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Mulligatawny is such a strange sounding word, but it simply means pepper water.  Rather than being rooted in India, it is thought that Mulligatawny probably originated in Sri Lanka, although it could possibly have come from the Tamil speaking people of South India.  ‘Mulligatawny’ or ‘Milagu Thanni’ is an amalgam of two Tamil words: ‘Millagu’ meaning pepper and ‘Thanni’ meaning water, although the soup we eat is probably closer to another Tamilian soup called Rasam.  Originally a thin soup, under the rulers of the British colonial Raj Mulligatawny became rich and dense.  A Mulligatawny soup recipe such as this one would have been familiar to those Britons who lived and worked during the Imperial Raj, the British rule of the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947.  Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), a large island just to the south of mainland India, had close ties to Britain but was never part of the Raj.  The British tried to recreate familiar dishes, as far as possible using the new and unusual ingredients they found but the hot climate, lack of refrigeration and unfamiliar cooking facilities would have made this very difficult.  Originally Mulligatawny was served as a vegetarian ‘sauce’, but the British varied the recipe, including meat and other ingredients, often thickening it with rice and adding turmeric to give a yellow colour.  Recipes for Mulligatawny appeared in many Victorian publications including one in the 1870 Nabob’s cook book which featured the addition of ‘fowl’.  Although the soup was popular in India and Ceylon, it was not highly thought of back home in England but the resulting mixture of East and West has cast an influence on British cooking which can still be found today.

I have wanted to make Mulligatawny Soup for some time but when looking for a recipe, as you can imagine from the information above, there is  a great deal of choice.  I knew that I wanted to make a hearty and spicy soup which could be eaten in place of a main meal: the type that would be ideal when the weather is at its January chilliest.  I found two complementary recipes and this version of Mulligatawny Soup is a combination of the best of both.  The sources were Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert and a wonderful recent find (from the secondhand bookstall at the church where my choir meets) The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Cookbook by various authors (published by Lorenz books), which I will certainly be revisiting again and again.  I certainly wanted to add meat, chicken from choice (but this could be varied) and unable to choose between adding rice as in the Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons and lentils as in The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Cookbook I decided to add both, something I will definitely do again.  The second book also included sultanas, but as I do not like these in curries I have left them out.  The dollop of Mango Chutney (home made, of course!) made it sweet enough for me.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Mulligatawny Soup
(Serves 3-4)

10g/½oz butter
1tbsp olive oil
4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size chunks
or
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into bite size chunks
or
about 8ozs/200g leftover turkey or chicken from a roast
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 medium sized potato, diced
1 small turnip, diced (optional)
1 tbsp mild madras curry powder (or another powder of your choice)
1 litre/1¾pints chicken stock
2 large tomatoes, chopped (did not skin & deseed as in original recipe)
2-4 cloves (according to personal preference)
6 black peppercorns, crushed lightly
4ozs/100g rice (preferably Basmati)
2ozs/50g red lentils
2ozs/50g sultanas (optional – I left these out)
handful chopped coriander (reserve some for garnish) – or parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
1tbsp per bowl natural yoghurt/crème fraîche/sour cream (more if you wish)
1tsp per bowl mango chutney
chopped fresh coriander (reserved)
grind of black pepper or light dusting of cayenne pepper/chilli powder

1.  Melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan.  Turn up the heat and fry the diced raw  chicken quickly turning frequently until it has browned.  (Cooked leftover chicken should be added about 10minutes before the serving which should be just long enough for it to be thoroughly heated through.)  This should take about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

2.  Stir the curry powder into the remaining oil and cook briefly.  Add the onion, garlic, carrot, potato and turnip (if using) to the oil remaining in the pan.  Stir well and turn down the heat.  Cover and cook very gently for about 10 minutes.

3.  Add the stock and stir well.  Add the cloves, crushed peppercorns and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to the boil and reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 2o minutes.

