Wonton Noodle Soup

Wonton noodle soup has always been a great comfort food to me. Generally I’m disappointed by vegetarian dumplings so I was happy to find such a great recipe for them in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’. I have probably made about 2/3 of the recipes in this book and the only one that hasn’t worked was the scotch eggs – I was hugely disappointed with this as I wanted to share one of the few aspects of British food culture that’s actually good. The wontons use butternut squash as the base and miso to flavour it. Depending on what size wonton wrappers you have you will get more or less dumplings. I think I had more than the 24 stated in the recipe using 10cm wrappers.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g butternut squash
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6cm ginger
  • 80g broccoli
  • 1 tsp miso paste (the recipe recommends red but I can only ever find brown)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • wonton wrappers
  • massel chicken flavoured stock
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 nests noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 250g tofu

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.) Cut off the skin of the squash, cut into chunks. Put into a lined baking tray, sprinkle over some salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Roast the squash for 1 hour.

3.) Peel the garlic and ginger and in a food processor, add the broccoli, miso, vinegar, 1 clove of garlic and the ginger. Blitz until fine. Once the squash is roasted, add this to the food processor and blitz to combine. Set aside to cool down.

4.) Once the mixture is cool, you can start to put together the wontons. Get a bowl and fill with water. Get a pastry brush. Put each wonton wrapper on a work surface and put 1 heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the middle. Brush around the filling and then gather up the wrapper around the sides. Pinch together to seal.

5.) At this point, you can either steam the dumplings as is or cook them in a soup. To steam, place a bamboo steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for about 4 minutes.

6.) To carry on making the soup, finely dice the other clove of garlic. Fill a large pan with about 500ml of water and a tbsp of chicken flavoured stock. Bring to the boil.

7.) Add the noodles and cook for a couple of minutes and in this team finely slice the spring onion.

8.) Add the wontons to the pan and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. Cube the tofu and add this to the pan. Cook for two more minutes then add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with the spring onion and serve.

Mushroom Soup with Brunost

I met up with a good friend recently and after we’d finished scaring each other silly about the stories we’d read online about Putin having a nuke that could take out Great Britain which was planning to use for that very purpose (I almost decided to go back on my alcohol free month at this moment. Who wants their last month alive sober?), conversation turned to Brunost as she is part Danish and as I recently discovered, I am 20% Norwegian (though my thunder was stolen a bit recently when I found out my brother in law is 50% Norwegian). Brunost is a brown cheese that originates in Norway and is as popular as cheddar is here. It’s made with the parts of the cheese you’d normally discard in the cheese-making process. Of course, I had to try it so I ordered some from a Scandinavian food supplier. (It’s readily available on Amazon but I thought I would pick up some pickled herring too.) I would describe this cheese almost like a savoury fudge, it tastes caramelly and buttery. In Norway, they often serve brunost melted on toast but I decided to do something more elaborate with it. I saw a recipe on this Nordic food blog ‘North Wild Kitchen’ for mushroom soup. I am a big lover of mushrooms so it really stood out to me. Sometimes I wonder if I love mushrooms and cherries so much just because my mum hates them though to be honest she hates anything that has a flavour (red wine, blue cheese, whiskey). It was a great idea to put Brunost in this soup, it really elevates it and was worth the order from Scandinavian Kitchen.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 500g mushrooms (I used a mix of portabello and chestnut but you could go more fancy)
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 litre stock (I used Massel chicken flavour)
  • 100g brunost (I used Gudbrandsdalen)
  • 150ml double cream
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Wash and chop up the mushrooms and set aside.

2.) Peel and finely dice the shallots.

3.) In a large casserole dish, melt the butter and add the shallots and porcini.

4.) Cook for about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft.

5.) Add the mushrooms and cook for another 7 minutes.

6.) While these are cooking, grate the brunost and make up the stock.

7.) Add the stock to the casserole dish and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

8.) Add the brunost and cream and heat for a few more minutes to melt the brunost.

9.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Soup

Whilst in Paris, our friend made us a delicious rhubarb crumble and it reminded me that rhubarbs do exist as they’re so underutilised. I was hugely intrigued by this Vietnamese soup from ‘The Vietnamese Market Cookbook’ as to use rhubarb is by itself interesting but to use rhubarb in a savoury recipe is something I’ve never seen before. It seems that the authors added the rhubarb as a happy accident as they just had some rhubarb to use up. The rhubarb adds the sour element and then you get the sweetness from the pineapple. I bulked the soup out with some smoked tofu which also added some protein. I could only find tinned rhubarb but if you get the fresh stuff, do remember that the leaves are poisonous.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin rhubarb
  • 160g pineapple
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the tomatoes

2.) In a casserole dish, heat up the oil and add the garlic

3.) Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, the sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and a splash of water.

