Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Green Pea, Lettuce and Mint Soup

The other day I was looking for a recipe for a soup I could serve cold, as it has been far too hot and humid for one that had to be served hot. So I had a look through my recipe books and came across my copy of the New Covent Garden Soup Company’s Book of Soups. It had some wonderful recipes and I chose this one. So I had a go and found that it wasn’t good. It was absolutely delicious. And very easy to make. So, here it is.

Green Pea, Lettuce and Mint Soup

50g (2 oz) butter
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
350g (12 oz) potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
900 ml (1.5 pints) light chicken stock
2 handfuls lettuce leaves, about 200 g (7 oz)
125 g (4.5 oz) fresh or frozen peas
leaves of a small bunch of mint, shredded
150 ml (1/4 pint) single cream
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter and cook the onion and garlic gently until soft in a covered saucepan, without colouring. Add the potatoes and stock. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the lettuce leaves, peas and mint. Cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Cool a little then liquidise the soup. Stir in the cream and add a little more water if you think it necessary to achieve the correct consistency. Season as necessary. Serve.

I used the type of lettuce with virtually no heart. I think that if I was using lettuces which have large hearts then I would shred them before cooking them.
I used frozen peas and when I looked at the mixture cooking in the pan thought that it would need many more peas. I was wrong – they added just the right amount of flavour to the soup.
The recipe says that you can serve the soup cold or warm. But I haven’t tasted it warm yet. I will do so. The recipe is so simple and quick and tastes so delicious I will certainly make it again.
I wanted to include a picture of the book’s cover but couldn’t find it online so I assume that my version of the book is not being published now although I see on Amazon that other books by the same company are being published.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Root Soup

This is a great favourite of mine, easy to make and nice and warming so great for the winter. I found the recipe in a favourite recipe book I bought from here, although I've adapted the recipe slightly to suit my own tastes.

250g parsnips
250g sweet potatoes
250g carrots
150g red onions
150g leeks
150g celery
1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
1.5 teaspoons crushed dried chilli
salt & pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
25g butter
1.5 litres vegetable stock or water

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C; 375 F. Peel, trim and chop all the vegetables.

Put the parsnips and sweet potatoes in a baking tray with half the carrots. Add the spices, some seasoning and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and shake the tray until the veg are thoroughly coated. Put the tray in the oven and cook until the veg are fully done, about 45 minutes.

In a large pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the butter over a gentle heat. Cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then add the remaining carrot, with the celery and leeks. Season with pepper, cover the pan and soften the vegetables for about 20 minutes.

Add the stock/water, the roasted vegetables and plenty of salt and then simmer for a further 10 minutes. Cool slightly and then liquidise until smooth.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

I make this quite frequently at home as it's both popular and delicious. It's also easy to make.

I kilo sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons curry powder, amount to your own taste
1.2 litres vegetable stock
1 400 gram tin butter beans

Heat the oil in a pan add the sweet potato, onion and some salt & pepper, stir well. Put the lid on the pan and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder, stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked. Turn the heat out and add the tin of butter beans. Cool for a few minutes then bled/liquidise until the mixture is smooth. Check the seasoning.


I find that if I make the soup the day before we want to eat it, cool it completely, put it in a bowl and in the fridge overnight that the flavours have a chance to mature and develop.

Adding the whole tin of butter beans makes the soup very thick. If you'd like something a bit thinner then drain the liquid and rinse the beans before adding them to the soup.

Chicken and Watercress Soup

Here is a recipe that is very popular with the Husband. It's also cheap and easy to make and adaptable as you can add other ingredients to the finished soup. I've thrown in a handful of frozen sweetcorn into the soup in the past and to the batch I made this week I added a leftover sweet potato, peeled and diced, and just simmered it in the soup until it was cooked - it made a really good addition to the chicken and the watercress.

1 kg chicken wings
1 medium white onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

1 large potato, peeled and diced
the chickenmeat from the stock (excluding the bones and skin)
salt and pepper to taste
bunch or bag of watercress

To make the stock put the chicken wings in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then drain and rinse with fresh water to get rid of the excess fat. Then place the wings in a clean pot, cover with cold water again and add the other stock ingredients and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for an hour. Be sure to remove any fat that comes to the surface. Add a little extra water if the level falls below the bones.