4.  Return the cooked chicken to the pan along with most of the chopped coriander, including the stalky pieces (use just chopped leaves for the garnish).  Add the rice and lentils and simmer gently until they are just cooked, adding a little extra water only if needed.  (If leftover cooked chicken is being used in place of fresh meat, this should be added about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.)

5.  Remove the cloves before serving if you can find them. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve in warmed soup bowls topped with a dollop of natural yoghurt, crème fraîche or sour cream, a spoonful of mango chutney and a scattering of chopped fresh coriander leaves (or parsley).  This can be served with Naan bread if you wish.

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When the colder weather arrives my thoughts turn to soup, home made of course.  Soup is fantastic for this time of year and can be very forgiving if you have slightly less than fresh veggies that need finishing – not that I am advocating using items that have started to rot!   I had been planning to make Leek and Potato soup for ages and now I had no excuse, with leeks left over from Turkey Flan with Leeks & Cheese, potatoes in the cupboard and turkey stock in the freezer.  So far this year as the weather has been fairly mild and life has been busy soup has not made much of an appearance on the menu, but this last Saturday I finally rectified that.  This soup is not just for winter though.  It can also be served chilled during the summer months, often served poured over two or three ice cubes and garnished with leek strands as below or a sprinkling of chives, see this BBC recipe.  I had thought that Vichyssoise was the name of the cold version with the hot soup called the much less exciting Leek & Potato.  I discovered however that both hot and cold versions can be called Vichyssoise and further it is quite possible that it is not, as I had previously learned (or perhaps assumed having visited Vichy in France) a uniquely French soup.  According to Wikipedia:

‘…food writer Julia Child calls Vichyssoise “an American invention” whereas others observe that “the origin of the soup is questionable in whether it’s genuinely French or an American creation”‘.

There are a lot of good Leek & Potato Soup/Vichyssoise recipes around.  This version came from Potatoes: more than Mashed by Sally Mansfield, one of my most recent charity shop finds.  It has other lovely ideas I am sure its recipes will appear again. The original quantity, however, was a less than generous lunch for the four people specified so the quantities below have been increased by about a quarter so as a first course it could probably serve up to six. There are also a few little personal tweaks: cooking in olive oil as well as butter, increasing the onion, adding fine strips of leek and crème fraîche to garnish. The original recipe was for chicken stock but turkey or vegetable stock can be substituted.  For a richer soup replace some of the water with milk or even single cream (in which case a little could be reserved to swirl on top).  Yoghurt, or as I used this time, crème fraîche could also add the finishing touch.  All that is needed is some lovely crusty bread to serve alongside.  In the picture is a small piece of a large Pide flatbread bought from the wonderful bakery in our local Turkish supermarket.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Leek & Potato Soup
(Serves 3-4 or 6-8 as a starter)

25g/1oz butter
1tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, chopped (reserve a few fine slices to garnish)
1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped
454g/1lb potatoes, floury type if available, chopped
1150ml/2pints chicken, turkey or vegetable stock (or use mix of stock & either milk or cream)
Salt & ground black pepper
To serve
Cream, yoghurt or crème fraîche
Fine strands  of leek
Grind of black pepper
Crusty bread

1.  Heat half of the butter and the olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion and chopped leeks until transparent and soft, about 7 minutes.  Stir them occasionally and make sure that they do not brown.

2.  Add the potato pieces and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes.

3.  Add the stock, bring to the boil and reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer gently for 30-35 minutes.  The vegetables should be very tender.  Taste and season as required.

4.  The soup can be left either very chunky or liquidised until smooth.  I part liquidise the soup so there are a few chunks left.  Take care over liquidising potato as the starch can make it very sticky.  Add plenty of liquid with the vegetables and liquidise in short bursts until smooth.  Return to the pan, combining with any remaining chunks if making a mixed texture soup.

5.  Reheat the soup, stirring in the remaining butter in small pieces.  Check seasoning.

6.  Serve with a swirl of cream, yoghurt or crème fraîche, a few strands of leek and a grind of black pepper in each bowl, along with a piece of crusty bread.

