Thursday, 29 August 2013

Purresuppe - Norwegian Leek and Potato Soup

Week two of what my crack team of lawyers are telling me to avoid calling 'Around the world in 80 soups' - not because Jules Verne might sue, but because it's a rather obvious thing to do isn't it?  So today we come to Norway.  When I'm looking for recipes to put on the site, especially from other countries, I am often stymied by the fact that some ingredients are just too darn difficult to lay my hands on.  For example, two really exciting Norwegian soups called for Reindeer meat and cod tongues - both rather difficult to lay hands on on a Monday afternoon (however, there may be a Norwegian store in Leeds Market - I shall have to investigate next time I'm there.

Instead, I found a nice leek and potato soup recipe, all the while cursing myself for playing it safe.  Especially because from what I know about Norwegian cuisine, it can be anything but safe (See Surströmming for example - a tinned fish so dangerous that it's banned from being carried on aircraft lest it explode!)  Also, all the Norwegians I have known have been crazy to borderline insane (in a good way) Maybe to make this soup more dangerous, I should have stirred in some elk blood or something.  At the very least listened to some black metal whilst burning down a church...*

This soup really is a thing of beauty, creamy without resorting to cream, thick and warming without being too heavy and also perfect for a winter's day (which will soon be coming, and then the page views for my blog will start to go up again - yay grotty weather, you go!)

I have a vague aversion to soup recipes that are just x & y soup, where x and y are random vegetables thrown together (although I have made and blogged plenty of those) so writing about Purresuppe allows to to include what could be seen as a rather mundane soup and give it a sheen of the exotic.  And it really is very nice...

*Soup Tuesday does not advocate burning anything, or listening to horrible music

2 Leeks
3 Parsnips
1 Onion
500g Potatoes
4 Cloves Garlic
1.5l Chicken Stock
3 Rashers Smoked Bacon
Fresh Thyme

1. remove the green parts of the leeks and slice them.  Peel and slice the onion

2.  Heat the butter in your soup pan and cook the leeks and onions until they start to soften

3.  Peel and cube the potatoes and parsnips.

4.  Add them to the pan and let them cook for a few minutes to

5.  Add the stock and season.  Bring to the boil, cover and reduce to a simmer, then cook for 45 minutes, until all the vegetables are falling apart.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool

6.  Using a blender, blend the soup until it is smooth.  Pass it through a sieve if you want to remove any lumps lurking in the soup

7.  Fry the bacon until crispy, then cut into small pieces.

8.  Serve the soup with a sprinkling of bacon pieces and some fresh thyme leaves.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Guriltai Shul - Mongolian Noodle Soup

How do you find inspiration for your meals?  For me, it comes in all shapes and forms.  The most obvious is just that ridiculous, intense and burning desire (usually for dumplings or pies in my case) but hanging around waiting for that to strike can often be frustrating.  The second is just dragging out all the recipe books in the house and poring over them until you find something that looks appetising, but even this isn't easy as often I feel overwhelmed by choice (and some of my favourite recipe books don't have pictures in them, which makes casual browsing harder and more annoying - note to everyone reading this - if somewhere down the line, you get the opportunity to publish a cook book -MAKE SURE IT HAS PICTURES IN IT...)

SO I have to resort to other means of dragging culinary inspiration out from that hole where it lives.  I've tried getting involved with Crazy blogging schemes (The Olympic Food Challenge was by far the best and most interesting - I still dine out on the Duck Tongues story), I've tried making things based on what turned up in our veg box, but now after 185 posts and nearly 100 soups, its getting that much harder.  So I came up with another plan - simply get people to shout out random countries at me on twitter and I'd do some research on the interwebs and make a soup from that country.  Simple, eh?

Well.... The first country out of the metaphorical hat (Like a normal hat but with a nice feather on the side, I'm given to understand) was Mongolia.  Mongolia, like a lot of those huge countries that used to be part of Russia but are now just high scoring word in Scrabble (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kreplachinstan* I'm looking at you) Mongolian cuisine is pretty basic stuff - mainly just meat (lamb or mutton for choice, but I'm reliably informed (well, informed, anyway) that they also eat Marmot) with perhaps a few vegetables thrown in for good measure.  If you do go looking for Mongolian recipes, keep in mind that 'Mongolian' has also been used as a catch-all phrase to denote 'Exotic', as in Mongolian Beef, which has never even been near a Mongol, or his horde...

So this soup is pretty much just throw a few ingredients in a pot, cook for a bit and serve.  I had to change this recipe to add stock rather than just water, or it would have been rather bland, I fear.  Also, if you can't be bothered making the noodles, I think that dried or fresh pre-bought pasta would suffice pretty well...

Also, if you would like to help my culinary muse, feel free to add countries for me to investigate, in the comments section below.  Cheers!

* One of these countries isn't real, see if you can guess which one...

250g Lamb or Mutton
2 Carrots
1 Large Onion
1 Turnip
300g Plain Flour
1.5l Stock
Salt and Pepper

1.  Prepare the noodles (or Tasalsan Guril if you will) by mixing the flour with 200ml of water to form a dough, then let it rest for 15 minutes in the fridge, wrapped in cling-film

2.  Using a pasta maker, roll the dough into thin strips like fettuccine or tagliatelle and cut into short lengths.  Set aside again

3.  Cut the meat into small, thin strips.  Peel and slice the onion, carrot and turnip

4.  In a wok or frying pan, stir-fry the meat until browned, then remove from the oil.

5.  Add the onion to the wok and stir-fry until they are soft and starting to colour.  Then add the carrot and turnip and cook those until they start to soften too.

6.  Put the meat and vegetables into a soup pan with 1.5l of stock and cook for 40-45 minutes.

7.  Add the noodles 10 minutes before serving and allow to cook in the soup.  Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Spicy Morrocan Carrot Soup

Guess which jars annoy me...
When I first started cooking properly, back when I was a student, three things were the backbones of any dish, in various combinations.  A huge plastic generic container of 'mixed herbs', another of 'curry powder' and a jar of Chili Powder.  Like a Picasso of the palate, I could mix these few flavourings with any other foodstuff - usually Netto tinned casseroles, chicken soup or just some good old tinned tomatoes - to produce erm, well, something that was at least edible enough to be slapped on top of some pasta to give me enough sustenance to soak up the huge quantities of booze that I would invariably drink at the local nasty nightclub (It was called 'Spiders' in Hull, where cocktails came by the pint, dodgy goths lurked in darkened corners and the music ran the whole gamut from bad to awful... ah, good days...)

Fast forward some years and my spice collection has grown a little bit more elaborate.  In fact it seems like I'm getting a little obsessive about them now.  I started buying them in large bags and putting them into old coffee jars, and now it annoys me unless ALL THE JARS ARE THE SAME SIZE, so when we go to the supermarket, I have to buy the exact brand of coffee to get the jars.

And I have also started labelling the jars using a Dymo Brand™ label maker so all the jars ARE LABELLED EXACTLY THE SAME.  If you, like me suffer from borderline OCD, I highly recommend getting a Dymo Brand™label maker.  Not only do they keep a uniform appearance to all your jars of various brown powders (and before I got my Dymo Brand™label maker, you have no idea how many times I got my corianders and cumins mixed up) but they also give your jars a lovely and satisfying retro look, like something from a Victorian scientist's lab, but without the formaldehyde or eyeballs

Just to prove it's not just my spices that are obsessively orgainised, here is (some of) my book collection.  And yes, they are alphabetized by author and then arragnged by publication date. Problem? Me?
The point of all this rhapsodising about my Dymo Brand™ label maker is that, ummm, oh yeah, having a large and properly labelled spice collection enables you to take any old ingredient and turn it into a delicious soup.  Take for example this Moroccan carrot soup, which is nothing more than a few carrots and an onion, plus some spices.  'Simples' as the annoying rat on the telly says.  And it's all thanks to my Dymo Brand™label maker.

[The post was not, by the way, sponsored by Dymo Brand™label makers]


600g Carrots

1 Onion
1.2l Chicken Stock
4 Cloves Garlic
1tbsp Ginger Puree
1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1tbsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Caraway Seeds
1tsp Cinnamon
Sprigs of Thyme
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1.  Heat the oven to 180ºc.  Peel the carrots and cut into chunks.

2.  Put the carrots in an oven proof dish, along with some oil, salt, pepper, thyme and balsamic vinegar, then add the cumin and caraway seeds.  Toss them all together so the carrots get covered in the oil and the seeds.

