Thursday, 31 January 2013

Foodie PenPals January

It's been a few months since I've blogged about my Foodie PenPals parcel, though I have still been participating - preparing a parcel for someone, and receiving one from someone else. It being the new year though I think it's time to start participating fully again, and that means letting the world know about the goodies we've received!

This month my parcel came from Zoe (@ZoeZoef12) - this was her first parcel and she had some really good questions, including what would I eat if I wanted a midnight snack (peanut butter!), which I immediately put into my email to my Foodie PenPal.

Zoe's parcel was full of all sorts of interesting and yummy things. My favourite is probably the peanut butter bars, which have all been scoffed already! Mr Soup loves all things snacky (savoury), and so the Indian snacky things went in the course of a few nights too (I must admit I helped!). We both had to admit that we've never made anything with Bulgar wheat before, and so in true SoupTuesday style a Bulgar Wheat soup recipe was found and made for the very next Tuesday - apparently a soup eaten by brides in Turkey the night before their wedding (or so the Internet says...). We also wanted to try Bulgar wheat as a dish in its own right, and had it as a spiced accompaniment to a gorgeous chickpea and chorizo stew one Friday evening. We are now true converts to Bulgar wheat, and I think I might prefer it to couscous!

The final 2 spicy additions to the parcle were Chilli oil and Harissa paste, both of which we are looking forward to using soon, especially since our last bottle of chilli oil went down very well, and this one looks very chilli!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Thai Noodle Soup With Fishballs

I haven't made any of the huge range of Thai soups since I almost killed myself with a huge spicy overdose of chili when making a Tom Yum soup.  Now I'm a fan of spicy foods, and have a pretty high tolerance for chili, but even I had a hard time eating that soup, due to a couple of rogue, extra hot chili peppers that made their way into my shopping basket.

However, I didn't have that problem with this recipe, which was suggested to me by another lovely Postcrossing pal, who is from Thailand and listed this as amongst her favourite soups.  A few of the recipes that I found for this soup had ingredients in that I couldn't find at my local supermarket (Chinese Celery, coriander root) so I've had to approximate with some of the ingredients, but I think what I ended up with was rather special - if you like your soups a bit more spicy, you could aways add some more chili somewhere in the mix, and I'm sure it will be just as good, but I decide to play safe this time...

Also, after stumbling across the website of a soup company somewhere in Scotland, I've been experimenting this week with a tip that they recommend for getting the best out of any soup - that is, making it the day before and leaving it in the fridge to mature overnight which increases the depth of the flavours, or so they claim.  Now obviously, with this soup, a lot of the ingredients (fish balls and noodles etc) need to be added just before serving, but I did prepare the base of the soup the day before, and blow me down, but it seemed to be a lot more flavoursome than I was expecting.  I may experiment further and report back my findings...

1.2l Chicken Stock
2tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2tsp Grated Ginger
2tsp Light Brown Sugar
1tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Star Anise
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Small Mooli
Juice and zest of 1 Lime
4tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
3tbsp Smooth Peanut Butter
300g White Fish, Skinned and boneless
Handful of Fresh Coriander
Rice Noodles 

 1.  Heat the stock in a soup pan, then add the soy sauce, ginger, sugar, anise and fish sauce.  Simmer and then add the thinly sliced mooli.  Let the soup cook for 15 minutes and then remove from the heat.

2.  Prepare the fish balls.  In a food mixer, put the fish. coriander, garlic, zest of 1 lime and a little salt.  Blend the ingredients together and then make small balls with it, about 2cm round - there should be enough for about 12 fish balls

3.  In a bowl, mix the lime juice, sweet chili sauce and peanut butter into a smooth paste.

4.  Prepare the rice noodles as per the instructions on the packet.

5.  Reheat the soup, bringing to a simmer and then add the fish balls.  Cook gently for about 10 minutes, until everything is reheated properly and the fish is cooked.

6.  Place some noodles in each bowl, then pout over some of the lime and chili paste.  Place some fish balls on top of that, then pour the soup around.  Garnish with fresh coriander and thinly sliced spring onions.  Enjoy!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cauliflower Cake, Lamb & Sesame Stirfry and more. A Week of Meals 003

Week 3 of the meal planning odyssey and to be honest I'm surprised that I've made it this far.  As far as new year's resolutions go, this has lasted twice as long as my other resolutions, go running 3 days a week (I'm blaming that one on the snow), cut down on the alcohol (I'm blaming that one on the fact it tastes too nice) and build a robot sidekick (I'm working on that one...)

So without further distractions, on with the list...

 Friday - Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

This one was a quick and simple meal as there are many more important things to do on a Friday evening, and I always like something a bit mediteranean every now and then.  This is a Nigella recipe, which made me inclined not to cook it as I really do not like her TV shows.  However, woman can cook, and this was rather amazing for something that took 15 minutes to prepare...

Should you wish to cook this (and you won't regret it), here is linkage

Sunday - Lamb and Sesame Stir fry

This was my pick from the book Mrs Soup chose, as per the rules of Recipe Club (Well, the second rule actually.  The first rule is do not talk about Recipe Clu... oh drat)  The book was 'What's Cooking - Chinese' by Jenny Stacey, and whilst it was nice, Im not sure how authentic a lot of the dishes are - alarm bells always ring when cook books don't include the name of the dish in the original language (or am I just being a food snob?)

Anyway, I chose it because I don't think I've ever encountered lamb on a chinese restaurant menu before, so I thought I'd give it a go.  It turned out nice, as George Formby might have said, if he'd eaten it...

Monday - Leek and Goats Cheese Tart / Poached Pears

Mrs Soup's pick of the week, from a book called 'Farmer's Market Cookbook'.  Because of another new year's resolution - i.e. the whole healthy eating thing, we swapped out the shortcrust pastry for layers of filo pastry - a tip that the Hairy Bikers did on one of their recent shows.  It made the whole thing a lot lighter and rather nice, although it could have done with some bacon or similar to give it a bit more kick.

Tuesday - Ezogelin Soup

This week's soup.  See blog post below

Wednesday - Cauliflower and Cheese Cake

The weekly veg box delivery left us with a couple of Cauliflowers which I had absolutley no idea what to do with, having grown bored of Cauliflower curry and Koftas, so I did what all sensible people do in the 21st Century - ask twitter.  I got some amazing suggestions, including fritters, making them into a pizza base and a tasty soup which may appear on the blog next time I have cauliflowers.

However, the one that caught my eye was a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi for a cake!  It was an experiment, to say the least, and I didn't have high hopes - especially with my aversion to all things baking related.  However, the end result was something of a triumph.  I highly recommend it if you have no idea what to do with the brain shaped vegetable lurking in your cupboard...

The recipe is here

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Ezogelin / Ezo The Bride Soup

A break this week from the Postcrossing adventure, but still an exotic soup.  The reason this one has popped up today is due to a number of factors.  Firstly Mrs Soup got sent some bulgur wheat as part of a Foodie Pen Pals package.  After staring at the package for some time, I realised that I'd never cooked with that, so away I went to Google and found a curiously named soup - Ezo The Bride Soup.

Now I'm a sucker for foodstuffs with odd names - hence Snert last week, and many others scattered around the blog - after all, it's a good a reason as any for trying something new and it appeals to my childish nature.

Ezo The Bride soup is a Turkish recipe, which apparently is given to Brides on the night before their wedding, and is named for a woman who apparently was married several times, kidnapped, had 9 children and died of Typhus.  I can only assume that this is a cautionary tale told to would-be brides to make their own impending nuptuals seem more enjoyable by comparison.  If any Turkish readers can enlighten me further then I'd be glad to hear the story - the wikipedia page contains scanty details, although apparently there was a film made of the story!

Also, due to the weather this week (you may have noticed a dusting of snow) this soup is brilliant as it's solid, warming and hearty, whether you are getting married or not...

1 Large Carrot
1 Large Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
3 Tomatoes
100g Red Lentils
75g Bulgur Wheat
50g Wholegrain Rice
1.5l Vegetable Stock
1tbsp Paprika
2tbsp Dried Mint
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
A Pinch of Chili Flakes
Fresh Mint and Lemon Slices

1.  Finely chop the onion and carrot.  Heat some oil in your soup pan, then cook the vegetables over a medium heat for 5 minutes, to soften them

2.  Chop the tomatoes and garlic finely, and add them to the pan, along with the paprika, chili flakes, paprika and cumin seeds.  Still them in and let them cook for another 3 minutes

3.  Add the lentils, rice and bulgur wheat, stir them into the vegetables and spices, and then add the stock, dried mint and some seasoning.  Bring the soup to the boil and then cover.  Simmer for 40 minutes, until all the grains are soft and cooked through.