 

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Chorba is a Moroccan spicy vegetable and pasta soup flavoured with the traditional North African spice mix Ras el-Hanout, which translates as ‘top of the shop’.  There are many versions of this spice mixture and each spice merchant has their own, sometimes containing up to one hundred different ingredients. I have already added details on the combination I use to make Ras el-Hanout.  It can be bought ready made, of course, but if you are like me and have a good selection of individual spices in your cupboard it is not difficult to make.  The only ingredient I had to buy was the rose petals, which I found in a local Turkish supermarket.  As far as I am concerned this warming and filling vegetarian soup is definitely as good as any plated evening meal, especially in the colder months.  A decent sized bowlful is adequate for me, but for larger appetites it could be served before a light main course such as a salad or in a much smaller quantity before a more substantial main course.

The recipe comes from the book on my shelf with the honour of having the longest title: The Complete Illustrated Food & Cooking of Africa & the Middle East: A Fascinating Journey Through the Rich & Diverse Cuisines of Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey & Lebanon by Josephine Bacon and Jenni Fleetwood, bought after I felt I could no longer hang on to the copy I had found in the library.  So many interesting and different ideas from Africa, which is after all a very big place so I would expect a huge variety.  Even though there are some unusual ingredients most of the recipes do not appear to be completely impossible to attempt.  Certainly with this recipe I had everything I needed to hand.  I have made very few adjustments to the original recipe: slightly less clove, half the quantity of celery (as my husband isn’t all that keen) and a tin of tomatoes in place of fresh ones (though both given here as an either/or).  The finishing touches were a swirl of plain yoghurt (always in the fridge), fresh coriander (currently in a pot by the back door) and some crusty bread.  I did not have the Moroccan loaf recommended but we had a crusty seeded pide loaf from the bakery at our local Turkish foodshop which produces wonderful bread.   If you can find an ethnic style flatbread, or even some warmed pitta bread, they would be perfect.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Chorba with Ras el-Hanout & Noodles
(Serves 4)

3-4tbsp olive oil
2-3 whole cloves
2 onions (or 1 very large)
1 crushed garlic clove
1 butternut squash
2 celery sticks, scrubbed and chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
8 large ripe tomatoes
or
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes (if using decrease amount of stock or water – see recipe)
1tsp sugar
1tbsp tomato purée (optional)
1-2tsp Ras el-Hanout
½tsp ground turmeric
large handful chopped fresh coriander (reserve a few leaves to garnish)
2-2½ pints vegetable stock (adjust amount if using tomatoes – see recipe)
or
1tsp-1tsp vegetable stock powder, made up with 2-2½ water/tinned tomatoes
1½oz sheet of egg noodles, broken up a little
Salt & ground black pepper
Yoghurt to serve

1.  Peel and de-seed the squash and cut into chunks. Place in a heavy pan with the olive oil, cloves, onion, crushed garlic, celery and carrots.  Fry gently together until they just start to brown.

2.  Stir in the chopped tomatoes or the chopped up contents of the tin of tomatoes and the sugar.  Cook gently for about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the tomato purée, Ras el-Hanout, turmeric and chopped fresh coriander.  Pour in the stock or add the stock powder and water.

4.  Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30-40minutes.   The vegetables should be very tender and the liquid reduced a little.

5.  The soup can either be puréed until completely smooth or left chunky with a thinner sauce.  I compromised, liquidising half the soup to thicken the sauce whilst still leaving some chunks.

6.  Return the puréed soup to the pan, add the broken noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is soft.

7.  Season to taste and spoon into soup bowls.  Add a swirl of yoghurt to each portion and garnish with a fresh coriander leaf or two.  Serve with crusty bread.

