Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pistou Soup

So here we are, still waiting for summer to start.  As I write this, the sky is black, there have been hail and rain storms and enough wind to erm, do something windy.  Not what you would expect from May weather, it has to be said.  But enough of me fulifilling the stereotype of being an Englisman who moans about the weather all the time and on with today's soup...

After running this blog for, oooh, ages now, it's getting harder to find new recipes.  Sometimes, the planning process goes something like this... "I have some carrots and some leeks in the veg rack... Hmm.... I know, carrot and leek soup.  That's a thing, isn't it?  It is now..." But somehow that feels like cheating.  Really, I enjoy making recipes that have a name and a history, like Waterzooi, or Minestrone, or Ezo The Bride.  Some of these are well known, and others are obscure, but tasty.  Today's soup is somewhere inbetween.  Essentially it's a bean and vegetable soup with pesto on top.

However, that's not to say it isn't delicious and tasty, and whilst the summer might now be living up to it's early promise, this soup is like a burst of sunshine in a bowl, which is just what I need as a rainy bank holdiay weekend stretches out before me (at the time of writing anyway, not perpetually, although that would be brilliant too...)

Also, on a 'not sure if it's cheating on not' note, the croutons pictured above were those ones that come out of  packet, rather than the home made variety.  Sometimes, life is just too short...


For the soup
1 Onion
2 Leeks
2 Potatoes
2 Courgettes
1 Tin Cannelini Beans
1 Tin Borlotti Beans
1 Tin Tomatoes
1l Vegetable Stock

For the pistou
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Large Handful Fresh Basil
50g Parmesan
2tbsp Olive oil

1. Grind the Garlic, basil, grated Parmesan, oil and salt using a pestle and mortar until the form a paste.  Put this in the fridge for later.

2.  Peels and slice the onion and leek, cut the potato into small cube and dice the courgette.

3.  Heat some olive oil in your soup pan and gently fry the onion, leek and potatoes until they go soft, then add the courgette and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

4.  Add the stock, tomatoes and beans, bring the soup to the boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

5.  Season to taste and then serve.  Spoon some of the pistou onto each bowl and then garnish with some croutons.  Enjoy

Friday, 24 May 2013

Wild Garlic Soup with Wild Garlic Dumplings

When I started this blog, its remit was simple - soup, soup and more soup.  Then it mutated to include cakes, random recipes and then wild food / foraging as I started to notice the wonderful treasure trove that was lurking on cycle paths and hillsides, by the canal and in the woods.  Most of that stuff was turned into jams or boozes of various kinds, but the one ingredient that I truly fell in love with was Wild Garlic.  The smell of it when it comes into season is the smell of my childhood - spent as it was skulking in woods and by streams, getting muddy and making dens (and I'm really not making this up - kids today etc etc...)

The humble Allium ursinum plant is prefect for soups as it has an amazing delicate flavour and a texture that is a little like spinach (It also works well in quiches, potato salad and as a pesto replacement for basil) and it's easy to find as it grows in the shadow of larger trees - of course every fan of wild garlic has their own secret location for their harvest.  I'd tell you mine but then I'd have to turn you into soup (Hint - it's by the canal path in Kirkstall)  It goes without saying as well, that always wash carefully anything you pick and make sure you know exactly what it is that you are picking...

And the great thing about this recipe is that it has dumplings in it... yay!  Oh, and one last thing before I leave you to go garlic hunting - 250g (the total amount you will need for this recipe) is about a carrier bag full...


For the soup
200g Wild Garlic
1 Large Onion
1 Large Potato
1.2l Vegetable Stock
100ml Single Cream

For the dumplings
100g Stale Bread
75g Wild Garlic
1 Clove Garlic
1 Small Onion
1 Egg
3 tbsp Plain Flour
75ml Milk

1.  Cut the stale bread into cubes and soak in milk for 10 minutes

2. Using a food processor, blitz 50g of wild garlic with some oil, salt and pepper to make a puree

3. Cut the onion and garlic clove into small pieces, then gently fry until golden.

4.  Finely chop the remaining 25g of wild garlic

5. Gently kneed the soaked bread and then add the garlic puree, onion, garlic and chopped wild garlic, beaten egg and milk, combining thoroughly, then add enough plain flour to make a dough, roll out the dumplings into small (2-3cm) balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.  They are pretty sticky, so use lots of greaseproof paper to stop them gluing themselves to whatever you place them on

6. Wash and peel the potato, then cut into small cubes.  Peel and finely chop the onion.

7.  Heat some butter in your soup pan then add the potato and onion, cooking for 8 minutes over a gentle heat until they start to soften.

8.  Add the wild garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, until everything is cooked through.

9.  Add the stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes

10.  Using a blender, whizz the soup until its smooth (Use a sieve to make it even smoother if you want)

11. While the soup is cooking, steam the dumplings for 10 minutes, hopefully timing it so that everything is ready at the same time...

12.  Reheat the soup after blending and season to taste.

13.  Serve with 3 dumplings per bowl, and a swirl of single cream.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Dal Shorba - Indian Lentil Soup

So pressing on with the brave 'No animal bits will pass these lips for 30 days' challenge (Unless the animal in question is a fish, in which case all bets are off..., and ignoring anyone who says I shouldn't be eating eggs *fingers in ears* lalala I'm not listening) today we have a lentil soup.

Should Dal be classed as a soup?  It's the same as the fine line between soups and stew, but my guideline here is, if I feel like it should be classed as a soup then I'm including it in the blog.  After all, this version is certainly runny enough to be a soup, although it would go quite well with some rice.  I was told that it can be made either way, so before you write in, remember - I'm the boss of this blog (and I don't mean to come over all defensive, maybe it's the lack of animal flesh that's making me all aggressive...)

Also, the addition of hard boiled eggs is another random thing, which I'm sure I've seen done before but couldn't find actual proof of, but I did impulse buy an egg slicer from Ikea and have been aching to find an excuse to use it ever since (and after making this soup, pretty much everything that I've cooked has been garnished with thinly sliced boiled eggs, plus all visitors to the Soup Labs have been serenaded by a tune plucked out on the wires of said slicer)

250g Yellow Lentils
200g Green Beans
3 Eggs
1 Onion
1 Piece of Ginger
4 Cloves of Garlic
Juice of 1 Lemon
2tsp Turmeric
1tsp Cumin
1tbsp Tomato Pure
Fresh Coriander

1.  Finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and grate the ginger.  Heat some oil in your soup pan then saute the onion until it starts to brown - about 6-7 minutes - then add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes

2.  Add the tomato puree, turmeric and cumin and a little water, then cook down until the ingredients resemble a thick paste

3.  Wash the lentils and add them to the pan, as well as 1.2l of water, then season, bring to the boil and then cover the pan.  Simmer for 30 minutes, until the lentils are thoroughly cooked and starting to break up.

4.  Remove the pan from the heat, let cool and then blend the soup until smooth with a stick blender of food processor.  Return to the pan

5.  Hard boil 3 eggs

6.  Cut the green beans into 1cm pieces, add to the soup and reheat.  Let the beans cook through in the soup, adjust seasoning again and then serve

7.  Garnish with slices of boiled egg and freshly chopped coriander, and freshly made Naans.  Enjoy!

Potato and Savoy Cabbage Soup with Bacon

Hands up who takes part in the Foodie Penpals scheme?  If you don't, why not?  The deal is that you register and get given a penpal to send a box of goodies to, and someone else sends you a package full of lovely foodstuff in return.  What could be simpler? Nothing, that's what.  Plus you get the enjoyment of shopping for weird and wonderful things to send to people and also the fun of opening a box that is stuffed full of brilliant things.

This month, we got an awesome Easter themed box, that not only contained some tasty things, but also a lovely wee Simnell cake.  Not only that but it even came with some cute Easter chicks and some bunny ears, which I'm wearing as I write this post.  No, really...

Obligatory snow picture
As well as sending us all the tasty treats, our foodie penpal also sent me a soup recipe to put on the blog, which is what I am posting right now, and it couldn't have come at a better time, what with all that unseasonably snowy weather we've been having lately

Also, if you are interested in getting involved in the Foodie Penpals scheme, you can find out more here.  Have fun!

Look at all that food!  Plus meat flavoured peanuts...
 And without further ado, here is the recipe

1 Onion
1 Carrot
1 Celery Stick
2 Garlic Cloves
1tbsp Olive Oil
550g Floury Potatoes
1l Vegetable Stock
8 Rashers Streaky Bacon
1/4 Medium Savoy Cabbage

1. Chop onions, carrot, celery and garlic.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the veggies and potatoes, season, reduce heat and cover with a lid.  Gently cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften then add the stock and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 5 more minutes until the veg is tender.

2. While the soup is cooking, fry or grill the bacon until crisp, then cut into strips.  Shred the cabbage, discarding the core.

3.  Whizz the soup in a food processor until smooth, then return to the pan and add the cabbage.  Simmer for a few minutes until the cabbage is tender, season to taste and serve scattered with bacon.  Enjoy!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Celeriac and Chard Soup

We are all about the vegetables over at Soup Towers this month.  For reasons that are now shrouded in the mists of time, it seemed like a good idea to go meat free for a month, so the next few soup recipes will all be veggie.  When I told my Mum I was dropping the meat, there was an amazing look of horror and disbelief on her face, and a I half expect her to come round with a care package of bacon and black puddings before the month is out.

But the truth is, like a lot of people these days, it's actually not that much of a shift to go vegetarian as about half of the meals I cook are meat-free anyway, and a quick glance down the recent blog posts here show that the vegetable soup recipes are at least as many as ones with bits of dead animal floating in them.

So after a weekend that was a veritable orgy of meat (at least one huge mixed grill, a chunky gammon steak and a hilariously long hot-dog smothered in chili) I commenced, starting with this soup.

After the last recipe, which was made entirely of items found in anyone's cupboard, this soup is a riot of fresh veg, and rather brilliant for it - in fact it used up about half of our veg box for this week - and it's also a lot like Ribollita, but without the bread to thicken it, and chard instead of cavolo nero.  However, you could pretty much chuck in whatever vegetables you have to hand and it would still be amazing...

1 Large Onion
1 Celeriac
2 Stalks Celery
1 Large Carrot
1 Can Haricot Beans
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
900ml Stock
4 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Thyme
1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

1. Peel the celeriac and cut into 1cm cubes.  Peel and chop the carrot and onion, slice the celery thinly.

2.  Heat some butter in your soup pan and  then gently cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the finely chopped garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

3.  Add the stock, tomatoes, beans, thyme and balsamic vinegar and then bring the soup to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4.  Wash the chard, remove any tough stalks and then shred.

5.  Add the chard to the soup, adjust seasoning to taste and then cook until the chard has wilted.

6.  Serve with grated Parmesan and fresh bread.  Enjoy!