Tag Archives: Potato

Pear, pancetta & Stilton soup

I’m half British, so it’s only reasonable to bring up the weather from time to time.  You may have heard about the storm that battered Scotland and northern England yesterday (obviously if you live in Scotland or northern England, you’ll be well aware of it).  Unofficially christened “Hurricane Bawbag” on Twitter – it became a trending topic, probably confusing most of the rest of the world, and a Twitter account, facebook page and Wikipedia entry were all quickly established for it – the storm was responsible for a lot of travel disruption and general chaos (something like ⅔ of schools in Scotland didn’t open or closed early).  I was supposed to go up to St Andrews for the afternoon, and because I’m stupidly stubborn I decided that I would attempt it anyway, despite the red weather warnings issued (did I mention that I’m stubborn?).  I didn’t get any further than Edinburgh Bus Station though – thanks to gusts reaching up to 135 km/h, all bridges into Fife were closed and all the buses were cancelled.  So I’m going up this afternoon instead.  Hopefully I’ll be en route when this post is published…  (Fingers crossed!)

Now, cold, wet, windy and just generally thoroughly miserable weather is usually soup weather…  Last month’s Random Recipe challenge was supposed to be a soup.  The first recipe that I’d randomly picked was for pear, pancetta and Stilton soup, which sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait to try it…  Until I realised that it’s really not vegetarian, which was one of the stipulations of the challenge.  Of course, I could have just removed the pancetta and used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock in order to rectify that, but it seemed wrong to just completely remove one of the title ingredients.  So I bookmarked the recipe and randomly picked a different one for the challenge.  Usually when I bookmark something, I forget about it more or less immediately and then happen across it several months later when none of the ingredients are in season anymore, but I was so intrigued by this combination that I actually remembered about it!

It turned out to be absolutely delicious!!  It’s definitely a bit unusual, and if you don’t like sweet and savoury flavours in the same dish then this probably isn’t for you, but against my expectations, the flavours work perfectly.  The saltiness of the pancetta and the Stilton perfectly counterbalance the sweetness of the pears.  I’m glad I didn’t remove the pancetta to make it vegetarian because I’m not sure how well the soup would work without that dimension of flavour.  Certainly the pancetta would have to be substituted for something equally strong and salty in taste, but I’m not really sure what exactly would fit the bill.  Non-vegetarians though, I certainly recommend trying this out.  I think I might trot it out at my next dinner party (although due to the living-at-home situation, combined with the only-knowing-two-people-in-Edinburgh situation, I’m unlikely to be having a dinner party any time soon…!), depending on whether my guests are into the sweet and savoury combination or not.

Pear, pancetta & Stilton soup

Serves 4-6
Recipe adapted from Food 52

This soup is very much a balance of sweet and savoury.  The strong salty flavours of the pancetta and Stilton counteract the sweetness of the pears.  Half of the pancetta that I used was smoked and it did add a lovely subtle flavour to the soup – if you can get some, I’d definitely recommend using it.  My mum thought she might prefer the Stilton to be blended into the soup, but I preferred it sprinkled over the top as in the recipe – I think that it just comes down to a matter of preference, but adding the Stilton at the end does give some control of the strength of the flavour if somebody isn’t too keen on it.

Ingredients

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
225g potatoes (this was 1 large potato)
1 carrot
160g pancetta (half of it was oak-smoked pancetta)
1 tbsp honey
5 pears
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground nutmeg
700 ml chicken stock
120 ml crème fraîche
100g Stilton

Directions

1.  Chop the onions and set aside.  Finely chop the garlic clove and set aside with the cubed potatoes and sliced carrot.  Peel, core and roughly cube the pears and set aside.

2.  Fry the pancetta in a large pot.  Once crispy, remove to a plate lined with a paper towel (to allow to drain) using a slotted spoon.

