Category: Soups

French Onion Soup (AoL Lifestyle)

December 13th, 2011 — 8:24am

French onion is probably my favourite of all soups; it doesn’t sound like much, but this boozy allium brew always warms right through to the marrow. I love the process of slowly, slowly caramelising onions; the transformation from gassy tear-jerkers to a sweet, soft and sticky mass is one of those magical kitchen processes that should be undertaken mindfully and with love. For a soup made of onions, it’s surprisingly filling; possibly something to do with the copious amounts of Gruyere on toast I make to go with it. Ahem. Head over to AoL for the recipe.

1 comment » | AoL Lifestyle, Soups

Ham Hock and White Bean Soup (AoL Lifestyle)

November 22nd, 2011 — 9:26am

I’m very much into cooking with ham hocks (or knuckles) again after the pibil, so I’ve made a porky white bean broth for AoL Lifestyle, super-charged with a salsa verde-like green sauce. Find the recipe over on AoL.

10 comments » | AoL Lifestyle, Lunchbox, Main Dishes, Meat, Pulses, Soups

Squid, pork and clam stew

October 25th, 2010 — 9:12pm

When on holiday in Spain, my mates and I bought a packet of jamon off-cuts; the stubby pieces from the end of a leg of ham which are no good for carving but better (we presumed) for slow cooked dishes, like stews. We didn’t have time to use them while there due to the sheer, greedy quantity of other food we’d bought but as they would keep well, I brought them back and made a promise to cook something at a later date. Inspiration came from a squid dish we’d eaten in a local restaurant in L’Escala – tender rings in a rich, reduced tomato sauce. I wanted to re-create it and, as ever, considered what would happen if I added some pig.

I fried the off-cuts until the fat melted then used that as a base for a tomato, red pepper and smoked paprika sauce, cooked down very slowly for 3 hours or more. It’s a weekend job, so I made a big batch and shoved some in the freezer. After that, it’s just a case of simmering the squid until tender. I also added some clams last minute because I love the combination of shellfish and pork. To finish, a picada, Catalan-style: crushed garlic, breadcrumbs and toasted ground almonds which thicken the sauce and add punch. A sprinkle of parsley, a wedge of lemon and serve. We mopped it up with torn chunks of a crusty white loaf, washed it down with Brew Dog beers and re-acquainted ourselves with the level of smugness we’d felt while on holiday.

Squid, pork and clam stew

For the base tomato sauce

1 packet of jamon off-cuts (sorry, I can’t remember the quantity but I reckon about 200g. Chorizo would make a good substitute)
5 tomatoes
2 red peppers
1 large stick of celery
2 large onions
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon sugar

Begin by skinning the tomatoes. Cover them with boiling water then wait for about 5 minutes until their skins start to split. You can then take them out and peel the skins off.

Finely chop the peppers, celery and onions (it’s worth making the effort to chop them very finely). When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or groundnut oil to a heavy based pan then add the pork bits until the fat has melted, stirring often over a medium-low heat.

When the fat has melted, add the vegetables, smoked paprika and sugar, bring to a simmer then reduce to the lowest heat. Put the lid on and let cook very gently for 3 hours if possible.

For the rest of the stew

2 medium squid
2 handfuls clams
A couple of tablespoons chopped parsley
500ml vegetable or fish stock
Lemons, to serve
Bread, to serve

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 slice dry white bread, made into crumbs
50g almonds, lightly toasted

Make the picada by toasting the almonds in a dry pan: move them around often over a medium heat until lightly golden. Grind them to a paste in a pestle and mortar. Mix them very well with the garlic and breadcrumbs.

When the tomato sauce is ready, heat your stock and add it to the tomato sauce. Add the squid, then simmer until the squid is tender, about 40 minutes. While the squid is cooking, clean your clams by submerging them in salted water for half an hour; this is so they spit out all the grit and other stuff you don’t want to eat. Drain them and add to the sauce for a few minutes, until their shells pop open. Add a tablespoon of picada, stir it in then taste and decide if you want any more. I found a tablespoon to be enough.