Pass the stock though a sieve into another clean pot. Bring to the boil and add the diced potato. Simmer until the potato breaks down and thickens the soup (I cheat and use a potato masher when it's cooked).

While you are doing this pick the meat off the chicken wings, discarding the bones and skin. Add the chicken meat to the soup base and season with salt and pepper.

To serve chop up a few stalks of watercress and put them in the soup bowls and add the soup. Within seconds they are part of the soup. Delicious.

A cooling summer soup

Last summer after weeks of hot weather and high humidity I was looking for cooling summer recipes - there is a limit to the amount of salads you can eat, day after day for weeks on end. So I went looking for a good cooling recipe that didn't take too much cooking and found one in Delia Smith's book on "Soups". Basically it is half a pint of natural unsweetened yoghurt put in a blender with two peeled and sliced cucumbers, 5 fl oz of soured cream and garlic cloves, blended until smooth and then seasoned, put in a tureen add 2 teaspoons of chopped mint stir and then chill until really cold and then serve.

Anyway, the blessed Delia always suggests too small portions of garlic - for example she suggests 1 clove in her Minestrone recipe when I find we need 5-6 cloves. So with this I used about 5 good sized cloves which proved far too much and so it's a good thing that we both ate it. However, the recipe is nice and refreshing in this hot weather and I'll certainly try it again only with slightly less garlic. Oh, her recipe also suggests adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice - not a good idea as it curdles the mixtrue, although it makes no difference to the taste.

My Very Easy Gazpacho Recipe

I was looking for a Gazpacho recipe for a nice chilled soup recipe in this hot weather. I found lots of recipes for it but decided in the end to devise one based on the major ingredients in most recipes. I didn't want all the faff of peeling loads of tomatoes and removing their seeds. So, I went for something simple and so here is a nice easy way of making Gazpacho:

I blended together until smooth a 500ml carton of Passata, a peeled cucumber, half a green pepper, a few spring onions and a handful of chives. Then I added some salt, freshly ground pepper a good slosh of Worcester Sauce and passed the Tabasco Sauce bottle over the mixture. Then I just poured the lot into a bowl and added a litre of tomato juice, mixed well and then put in the fridge to cool.

I had meant to add some garlic but just forgot -but it didn't need it. It is really nice and spicy and well worth doing again.

Easy Apple Cake

1 lb (450 g) cooking apples
6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
6 oz (175 g) sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
4 oz (100 g) butter, melted
sugar to sprinkle over

Heat the oven to 350 F, 180 C, Gas Mark 4 and line with greased greaseproof paper an 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and keep them in a bowl of water. Put the flour, baking powder and sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat together the eggs and the almond essence and stir them into the flour, then add the melted butter. Mix together well and spread half the mixture into the cake tin.

Drain and dry the apples on kitchen paper and arrange them onto the cake mixture. then top with the rest of the cake mixture (the butter will have congealed by now and so the mixture will need to be spread over the apples but if the apples show through at the end it doesn't really atter).

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes until golden and slightly shrunk from the sides of the tin. Leave to cook for 15 minutes and then turn out and remove the greaseprooof paper. Sift over the sugar. Serve either warm or cold.

Delicious either as a dessert with custard or cream or alternatively as a cake at teatime.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lemon Linguini and Chocolate Pots

Lemon Linguini
(from Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat")

750g linguini
2 egg yolks
150 ml double cream
50g freshly grated parmesan
zest and juice of 1 lemon
15g butter
parsley, chopped

Cook the linguini according to the instructions on the packet.
In a bowl mix together the egg yolks, grated parmesan, zest and juice of the lemon, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Beat together with a fork.
When the linguini is cooked drain, retaining a small amount of the cooking liquid. Put the linguini back in the pan throw in the butter and swirl it about until each strand is coated with the melted butter. Then add the parmesan/lemon mixture and stir into the pasta. Add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water only if the mixture looks a bit dry - otherwise don't bother.
Serve immediately, preferably with a green salad, with chopped parsley on top of the pasta.

The recipe is actually for six - I cut it down for the three of us.
The idea is for the sauce to taste subtly of lemon - add more or reduce the amount of lemon juice appropriately.
Nigella states in the book that this is best with linguini pasta - and that it would not work properly with something as fine as angelhair pasta. I suggest that you experiment, though.