3.  Remove all but 1 tbsp of fat from the pot (don’t pour it down the sink – the fat may solidify and block your sink).  Add the butter and return to the heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the onion and sweat for about 10 mins over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until softened but not browned.  Add the garlic, potato and carrot and cover.  Cook for a further 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

4.  Add the honey, pear, thyme, nutmeg and a good pinch of salt, stirring well to coat the pears in the honey and spices.  Cook for 5 mins, stirring frequently.  Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and turn the heat down to low.  Cover and simmer for about 15 mins until the potatoes and pears are cooked.

5.  Blend the soup until smooth and velvety, either in batches in a blender or using an immersion blender.  Return to the pot if necessary, and stir in the crème fraîche.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I found the pepper to be a largely unnecessary addition).

6.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve sprinkled with the pancetta and crumbled Stilton.

Enjoy!

 

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Random Recipe #10: Celeriac soup

Here in the Northern hemisphere, it’s definitely soup season.  So it’s very apt that for this month’s Random Recipe challenge, Dom has teemed up with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes who runs the No Croutons Required blog challenge, which involves sharing a vegetarian soup or salad recipe.  The rules for the joint challenge were simple: we had to randomly choose a soup (or salad – but I’m very definitely sticking to soup for this one) from our cookery books, and then make it.  Oh, and the soup also had to be vegetarian.  Easy-peasy.  Or so I thought…  Most of my cookery books are oriented towards desserts and baking, or specific foodstuffs like muffins or macarons, so it turns out that soup recipes are rather few and far between.  But I have a fair amount of soup recipes that I’ve collected from magazines or blogs, so I decided to randomly choose one of those instead.  A random number generator directed me to a rather delicious-sounding pear soup with pancetta and blue cheese soup, and I was looking forward to trying it out.  Until I noticed that one of the main ingredients is pancetta (I know, it’s in the title of the recipe – how did I not notice??), which makes it very much not vegetarian.  I randomly chose a further three recipes, none of which were vegetarian either (who knew there were so many non-vegetarian soups?!) and was starting to get rather frustrated at this point.  So I switched tactics, and randomly picked a recipe from my mum’s folder of recipes (it’s still a randomly chosen recipe, so I’m not breaking the rules or anything… right?).

The recipe I chose was for celeriac soup, and was definitely vegetarian.  Success!  It’s a recipe that my mum had quickly noted down whilst watching a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cookery programme a while ago.  Up until we made the soup, I’d always thought that celeriac and celery were the same thing (namely celery sticks), and were maybe just an American/British vocabulary difference or something.  Turns out they’re not the same thing at all.  Well, I mean they’re both from the same plant, but they are different parts.  As my mum put it, celeriac tends to get a bit neglected because it’s ugly (it’s the big round thing that isn’t an onion or a potato in the photo above) and people don’t necessarily know what to do with it.  Or know that it exists, if you’re me.  I don’t really know how I’d describe the taste.  I was sort of expecting it to taste a bit like celery sticks or something.  Thankfully it doesn’t (since they taste of approximately nothing), but it doesn’t have a particularly strong taste.  The soup was good, but I wouldn’t say it was ground-breaking.  Because I’d never really had celeriac soup before, it was different, but ultimately, it was a bit on the bland side, and I’m not sure what I’d add to bring the flavours out better.  But it hasn’t put me off from trying other celeriac soup recipes.  In fact, I’m rather determined to find a delicious one!  Not by the challenge deadline though, so this will have to do for now…

Celeriac soup

Serves 4-5
Adapted from a Hugh F-W recipe in my mum’s folder of recipes

Whilst this soup is good, it is a bit bland on the bland side and needs something to lift the flavour, though I’m not sure quite what (not very helpful, I know – suggestions on a postcard in the comments welcome).  The original recipe called for vegetable stock rather than water, but we felt that the flavour of the stock might over-power the fairly mild taste of the celeriac.  Perhaps we were wrong and the vegetable stock would have improved the soup.

Ingredients

1 small leek
1 celeriac
1 potato
2 small onions
1 garlic clove
Ground nutmeg, to serve (optional)

Directions

1.  Slice the leek and peel and dice the celeriac, potato, onions and garlic (none of these have to be diced or sliced perfectly evenly – it’s all going to be blended at the end…).

