Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dunny Wall Philosophy

I'm a great believer that you need to take wisdom wherever you find it. Even if it is on the toilet wall.

Kenny and Ziggy's Houston Texas, Ladies Toilets

Sadly I didn't get to eat soup at Kenny and Ziggy's. I had already ordered when I found this piece of wisdom, and so I ate (some of) what appeared to be the largest Reuben in the world. 

Saturday Snapshot, is a wonderful weekly meme from at home with books.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Catalan Potato and Broad Bean Soup

Last year I was brave and discovered that I like broad beans. After that initial success, I even made some very delicious Broad Bean Felafel Fritters. I've been eagerly awaiting this years broad bean season, and was excited to see them for $2.99 a kilo over the past few weeks. Time for another broad bean intervention.

I decided to make a soup this time, and knew that I would have a recipe for a broad bean soup somewhere. Of course I did. Several. But I picked this one- I just love coriander, and can rarely resist it. I'm so glad I did- this is a fabulous soup. I'm not sure what makes it Catalan particularly, but it is simple and delicious nonetheless.

Catalan Potato and Broad Bean Soup

30mL/ 2 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 large floury potatoes, diced
450gm/1 lb fresh broad (fava) beans
1.75 L/ 3 pints/ 7 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch coriander (cilantro) leaves only
150 mL/ 1/4 pint/ 2/3 cup thickened light cream
salt, pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until softened but not brown.

Add potatoes, beans, and stock to the mixture in the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add coriander, allow to wilt.

Process the mixture in a blender or food processor, then return soup to the pan.

Stir in the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.

Serves 6
based on the recipe by
Anne Sheasby in The New Soup Bible

Not a particularly pretty picture this week I'm afraid- I took this soup to work everyday for lunch, so it was only able to be photographed in traveling containers. It doesn't do it justice.

The original recipe added the coriander after 5 minutes then simmered it for 10+ minutes. I like it added fresh at the very end. It keeps the lovely green colour, and more of the flavour I think. Less stewed, less grey. As such my soup was a pale green, pretty colour, the one in the book is more of a golden brown colour.

This soup is delicious hot or cold. A bit like a vichyssoise.

The recipe didn't state it, but I took "broad beans" to mean peeled, blanched, repeeled broad beans.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Red Lentil and Burghul Soup

I wasn't too sure what I thought of the notion of this soup. But I'd ripped it out of the newpaper (back in February!) and it was time to try it.

I like burghul (also called bulgur), but hadn't had it in soup form before. Of course it's most famous use is as a base for the middle eastern classic Tabbouli. I do like red lentils in soup- indeed some of my favourite soups contain red lentils now that I think about it.

Red lentils are an amazing nutritious, low GI food. GI 26.

Burghul/bulgur is simply whole wheat that has been hulled, steamed then cracked (which gives the other name of cracked wheat), and so it retains the wheat germ and bran. The GI for boiled burghul hasn't been measured, but when it is soaked as you would do for tabbouli it is 48.

Red Lentil and Burghul Soup

1-2 tblsp olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1.25 L chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup red lentils
1/3 cup burghul
2 tblsp tomato paste
2 tblsp chopped fresh mint and basil

Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and saute onion, celery and garlic for 7 minutes, or until softened. Add chilli and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, burghul and tomato paste, stir and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until grains are tender. Add a little extra stock if needed. Season to taste. Add mint and basil just before serving. Serve with a dollop of thick yoghurt.

Serves 4
David Herbert
Weekend Australian, February 26 2011

I omitted the chilli as I was making the 10 year old eat it for dinner.

It's a very quick and easy soup to throw together for a simple meal.

I wasn't sure I liked the appearance of the soup as it was- so I blitzed it in the Thermomix to make a smooth soup. The burghul then gave it a bit of a furry mouth feel. I don't know that I'd make this again, but it was interesting to try- and the 10 year old ate it with no fuss!

I will cross post this on my low GI blog.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Potage St Germain (well nearly)

It's always great when a recipe combines several of your great loves, and this soup does that. Soup. Low GI goodness. France. And a friend's blog. Too good to pass up.