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Goulash is a soup, or sometimes a stew, with its origins in Eastern Europe, primarily Hungary.  The flavours of paprika and caraway seed, both which are used in this recipe, are particularly associated with the cuisine of the region.  (Paprika is available in many forms: variations of hot, sweet and smoked.  It is also widely used in Spanish cooking.)  There are a number of variations of basic Goulash, which are helpfully listed on Wikipedia.   The word Goulash apparently comes from the Hungarian word for a cattle herdsman but it is also similar to the Czech and Slovakian words for ‘mishmash’, or mixture … and this dish certainly is a delicious and warming mixture!

This is my last ‘soupy’ post for a while but although this was originally called simply Pork Goulash Soup and comes from Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert it is much more of a main meal.  If necessary the liquids could be lessened by adding a smaller amount of stock at the outset and/or reducing the sauce to give a thicker stew.  I have written previously giving information and a basic recipe for Suet Dumplings to which I am adding recipe variations as I come across them.  There is also a recipe for Beef & Bean Casserole which includes plain dumplings.  Dumplings are an optional extra in this Goulash recipe but I think are worth adding with instructions given separately in the recipe book where it was suggested that they could be flavoured with either caraway or fennel seeds.  We recently enjoyed the flavour combination of  Fennel & Apple Chutney with pork in a Sausagement Plait.  (It would be interesting to try fennel dumplings in a fishy stew, although I have never come across recipes with this combination.)  I chose caraway seed for its authenticity, plus it is a flavour I like.  The first time I felt the quantity of caraway seeds was rather scant so doubled the amount on the second occasion: I suppose it depends on personal taste.  The original recipe was for a very small quantity of dumplings and only just about adequate if potato was served as well.  I doubled the quantity the second time to serve the dumplings in place of potato.  The amounts could be increased further for larger eaters.  The soup/stew is rich, thick and tomatoey especially with the soured cream on top.  (I did not have soured cream but made my own by combining a squeeze of lemon with some single Elmlea half fat cream.)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pork Goulash Soup/Stew with Caraway Dumplings
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
225g/8ozs lean pork
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbsp flour
½ tsp smoked paprika
600ml/1pt chicken stock, or vegetable stock – halve for a thicker stew
400g can chopped tomatoes
Salt & black pepper
4tbsp soured cream (to serve)
   or
4tbsp single cream and a few drops of lemon juice, to make it sour

For caraway dumplings: 
   (amount doubled from original recipe but could be increased further)
100g/4ozs self-raising flour
50g/2ozs suet (I use vegetable rather than meat, as it is slightly lower fat)
2-4tsp caraway seeds, depending on taste – optional
   (alternatively fennel or toasted sesame seeds can be used)
4tbsp crème fraîche, yoghurt or milk
salt to taste
a little extra water as required

1.  Heat the olive oil gently in a large saucepan and fry the onion and pepper for about 10minutes, until it just begins to brown.

2.  Cut the pork into small pieces or thin strips.  Combine with the onions and pepper in the pan and cook for 2-3minutes.

3.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1minute.

4.  Lower the heat, stir in the flour and cook for 1minute more.

5.  Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan along with the paprika and stock.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  For a thicker stew to serve on a plate add less stock and reduce sauce at Stage 7 so it is thicker.

6.  Meanwhile, put the suet, flour and seeds (if using) into a bowl, season and mix together with the crème fraîche and a little water if necessary.  Divide into 8 balls (or 12 smaller ones).

7.  Season the goulash to taste and add the dumplings to the pan.  Cover with a lid and cook for a further 10minutes until the dumplings are risen and cooked.

8.  Serve goulash in bowls with soured cream drizzled over and 2 or 3 dumplings on top.  Add a simple green vegetable if needed.

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My last post was Chunky Vegetable & Pasta Soup: warming, satisfying and meat free.  I thought I would follow it with an equally warming and satisfying one that includes just a little meat: some chicken and bacon.  I am very fond of red lentils too, which cook down to give the soup a warming, slightly grainy thickness.  Although the original recipe specified fresh meat (a boned chicken thigh) I substituted leftover chicken, adding it later in the recipe as it was already cooked.  It is always good to have a variety of ways to use up the remains of a chicken – or even some of the Christmas turkey!  I suspect we will continue to have warming winter soups for some weeks yet so I am sure I will be making this again and very soon.

