Thursday, 28 November 2013
This is pea soup recipe number 5 on the blog! Who would have thought that I could get so much mileage out of the humble pea? And unlike the others, which are variations on two themes, this one is a little different.
You could use frozen peas or fresh, but the great thing about frozen ones is that using those makes this pretty much a cupboard soup - as long as you have a vaguely well stocked spice cupboard - and the fact that its quick and easy to throw together, like most soups, makes it perfect for a tasty lunch or when surprise visits happen. In fact that could apply to most soups - they really are perfect food, aren't they?
Also, I love the fact that a curry sauce is also known as gravy, as you all know just how much I love gravy. I assume that the term was taken to India by the British, but you, lovely readers, may know better. If so, please let me know...
1 Large Onion
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 Bunch Spring Onions
1tsp Garlic Purée
1tsp Ginger Purée
1 Green Chilli
1tsp Garam Masala
1tsp Mustard Seeds
1tsp Cumin Seeds
4 Cardamom Seeds
2 Bay Leaves
1. Heat some oil in your soup pan. Once it's hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seed, cardamom and bay leaves and fry them for 2 minutes, so they flavour the oil. Watch out, because the mustard seeds can pop in the oil and go everywhere!
2. Add the finely chopped onion, garlic and ginger puree, then cook through until the onions are browned a little
3. Add the chilli, turmeric and coriander, stir them through the onions, and then add the tomatoes, cooking until everything reduces down to a thick, spicy paste.
4. Add 900ml of water, chopped spring onions and half the peas. The other half of the peas should be smashed to a pulp - I used the end of a rolling pin - and then added too. Add some salt, then bring the soup to a simmer, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes.
5. Add the garam masala and then serve. Accompany with naan or boiled rice. Enjoy!
There's a bit in one of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Books (The Restaurant at the End of The Universe, I think, but I could be wrong) which says that 85% of species in the Galaxy eventually discover a drink called Gin and Tonic, or something similar. In Battlestar Galactica, The song 'All Along The Watchtower' features prominently, even though the characters have never been to Earth or heard of Jimi Hendrix*. When quizzed about it, the producers said that something were so perfect that they would exist everywhere in the Universe at one time or another.
So what does this geekery have to do with soup, I hear you ask. Well, much like Gin and Tonic and All Along the Watchtower, split pea and ham soup seems to have appeared in a great many guises on my culinary travels (all of which pretty much happen from the comfort of my living room, in a rather magical fashion)
I've done at least 4 other pea soups on the blog, but never this Particular classic (See what I did there?) It's a soup that demands a little investment of your time - soaking the peas and cooking the ham before its ready, but it is totally worth it.
This is the soup that is named after the famous Smog of London, and it's so thick and rich and gloopy (I love that word, gloopy,) that you really can see why an all obscuring yellowish green fog would have inspired such a soup. The smog may now have lifted, but on a chilly winter's eve, I can't think of a more perfect soup to enjoy!
* Yes I know Bob Dylan wrote that song, but a) I hate Bob Dylan and b) I may be a cylon
1 Ham Hock
3 Stalks Celery
1 Large Onion
2 Bay Leave
250g Dried Peas
1tsp Bicarb of Soda
1 Large Onion
1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1. Soak the peas for 24 hours, with a teaspoon of Bicarb and enough water to cover them properly. The bicarb helps to soften the peas, and lets them cook quicker - the same thing works with chickpeas if you are making hummus from scratch
2. In a large pan, place the ham hock, 2 litres of water, roughly chopped celery, carrot, bay, onion and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 2-3 hours, depending on how big the ham hock is. Once it's cooked through, take the ham out of the cooking liquid and allow to cool
3. Strain the cooking liquid to get all the veg out of it, and then set that to once side too.
4. In your soup pan, fry off a thinly sliced onion in the butter until its soft and golden. Next add the liquid the ham was cooked in.
5. Drain and wash the peas, then add those to the pan and bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a low heat for 2 hours or until the peas have softened and are cooked through.
6. Using a stick blender, puree the soup (you can do this just a bit to give the soup more texture, or completely blend it if you prefer)
7. Add most of the ham from the hock, and the Worcestershire sauce and bring back to the heat to warm through, then serve with crusty bread and garnish with some of the ham hock shredded on top. Enjoy
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
I have a friend who is obsessed with creating the perfect curry. As obsessions go, its far from a bad one, but it can make going out for a meal with him an, umm, interesting experience. On more than one occasion, when visiting local curry houses he has spent inordinate amounts of time quizzing the harassed looking staff on the ingredients used in various dishes, and has from time to time been invited into the kitchen to talk to the chef (although this may have just been a ploy by irate serving staff to get him out of their hair)
This friend has shelves laden with curry recipe books, and his kitchen is a mountain of jars and packets (which even put my obsessively labelled jars to shame) and like some Dr Frankenstein with a turmeric stained lab coat, he one day staggered out of the kitchen after experiencing his eureka moment. And that moment was adding fenugreek to his curry dishes. Now obviously, this doesn't work across the board, but when added to some curries it adds an amazing savoury deep note of flavour which really makes you think you are in a really good curry restaurant.