4.  Transfer half of the soup to a food blender and blitz until it's smooth, then return to the pan

5.  Serve with fresh mint as a garnish and slices of lemon to squeeze over the soup.  Enjoy

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Koftas, Fattoush, Baby Onion Risotto and more. A Week of Meals 002

Week two of recording our meals for posterity, and things are going swimmingly (and why shouldn't they?)  Because it's the middle of winter, we seem to be in the realm of stews at the moment, hence the appearance of two of them in this week's menu.  If this snow carries on, I'm sure there will be many more, plus regular readers will remember my fondness for dumplings...

So without further ado, here is this week's menu

Saturday - Baby Onion Risotto

Risotto is my enemy!  No matter how closely I stick to a recipe, how carefully I measure the ingredients and watch the timings and heat, the rice never cooks and it just plain makes me cross, which is odd given that it is such a simple meal.  Luckily, this dish was Mrs Soup's choice, from one of those books of one-pot meals you can pick up at the checkouts of most supermarkets.

Unlike me, Mrs Soup can ace the risotto, and this was creamy delicious heaven!

Sunday - Seafood Stew

This one was made up on the fly, mainly because we had some frozen bits of fish to use up, and a hankering for some fennel.  I thought that those two flavours worked will together, so threw in some tomatoes and orange zest, plus some other bits and came up with a lovely, fresh stew.  I had to hold my fire on adding dumplings to this, and much to my chagrin, I have to admit I was probably right to do so

Monday - Lamb Koftas and Fattoush

Because we are nothing if not wildly international here at Soup HQ, this Lebanese feast came from the pages of an Australian Women's Weekly recipe book and was my choice from Mrs Soup's pick of the books.

The Koftas did resemble (and there's no way of putting this delicately) dog poo before being cooked, but afterwards were a nice, spicy treat.  The Fattoush was a salad (I know, in this weather?) of tomatoes and cucumber with baked pittas crumbled up and mixed it.  A yogurt dip was also added for good luck...

Tuesday - Snert

See the soup post below this one for a nice Dutch Pea and Ham soup featuring pig's trotters.  I was disappointed that this soup isn't called Snert because that's a Dutch word for snot, by the way...

Wednesday - Vegetable Stew

Second stew of the week - a tasty but basic affair with leeks, swede, carrots and onions all provided as part of our veg box delivery.  This time there were dumplings, with the added bonus of a dollop of horseradish sauce to liven things up!  Also, as I always throw together my dumplings on the fly, I can never remember the quantities I use, which often leads to me making them the size of a large Chihuahua's head.  This time, however, I got it just right which saved me from a painful evening suffering fromt he after effects of dumpling OD!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Snert : Dutch Pea Soup

Today's soup entry is sort of a cheat, as eagle-eyed readers will remember that I've made it before.  Last time it appeared, it was called Erwtensoep, but the recipe is also known as Snert, so by cleverly changing the name, I'm hoping to throw people off the scent.

The reasons for repeating myself are threefold.  1 is that as part of my Postcrossing recipe experiment, a nice Dutchman suggested I make it, as Erwtensoep is a Dutch recipe, plus he made me a hand-drawn postcard, so how could I refuse. 2 is the fact that it's cold and pea and ham soup in any form is a brilliant cold weather recipe, and finally reason 3 is that I found out I could swap the ham hock for pig's trotters, and I've always wanted to make a soup with pig's trotters in it.

Oh, and it's called 'Snert'  How could I resist...

However, there was one slight problem with the pig's trotters.  After putting them in the soup, then fishing them out to strip the meat off (See recipe below) I found out, much to my horror, that there appeared to be no actual meat on them anywhere.  Now, never having used trotters before, I have no idea whether this is normal, or have I been sold a couple of duff pigs feet?
If you can't get trotters, or just plain don't want to use them, I suggest swapping a small ham hock or knuckle.  I wasn't too disappointed in the lack of trotter meat, as just their presence in the soup added a wonderfully meaty flavour to the stock.