Chocolate Pots
(from "The Return of the Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver)

half pint single cream
200 g (7 0z) best cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons brandy, the best you can get
20g (3/4 oz) butter

In a thick-bottomed pan heat the cream until nearly boiling. Remove from the heat, leave for 1 minute then add the chocolate. Stir in until melted and smooth. Once melted stir in the egg yolks and brandy, stir until smooth. Leave to cool slightly before stirring in the butter until the mixture is smooth.
Pour into individual serving pots.

Serves four. It is very, very rich - so serve only a small amount per person.
I used Cointreau instead of brandy, which worked well with the chocolate/cream mixture.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Celery and Nutmeg Soup

Tesco has recently had celery on special offer, so today I decided to experiment. I used the Vichysoise Soup recipe I posted here on 28 September and used that, only replacing the leeks with a couple of heads of celery (well, the stalks of course!). Otherwise I followed the recipe and then, after I had blended it to make it smooth I added about half a teaspoon of grated nutmeg. Delicious.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Parmesan Parsnips

We usually have these with Christmas Dinner, delicious and they can be prepared beforehand to cut down on the fuss on the day.

2.5 lbs parsnips
6 oz plain flour
2 oz parmesan, freshly grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sunflower oil
knob of butter
  1. Mix together the parmesan, flour, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  2. Peel and halve the parsnips then quarter them lengthways then cut each quater into smallish chunks. Cut out any woody centres.
  3. Put the parsnips into a saucepan with enough boiling water to cover them and add salt. Parboil them for 3 minutes while you get a large kitchen tray ready.
  4. As soon as they are ready drain in a colander and drop them, while still steaming, into the flour and parmesan mixture making sure each chunk gets thoroughly coated with the mixture. (N.B. Make sure they are steaming at this stage as this is the easiest way to get them covered with the mixture.) Then transfer them to the tray.
  5. Heat the oil in the oven and roast them above the roasting turkey/meat for 20 minutes then turn them over and continue to roast for a further 15-20 minutes.

After Stage 4 has been completed they can be prepared ahead, storing in the fridge for about 24 hours. Alternatively they can be frozen at this stage. Make sure they are fully defrosted before being put in the oven.The recipe states that sweet potatoes can be used instead of parsnips but I have not tried this.

The Most Delicious Drink in the World

This recipe is not for slimmers. But at this time of the year it is nice to indulge yourself a little. Enjoy!

For each big latte mug you will need:
300 ml (I/2 pint) of "gold top" Channel Islands or Devon full fat milk
100 gm bar of Green and Black's "Maya Gold" dark chocolate with orange and spices
50 ml of Cointreau (or other good orange liqueur)

Bring the milk gently almost to the boil. In the meantime break all the chocolate up into squares and place in a liquidiser , blender or food processor and pour the liqueur over the top of it. When the milk has almost boiled, pour it over the chocolate/liqueur and blitz this carefully (it's hot and will give off a lot of steam) until it is frothy. Then pour into your mug and sit back and savour.

Don't be tempted to skimp on the ingredients. You do need creamy milk and very good chocolate. But I suppose you could stretch it by pouring some whipped cream on the top of the finished drink in the mug, and then sieving a light dusting of cocoa powder on top of that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Parsnip and Baked Apple Soup

I came across this recipe last week when looking through Tamasin Day-Lewis' book "Good Tempered Food" and tried it out on the Husband. He raved about it and said it was really delicious and when was I going to make it again. Soon, dear. It is easy to make too.

Parsnip and Baked Apple Soup
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
750g parsnips, peeled and diced
1 large cooking apple
2oz butter
1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
6 sage leaves
salt, pepper, parsley leaves

1. Score the apple around its circumference, core it and bake it in a dish with about 1/2 inch water and NO sugar. Bake in a hot oven until tender right through.
2. Sweat the onion and parsnips in the melted butter for 10-15 minutes with some seasoning. Then pour on the stock and sage and simmer until tender. Fish out the sage leaves. Peel the baked apple and add it to the mixture. Liquidise until smooth. Check the seasoning and add some chopped parsley and a little cream if you wish. Serve.