This is yet another hit recipe from my favourite soup recipe book, initially from the library but then bought with some birthday present money: Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert. In the book it is called The Number One Winter Soup, a rather strange title and although I agree that it is a first class recipe, I did feel I wanted something more helpfully descriptive.  Apart from substituting leftover chicken as I had some available, in place of a chicken thigh, the recipe is more or less as it originally appeared.  I did add a few more lentils to make the portions a little more generous and I have included this information in the instructions below.  (The lower figure is the amount of lentils given in the original.)  This dish is easily adapted by adding a little more of any of the ingredients that are particular favourites plus, of course, it could be completely meat free if the chicken and bacon were removed, vegetable stock substituted and a tin of favourite beans added.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Winter Vegetable, Chicken & Bacon Soup (The Number One Winter Soup)
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp butter
4ozs/125g streaky bacon (about 4 rashers)
1 boneless fresh chicken thigh
   or
4ozs/125g cooked chicken (or turkey)
2 onions, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
2 leeks, sliced
3pints/1.7litres weak chicken (or turkey) stock
175g/6ozs red lentils (can increase to 225g/8ozs)
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley (plus a little to garnish)
¼tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat the oil and butter together in a large saucepan.  Cut the bacon into small pieces and gently fry until golden.

2.  If using fresh chicken cut into small pieces and add now.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on a gentle heat until it starts to brown.  (Pre-cooked chicken is added later to prevent it from breaking up.)

3.  Stir in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips and leeks.  Cover and cook over a low heat for about 10minutes until they are starting to soften.

4.  Add the stock, lentils, thyme, bay leaf and parsley (remembering to reserve a little parsley to garnish).  Bring to the boil, cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then put on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 30minutes.  If using leftover chicken add this 10minutes before serving, which gives enough time for it to adequately heat through.

5.  Before serving check and adjust the seasoning.  Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with the reserved parsley and with some crusty bread on the side.

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A bowlful of a good hearty soup sometimes takes the place of a plated main meal in our house, especially during the winter months.  This usually contains meat, but not always a large quantity and sometimes, as is the case with this recipe, there is no meat at all.  It just goes to prove that soups don’t have to to contain meat to be satisfying: this delicious recipe contains generous amounts of a good selection of vegetables, plus small sized soup pasta.

This recipe, originally just called Vegetable Soup, comes from The Creative Vegetarian Cookbook published by Bramley Books (there is no author listed – edited by Jillian Stewart & Kate Cranshaw). I made the recipe as in the book but substuted 1 sweet potato as I did not have any swede.  I also found that it needed a little extra water towards the end of the cooking time so have included this in the instructions.  Soup pasta, is available in supermarkets and is a dainty version of the pasta shapes usually served as part of a main course.  In addition to the original recipe I added a good sprinkling of grated parmesan just prior to serving.  Of course, if you really miss the meat some diced ham or bacon could be added as well, I suggest at the first stage of cooking.  The recipe gives three generous servings but can be stretched to four by increasing the size or amounts of the vegetables or by serving crusty bread or toast on the side.

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Chunky Vegetable & Pasta Soup
(Serves 3-4)

2tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled & sliced
1 large turnip or fist sized piece of swede or sweet potato, peeled & sliced
2 leeks, washed & thinly sliced
2 potatoes, scrubbed & diced
570ml/1pint vegetable stock
450g/1lb tin of plum tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼tsp dried marjoram or dried savory
60g/2ozs dried small sized soup pasta
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
90g/3ozs fresh or frozen sliced green beans
120g/4ozs okra, trimmed & sliced
60g/2ozs frozen or tinned sweetcorn niblets
60g/2ozs frozen peas
1tbsp chopped parsley – plus a little more to garnish
Fresh parmesan cheese, grated, to garnish (optional)

 1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the carrot, turnip or swede (sweet potato should be added a little later), leeks and potatoes.

2.  Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned. 

