Tag Archives: Soups

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup

A wee while ago, one of my Random Recipe entries was a slightly disappointing celeriac soup.  It was just… bland.  In that post, I decided to root for (badum-tschhhh!  Don’t judge, it’s been a tiring week…) this rather neglected vegetable and would attempt to find a non-bland celeriac soup recipe.  Then I moved to NZ and got completely distracted by other things.  (Ehm, so when I said that it was a wee while ago, it was actually at least 18 months ago.)  The celeriac soup mission was put on hold.  Not that it was a mission that I had been taking particularly seriously.

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup 1

Last weekend I came across some celeriac halves going cheap.  It was obviously fate.  Or a simple case of an ugly vegetable not getting much love.  I bought some, and proceeded to try out a celeriac soup recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! which also involved fennel and orange, a combination which intrigued me.  It turned out far tastier than that original uninspiring celeriac soup.  The fennel adds a slight aniseedy taste (but not overpoweringly so – luckily, because I’m not really a fan of a strong aniseed flavour), and the orange adds some subtle pep.  It seems that I’ve solved the bland celeriac soup issue – mission accomplished, hurrah!  (Although I’m happy to try out any other interesting celeriac soup suggestions.)  I’m still stuck on how to take interesting photos of beige soup though.

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup 2

Celeriac, fennel & orange soup

Serves 4-5
Slightly adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday!

If adding more stock or water to smooth the soup out (I should have done this but didn’t), using milk would probably make the soup a little more velvety.  I expect that this soup would freeze quite well, just freeze it at the end of step 4, before adding any dairy products.

Ingredients

750g fennel bulbs
250g celeriac (about ¼-½ a celeriac)
4 large shallots or 1 medium onion
Extra virgin olive oil
2 oranges
500ml vegetable stock
5 tbsp crème fraîche, to serve

Directions

1.  Trim and slice the fennel bulbs, keeping any feathery fronds aside to serve.  Peel the celeriac and chop into about 1.5cm cubes (the cubes don’t have to be perfect, but fairly similar is ideal).  Peel and slice the shallots (or onion).

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or pot over a medium heat.  Sweat the shallots for a few minutes, then add the fennel and celeriac and stir well.  Cover and sweat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

3.  Zest and juice the oranges.  Add to the pot along with the stock and some salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 mins until all the vegetables are cooked and tender.  Remove from the heat.

4.  Blend the soup, either in a food processor or with a stick blender.  If the soup is too thick, add a tiny bit of stock or water (mine came out very thick, I should have added a little more stock to it at this point).

5.  Reheat the soup if necessary, check the seasoning and serve hot, with a dollop of crème fraîche in each bowl and scattered with any reserved fennel fronds and a good dose of freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy!

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Wonderfully wintery parsnip & ginger soup

Yesterday was the winter solstice.  Shortest day of the year, and rather cold to boot.  That said, our 9°C and intermittent downpours was rather paltry in comparison to a large part of the rest of the country which was either snowed under or being battered by truly ferocious winds (or both).  Given the large swathes of the country that are (still) cut off or without power, I can hardly complain.  Instead, I think we can all just agree that 9°C is excellent soup weather.

Parsnip & ginger soup 1

Random RecipesFor this month’s Random Recipes challenge, Dom chose the theme of “healthy & happy” – poor Dom has had a bit of a rough time of it lately, so healthy recipes are the order of the day over at Belleau Kitchen at the moment.  I plucked my copy of River Cottage Veg Everyday! off the shelf on the basis that vegetables = healthy  (I would obviously make an excellent nutritionist), followed the instructions of the random number button on my calculator and landed on on page 157: parsnip and ginger soup.  Excellent choice, calculator – soup certainly makes me happy in this weather, and ginger is full of health benefits, so that’s both bases covered.  Sure, there’s milk and a wee bit of cream in it, but I’m all about dairy products, so that makes me happy, too.  And calcium is important, right?

I love creamy, velvety soups, so this one was definitely right up my street.  The ginger is really what makes this soup – it adds a fiery dimension, and is definitely warming.  I had more ginger in the cupboard than specified in the recipe and decided to throw it all in, which was slightly too keen – it may have blown my socks off, but I guess at least it cleared my sinuses.  So I’ve given the quantities specified in the original recipe, not the ones I used.

Parsnip & ginger soup 2

Parsnip & ginger soup

Serves 4-6
Adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday!

The ginger is quite fiery (and thus warming – excellent for winter!), so the amount you should add will depend on your taste.  If you want to freeze the soup, do so at the end of step 3, before adding the milk.  You can add either unsweetened yoghurt or double cream to serve – I personally preferred the yoghurt option as I found it cut through the fieriness of the ginger rather nicely.