Split peas are a nutritional storehouse, with a fabulous low GI of 32. 

I've never really been a fan of the traditional pea and ham soup, I find it too furry on the tongue, and the colour is usually unappealing. Here, we don't have the ham, and the soup is glammed  up by addition of fresh peas at the end to give it a great colour boost. So when my friend Hannah blogged this simple French potage, I knew I would have to give it a try quite soon. So I did. And it was fab. 

Although it turns out this isn't really a traditional Potage St Germain, which is more a fresh pea soup made with stock, lettuce, onion and celery. I felt certain that Elizabeth David had a recipe for Potage St Germain in her book French Provinical Cooking, but I suddenly can't find it. The name of course brings to mind St Germain de Pres, a lovely but dilapidated church on the left bank of Paris. 

2 cups green split peas (400g)
1 litre water
1 tblsp olive oil
1 large brown onion (200gm), coarsely chopped
2 trimmed sticks celery (150gm), coarsely chopped
1.25 litres chicken or vegetable stock 
500gm frozen peas
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Soak split peas in the water in a large bowl for 3 hours or overnight.

Heat oil in large saucepan; cook onion and garlic, stirring, until onion is soft. Stir in celery, cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Add undrained peas and stock, bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, about 1 hour or until peas are tender (skimming the surface and stirring occasionally). Stir in frozen peas; cook, for about 10 minutes until peas are tender.

Blitz soup in high speed blender, until smooth.

Return soup to pan. Heat through. Season to taste, and garnish, with mint or garnish of your choice.

Pretend you're in Paris whilst you eat. 


My 10 year old ate this without complaint- just the usual bribe of bread and butter. 

I garnished with creme fraiche and chives, as that's what I had on hand. 

I only noticed the soup was meant to be simmered uncovered when I typed the recipe here. I did it covered.

I'm cross posting this on my low GI blog.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Butternut Pumpkin Soup with Four Cheese Dumplings

I've been terribly slack with both soup making and soup blogging this winter, but I'm back, with a fabulous effort. This soup came into being for our family dinner tonight. It arose from a wonderful mix of opportunity and circumstance. My husband moved my recipe file so that I glimpsed a pumpkin soup recipe tucked way in the back that I'd been meaning to make for two years! I combined it with the leftover 4 cheese tortellini filling in the fridge and magic was created.

Fabulous colour, wonderfully pleated dumplings!

Butternut Pumpkin Soup with Four Cheese Dumplings

1 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 litre chicken stock
2 tsp low GI sugar (Logicane)
1 bay leaf
150ml creme fraiche
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

16 cooked homemade 4 cheese dumplings

Place the pumpkin, stock, sugar and bay leaf into a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.

Remove the bay leaf from the pumpkin mixture, then blend in high speed blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and bring it to a simmer. Add creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, boil a pot of salted water. Add dumplings cook for 2-3 minutes until done.

Serve soup in bowls topped with 4 dumplings.

A mere sprinkling of truffle salt is totally MAGIC!

I'm not all that crazy on butternut pumpkin, I much prefer the sweeter more intensely flavoured Jap/Kent pumpkin. But I do like trying it in different recipes every so often, everyone else seems mad on it. This one worked really well and was totally delicious.

The soup recipe is based on a recipe by Guillaume Brahimi from Bennelong restaurant in Sydney, originally published in Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, August 8 2009 (published two years ago to the day! Karma). I halved the amount of creme fraiche he used, and substituted his garlic croutons with my 4 cheese dumplings. In his recipe he passed the blitzed pumpkin through a fine sieve- I did that to be true to the recipe, but it didn't really need it, after I had blitzed it in my fab new Thermomix. The texture was amazing.

The dumpling mix was left over in the fridge from last nights dinner. A four cheese mix of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and blue cheese with freshly ground nutmeg. Mr Soup had made home made pasta the day before, but I can't be bothered with all that, so I used gow gee wrappers instead of pastry for the first time- it was so simple, worked really well- and none exploded. That's a win in my book.  I'll definitely be using them again. 