Ladle the stew into bowls, then scatter the parsley over and serve with lemon wedges, and the bread.

9 comments » | Main Dishes, Meat, Seafood, Shellfish, Soups, Stews

Catalan-style fish stew

October 13th, 2010 — 7:01pm

A holiday always leaves a cook feeling inspired and a  rich squid stew in a restaurant in L’Escala set my mind racing about making my own version, with added pork. Before that experiment though, it was time to get some practice in the ways of a traditional Catalan stew.

The beginning  is a sofrito – tomato sauce cooked long and slow to develop character and sweetness. I cheated on this and used a jar I had from Brindisa because, well, I had it. In this I simmered some squid pieces until tender. For my white fish, I scored a bargain on some monkfish cheeks at Moxon’s in East Dulwich. I asked for the cheapest firm white fish in the shop and that’s what he produced – big meaty chunks at a fraction of the price of the tail (I got 300g for a few quid). On the shellfish front, I dropped in a giant prawn per person and then clack, clack, clack as I stirred in some fiercely barnacled mussels.

At the end the stew is thickened with a picada – a mixture of breadcrumbs, garlic and toasted ground almonds. Such a magical combination. The garlic remains punchy yet not raw and the ground nuts enrich the broth, the breadcrumbs swell and thicken. A final squeeze of lemon at the table and a torn hunk of bread for scooping and it’s time to slurp, shell and mop. One of the most complex and delicious dishes I’ve eaten in a very long time.

Catalan style fish stew

300g firm white fish (I used monkfish cheeks), cut into bite size chunks
200g mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1 giant prawn per person
250g squid, slices into rings and tentacles roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 large onion, sliced
A handful flatleaf parsley, chopped
1 315g jar of sofrito or you can make your own
1 litre fish or vegetable stock

Lemon wedges, to serve
Bread, to serve

For the picada

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 slice dry white bread, made into crumbs
50g almonds, lightly toasted

Begin by sweating your onion in some groundnut or vegetable oil in a heavy based large pan. Cook it on a low heat for 20 minutes at least until the onions are very soft. Add your jar of sofrito plus the stock, paprika and squid and bring to a gentle simmer. Put a lid on and let cook gently for about an hour.

For the picada, pound all the ingredients together in a pestle and mortar until as smooth as possible.

Stir in a couple of tablespoons of the picada just before you add the remaining fish for the final few minutes of cooking. My prawns were very large so I added those for 2 minutes, plus the white fish and mussels for another 3 minutes. Garnish with the parsley and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

7 comments » | Fish, Seafood, Soups, Stews, Travel

Jamaican corn soup

August 30th, 2010 — 6:45pm

It’s the end of the summer and the corn is going cheap. I bought four cobs for a quid in Peckham yesterday and a frankly quite staggering twelve red peppers for the same. Twelve. Not joking.

This soup only uses one you’ll be pleased to know, along with two cobs and some classic Caribbean flavours: thyme, scotch bonnet chilli and coconut. It’s a hearty mix, thickened with yellow split peas and potato but my version is light compared with other recipes which use pumpkin or squash and other vegetables. I prefer a fresher version which keeps the focus on the juicy bursts of corn. I strip one cob and slice the other so I’m not denied the pleasure of gnawing on it.

The scotch bonnet chilli is left whole and slit lengthways to release just moderate fruity heat and the creamy coconut milk smooths things over. It tastes tropical and most importantly, it celebrates the corn. At that price, it would be rude not to.

Jamaican Corn Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 scotch bonnet chilli
150g yellow split peas
1 litre stock (I used vegetable)
400ml tin of coconut milk
2 sprigs of thyme
2 cobs corn
1 red pepper, diced
1 large potato, diced

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or groundnut oil in a pan and add the onion. Let it sweat over a lowish heat for about 8 minutes then add the garlic for a couple of minutes more, taking care not to let it burn. Make a cut down the length of the chilli, but keep it intact and add it to the pan with the split peas, thyme and stock – simmer for 30 minutes.

Prepare the corn by shaving the kernels from one of the cobs, running your knife down the sides, top to bottom. Slice the other one into 2cm thick slices (I nicked that idea from this recipe recently. I also nicked their presentation). Add the corn, coconut milk and potato and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the red pepper for the final 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Allow the soup to cool a little then remove the chilli, thyme and corn slices (reserve the corn slices) and blend half the soup. If it is still quite hot then make sure not to fill the blender more than half way and hold the lid down because if you don’t you will end up with soup all over your kitchen. It will blast the lid off the blender. Return to the pan and add back the corn slices. Reheat if necessary, adjust the seasoning and serve.

14 comments » | Caribbean Food, Food From The Rye, Gluten-free, Soups, Starters, Vegetables

Mutton Paomo

August 26th, 2010 — 8:31pm

I came across this dish when I was looking for new ways to eat pickled garlic, which is something I’ve been doing a lot. What a condiment. Spiky yet sweet, it’s an unusual and addictive flavour. My friend Sally Butcher who owns the Iranian shop and deli, Persepolis tells me that in the Middle East, “they eat it with everything.” This makes sense to me.

On my internet travels I came across an apparently famous Chinese dish called the mutton or yangrou paomo; it’s from Xi’an, the result of cuisines converging via the Silk Road. Small pieces of unleavened ‘Muslim flat bread’ are an Arabian influence; the diner tears the bread into peanut-sized pieces and returns the bowl to the cook who tops it with mutton slices, spiced broth and often, glass noodles.* The dough pieces swell to form springy nuggets as they soak up the liquid. Common accompaniments are chilli paste, coriander leaves and most importantly, the pickled garlic. I was having me some of that.

The bread was a bit of a ball-ache. An e-mail exchange with Sunflower revealed that it’s usually a “heavy, griddled bun similar to an English muffin” but attempts to find a recipe failed. I considered substituting a muffin but it seemed the wrong way to approach a challenge. In the end I used the ingredients found scrawled on a piece of paper, apparently the results of a frantic searching session; I have no recollection. Cooked in a dry pan, it was dense enough to form the desired sticky dumplings rather than gummy mush.

Mostly you just need to chuck everything in a pot, but it will take a good three hours to cook, so one for the weekend. Other recipes cook broth and meat separately but I didn’t have time for that so I asked the butcher to cut up a leg of mutton and simmered the meat and bones together. Mighty black cardamom pods swelled like giant raisins on the broth, releasing their smoky, underground flavour. A lean over the pot made my nostrils buzz with chilli and star anise.

I’m pretty sure that this dish only partly resembles the real thing. I needed more broth in the bowl that’s for sure and usually the meat would be added separately before the hot stock is poured over. At least, that’s what I managed to glean from some rather dodgy translation. I do know however, that the dish is the most famous contribution of Xi’an to Chinese cuisine and apparently, served nearly everywhere in the city and also as part of the state banquet. I think it’s fair to say they are proud of it. If I’ve made it wrong or done it a disservice then I apologise but in my defence, it tasted great.

Mutton Paomo (Yangrou Paomo)

1kg of mutton (mostly chunks of meat and a few large pieces of bone)
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 x 2 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
1 mild red chilli, slit lengthways or chopped (I slit mine as I wanted to add chilli paste as a garnish)
200g glass noodles*
2.5 teaspoons of salt
8 peppercorns
2 star anise
A few pieces of cassia bark
3 black cardamom pods, crushed with the side of a knife
2 tablespoons cooking wine

Pickled garlic (available from Persepolis and Khan’s if you live in Peckham), plus chilli paste and coriander leaves to garnish

Trim your meat of any large pieces of fat. Put your meat, bones and everything else apart from the noodles and garnish into a large stock pot. If you want to get fancy, you could bundle your spices into a piece of muslin to make them easier to remove later on. Cover with water (mine took about 3 litres) and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and allow to cook, uncovered for about 3 hours. After this time, remove the bones, whole spices and any remaining pieces of visible fat. I now allowed the broth to cool and skimmed the excess fat from the top. There is already enough fat in the broth to give a good flavour.

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.

To serve, re-heat and spoon over peanut sized pieces of the bread (recipe below). Add a serving of noodles to the bowl and garnish as desired with the chilli, coriander and pickled garlic.

For the bread

300g plain (all purpose) flour
1 teaspoon salt
200ml boiling water
1 tablespoon lard, softened (by softened I mean leave it out until completely soft)

Mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth dough. Let it rest for a little while before rolling it out into 8 pieces, about 4-5 inches in diameter. Wipe a heavy skillet or tava with oil and cook each bread for 5 minutes or so on each side until lightly golden. To serve, tear into small pieces and spoon the broth and condiments on top.

* As you can see, I only had wheat noodles.

10 comments » | Bread, Main Dishes, Meat, Noodles, Pickles, Soups, Stews, Street Food

Two Garlic Soup

May 2nd, 2010 — 1:14pm

I actually can’t stop eating outrageous amounts of garlic. One or two cloves is no longer an acceptable amount. The obsession gently rumbles on. In contrast, I like to think that my immune system is racing ahead, building lymphocytes faster than you can say ‘flu’. In reality, rather than glowing with shiny health I’m sure I just gently whiff of garlic. Constantly.

Gorgeous little soup though, even if it is rather rich. I based it on this one but reduced the amount of regular cloves, omitted the sage and added a small handful of the wild garlic I picked at Riverford Farm. The soup is interesting because it goes from looking like hot dishwater with a few pearly cloves bobbing on the bubbles to a creamy, velveteen elixir; pretty amazing considering it doesn’t contain even the merest smidgen of cream. It is instead enriched with the rather wanky sounding ‘binding pomade’ – a combination of eggs, Parmesan and olive oil. You slowly whisk the oil into the cheese and amber yolks, then a ladleful of the broth into the ‘pomade’ and then the whole lot back into the broth. It’s really rather a calming and leisurely process. I used the time to reflect on important issues such as where I might have left the key for the bin room, whether it was too early to open a beer or not and when I might find time to make Ottolenghi’s caramelised garlic tart. Actually that last one really is important.

The original recipe suggests pouring the finished soup over day-old pieces of baguette, which I did, but found the combination of rich soup and soggy bread paste rather unpleasant. Really unpleasant, actually. Like eating a piece of sodden bog roll. The second helping was much more enjoyable with a bit of traditional dunking and of course, the terminal wiping of bowl.

It is extremely garlicky but deeply savoury; the wild garlic brings its sprightly green bite. I would advise you to use good Parmesan, as it makes all the difference and a nice grassy olive oil that isn’t too strong. The finished thing is really rather pretty and spring-like I think, with a cheeky richness that makes a stealthy approach, soothing and satisfying with every mouthful.

Two Garlic Soup (adapted from this recipe)

950ml water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt

For binding

1 egg
2 egg yolks
40g parmesan
Pepper (white might be nice actually)
50ml olive oil

Bring the water to a boil in a pan and add the thyme, bay leaf, garlic cloves and salt. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain into a bowl, then remove and discard the bay leaf and return the garlic and the infused water back to the pan but off the heat. Taste and add more salt if you like but remember the Parmesan is coming later.

Whisk the egg, the yolks, Parmesan and pepper together until creamy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly, as if you were making mayonnaise. Then, take a ladleful of the broth and do the same, whisking it really slowly into the oil mixture. Now tip the whole thing into the remaining broth in the pan and set over a low to medium heat, stirring all the time until it starts to thicken. Heidi mentions in her recipe that the creator of the original recipe, Richard Olney, says that it should be cooked, “just long enough to be no longer watery” but I agree with her that it is nicer when it’s a bit thicker.

Serve over bread or not – up to you. I prefer it not. I drizzled a bit more oil and grated a little extra cheese on top.

Other garlicky goodness:

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
Garlic Curry

20 comments » | Soups

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