3.  Add the stock, sweet potato (if using), tomatoes, bay leaf, marjoram/savory, soup pasta, salt & black pepper. 

4.  Gently bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 20minutes.

5.  Add the beans and okra and cook for 10 minutes more.

6.  Finally add the sweetcorn, peas and parsley and cook for 5 minutes more before serving.

7.  Check seasoning.  Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with a little reserved parsley.  Grated fresh parmesan cheese can also be added – optional.  Serve with crusty bread.

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The combination of pulses and root vegetables make delicious soups for the colder months and this thick golden bowlful certainly keeps out the winter chill.  The food writer Nigel Slater, who devised the recipe, writes that though this is a winter soup it is also ideal for a cold spring day: a way to use up the last of the winter pulses and a good use for those parsnips hiding in the vegetable rack.  It is certainly good for using up parsnips that are slightly past their best or the thin pieces that don’t roast too well!

The recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s column in the Observer Sunday newspaper colour supplement in April 2007 which can also be found online.  The other recipe that day was Beetroot Seed Cake, which I also made and have already written about on this site.  This soup is tasty and spicy, though for a less hot version use just half a dried chilli pepper, or even less, rather than whole one.  Nigel Slater prefers cooking the vegetables in butter rather than oil but I use both.  You still get a buttery flavour but the oil helps to prevent the butter from burning.  The recipe did not really need too much alteration, although towards the end of the cooking time I put in some fresh coriander, as well as adding some as a garnish to give its distinctive flavour which we love.  You can, of course, leave this out if you wish.

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Parsnip & Split Pea Soup
(Serves 4)

2 medium sized onions
a generous knob of butter
1tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 parsnips
2tsp chilli crushed (I used 1 small crushed dried chilli)
1tsp turmeric
a large pinch of ground mace
2tsp ground coriander
125gyellow split peas
1.5 litres water
black pepper
Fresh coriander to stir through and garnish (optional)

1.  Peel and roughly chop the onions. Gently heat the butter and olive oil together in a deep pan.  (Nigel Slater prefers butter to oil but I use both as you still get the buttery flavour but the oil helps to prevent it from burning.) 

2.  Add the onions to the pan and start to cook gently.  Next peel and crush the garlic and peel and roughly chop the parsnips, adding both to the pan and mixing well. Cook gently on a medium heat. 

3.  When they are starting to show colour add the crushed chilli, turmeric powder, ground mace and ground coriander.

4.  Add the split peas and water.  Season with black pepper.  (The salt needs to be added later when the peas start to soften: any earlier and it will toughen their skins.)  Simmer gently for around 35 minutes until the peas are soft and can be crushed between your fingers.

5.  Add salt to taste.  Liquidise until the soup is smooth and thick, return to the pan and gently reheat.  Rinse the liquidiser with a very small amount of water adding this to the pan as well. 

6.  Chop the fresh coriander, reserve a little to garnish and stir through the soup as it reheats.

7.  Adjust the seasoning and serve with crusty bread.

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One of the joys of the colder months, particularly just after Christmas when the food has normally been rather rich, is a simple bowlful of soup accompanied by some crusty fresh bread.  I was attracted to the flavour combination of the ingredients in this recipe: carrot always makes a delicious soup (at least I think so), butter beans add a smooth creaminess and rosemary gives both scent and flavour.  This is my final recipe this year for seasonal leftovers.  It was first made just after Christmas so I used Turkey stock, but the original recipe specified chicken stock (vegetable stock would be fine too).  Don’t worry if you are a bit fed up with turkey flavour as the main flavours come from the other ingredients so you won’t feel you are eating ‘that bird’ – yet again! 

