Carrot & Parsnip Soup

The beautiful pumpkin sourdough bread you see in this picture is from Pollen bakery in Manchester. I spent the day after my birthday in the city centre last weekend and popped into Pollen for lunch. We shared a pizza topped focaccia and a slice of egg custard tart and they were both so perfect that I bought some rye bread and some sourdough to take home. I’ve tried making sourdough a few times and failed miserably so it’s good to know where I can get the best. Pollen itself actually has a kickstarter appeal to raise £45,000 to start a second bakery specialising in pastries. I signed up to a day’s patisserie course so I’m really hoping they make the target. Of course, I needed to make the most out of this beautiful bread so I made a carrot and parsnip soup that I saw on the BBC Good Food website.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small bunch thyme
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1/4 bunch parsley
  • salt & pepper

Method

1.) Peel the onions and chop up

2.) Heat some oil in a large casserole dish and add the onion. Chop up the celery and add that.

3.) Pull the leaves off the thyme and throw in with the celery

4.) Peel the garlic, finely dice and add to the pan. Add some water if it starts to catch.

4.) Peel the carrots and parsnips and chop into slices. Add to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes.

5.) Boil some water and make up the stock. Pour into the pan, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

6.) Chop up the parsley

7.) Blitz with an immersion blender until smooth.

8.) Mix in the cream, season and stir through. Season with parsley and serve with a slab of bread.

Minestrone soup

I really love this soup from Jamie Oliver’s website. I first came across it during lockdown when he was doing a show to encourage people to home cook filmed by at home by himself and his family. This recipe uses tinned beans, passata and pasta, some of the things some crazy people were stocking up on at that time. Some people must have been pretty bored of pasta with tomato sauce, really Jamie was doing a bit of a service for us. It’s a light soup but also quite filling and is a great choice for when you want to cook in bulk.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 1 veggie stock cube
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tins of beans (kidney or butter, whatever you like)
  • 100g dried small pasta e.g. orzo, macaroni
  • 25g parmesan cheese (if you have rinds of parmesan cheese, you can stick them in to simmer with the soup)
  • salt & pepper

Method

1.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and dice the onion.

2.) Heat some oil in a large pan and add the onions. Let them soften for 5 minutes or so.

3.) In the meantime, peel and chop up the carrot. Chop up the celery.

4.) Add the garlic to the pan and fry for 1 minute.

5.) Add the celery and carrot and leave to soften for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Close to the end, fill a kettle with water and boil.

6.) Pour in the beans and their juices, the passata, crumble in the stock cube then fill up one of the tins and pour in the water from that. Measure out 600ml of the boiled water and pour that in too.

7.) Throw in the pasta, tear up the kale leaves and put them in too.

8.) Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

9.) Grate the parmesan.

10.) Stir into the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Za’atar Scones & Spring Onion Soup

As a British person, scones are very close to my heart but basically being just a mixture of butter and flour, I don’t eat them as often as I would like. I tend to eat scones as a sweet treat with jam and clotted cream (always jam first! – everyone has an opinion on this in the U.K – it’s a great conversation point.). If you’re a tourist to England and you’d like to try the best scones, you need to go to the teahouse at the Jane Austen museum in the beautiful city of Bath. I saw these savoury scones in the book ‘Palestine on a Plate’ and decided to serve them with Ottolenghi’s spring onion soup. I managed to slice my thumb open in the process of chopping up the immense quantity of 900g spring onions but fortunately it was just as I’d pretty much finished so I’m happy that this soup turned out well considering that I can no longer practice the guitar.

Serves 4 (with 8 scones)

Ingredients

Scones

  • 340g plain flour (plus one handful) and extra for dusting
  • salt
  • 3/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 125g butter
  • 240ml milk
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 egg

Soup

  • 900g spring onions (or salad onions if possible)
  • 40g butter
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 300g peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 80g parsley
  • 40g crème fraiche
  • 20g parmesan
  • 20g mint leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

2.) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda into a bowl. (I found that the flour in the recipe was not enough so ended up adding one more handful at the end)

3.) Chop up the butter into cubes

4.) Rub the butter into the flour but like breadcrumbs as if you were doing a crumble, so you can still see bits of butter

5.) Measure out the milk and add the vinegar (this is my sub for buttermilk), Stir very briefly to combine.

6.) Flour a work surface, tip out the mixture, flour your hands and push it together. Try to work the dough as little as possible.

7.) Sprinkle the za’atar over the dough.

8.) Line a baking tray, cut up the dough into 8 pieces and place on top. You could make these a bit prettier by using a cutter but you’ll just be left with the edges that you’ll need to mix together again at the end and I would rather have light, fluffy scones that look a mess.

9.) Crack the egg into a bowl and beat. Brush the scones with the egg.

10.) Bake for 18 minutes until golden.

11.) For the soup, peel and chop up the garlic. Chop up the white parts of the spring onion.

12.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the whites of the spring onions and the garlic. Add some pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.

13.) In the meantime, slice up the green parts of the onion and chop up the courgette. Make up the litre of stock.

14.) Add the bay leaves and the green parts of the onion to the pan and cook for 10 more minutes.

15.) Add the peas and courgette and cook for another 5 minutes.

16.) Take out half the veggies from the saucepan and put to one side. Adding them back later will give the soup a nice texture.

17.) Chop up the mint and set to one side.

19.) Cover the vegetables with stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

20.) Grate the parmesan and measure out the crème fraiche. Zest the lemon.

21.) When the soup is done, remove the bay leaf, add the parsley and blitz with an immersion blender.

21.) Add back the set aside vegetables, warm up, then stir in the crème fraiche and parmesan

22.) Serve and garnish with lemon zest and mint leaves.

Avgolemono soup

I first came across this avgolemono soup on the beautiful food blog ‘Adventures in Cooking’. It’s often seen as a Greek recipe (though may have Jewish roots) and the author of this blog has Greek heritage. I first tried that recipe a number of years ago when I still ate meat. It had shredded roasted chicken and chicken stock so it was a bit of an ask to convert it into a vegetarian recipe but I had to try as I really love it and fortunately the result was a success. Whisking the egg white up then slowly incorporating it back into the hot soup is a genius idea which really makes a lovely creamy textured soup. The recipe works pretty well with orzo or rice noodles that I have used. With the kick of lemon, it’s a perfect dinner for when you have a cold.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • Plant pioneers chicken style pieces (300g)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 courgette
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 rice noodle nests
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 tbsp Massel ‘chicken flavoured’ stock

Method

1.) Strip the thyme leaves from the thyme sprigs

2.) Pan fry the chicken pieces until cooked with the oregano.

3.) Slice thinly and set to one side

4.) Peel and dice the onion, chop up the courgette

5.) Pan fry the onion and courgette until soft then set to one side

6.) Make up the stock with 8 cups of boiling water

7.) Add the stock to a large pan and add the rice noodles

8.) Let this simmer for 5 minutes and take off the heat.

9.) Separate the eggs into two separate bowls

10.) Juice the lemons into another bowl

11.) Whisk up the egg whites until beginning to froth. Add in the egg yolks and lemons and whisk together.

12.) Add ladlefuls of the stock to the egg, whisking between each spoon.

13.) Carry on until half the stock is whisked into the egg.

14.) Then, add ladlefuls of the egg mixture back into the soup and whisk between each until it’s all incorporated.

15.) Put back onto the heat and simmer until the noodles are cooked

16.) Add the chicken pieces, courgette and onion back into the soup, season, stir and serve.

laksa

Summer may not be the usual season for laksa but Manchester has been living up to its reputation with constant rain. This really is a beautiful dish in taste if not looks. The origin of laksa is not known but it’s somewhere within South-East Asia. I’m avoiding European food until the Euros are over now – I don’t want to be posting an Italian recipe if England have just been beaten by them in the Euros – fingers crossed for tomorrow. (I still can’t get over the fact that one of the Italian players is called Immobile). I subbed some of the noodles with konjac noodles – a few too many pub trips watching the football has not been great for my waistline but konjac noodles work really well within the right recipe and the broth here is so packed with flavour you don’t notice. The recipe was from ‘Nigel Slater – ‘Tender’ ‘, my favourite British celebrity chef (not counting the actual hilarity of Gordan Ramsey’s USA Kitchen Nightmares’).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 350g squash (I used a mixture of squash and sweet potato – ready chopped)
  • coriander and mint leaves as a garnish
  • 2 birds eye chillis (or others with a 3/5 spice rating)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • thumb sized piece ginger
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (1 tsp paste)
  • 15g coriander leaves (mix of leaves and stalks)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 600ml stock (I used Massel chicken flavoured stock)
  • 1 tin light coconut milk
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 100g noodles

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Spread the cubed squash on a baking tray, season and roast for 25 minutes.

3.) In the meantime, make the paste by peeling the ginger and garlic, chopping the chilli stalks off. Add these to a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and add the lemongrass (chopped stalks or paste) and 15g coriander. Blitz or pound to a paste – it should be vibrant green. Then add the sesame oil.

4.) Heat a crockpot, add the paste and fry on a low heat for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, make up the stock then add this and the coconut milk to the pan.

5.) Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

6.) Chop up the broccoli.

7.) Add the noodles and broccoli continue to simmer until cooked. Slice the lime in half. Chop up the coriander and mint leaves.

8.) Add the fish sauce, the soy sauce, squeeze in the juice of the lime. Tip in the cubes of squash. Give it a stir then serve in bowls. Garnish with mint and coriander.

Asparagus and Crab meat Soup

When I was a kid I loved Chinese food as I had good access to it with all the Chinese takeaways. Over time, that love has broadened to include many more cuisines from South East Asia as I’ve had more exposure. Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Thai food I also now love though I await the day when vegetarian versions of Char Sui Buns are readily available (yes I should make some!). All these cuisines have a few things in common for me – they have a few central ingredients which are used to create many different dishes, they’re fresh, flavourful, healthy, quick to make and the meat recipes are generally quite easy to substitute. This recipe from ‘The Vietnamese Market Cookbook’ is a great example of this.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Chicken flavoured stock
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 200g crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • rice noodles (I didn’t measure these – enough for 4 – I really like the wide strip ones)
  • 1 punnet of shitake mushrooms
  • pepper
  • coriander leaves

Method

1.) Peel and chop up the onion

2.) Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and fry the onion until soft

3.) Boil some water and make up 1.5 litres stock

4.) Add the crabmeat to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes then add the fish sauce and fry for one more minute

5.) Pour in the stock and turn up the heat

6.) Slice up the mushrooms and asparagus and add to the pan with the rice noodles. Reserve the tips of the asparagus as they cook quicker.

7.) Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes until the noodles are soft, after 3 minutes, add the asparagus tips. While this is cooking, chop up the coriander leaves.

8.) When the soup is done, sprinkle in some pepper. Serve up with a garnish of coriander.