And now, yes, I too am a little bit obsessed with the flavour, sprinkling it liberally on dishes where it probably doesn't belong. But oh the flavour. It's like my caraway obsession from last year all over again )although less likely to get stuck between your teeth...)
And so, obviously, I had to see if there was such a thing as a fenugreek soup. And whilst there wasn't an actual fenugreek soup, I did come across this tasty little number. It is an egg drop soup, which I hadn't really tried before - I was always worried about making a soup with the consistency of runny scrambled eggs (a dish that once made me cry as a child, but that's a story for another day...) but this actually turned out rather nice!
4 Large Onions
1 Large Potato
2 tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cloves Garlic
1.2l Chicken Stock
1. Peel and thinly slice the onions, peel the potato and cut into small cubes and finely chop the garlic.
2. Heat the butter in your soup pan and cook the onions over a low heat until they soften and turn golden.
3. Add the garlic and potato and cook for another few minutes
4. Add the stock, thyme, fenugreek and bay leaf, then bring the soup to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
5. Add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste
6. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then stir them into the soup just before serving, stirring the soup constantly to make sure the egg mixes thoroughly.
7. Serve in warm bowls. Enjoy!
Tuesday, 29 October 2013
It's Halloween and that can only mean two things... The first is joyless people moaning "Oh, it's such an American thing' they say, but guess what? So are men on the moon, Breaking Bad, Tom and Jerry and serial killers, and all of those are brilliant things. The second thing is the humble pumpkin.
Now I have been quite vocal in the past about how people seem to cram pumpkins into everything (cynically one would think just to get more hits on their blogs...) like pumpkin spiced lattes, caramel pumpkin cheesecake dog biscuits and so on. But in the spirit of evil, I shall join this club with a soup that is perfect for eating on a cold October night whilst watching Peter Cushing do his stuff in The Satanic Rights of Dracula.
It uses quince as an ingredient, mainly because when we moved into the new Soup HQ, we inherited a quince bush, made some jelly and loved it, which got me thinking if I could use it in a soup. If you don't have access to a quince bush, lime juice would work perfectly well!
(Also, to get you in the Halloween mood, here's a zombie film I made. It's a bit gory
Now the darkness is upon us and the spirits prepare to fly, causing havoc and all manner or malingering, it falls upon me to impart the wisdom of how to prepare a soupe made of the flesh of that most devilish of all the vegetables that grow in the dirt of the grave - the pumpkin.
Be warned though, this is not the tame soupe but a devilish fiery concoction. No thin and watery gruel this, but a most unusual brew, made that much more strange by the addition of the fruit of the Quince bush, which imbues upon said soupe a sharpness such as a lime would also provide. However the soupe will not reach full efficacy unless the flesh of the quince is interred into it.
The sprinkling upon the top of the soupe of the toasted seeds of the pumpkin also imparts a delicious savoury note which is only matched by dry roasted eye of newt or other water borne creature...
Go ahead, make this soupe if ye dare...
1 Pumpkin (about 1kg of flesh)
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Red Chili
1tbsp Ginger Puree
1 Tin Tomatoes
1 Tin Coconut Milk
1.2l Vegetable Stock
30g Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Method for preparing the soupe
1. Murder the onion and cut that into small pieces. Show the onion no remorse, even if you cry. Do the same to the chili.
2. In a cauldron or other suitable piece of kitchenware - preferably cast iron and under a full moon - heat up some oil and then fry the onion's remains. Add the chili, ginger and some garlic to keep away vampires. Cook until dead but not burnt - maybe 5 minutes...
3. Add the coriander and cumin powders (or ground monkey paw if you have it) and then cook for a few more minutes.
4. Hack up the pumpkin like Michael Myers on Prom Night. Use a very sharp, pointy knife and slice the flesh, cutting away all the skin and tough bits. Then cut the remaining soft fleshy parts into unidentifiable pieces. Leave no incriminating evidence
5. Add the stock, pumpkin and tomatoes to the cauldron, salt the soup so nothing more shall grow there. Cook for 45 minutes and then remove from flame and torment. Allow to cool until cold as the grave.
6. Blend, mash, grind, flense or otherwise reduce the soup to the consistency and colour of freshly spilled blood.
7. Peel the skin from the very living flesh of the quinces and then chop them asunder (Be careful as the dastardly quince harbours much in the way of tricky gristly and tough bits. Be sure to remove these fully)
8. Add some water to another pot and bring to a goodly boil. Into this pot dispose of the Quince's flesh and render down to pulp or puree.
9. Add the resultant puree, plus the juice of one coconut to the soup and reheat to renew the agony.
10. Serve to hungry demons with a scattering of the pumpkin's own seeds upon it. Try not to choke upon the resultant mess
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
I think we can all agree that winter is finally here and that means two things - 1) everyone moans about the weather and 2) my blog gets more hits as everyone rather sensibly says 'ya know what, now the nights are drawing in, I need some soup, tasty and comforting, to take my mind off the rain and the fact that I can't afford to put the heating on any more...
