Category Archives: Soups

Green Winter Warmer

 
Green Winter Warmer

I always crave green food in the winter. I tried to find out if there was a specific reason but haven’t found anything fitting on the internet.  Soups are always a winner and green is the perfect seasonal colour for this time of year. Calling it a green soup gives it versatility. I originally made the soup with the dark green swiss chard which is common in Spain where I live. I am told its harder to find in the UK so I would say use either or both kale and spinach. I have been getting white sweet potatoes in my veg box which add a richness, sweetness and texture to the soup. If you don’t see them where you live an ordinary potato will do. Don’t use an orange sweet potato though, as it sends the colour off.

The garnish is optional, I just like to add layers and textures to food, it will work just as well on its own. Here I have used pumpkin and sesame seeds and salt, but alternatively you could use gomasio. You will need a stick blender, food processor or smoothie maker to blend the soup.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 onion
1 white sweet potato, or ordinary potato (150g)
3 cloves of garlic
1 piece of ginger (approx. 20g)
200g greens e.g kale and spinach 
20g parsley (opt)
1 chilli
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 spring onion
1 small pot of quark ( low fat  fromage frais)
20g pumpkin seeds
10g sesame seeds
Olive oil
1.5 litres of veg stock (cube is fine)

Salt and pepper

Prep list

1. Peel the potatoes, onion, garlic and ginger then roughly chop quite small
2. Finely chop the kale and spinach and wash well
3. Roughly chop the parsley
4. Roughly chop the chilli
5. Cut the spring onion into thin rings
6. Make up the stock

7. Toast off the pumpkin seeds and sesame grind or chop with some sea salt, the finer the better.

Method

Put your soup pan on to the heat, cover the bottom with oil. When hot add the onions, potatoes, garlic and ginger. Stir and turn heat down to medium, try not  brown as it will send the finished colour off. When slightly softened add the cumin, then stir in two thirds of the stock. Add the chilli and cook out for 20 mins, or until the potato is soft.

Add your greens including the parsley and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat. Wait for 5 minutes and blend well. If you have a sieve or a conical strainer, it is worth pushing it through (clearly not essential). If its too thick add some of the stock you have left to get your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering the stock has salt in it. You will also gain salt from the gomasio. Putting the greens in at the last minute gives the soup its colour and vibrancy.

To finish, pour the soup into the bowl. Draw a circle of olive oil from a teaspoon over the soup. Take a tablespoon of quark and slide it off with your finger into the middle of the bowl. Divide the pumpkin seeds and pile on top of the quark then a pinch of the fresh spring onions and some lemon zest. Grind some pepper. None of the garnish is essential, its the soup that is the main player here.

Puy Lentil Red Pepper and Apple Soup

Soup is always good this time of year (Autumn).  I like soups that focus on one or two flavours.  This is a recipe that brings the red peppers to the front with a hint of paprika following.  You don’t have to peel the peppers, I just do because it adds another subtle level.  This is not a blended soup.  It will happily sit on a low heat bubbling away working everyones appetite with its permeating aromas.  This recipe feeds about four people.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and chopped as small and even as you can
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
300g red peppers – thats about two large ones, peeled (optional see side dishes) and chopped in small cubes
150g puy lentils (they are the really small ones, you can use the slightly larger ones, I normally soak them for at least one hour, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t though)
10 grams of paprika
1 litre of stock (from a cube or powder)
1 apple peeled and grated
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

Cover the bottom of your pan with olive oil and fry off the onions. Add the garlic when the onions start to brown, then the chopped peppers (hold a little bit back for the garnish). Cook this down for five minutes, add the paprika, then the stock.

When this is bubbling happily, slide in the lentils. Keep the soup boiling, add the grated apple then turn down to a simmer. Keep topping up the soup with warm stock or water from the kettle, so it stays a soup like consistency. After 45 minutes, taste the lentils, if they are soft, turn off the soup, leave for half an hour then taste for seasoning. Sometimes the lentils go a little bit hard, not sure why yet, but just cook it a bit more until they soften.

When you are ready re-heat and serve.