2.  Melt some butter in a large pot on a medium-low heat, add the vegetables to soften for about 10 mins, stirring frequently so that the vegetables don’t colour.

3.  Add just over 1 litre of water to the pot (the amount of water that you add depends on how thick you want your soup.  Make sure that there is enough to cover the vegetables though – we used about 1.1 litre), cover and simmer for about 30-35 mins until the vegetables are cooked and tender.

4.  Remove from the heat, season and either pour into a blender or use a hand-held immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Return the blended soup to the heat until heated through and serve immediately, with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg and fresh bread on the side.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #8: Three-cheese summer vegetable bake

I have a minor confession: I’m ever-so-slightly addicted to food magazines.  There are worse things to be addicted to though, so it’s all good (flawless logic).  Also, I’m not addicted to any-and-every food magazine out there, oh no, I’m quite picky – it has to be well laid-out and intelligently written, have lots of mouth-watering photos, contain a majority of recipes that I’m actually likely to make and I have to be confident that the recipes will work.  For this month’s Random Recipe challenge, we had to randomly pick a recipe from our collection of magazines or recipe cuttings (we all have them!).  My recipe cuttings are in several different folders and I have some saved on my laptop and some still saved on my old laptop because I haven’t quite got round to transferring them, making randomly choosing a recipe rather impractical.  So I decided to go for the magazine option.

I may or may not have slightly flouted the rules and not picked my magazine randomly.  All with good reason though.  See, to justify my food magazine habit, I’ve made a rule for myself: if I buy a food magazine, I have to try at least two recipes from it (though nothing happens if I don’t).  So I picked out the September 2011 issue of delicious. because A) I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet and B) we’re in September so it should have seasonal recipes in it (if I’d had September issues from previous years, I’d have mixed them all up and chosen one randomly).  Out came the trusty calculator with its random number generator which pointed me to page 19: a mouth-watering photo of a three-cheese summer vegetable bake.  Sounds yummy to me!

It turned out to be very yummy indeed, although there seemed to be an issue with the stated cooking times because they were certainly not long enough to cook all the vegetables (especially the potatoes) through.  Which disappointed me somewhat I’ve never had an issue with the recipes in delicious. before.  Have I just been lucky up until now?  It was hardly a disaster though – on taking the bake out of the oven to remove the foil and scatter the cheese over the top, it was quite obvious that the vegetables weren’t nearly cooked enough, so it went back in the oven for a little while.  No biggie.  Except that we had lunch (which we eat as our main meal, French-style) rather later than planned.  Once it came out of the oven properly cooked, it was rather delicious, filling but not too heavy, which is always a good thing!  Since the recipe uses seasonal vegetables, I’m also submitting it to this month’s Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food.

Three-cheese summer vegetable bake

Serves 4
Adapted from delicious. (September 2011)

I love the combination of vegetables in this dish – I don’t really tend to use fennel much, so it’s something a little different.  I also really liked that this dish was filling, but not too heavy.  I had to increase the cooking times quite significantly to the ones given here so that the vegetables (particularly the potatoes) were cooked through, so do be aware of that, and if you don’t think it’s quite cooked enough, don’t be afraid to pop it back in the oven for another 10 mins or so!

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb
2 large potatoes
1 courgette
1 red pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
Handful fresh parsley
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
100g smoked ham
100g ricotta
250g mozzarella ball
50g parmesan

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Finely slice the fennel bulb, potatoes, courgette and de-seeded red pepper and finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and fresh parsley.  Mix them all together in a bowl with the flour and season well.

3.  Place a third of the vegetable mix in a large ovenproof dish.  Tear the ham into pieces and scatter half of it over the vegetables.  Scatter half of the ricotta and a third of the torn mozzarella over the top of the ham.  Cover with half the remaining vegetable mix, followed by the remaining ham, remaining ricotta and half the remaining mozzarella.  Evenly scatter the remaining vegetable mix over the top.  Set the left over mozzarella aside for later.

4.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour, before removing the foil and scattering the grated parmesan and remaining mozzarella.  Bake for a further 30-35 mins until golden.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods