Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sopa de Ajo

roasted garlic and chorizo soup

Inspiration for soups comes from many places.  For this one it was as simple as Mrs Soup telling me that she fancied a soup with eggs poached in it.  So off I went to the interwebs to do a bit of research and that's where I came across this amazingly tasty and simple little number.  I've always been taken with the idea of roasting whole bulbs of garlic, as it smells and tastes wonderful - a flavour that I've never experienced with anything you can buy in the shops.  And rather brilliantly, roasting the garlic until it's caramelized takes away the garlic-y smell and the harshness of raw garlic flavour, leaving a deep and savoury taste that's perfect in soups.

Add to the garlic flavour some poached eggs - I used a chef's ring to stop the egg from spreading everywhere and it came out just perfectly - and some chorizo and I found this soup to be one of the tastiest that I've blogged for a good while.

And whilst we are on the subject of chorizo, do you pronounce it 'cho-ritz-oh' or 'chore-ee-tho'? For some reason the latter makes any non-spanish person sound like a pretentious hipster.  And before you start telling me off for pronouncing foreign words incorrectly, bare in mind that English people still can't settle on a correct pronunciation of the word 'scone' (It rhymes with bone, not gone as any fool knows)  So, if any actual Spanish people care to weigh in, I'll totally respect their decision, but still pronounce it my 'chor-itz-oh' when no-one's listening.

Also, is it pronounced 'see-a-bata' or 'chee-a-bata'?

Also, this has totally reminded me of Moss from the IT Crowd - "It's pronounced tay-pass"

Anyway, on to the soup...

3 Bulbs of Garlic
70g Chorizo
1l Chicken Stock
100ml Dry Sherry
2 Ciabatta Rolls
4 Eggs
1tbsp Sweet Paprika
1/2tbsp Smoked Paprika
1tsp Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 200ºc.  Peel the outer layers of the garlic bulbs and then slice the top off, so you can see the tops of all the individual cloves.  Place the bulbs in an oven proof dish and pour a glug of olive oil over the top.

2.  Put the garlic bulbs in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until they are golden brown and caramelized on the top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Squeeze the cooked garlic from its skins into a dish.  This can get pretty messy...

3.  In your soup pan, heat some more olive oil.  Cut the chorizo up into small chunks and gently fry for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic puree, paprika and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes and then add the sherry.  Allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then add the chicken stock.  Bring the pan to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes

4.  Cut the ciabatta into slices and toast until golden, then place a few slices in each soup bowl

5.  Poach the eggs gently in the soup for 4 minutes, then place one in each soup bowl, then ladle the soup over the top.  Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Kale Soup

After my last blogpost I had a few comments about my maligning of kale (although it's funny, people seem quite happy to cast disparaging words against offal and few raise their voices to come to its aid...) so I thought that I'd have a go at making a kale soup recipe to come to terms with my dislike of said vegetable.

Before we start, I should point out that I have nothing really against kale itself, but just that it seems to be the poster vegetable for the whole healthier-than-thou/no-fun strain of diets and recipes, and it really does look like swamp water when it's blended to make a soup or (ugh) smoothie (why? why would you do that to yourself?) 

Veg, fruit, steak, eggs and buns!
Every few weeks we here at Soup Labs get a rather brilliant veg box, delivered to our door (along with amazing steaks and cream buns) by the wonderful Market Delivered* and it nearly always has a bunch of kale in it.  As Mother Soup didn't bring me up to waste food (or be late for anything. Ever) I keep trying to find fun things to do with it.  This soup recipe is one of the fruits of my labours.  It turned out pretty nice actually, athough the addition of some bacon or maybe blue cheese/cream would have tipped it towards brilliance.  It still looks like something from the Planet Dagobah though...

*Check their website to see if they deliver to your neighbourhood - especially if you're in Leeds.  Cream buns! Steaks! Delivered to your door, from local shops! Brilliant! Running out of exclamation marks!!!!