To garnish like the bowl in the photo, I took some of the red pepper that I held back and cut as small as possible, chopped one spring onion and half a chilli.

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Croutons

 

Here’s the thing;  if you put 250ml of double cream into cauliflower soup, like every other recipe I have read,  then for sure you will have a rich and scrumptious soup. That soup will also be intensely  calorific.  This is a lighter soup relying on the cauliflower being cooked properly and not stewed. This alongside the addition of the mustard which adds some depth and a small amount of zero yoghurt finished off with a scratch of parmesan on the croutons (which can be left out if you wish) gives it depth and richness with out the fat content.

Ingredients

1 large white onion
1 small to medium cauliflower (450g)
2 cloves of garlic
1 litre of stock (either homemade or from an organic stock cube)
1 tspoon Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
30g parmesan
Spelt bread (or any old bread you have in the house)
Natural yoghurt

Method

Roughly chop your onion and cauliflower keeping them seperate.  Take a good pan and cover the bottom with the oil,  place onto a mid heat and sweat off the onions. Try not to brown them as this will colour the soup the wrong way, you want it as light as possible. Add the garlic and cauliflower, keep stirring for 5 mins then cover with stock. Let this cook out for about half an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the croutons. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Cut the bread into small squares, toss with some oil. Put on to a baking tray lined with paper. You only need enough for about 8 squares in each bowl. Toast off in the oven when they are ready take out and scratch some parmesan over them. Put back in for another minute. Put to one side until the soup is ready.

Take a stick blender, a magi-mix or a smoothie maker, and blend the soup until really smooth. Add the mustard and blend some more. If it is a little bit too thick, alter the consistency with some more of the stock. Knock down the yoghurt with just a little water so it is more of a pouring consistency.

To serve; Pour into a bowl, place a big pinch of croutons in the middle, then draw a circle of yoghurt around the croutons for a nice cheffy finish. Young thyme leaves or chives work well with with this soup sprinkled onto the croutons.

Red Lentil Soup with Feta & Coriander

Red lentil soup is a soup rooted in Middle-Eastern cuisine particularly Lebanon and Israel. It is a solid source of protein and dietary fibre, as well as being tasty and economical. This ‘half an hour soup’ could easily be made the day before and kept covered in the fridge.  I have kept it close to its roots taking it to another level with a feta, yogurt and herb mix. This works well if you are trying to eat a small lunch as it will keep you going until the evening.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g red lentils
60 ml sunflower oil (4 tablespoons)
4 litres of vegetable stock (good stock powder is fine)
1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium sized onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1 teaspoon  of black pepper
1 fresh red chili or a pinch of cayenne pepperFor the garnish
1 small pot of natural yogurt (120g)
100g Greek feta cheese
1 spring onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
10 grams of fresh coriander
10 grams of fresh mint
Olive oil

Method

Heat the oil, then  add the chopped onions and pressed garlic. When the onions and garlic are soft add the spices, chili and black pepper, stir into a thick paste. Add the red lentils, then the stock and tomatoes. Stir together, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for a further 25 minutes.  Turn off the heat.

With a stick blender or a food processor  pulse the soup 8 or 9 times. Don’t blend until it’s a smooth soup, pulsing just brings it together.  If you don’t have either accessories don’t worry it will still be good.

Season with a few drops of fresh lemon and sea salt

The Garnish
Put the yoghurt in a bowl, crumble in the feta, add the lemon zest, chopped mint and spring onion. Mix really well with a few drops of lemon.

To Finish
Pour the soup into the bowl, add a generous spoon of the feta mix in the middle then the fresh coriander broken onto the yogurt-feta mix. I like to drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the top (optional).

Quick-Fix Spanish Soup

I don’t often use the word ‘quick’ when referring to my recipes as I don’t normally focus on that kind of quick cooking, but from start to bowl this delicious soup takes 30 minutes – 20 of those were letting it cook. This is a typical lunchtime soup across Spain that you would find on any ‘menu del dia’ in cafes, bars or restaurants. I always put in a handful of something green at the end to cook in the soup – in this instance I used spinach because that’s all I could find in my local shop, but it can be any green vegetable – cut it so it fits into the rest of the soup. Make sure you allow for it’s correct cooking time eg. 1 minute for spinach, 5 minutes for peas, 7 minutes green beans. Always taste to be sure.