I used a commercial chicken stock for this recipe. One of those tetra pack ones. I think it needed some water, especially when I ate the leftovers the next day. The soup was really too thick, and probably a bit salty.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chestnut Soup with Bacon and Thyme Croutons

For some reason I recently became obsessed with the notion of cooking chestnuts. Not sure why particularly. I'd seen them around in the fruit and veg shops I guess, and was becoming more curious. And really wanted to give it a try. Then I remembered this recipe in my Delia Smith Soups book. I decided several years ago that I wanted to make so many of the recipes in this book, that I would make it my project to cook them all. There's been some great surprises along the way and it's taking a bit longer than I really expected- but then doesn't every project?

So, I armed myself with some chestnuts, and set to work.

Delia has thoughtfully provided the recipe online. I couldn't find any thyme for love nor money in my small town this week. Well, I gave up after 2 supermarkets and a fruit and veg shop. And made do without. So I really made Chestnut Soup with Bacon Croutons.

I decided that I would make stock for this soup, as I really wasn't sure that I'd like a chestnut soup, and wanted at least a good flavour base. Delia suggested either ham or vegetable stock. As I hadn't got myself organised to get a ham bone, I made vegetable stock. Making stock always seems so totally virtuous, even though for vegetable stock you roughly chop some veggies, cut a couple of bay leaves off the tree, and count out 12 peppercorns. Not very hard.

but worth it

So, how did the soup turn out? Better than I was expecting actually. Although, I'm not sure I knew what to expect at all. This being somewhat beyond my ken. It was thicker than I was expecting, which I think was body given to it by the chestnut flesh. I'm not sure that chestnut has a strong enough flavour to dominate anything- our local bacon is quite a powerful taste.

It is a bit of an unappealing colour, as many of Delia's winter soups have been actually. A bit dishwatery. Which is a shame. The nonsoup lovers in the house ate it, the adult one with reasonable enthusiasm, the 10 year old less so. But some minor bribery with strawberry jelly worked a treat. I'm not sure if I'd make it again. The whole chestnut process was rather lengthy and traumatic. Perhaps if we had easier access to packaged chestnuts? But then cooking them yourself adds to the appeal and the adventure of it all. 

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Corn and Basil Soup- Hall of Fame

Confession: I've never actually cooked this soup. But I've eaten it many, many times. My husband has taken this on as the only soup he cooks. I initially ate this soup back in the late 90s in that fabulous few years of full-time wage before child, when we could eat out at fancy restaurants with ease. I remember a wonderful evening at the now defunct central Sydney restaurant Banc. It was served there as an amuse geule. And it was astonishing. It can apparently be served warm or cold, but I've only had it warm, so will have to try it cold sometime. We love this soup so much we bought little cups just to serve it in. Now that's devotion.

We bought the Banc cookbook solely to get access to this recipe. It remains the only recipe we have used from the book, which is filled with time-consuming restauranty recipes for delicious things that aren't quite right for family dinners. In the recipe introduction they say they were often asked for seconds or an entree sized portion by enthusiastic diners.

Sweet Corn and Basil Soup

Serves 4 (makes 1 litre or 1 3/4 pints)
4 fresh corn cobs
200g (8 oz) diced onions
50mL (3 1/2 tbsps) cream
50gm (2 oz) diced butter
1 small bunch fresh basil
salt and freshly ground pepper

The stock.

Peel and remove all the outer leaves and stalk form the cobs. Using a knife, remove all the corn kernels from the cobs and reserve, and then cut the cobs in half.

In a heavy-based pan melt half the butter and add half of the diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes on a medium heat without allowing it to colour. Add the cobs and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes without browning. Add 1/5 litres (2 1/2 pints) of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the stock to infuse for a further 30 minutes before passing it through a fine sieve, discarding the cobs and onions.

The soup.