3.  Put the dish in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until the carrots are starting to caramelise and brown at the edges.  Once this is happening, take them out of the oven and leave to cool.,

4.  Finely slice the onion and fry in your soup pan for 5 minutes, until they start to soften.  The add the garlic and ginger, fry for another 2 minutes, until they are both cooked and then add the cinnamon, stir and then add the stock.

5.  Put the carrots and seeds into the soup pan and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer and then cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool

6.  Blend the soup until smooth, then re-heat, adjust seasoning to taste and add the lemon juice.  Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Eagle-eyed readers will note this is a hill, not some soup
I'd like to start this post with an apology...

Regular readers will have noticed that there haven't been any new soups for a while.  For this I can only apologise.  Lets pretend I've been on my holidays (which I have - a lovely trip to the Lakes, where I climbed the beautifully named Crinkle Crags (850m above sea-level at the top) on the hottest day of the year), got a cat (which I have - her name is Princess Kitteh Bitey-Face Death-Claw Katzenjammer Fantastico III and she is a bundle of claws and teeth wrapped up in fur) and that it's been so hot that any attempt to make soup would have been futile (which it has been, although I've still making soup every Tuesday, although many of these have been curiously un-inspired)

When I see that cute look, I just know she's getting ready to bite or scratch me
So here we are again, back with a new soup and my soup-mojo fully restored...

Real, actual, hair.  Not 'shopped...
When I was a teenager, I was a full time mosher (although the word 'mosher' hadn't been invented then, we were just 'smelly long-haired hippies') and could often be seen in darkened record shops clutching vinyl bearing such lovely names as 'Death Angel', 'Slayer' or 'Lawnmower Deth', wearing black skinny jeans, huge white trainers and t-shirts with skulls and demons on them.  I also had such beautiful long hair (where did it all go?)

To get all this morbid paraphernalia (strangely, not a band I listened to) I had to venture into Leeds Market.  It was awful.  Full of grotty stalls and the smell was so rank we dubbed the whole place the Dead Rat Emporium. But it did have a stall that sold Megadeth and Anthrax t-shirts  Fast forward 24 years, and I returned to my home town after years in exile in Hull with much less hair, a wardrobe that has more (but not many more) colours in it than black, and an enthusiasm for soups, meats and the rest of the culinary spectrum.  Where is a boy to get his fix of tasty treats?  Leeds Market?  Are you sure - isn't that place awful?

Well, no is the short answer.  The longer answer is it's a treasure trove of fine butchers, amazing fish mongers and cheap and plentiful veg stalls.  It also features a shop that sells nothing but eggs (an ovi-mongers?) and a tripe shop!  Yes, a TRIPE SHOP!!!!

The reason I'm mentioning this should be patiently obvious by now (and no points for guessing 'Is it because you're turning 40 soon and prone to flights of nostalgic waffling'?) On our last trip to Leeds Market, out haul included a huge bag of red peppers for £1.00.  Try getting them for that price in a supermarket (Along with this, we also got a huge joint of super-cheap lamb, tuna steaks, many many other fruit and veg bargains).  The moral of this story is to support your local market, as wonders and bargains lay within.

Oh, and Reign in Blood stands up surprisingly well after all these year...

So this recipe is an easy, simple and very very tasty way to show off those cheap red peppers (almost the name of a band I used to listen to).  With all those tomatoes it makes for an almost summery soup too, perfect for this time of year.

Blood red soup...
5 Red Peppers
600g Tomatoes
3 Red Onions
900ml Chicken Stock
1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
6 Garlic Cloves
Fresh Rosemary
Sal and Pepper

1.  De-seed and roughly slice the red peppers, peel and slice the onions and cut the tomatoes into quarters.

2.  Heat the oven to 200ºc

3.  Place the vegetables in a large roasting tin, along with the garlic cloves.  Drizzle with a good covering of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and rosemary and toss to make sure all the veg are covered in oil.  Add seasoning and then put the baking tray in the preheated oven.

4.  Cook the veg for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the peppers and tomatoes are starting to blacken slightly.

5.  Heat the stock in your soup pan, then add the roasted vegetables.  Bring the soup to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

6.  Using a stick blender, blend the soup until smooth.  Feel free, as always, to pass the soup through a sieve before returning it to the pan (I did this and fished out most of the tomato seeds and skins - so much easier than peeling them after roasting!(

7.  Adjust seasoning to taste and the reheat, serve with crusty bread.  Enjoy!