300g Split Peas
1.5l Chicken Stock
2 Pigs Trotters
100g Smoked Bacon
2 Carrots
1 Large Onion
3 Leeks
1 Stalk Celery
Small Bunch Flat Leaf Parsely
300g Smoked Sausage 

1.  Roughly chop the carrot, celery and onion.  Remove the green parts of the leeks and chop those too, but put the white parts aside for later as well as half the carrot.

2.  Put the chopped vegetables in the soup pan, along with the  trotters, stock, bacon and split peas.  Bring the pan to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours, until the peas have softened and the trotters are fully cooked through.

3.  Take the pan off the heat, remove the trotters and allow everything to cool. Blend the soup until it is smooth

4.  Remove the meat from the trotters.  Add this back to the pan, along with the finely sliced white parts of the leek and the remaining carrot, and simmer for another 15 minutes, until the leek is soft.

5.  Slice the smoked sauasage and add this to the pan, letting it heat through for about 5 minutes

6.  Serve in warm bowls, garnished with parsley and slices of sausage.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Turkey Saltimbocca, Ginger Ice Cream and more. A Week of Meals 001

So it's the new year, and we are all making lots of new year's resolutions (and yes, I know this post is two weeks late, but one of my resolutions is to procrastinate...) Here at Soup Tuesday HQ, we decided to blog what we eat the rest of the week.  Obviously, Tuesdays are soups, and always will be, but there are at least 6 other days in the week to account for.  Because just writing what we cook and eat would be a bit boring, we decided to set ourselves a few challenges, which are as follows

1.  Mrs Soup and I both pick a cookbook from our groaning shelves, give them to each other and then we each pick a recipe from the books we have chosen for each other.  The purpose of this is twofold - one is to get out of the habit of always cooking the same 10 dishes over and over again, and also to use some of the cookbooks that we have that have probably been used only once or twice.

2. One meal must be based around some ingredient that we have either not tried before, or that is kicking around in the cupboard that we have bought but have never gotten round to eating.  Again, this gets us out of out comfort zone (plus it means I can try lots of lovely offal dishes) and also, because Mrs Soup is in the Foodie Pen Pals scheme, we get sent lots of interesting things through the post, and this gives us an opportunity to try them out in new ways

3.  One meal, at least, must be a veggie meal.  We get a wonderful vegetable box every week, and this gives us the excuse to use the oddments that are left over from the box in exciting ways.

So with those rules in mind, here's what we ate last week!

Saturday - Red Onion Tart with broccoli.  

This came from a recipe book by James Martin called Great Winter Recipes.  I remembered whilst making it, that I hate working with pastry, even ready made, which is why I write a blog about soup and not my other food love, pies.  There was much effing and jeffing, but the end result was rather nice, if a little light

Sunday - Turkey Saltimbocca and Ginger Ice cream

A water damaged Delia Smith cookbook yielded the recipes for these two amazing dishes, and Mrs Soup earned extra brownie points for the brandy snap baskets that accompanied the ginger ice cream.  This also gave us the chance to use the ice cream maker that was a Christmas present that we were determined not to just let sit on the shelf.  As we accumulate new kitchen gadgets with alarming speed, it becomes more of a challenge to use them...

 Monday - Vegetable Enchiladas

A quick and easy recipe that I pretty much made up on the fly, involving the same veggie chili recipe that I've been cooking since I was a student (i.e. everything in the pan with spices and beans)

Tuesday - Czech Bean Soup

See the blog post!

Wednesday - Beetroot and Smoked Sausage Frittata

I have only just gotten into making frittatas, but they are amazing!  You can pretty much put anything in them!  This had some smoked sausage that was left-over from completely failing to make soup earlier in the week, and some beetroot that had turned up in the veg box, but wasn't destined for chocolate cake...

Thursday - Broccoli and Cauliflower Curry

The final dish of the week was a 'throw everything in the pot' curry, which would probably make expert curry  chefs weep, but was rather amazing - even if I did mistake the cauliflower for a cabbage at one stage...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Fazolová Polévka : Czech Bean Soup

This is the second recipe suggested by the lovely people who have been sending me postcards via the rather wonderful Post Crossing website.  Today's soup is a Czech recipe and was suggested by Anna (Who also sent me a postcard with a picture of the Bohemian forest on it, but not a rhapsody to be seen, I'm afraid...)