The recipe comes from my soup book: the Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert.  Butterbean, Carrot & Rosemary Soup, the original title, is listed in the Winter section and it truly is a warming bowlful for a cold lunchtime.  It was made and on the table in a very short time, which is always an advantage.  The recipe uses tinned beans.  Dried beans can be substituted (in which case the amount of beans used should be halved) and I have given details below, however the recipe will no longer be so speedy.  The carrot predominates and my version has the option of adding extra carrot, so I changed the title a little.  The word ‘Thatched’ is my addition, which I have used once before when I grated cheese onto Thatched Cauliflower Cheese Soup.  This time I suggest an additional small carrot is grated with most stirred in and a scattering on top for decoration, or if you prefer simply reserve and add a few strands for decoration.  Stirred though, without cooking, gives a crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth soup.  On first tasting the soup can taste a little bland so beware overseasoning and taste again before serving.

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Thatched Carrot, Butterbean & Rosemary Soup
(Serves 4)

2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
12ozs/35og carrots, diced
1 or 2 sticks celery, diced
1½pints/700ml turkey or chicken stock
2tsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1tsp dried rosemary): more if you love rosemary
1 bay leaf
400g can butterbeans, rinsed & drained (or 200g dried butterbeans)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh rosemary to garnish (if available)
1 more carrot, grated (small: garnish only/medium: garnish & stir in) optional

1.  For tinned beans, start at step 2.
If using dried beans instead of tinned they should first be soaked overnight to soften or, if time is short, pour over boiling water and leave for 1 hour.  Bring to the boil in unsalted water, reduce heat and cook until soft, about 30minutes, before using in the recipe.  (Salted water will toughen the skins of the beans.)

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large lidded saucepan.  Gently sweat the onion, garlic, carrots and celery for about 10 minutes until soft but not browned.  Shake or stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

3.  Add the stock, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4.  Stir in the butterbeans.  Simmer for a further 10 minutes.

5.  Allow the soup to cool slightly and purée, using a liquidiser if available.  Check and adjust seasoning.  I usually add a little more hot water to rinse the liquidiser once the soup has been puréed so I do not lose any of the soup.  Return the soup to the saucepan along with this extra soupy water and reheat.  If you are stirring grated carrot through the soup then add it just before the soup is served, reserving a small amount to garnish.  Do not reheat for too long as the grated carrot will lose its crunch.

6.  Serve in bowls, garnished with a thatch of grated carrot and a sprig of fresh rosemary.  The original recipe suggests that the pretty lavender flowers of rosemary, if in season, add to the appearance of the dish.

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The spices used in this dish can be found across North Africa, well into Asia and beyond, so this is a dish which crosses cultures.   Add a little less liquid and some chicken or lamb plus pickled lemons and/or olives and/or dried fruit and the flavours easily make it North African or Middle Eastern style food.  If the liquid, apart from the tomato juice, was not added at all it would equally well be at home as a side dish at an Indian style meal. I expect, with further tweaking, it would also fit into other cultures.  Here, however, it is simply served as a warming and filling soup and is almost a meal in itself.

I am not sure why I had not seen this recipe before but it was brought to my attention by a post from LoubyLou, on the ‘Nigella’ forum, hunting for a long lost favourite Sarah Brown recipe (sadly the forum and all its useful shared information and forummers recipes are no longer in existence, at least in the same format).  I own four Sarah Brown books and I found what I think is the same recipe in the book Sainsbury’s Healthy Eating Cookbooks: Beans, Nuts & Lentils.  I just had to try it out and sure enough it was lovely.  We really liked the pronounced ginger flavour (I may have overdone it a bit) but it was a bit spicy for my daughter who added a little yoghurt and then loved it too.  The method below is almost as in the book, but halving the ginger which is actually, rather than the chilli powder, the main source of heat.  Double the amount below for a spicier soup.  It is always good to add fresh coriander if available, reserving a leaf or two to garnish.  I did feel the quantity was rather scant to serve 4 unless you only plan to serve a small bowlful: as a lunch dish it needs extending, possibly by doubling.  This is a chunky rather than smooth soup, with the chick peas as the largest pieces, so chop the onion finely.  The original recipe suggests using dried chick peas as an alternative: 3ozs (75g) dried peas yield around 6ozs (150g) cooked peas.  I find it easier to open a tin, especially as they have become so inexpensive to buy, but for those on a budget I am sure that dried peas would still be cheaper.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Chick Pea & Tomato Soup
(Serves 3/4)

