.
A place: My neighbourhood, las Salesas.
A plan: Discover new places, eat in a great restaurant with my husband and friends. Madrid has an amazing gastronomic variety.
A restaurant: Cannibal Raw Bar.

Are you more a beach or a pool person? Beach.

Who is or has been an icon for you? On a gastronomic level, my grandmothers, y public figures Julia Child and Ferrá Adriá.

A book, a song and a film.
Book: Of cooking: 1080 recipes by Simone Ortega
Song: Moon River
Film: La la land

And a series? This is Us. I started watching it 2 years ago in London with my husband and I loved it. We don’t often agree on series but this one we both loved. I really looked forward to each episode.

What are your wardrobe essentials? Always the basics. In winter black trousers, long sleeved t-shirt and jumper always in neutral colours and shoes. In summer white trousers or jeans, a light coloured blouse and gold or silver strappy sandals.

Something your handbag is never without? Cocoa lip balm and baby cologne spray.

Your favourite chef? Marcelo from casa Marcelo in Santiago de Compostela.

In your fridge there’s always... Eggs.

A recipe for dinner with friends. In winter a soup with pumpkin, sweet potato, curry and coconut and in summer a watermelon or strawberry gazpacho. Flavoured hummus and a beef joint with sauce and potatoes.

A key eco tip for looking after the planet? Reduce plastic consumption. Take canvas bags with you when shopping, buy loose products and use recyclable containers.

A dream to achieve. See Foodtropia grow surrounded by my family.

What are you going to do when we finish this interview? Put some music on and cook for myself.

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CURRY AND COCONUT

This is the perfect recipe for making the most of pumpkin season and it’s always a triumph. For a bit of a different touch, I’ve added coconut milk and red curry paste.

The curry paste is delicious, it adds a little spicy kick to the soup but if you don’t have any you can add curry powder and a little tabasco.

If you don’t have a tin of coconut milk, coconut drink will work.

Ingredients for 2/3 servings:
-300g of pumpkin
-3 carrots
-½ onion
-400ml coconut milk
-1 teaspoon curry paste
-Water to cover the vegetables
-Salt and pepper
-Topping: orange zest and pumpkin seeds

Method:

1. Slice the onion and brown it in a pan with extra virgin olive oil

2. When the onion begins to colour add the cut pumpkin and carrot and cook together for 3/4 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk, curry, salt and pepper.

4. If necessary add water until the vegetables are covered.

5. Cover and leave to cook until the pumpkin and carrot have softened.

6. Blend, taste and season if necessary.

7. Serve with pumpkin seeds and orange zest.