The spattered picture in the book

In a heavy based pan melt the remaining butter and add the remaining diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes on a medium heat without allowing it to colour. Add the corn kernels and a good pinch of salt and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the corn stock and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the corn kernels are tender. Pour in the cream and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat and blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Add roughly chopped basil, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Leave the soup for an hour, or even overnight to allow the flavours to infuse, before passing the soup through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the corn to extract as much flavour as possible. Taste-check the seasoning once again. Serve either hot or chilled.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is possibly my favourite soup, but even so it comes in nearly endless varieties. I do love making my old favourites such as Dorinda's Spicy Carribean Pumpkin Soup. But then I spy a new pumpkin soup recipe and love making those too. I have made many pumpkin soups based on roasting the pumpkin and they certainly give a stronger depth of flavour. I usually use what in Australia is called Jap/Kent pumpkin for my soups, although this one specified butternut so I used that.

Butternut has a milder pumpkin flavour than Jap, and doesn't make as good as soup in my book. The colour isn't as deep and the flavour not as robust. Not that butternut soup is bad, I just know that there is better pumpkin out there. But it's nice to try alternatives every so often even if it only does serve to reinforce the prejudices.

Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin Soup

2kg butternut pumpkin, seeds removed and halved
1 brown onion, halved
1 head garlic, whole, loosely wrapped in aluminium foil
olive oil, for drizzling
3 cups water
1/2 cup pouring cream
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Place the pumpkin, cut-side up, on a baking tray with the onion and the garlic and drizzle with oil. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the pumpkin is golden and cooked through.

Scoop the pumpkin and onion from their skins and place in the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins and add to the food processor.

Add 1 cup of water and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining water, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook until the soup is heated through.

Serves 4

Donna Hay
Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Magazine April 3, 2011

The original recipe separated the cloves of garlic and drizzled them with oil with the other vegies, but I like roasting garlic wrapped in foil. It took at least an hour and a half to roast the pumpkin, not 50-55 minutes.

My aging food processor wasn't really up to the job, and it would probably have been better if I had used the blender, but by the time I realised that I'd already used the food processor, and there's no way that I'm using and then cleaning both.

I wimped out and only added a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, mainly because I wanted my 10 year old to eat it without complaint- which he did. He said that it wasn't his favourite meal, but that it was ok, and he gave it 7.5/10, which is a total success in my book.

Donna suggested that you serve the soup with cheesy leek and polenta madeleines, but I couldn't be bothered, so spread some delicious local herbed cheese on a fresh bread stick instead.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Couscous and Vegetable Soup

It's heading into autumn in Australia, so this post is about a soup I last made a few months ago now. Actually I've been making this soup regularly for over 10 years. I usually tweak it a bit, but it always smells fragrant and fabulous. I've tried it as a Quinoa and Vegetable Soup, but it wasn't as good, so I think I'll stick with using couscous.

I've always made this with regular couscous, but have recently discovered that it has a medium GI of 61-65. Israeli pearl couscous is lower GI (52), so I'll have to try it with that next time. I've only used pearl couscous once, it was quite a few years ago, and don't remember it very well.

Couscous and Vegetable Soup

Looks like I used a kumara this time as well

2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into 1cm pieces
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tblsp tomato paste
425gm can diced tomatoes
1.5L hot chicken stock
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 yellow button squash, quartered
90gm (1/2 cup) couscous
2 tblsp coarsley chopped coriander

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add onion and cook over low heat until soft, then add chicken and cook a further 3 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, cardamon and paprika and stir over low heat for 3 minutes until fragment.

Add tomato paste, tomato and chicken stock and season to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Add carrots, cook for  5 minutes, then add zucchini and squash and cook a further 10 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender. Gradually pour in couscous and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve in warm soup bowls sprinkled with coriander.
Serves 6

Adapted from a recipe in Australian Gourmet Traveller August 1997

The original recipe includes 1/4 tsp chili powder with the other spices. My family don't like chili heat, so I've never added it, but I'm sure it would be nice.

I love pumpkin, so often add a chunk of that with the carrots.

The quinoa wasn't awful in the soup, but there just wasn't as much compared to the couscous and it changed it somehow. It might be worth trialling adding more quinoa.