2tsp/10ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp/15ml ground almonds
2tsp/10ml garam masala
½tsp chilli powder
1tsp/5ml ground coriander
1tsp/5ml turmeric
½tsp/2.5ml grated fresh root ginger
14oz/400g tin of plum tomatoes, pureed
14oz/400g tin chick peas (see above for using dried peas)
½pint of vegetable stock, possibly a little more
Salt & pepper
A handful of chopped fresh coriander, if available, reserving a few leaves to garnish.
A spoonful of yoghurt (optional)

1.  Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft, but do not let it brown.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook gently for a further 2 or 3 minutes.

2.  Mix the ground almonds and the spice powders with a little water to make a paste.  Add the paste to the onion/garlic/ginger mixture and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.

3.  Stir in the finely chopped tomatoes, chick peas and stock.  If the chick peas are tinned in water then this can be added as part of the stock, even if it is slightly salted.  (The seasonings can be adjusted later.)  If using home cooked peas then the unsalted cooking liquid can be used as part of the stock.

4.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes to enable the flavours to develop.  Top up with a little more water as necessary.  Check seasoning and stir through all but the reserved fresh coriander just before serving.

5.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh coriander and serve with crusty bread or alternatively with soft or toasted pitta or a similar flat bread.

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The most complicated and time consuming part of this recipe was preparing the pumpkin.  I am sure there must be an easier method but I have to say I found it hard work.  I got stuck in with a very sharp knife and my potato peeler and finally managed to remove all the tough outer skin.  So be warned: sharp implements are essential and leave yourself enough time! … but I would definitely do it again.  I love pumpkin seeds and was pleased to hear that I could roast the pumpkin seeds in a little oil and salt for a tasty treat.  However, I was less than pleased with the result which was very rough and not particularly pleasant.  Not sure what I did wrong but unless I get different instructions I won’t be trying it again.

This recipe came from the Channel 4 series 4 Ingredients, with Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham and published on food page of the magazine which comes with the Daily Mirror each weekend.  I have adapted it very slightly, with an onion for added flavour (suppose that makes it 5 Ingredients: never mind!)  The original recipe is available on the UKTV Food site, called Thai Pumpkin Soup.  My pumpkin was 3lb, so larger than the 2lb recommended, but I used the same amount of red thai paste. I was glad I did not increase the amount pro rata as it was plenty hot enough. I also used part of a creamed coconut block dissolved in water, probably less than the original making it less rich.  (I assume the original used a can of creamed coconut.)  I have halved the original amount of paste in the method below, but if you like it hotter then add more.  I also added chopped coriander to the soup as well as using to garnish.  This can, of course, be made in advance, but add the coriander just before you serve. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Thai Style Pumpkin Soup
(Serves 4)

1 medium sized onion
1kg/2lb Pumpkin or Butternut Squash
1 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
50g creamed coconut (sold in 200g blocks)
Fresh coriander
Salt & pepper

1.  Peel and chop the onion.  Using a very sharp knife and potato peeler if necessary, completely remove all the peel from the pumpkin or squash.  Quarter, scoop out the seeds and cut into chunks. 

2.  Gently cook the onion and pumpkin with the red curry paste until it starts to brown and stick to the saucepan.

3.  Grate the creamed coconut, dissolve it in a little boiling water (it may not dissolve completely but that does not matter) and immediately add it to the pan.  Stir well removing all the browned mixture from the bottom of the pan.  Add more water until the mixture is completely covered and bring to boil.

4.  Turn down the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is soft.

4. Transfer the mixture to a liquidiser and puree until smooth and return to the saucepan.  Reheat and check seasoning.  Reserving a little to garnish, stir in the chopped coriander just prior to serving.

6.   Add a little more fresh coriander to garnish. Serve with crisp toast or crusty bread.

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