And like some kind of soup supplying fairy, I can make that wish come true! And there can be few better and more comforting soups than this cauliflower cheese recipe.
One of the things that we did here at soup HQ over the summer was convert the patch of weeds behind the house into a vegetable garden. Being that I was our first year of properly flexing our green fingers, the garden more or less resembled the patch of weeds it had previously been, but with some brave veggies poking their way through the canopy of bind weed (next yearm I shall be more prepared for just how much work even a small veg patch can be to maintain)
Amongst the things that did grow really well were cauliflowers. I love caulis and ours were turned into all manner of tasty dishes (gobi aloo being my favourite) but I realised that not a single one had been soup-ified. That was quickly rectified with the last two being added to this recipe. The stronger the cheddar the better when making the soup, and if you feel like you need some meat in the dish, garnish with some crispy bacon bits, although the soup works fine without them.
Next year, I'll be growing lots more stuff - if anyone has any suggestions for their favourite veg to , grow, especially ones that are fairly idiot proof and grow anywhere, Id love to hear from you...
2 Stalks Celery
1 Large Potato
2 Cloves Garlic
150g Mature Cheddar Cheese
800ml Vegetable Stock
2 Sprigs Thyme
1 Tbsp English Mustard
1. Peel and slice the carrot, potato, onion and garlic, chop the celery and cut the cauliflower into florets
2. In your soup pan, heat the butter and then gently fry the carrots, onion, garlic and celery until it starts to soften.
3. Add the cauliflower, potato, thyme, mustard and stock, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is softened
4. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the soup to cool
5. Blend until smooth, then return to the pan
6. Add the milk and cheese and bring to a simmer again. Adjust seasoning to taste and then serve
7. Garnish with some more grated cheddar and some crispy bacon bits
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
So our round-the world-in-several-soups trip reaches Spain and a delicious, hearty chorizo and chickpea soup, which is prefect for winter evenings as much as it is summer days.
Whilst we are on the subject, having made this soup and also some paella in the last few days, the inevitable discussion about pronunciation of various words came up. Is it Pie-ella or Pa-ya-yah, Choritzo or Choritho? I always feel like there is some snobbery when people correct my pronunciation of foreign words - after all there are plenty of common English words that we still can't agree on (S-kone or s-gone for instance) and nobody ever condescendingly tries to correct my pronunciation of those words.
Also, does anyone ever actually say 'po-tay-toe' or 'to-may-toe'?
Ah, lets's call the whole thing off, shall we? In the meantime, I think that sliced hard boiled egg should be a made into a compulsary topping for every soup that I make in the future - I am almost as obsessed with it as I am with dumplings and black puddings at the moment. It's such a simple addition to any dish but it adds a creamy, rich extra bit of goodness to it. Go on and try it, you know you want to...
1 Large Onion
2 Stalks Celery
1 Tin Chickpeas
1 Tin Tomatoes
2 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Fresh Thyme
1.2l Chicken Stock
1. Finely chop the onion, celery and garlic. In your soup pan, heat some oil and fry the vegetables until they start to soften.
2. Add the chorizo and thyme and cook a little more.
3. Add the stock, sherry, tomoatoes and drained chickpeas, then bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. In another pant, hard boil your eggs and set them aside to cool
5. After the soup has been simmering for 30 minutes, add the chopped spinach and let cook for another 5 - 10 minutes, adjust seasoning and serve
6. Top each bowl with a few slices of hard boiled egg. Enjoy!
Wednesday, 4 September 2013
The reason for this is that I think they get the flavour combinations right - often using lemon juice, or vinegar to add a sour note that works really well. They are often pretty simple recipes, and (oh yes) often incorporate either dumplings or meatballs. And regular readers will know how I feel about those two...
So my round-the-world soupstravaganza hits Romania, which is undoubtedly most well known as the place where Dracula lives. I'm pretty sure some other stuff must have happened there, but really nothing of importance from the time Peter Cushing killed Vlad until the present time*
They did, however, come up with lots and lots of exiting soups, many of them with that slightly sour taste that I love so much. And this one has meatballs, so I just had to give it a go. The addition of rice to the meatballs makes the meat stretch that little bit further, and although it's a simple soup to put together, the end results are so tasty...
* This may not have happened
300g Minced Beef
50g Long Grain Rice
2 Celery Stalks
1 Green Pepper
3tbsp Tomato Puree
1.5l Beef Stock
1. Peel the carrots and parsnip, cut them into small cubes.
2. De-seed the green pepper and cut finely, as well as one of the onions and the celery stalks
3. Heat some oil in your soup pan and gently fry the vegetables until soft but not starting to colour
4. Add the stock to the pan, as well as the tomato puree, lemon juice and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minuted
5. In a mixing bowl, combine the minced beef, washed rice and then grate the other onion and add this to the mixture, along with 1tsp of salt and some black pepper.
6. Form the mixture into balls about an inch across.
7. Add these to the soup after 30 minutes and continue to simmer gently for another 10-15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked. You will be able to tell when they are cooked as they will float to the surface of the soup.
8. Adjust seasoning to taste and then serve. Enjoy!