Ingredients (serves 4) 

1 medium sized onion
1 carrot
1 leek
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 sweet potato
1 tin of chick-peas
1 heaped tablespoon of paprika
10g parsley
200g spinach
1 litre of stock
You can also use any bits of vegetables that you have left in your fridge. The onion, carrot and garlic are important as the base. I had sweet potato and red pepper in my fridge to use up and it really worked. It will make for a better soup if you cut all the vegetables the same size.

Method

Cut the vegetables into 1cm pieces. Open and rinse the chickpeas. Fry off the vegetables and garlic in olive oil. When they are looking a bit brown, add the paprika, stir well and then add the stock. When it comes to the boil turn the soup down. Cook for a further 15 minutes then add the chick-peas.

Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the soup, grind some black pepper into it, then add the spinach and parsley and leave with the lid on for a minute. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Two-way Chicken Soup

It’s a really good feeling when you cook and eat a dish that has been around you since you were a child.  Curative chicken soup has always been a part of my life, and this take on the recipe will always stay with you. It can seem like quite a long process, so you could make the stock the day before and the main soup the next day.

To make things a little more interesting, but equally as nourishing, a couple of changes in ingredients creates a more exotic Asian version. Its quite dramatic how this classic dish can become a different experience using the same cooking process.

Ingredients (for the stock).

1 chicken
4 peeled carrots (whole)
2 onions peeled and cut in half
1 leek chopped into four
2 celery sticks cut in half
2 tablespoons of decent stock powder (vegetable)

Ingredients for version 1: Classic Chicken Soup (serves 4)

200g mixed green vegetables (I used green beans, peas and broad beans)
400g potatoes
Fresh parsley chopped
2 Spring onions
Zest of a lemon

Ingredients for version 2: Asian Soup.

200g mixed green vegetables
150g rice noodles
Coriander chopped
2 spring onion
15g ginger (thumb size)
2/3 birds eye red chili (depending how hot you like it)
2 limes

Method

Ask the butcher to prepare your chicken, separating the legs, wings and breast, keeping the carcass.  Remove the skin from the legs (use a tea towel or kitchen roll to grip the skin and pull).

Take a large saucepan and put all of the stock ingredients in (except the breast, keep those in the fridge). Cover with water, put a lid on the pan and boil for 25 minutes.  Remove the legs and continue to cook for a further 2 hours.  Keep the water topped up and  the contents covered the duration of its cooking time. Strain the stock into a bowl and put aside.

Version 1: Classic Chicken Soup

Peel and slice the potato into 3cm rings.  Cook the potatoes in the stock, be careful not to move them too much otherwise they will break and make the stock cloudy. Once the potatoes are cooked turn off your stock.

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Meanwhile, oil the pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick slices.  If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off. At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Slice the spring onions, zest the lemon and finely chop the parsley, and add to the stock to slightly soften. Hold a little of each back for the final garnish.

To present the soup, take four bowls and place the potatoes on the bottom of the bowl and the green vegetables on top. Place the sliced chicken breasts and legs onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped parsley, lemon zest and the thinly sliced spring onion.

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Version 2:  Asian Chicken Chili Soup

Cook off the noodles for 3 minutes until firm but not cooked, swiftly wash under cold water to prevent them sticking together. Oil the frying pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick pieces. If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off.

At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Cut the ginger into thin matchstick pieces, thinly slice the chillies and the spring onions on a slight angle. Pick the leaves from coriander, rather than chopping as this gives the dish a more Asian feel.

Heat through the stock and add the matchsticks of ginger, half of the spring onions, chili and coriander and squeeze in one of the zested limes.

Taste the stock to make sure it is seasoned properly add some salt if needed and more lime to taste. Add the noodles to heat them through. To assemble the dish take four bowls and divide the noodles evenly (tongs work best for this), place the green vegetables on top. Lay flat the sliced chicken onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped chili, lime zest, the thinly sliced spring onion and a good pinch of coriander.