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.

Peanut & Sweet Potato Soup

Another of my pre-Christmas healthy recipes was this lovely peanut butter and sweet potato soup that I found in ‘Vegan for Good’. Admittedly, the big dollop of sour cream isn’t particularly vegan but you can replace it with a vegan alternative if you are so inclined. I had a go at veganism and it wasn’t for me but I’m more than happy to eat a vegan meal occasionally and this is way more tasty than the dull chile con carnes you get in the pub. It’s a take on an African dish where the soup is made with ground potatoes and the sweet potatoes are served on the side. It’s very filling, as you’d expect, packed with superfoods like peanut butter, sweet potato and kale.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 onion
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 – 3 tomatoes
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes
  • 120g peanut butter
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 100g kale
  • 1 tin black beans
  • salt
  • sour cream to serve
  • fresh coriander

Method

1.) Peel and dice the onion. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan on a low heat. Add the onion to the pan with a splash of water. Cook until the onion is soft.

2.) In the meantime, peel the sweet potatoes and chop up into chunks. Chop up the tomatoes and peel and finely dice the garlic.

3.) Add the garlic, cinnamon, allspice, chilli flakes, tomatoes and sweet potato to the pan and stir to coat everything in the spice.

4.) Cook for a couple of minutes, make up the stock and weigh out the peanut butter.

5.) Add the peanut butter and stir quickly until it’s all dissolved.

6.) Add the stock, bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

7.) Blitz the soup with an immersion blender. Add the kale to the soup. Open the tin of beans, drain off the water and add that to the pan.

8.) Cook for another 5 minutes or so until the kale has wilted and the beans are hot. While this is cooking, chop up the coriander.

9.) Season the soup and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of herbs.