One problem I encountered when putting this recipe together was that during the research phase - it's like NASA round here when I get on a soup tip - that most of the websites I looked at for inspiration were in Czech.  Now, in the 21st Century, you wouldn't think that this would be a problem.  Except that Google Translate, whilst being pretty amazing, can sometimes throw up some weird things.  For instance, does adding basil to a recipe reduce flatulence?  Or did the original Czech mean something entirely different.  And what exactly is White Bone Stock?  (I suspect this may be a real thing, as I've come across recipes for Bone Soup before)

So after some struggling, I came up with this approximation of Czech Bean Soup, with added smoked sausage that I initially bought for another soup, the making of which was thwarted by the fact Morrisons butchery department has stopped stocking pig's trotters (Can the fact that Morrisons plc just published lower than expected sales figures be in some way related to the vanishing pigs feet?)

However, fear not, as a trip to Leeds Market will hopefully furnish me with the required bits for next week.  In the meantime, enjoy this simple but delicious soup, which is probably great for all those of you on a post xmas diet (especially if you leave out the sour cream, or substitute some natural yogurt instead)

2 Tins of Cannellini Beans  
1 Small Onion
1 Carrot
2 Stalks of Celery 
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Chicken Stock
6 Sage Leaves
Olive Oil Smoked Sausage
250ml Sour Cream
Black Pepper 

1.  Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.

2.  Heat some olive oil in a pan.  Add the vegetables and cook gently for 5-7 minutes, until they start to go soft.

3. Add the stock.  Rinse the beans and add them too, as well as the bay leaf and sage.  Bring the soup to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, until the beans have gone soft.  Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes.

4.  Blend the soup until smooth, then return to the pan.  Adjust seasoning and then reheat gently.  Stir in the sour cream at this point, but don't let the soup boil.

5.  Grill or fry some thin slices of smoked sausage.  Pour the soup into warm bowls and then garnish with the slices of sausage.  Serve with crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Kartoffelsuppe : German Potato Soup

Happy new year everyone! Hope your hang-over has subsided and that you are looking forward to the new year as much as I am.  I've got some exciting things planned for the blog this year, starting with today's recipe.

It's often hard for me to come up with inspiration for soups - either using whatever is at hand, or when that elusive soupy muse strikes.  The easiest inspiration is when someone else suggests it, but where could I find a willing source of people around the world to tell me what kind of soups they like?

I happened to stumble across a website called Post Crossing, which is a postcard exchange site (And if you are looking for something to do in the new year, you could do worse than sign up - it's fun getting snail mail from all over the planet!)  Anyway, I set up a profile and asked for people who were sending me a postcard to include their favourite soup recipe from their home country.  And today's soup is the first result - a humble but hearty potato soup recipe from Germany. 

I used nice waxy potatoes, and was quite happy with the consistency - potato soups can have a tendency to get quite thick and glue-y.  If yours is going that way, add a bit more stock after blending.  Also, substituting some sausage for the bacon would work brilliantly.  So thanks to donnerkugel from Germany via Postcrossing for suggesting it!

750g Potatoes
1 Large Onion
1 Carrot
150g Smoked Bacon
1.2l Beef Stock
200ml Sour Cream
1tsp Thyme
Grated Nutmeg
20g Butter

1.  Heat up the butter in a soup pan.  Fry the cubed bacon until it browns.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside

2.  Thinly slice the onion. Fry them in the butter and bacon fat until they start to go golden.

3. Peel and cube the onions and carrots.  Add these to the onions in the pan, along with the thyme and nutmeg.  Allow them to cook for 4-5 minutes in the butter along with the onions, until they start to colour slightly.

4.  Add the stock to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for 40 minutes, until the potatoes are just starting to break up.  Take the pan off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

5.  Using a stick blender, blend 2/3 of the soup and then return to the pan, stirring well.  You could alternatively use a potato masher to break up the vegetables - or use a mixture of the two.  As long as you don't have too many large chunks of vegetable floating round in the pan.

6.  Return the pan to the heat, adjusting seasoning, and heat through.  Just before serving, stir in the sour cream.  Ladle into heated bowls and garnish with the bacon that you set aside earlier.  (I warmed my bacon through under a hot grill for a few minutes before serving too)  Enjoy!