Ingredients

500g parsnips
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
4-5 cm piece of ginger
Extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp Cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
500ml vegetable stock
200ml whole milk
2-3 tbsp flaked almonds, to serve
1-2 tbsp thick unsweetened yoghurt or double cream, to serve

Directions

1.  Prepare the vegetables.  Peel the parsnips and chop into roughly 1cm cubes, set aside.  Peel and finely chop the onion, set aside.  Finally, peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger (top tip for peeling ginger: use a teaspoon.  Sounds really odd, I know, but it works wonderfully), set aside.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat.  Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent.  Add the garlic, ginger and spices, and stir for a few minutes before adding the parsnips.  Stir to coat the parsnips with the spices.  Add the stock and 300ml of water, season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 15 mins until the parsnips are very soft.

3.  Remove the soup from the heat and blend either in a food processor or using a stick blender, until smooth and velvety.

4.  Return the soup to a low heat, add the milk and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Whilst the soup is warming, toast the flaked almonds in a small frying pan, until just golden.

5.  Serve immediately, adding a drizzle of cream or yoghurt to each bowl, and topping with the toasted almonds.

Enjoy!

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Cocorico! C’était le 14 juillet!

Saturday was the 14th of July, France’s national day, or Bastille day as it seems to be called in English.  In French, we just call it le 14 juillet, and it is, obviously, a day of national celebration.  This post was actually planned for Saturday, but my photo editing program decided to go on strike, presumably in honour of France, so that obviously didn’t happen.  But today’s recipe is worth the three-day delay (and pre-recipe rambling), I promise.  Whenever we spent le 14 juillet in France, my main memories are of food, followed by fireworks.  Always a winning combination.  Ordinarily, I’d have probably thrown a dinner party for le 14 juillet, but aside from the minor logistical issue of only having a tiny dining table with a grand total of two chairs, one of my labmates was having a birthday party in the evening.  I also had a friend staying for the weekend, and we had various things planned, resulting in a busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend, which included discovering a new farmers’ market and a wine tasting (always a win).

The closest we got to something specifically French-oriented was going to see a so-dreadful-it-was-hilarious stage version of ‘Allo ‘Allo.  My other little nod to le 14 juillet was my party contribution in the form of madeleines (which are not the subject of today’s blog post… apologies if you got your hopes up there!).  However, if I had been hosting a 14 juillet dinner party, I’d have made soup for starters (remember it’s winter here), specifically sweet potato and pear soup, which isn’t especially French, but is utterly delicious.

This is actually one of my favourite soups, because it’s wonderfully smooth and creamy, which I adore.  The combination of sweet potato and pear may sound a little strange, but it results in a very refined flavour, making this soup a perfect dinner party starter, with the added bonus that it can be prepared in advance.  It’s so delicious that it would be a shame to restrict this soup to just dinner parties though, particularly since it’s so easy to make.  In fact, this was the soup that Kat and I had after spending several hours in the snow queuing for Christmas Ball tickets and discussing my idea to start a blog.  Certainly not a dinner party, but definitely what we needed to warm up on that wintery day!  Since sweet potatoes and pears are currently in season here in NZ, this is my entry to this month’s Simple and in Season blog event, which was started by Ren at Fabulicious Food, and currently hosted by Homemade by Fleur.

Sweet potato & pear soup

Serves 4
Adapted from my mum’s recipe

Make sure you blend the soup to within an inch of its life, because this soup is all about the smooth creaminess, which is what makes it feel quite light.  If the soup is too thick for your liking, just add a little bit of water and mix well before adding the cream.  This soup freezes really well – freeze at the end of step 4, before adding the cream, and then once defrosted, heat the soup up and just add the cream right before serving.

Ingredients

1 small onion
800g orange sweet potatoes (orange kumara)
2 pears (Doyenné de Comice if you can get them)
800ml vegetable stock or water
200ml crème fraîche
A few sage leaves to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Dice the onion.  Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and pears.

2.  Sweat the onion in some butter in a large saucepan or pot for a few minutes, but don’t allow it to brown.  Add the sweet potato and pear and allow to cook for about 5 mins, stirring often.

3.  Add the vegetable stock (if you don’t have any, you can just use water) and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for about 20 mins.

4.  Remove from the heat and blend until perfectly smooth.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and return to the heat if necessary.

5.  Swirl a big spoonful of crème fraîche into each bowl and garnish with a couple of sage leaves before serving.

Enjoy and I hope you had a wonderful 14 juillet!

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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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