4.) Bring to the boil.

5.) Rinse the rhubarb and chop up the tofu, pineapple and the coriander leaves and spring onion,

6.) Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the water and the pineapple and bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the tofu and rhubarb and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Season with the fish sauce

9.) Serve and garnish with spring onion and coriander.

Chickpea and bulgar soup

I think it was the caraway seeds in this recipe which drew me to this soup in Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty More’. I’ve only ever really had caraway seeds in goulash and bread as I think they’re more commonly used in Eastern European food but I love their anise flavour. There’s a feta paste to serve with the soup which makes it all so much better. The recipe serves 4 but I think you can get 6 portions out of this.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 2 tbsp harissa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tins chickpeas
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 100g bulgar wheat
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 60g crème fraiche
  • 15g coriander leaves
  • 15g mint leaves

Method

1.) Peel and dice the onion.

2.) Heat the oil in a casserole dish and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and chop up the carrot and chop up the celery.

4.) Add these to the pan and cook for 8 more minutes until soft.

5.) Add the spices and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil then lower the temperature to a simmer for 10 minutes.

6.) Cover the bulgar wheat in cold water and cook this whilst the soup is simmering.

7.) Make up the feta paste by blending the crème fraiche and feta (I used an immersion blender). Finely chop the herbs and mix them into the paste with a pinch of salt.

8.) Drain the tins of chickpeas and the bulgar wheat and add to the soup and cook for a further 5 minutes.

9.) Serve some feta paste with the soup.

Garden Soup

I made this Italian garden soup just before I went on holiday to Rome with the hope of tricking myself that we’ve reached spring. That illusion has been well and truly decimated after returning to the UK in the midst of Storm Eunice. The wind speed reached 130mph in the Isle of Wight this week, trees were blowing over and some of the Millennium Dome blew away. So perfect soup weather, even a ‘Zuppa dell’Orto’ as it’s called in Italian (or even maybe for ‘Zuppa Inglese’ as I was surprised to learn means trifle in Italian). Even with the torrential rain, my crazy cat Gino was so desperate to go out after not being able to whilst we were away for 5 days that he was sitting in our garden using the plastic chair as a makeshift umbrella. I can’t say he’s inspiring me much to leave the house after he keeps coming back in the house soggy and bedraggled. This soup can be made up from leftover vegetables in your fridge so if you’re lucky you won’t have to leave the house either.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 bulbs fennel
  • 120g spinach
  • 2 tins broad beans
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 30g parmesan/pecorino

Method

1.) Peel the onion and finely chop. Heat some oil in a casserole dish and cook the onion until soft.

2.) In the meantime, chop the tomatoes in half, slice the fennel, peel and cube the potatoes and make up the stock.

3.) Add the tomatoes, fennel, spinach, tins of beans, potatoes and stock to the casserole dish.

4.) Simmer for 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

5.) Grate some cheese and add to the soup, season with salt and pepper before serving.

Curry Sweetcorn Soup

This tasty soup is another recipe from ‘Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course’ – I’m really smashing it this week but it’s another winner. Gordon uses a tin of creamed corn which I was assuming was some sort of old British staple like corned beef but the supermarket didn’t have it so I just used a normal tin of sweetcorn and added a bit of coconut cream (conveniently left over from when I made Urap Urap). I would serve this with a naan.

Serve 4

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 litre stock
  • 3 x 200g tins sweetcorn
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes/powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

1.) In a casserole pan, lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Move to a mortar and give them a mash with the pestle.

2.) Peel and dice the ginger and garlic, add them to the mortar and add the turmeric, salt and chilli. Mash everything together.

3.) Peel and finely chop the onion.

4.) Add some oil to the casserole dish and heat up. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes.

5.) Peel and chop the potato into chunks and open the tins of sweetcorn.

6.) Add the curry paste to the casserole dish and cook for another 2 minutes. Add some more oil if dry.

7.) Make up the stock.

8.) Add the potato and stir around in the casserole dish. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat then add the tins of sweetcorn, Simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato is cooked through.

9.) Add the coconut cream and stir to break it up. Blitz to a thick soup with an immersion blender.