150g Kale
150g Potatoes
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
25g Butter
900ml Chicken Stock
200ml Milk
150ml White Wine

1. Peel the onion and potato, then cut into small chunks.

2.  Heat the butter in your soup pan.  Cook the vegetables until they start to soften.  Add the finely chopped garlic cloves and cook for another couple of minutes

3.  Add the stock and wine, bring the soup to a simmer.  Remove the tough stalks from the kale and shred the leaves.  Add these to the soup and cover, cooking for 20 minutes. 

4.  Once the soup is cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool, then purée using a stick blender.

5.  Reheat the soup, add the milk and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Indian Lambs Liver Soup

I love offal.  Two of my favourite meals of all time are Steak and Kidney Pie and Liver & Onions (Is this the diet of an old man?).  If I'm in a restaurant and there's a dish containing any form of offal at all, I'm all over it.  Of course, I'm aware that I'm in a minority in this love, but there it is.

For me, the question isn't 'why would you eat that?' but rather 'Why WOULDN"T you eat that'?  Offal - and all those other overlooked bits like tongue and cheek - are tasty, unusual and cheap.  In a world where people are going crazy over such boring fare as pulled pork and gourmet burgers, I'd rather have a bit of Lamb's Liver or Ox Heart Ragu any day.  In fact, could there be a market for an offal-based fast food outlet on every high street? I'd eat there, for sure.  Although I may be one of the only ones.

What am I, chopped liver?
Despite this love of all things offal, I haven't done too many soup recipes that show this off - there was Menudo, a tripe soup, that I blogged a while ago, and while I've had quite a few in my to-soup list for a while, I haven't gotten round to making them.  Until I found this little gem of an Indian soup recipe.  Like the Beetroot Rasam that I blogged recently, it should be cooked in a pressure cooker, but as I still haven't extended the kitchen, I made this in a pan.  Many of the recipes I found for this soup used just water, not stock, but I found that just a little bland, and if there's one thing I can't abide it's a bland soup...

If anyone has any other suggestions for soup recipes containing offal of any kind, I'd love to hear them, and maybe put them on the blog for the rest of the world to enjoy.  Also, if you think you don't like offal, dig out a cool sounding recipe and give it another go, you might be surprised!

350g Lambs Liver
2 Onions
4 Tomatoes

1.2l Stock
2tsp Ground Cumin
2tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Turmeric Powder
1tsp Red Chilli Flakes
2tsp Garlic Purée
1tsp Ginger Purée
1/2tsp Garam Masala
Coriander Leaves

1. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove the skins, de-seed and finely chop them

2.  Heat some oil in your soup pan.  Peel and finely chop the onions.  Gently fry them for 5 minutes, until they start to colour.

3.  Wash and thinly slice the lamb's liver.

4.  Add the chopped tomatoes, liver, garlic and ginger puree and fry for another 5 minutes

5.  Add the stock, bring the soup to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the liver is soft

6. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve garnished with some chopped coriander leaves.  Enjoy

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Beetroot Rasam

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with beetroot.  On one hand, beetroot risotto is one of the greatest things ever, on the other is that lingering taste that can only be described as earthy.  Or to be less charitable, I made a beetroot and chocolate cake, and despite using half a tonne of chocolate and cream, it still tasted of soil.

It is the kind of vegetable that, to my mind, is healthy but dull - the twin of kale in being a joyless thing that healthy eating advocates bang on about, but I really can't stand,  Or at least it takes a fair bit of effort to make it palatable. Of course, it's entirely possible that beetroot has the same effect on me that sprouts have on others - a chemical that renders if awful tasting to me whilst others don't suffer. (Scientists are telling me that this theory could be what they describe as 'utter tripe')

And yet, and yet, here I am, attempting the fourth soup recipe involving beetroot (and reading the old entries, I see I have rather belaboured the point about beetroot's eccentricities, so I won't malign the poor purple vegetable any more) but suffice to say that this Indian soup recipe, through some subtle alchemy of spices tastes amazing, and not a hint of the evil 'soil taste'*

So here at Soup HQ we have a rather small kitchen, mostly consisting of jars of spices of one kind or another, and it's a huge decision every time we think about investing in another kitchen gadget.  "There's no room!" goes the cry.  Which is why I still don't have a deep fat fryer despite recently discovering the joys of making my own chips.  Another gadget that I still crave is a pressure cooker.  If you have one, it would be prefect for this recipe, as it would cook the lentils and beetroot amazingly, but alas, until I open the West Wing of my kitchen and have room for more gadgets, I'll have to do this the old fashioned way - just boiling the heck out of the beetroot.

Also, be careful when blending the soup.  It went everywhere when I deployed my stick blender and made the kitchen look like Halloween had arrived early...

Also, beware the side effects of eating too many beets...

*Some of you may be wondering, if I have such strong feelings about beetroot, why am I eating it?  Well the simple answer is that we got some as part of our veg box delivery and I'll be damned if I'm going to let any vegetables go to waste.  Apart from Kale...

500g Beetroot
100g Yellow Lentils
50g Tamarind Paste
4 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Dried Red Chili Flakes
1tsp Coriander Seeds
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1tsp Mustard Seeds
Pinch of Asafoetida

1. Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes.  Roughly chop the Tamarind and put ina small bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes too

2. Heat some oil in your soup pan.  Add the Coriander Fenugreek and Cumin Seeds and Chili flakes, and fry gently for a minute or so, until they flavour the oil.

3.  Wash and strain the soaked lentils and add these to the pan, along with the peeled and chopped beetroot and the peeled garlic cloves.

4.  Remove the pulp from the tamarind and add the flavoured water to the pan

5. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring the soup to the boil and simmer on a high heat, covered, for 30 minutes, until the beetroot is cooked and softened.  Remove the pan from the heat

6.  Blend the soup until smooth.  Return to the pan, reheat gently and adjust seasoning to taste

7.  In another pan, heat 3tbsp of oil.  Add the Asafoetida and mustard seeds and heat until the seeds start to pop.  Stir the flaovoured oil into the soup and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup

It's October!  Where did the summer go? Still, now it's time to pack up your shorts and pull out those woolly jumpers, that can only mean one thing - it's soup season again (aka The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year)

I was in two minds  about starting up the soup blog again; after all, there must be a finite number of soups a man can cook, right? So yesterday, I was opening a carton of soup for my lunch and two things struck me - firstly that I feel guilty every time I buy soup rather than making it, especially as cooking soup is as easy as falling off a log, but less painful, and secondly, that most shop bought soups are usually hugely disappointing. As if to prove my point, the Goan Spicy Lentil and Chicken soup that I eat was slightly bitter tasting, had woody vegetables and left me feeling sad rather than being a hug in a bowl, like all good soups should be

To ease myself back into blogging (and soup making) I set myself the challenge of opening up the vegetable drawer of the fridge, grabbing the first few things that I could lay my hands on and tuning them into a tasty soup.  Just to get myself back into the swing of things.

The first things I pulled out were a can of beer, a bottle of vodka and a lime.  Which would make an awesomely demented cocktail, but not really good for soup.  The next dive into the fridge yielded sweet potatoes and parsnips.  This, I thought to myself, I can work with...

So some quick thinking, a look in the spice cupboard and viola,  a simple, rich and tasty soup that took about 5 minutes to make, 30 minutes to simmer and then was ready for lunch.

Can't say easier than that, can you?  So shut up and make some soup...

2 Onions
2 Parsnips
2 Sweet Potatoes
2 Cloves of Garlic
2tsp Finely chopped Ginger
1tbsp Lemon Juice
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp Cumin
1tsp Dried Chili Flakes
1tsp Salt
1.2l Stock
Fresh Coriander

1. Chop the onions and fry fry gently until golden

2.  Peel and chop the sweet potato and parsnip.  Add these to the onions and sweat gently for a few minutes until the start to soften

3.  Add the stock, ginger, garlic and spices.  Bring the soup to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 minute, or until all the vegetables have softened

4.  Using a stick blender, purée the soup until smooth.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

5.  Garnish each bowl of soup with yoghurt and fresh coriander.  Enjoy!