Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chicken Waterzooi

As promised last time, today we have the first of a few Belgian soup recipes, inspired by my recent visit to Brugge.  Sadly, as we were only there for one night, we didn't have time to sample a huge array of Belgian foodstuffs - Flemish Rabbit Stew, Frites and deep fried gravy were about the limit of what we had time for (and the obligatory waffles, chocolates and beers, of course...) but everywhere we went in the city (and we did go ALL over...) there were little restaurants selling wonderful food.

Other things we saw on menus all over were Moules (mussels) and Waterzooi.  Waterzooi is a stew or soup (Ahhh the age old question - when does something stop being a stew and start being a soup...) which can be made with chicken, mussels or other fish.

Like a lot of Belgian food, it's very rich and creamy and totally delicious. It's a sort of Flemish Cock-a-leekie, with a lot of recipes recommending using a whole chicken, although I have just stuck to using thighs which are both cheap and really tasty.  I tend to substitute them for breast in almost every recipe I cook, but you could use breast or chicken quarters in the soup.

If you have never been before, I highly reccomend a visit to Brugge - it's a beautiful place, and we had a brilliant tour round by a local gentleman who told us (amongst other things) that one ruler of the city was called Baldwin Iron Arm, who scared a bear to death*, and that they chopped off the head of a finance minister who raised taxes after promising not to (A strategy I think many people would be in favour of re-introducing...)

* This may not be entirely true - it was cold and I was tired so I may have mis-heard...

6 Chicken Thighs
2 Carrots
2 Leeks
2 Stalks of Celery
1 Onion
1 Sprig Thyme
2 Bay leaves
Chicken Stock
20g Butter
250ml Double Cream
2 Egg Yolks
Pinch of Nutmeg


1.  Peel and chop the onion, leek, celery and carrots.  Heat the butter in your soup pan and then gently sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes, until they start to soften

2. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaves and chicken thighs.  Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and then cook for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken poaches. Check that the chicken is cooked through and there is no pink left in the meat, then removed the chicken from the soup and set aside.  Let the soup cool for 10 minutes.

3.  Strip the meat from the bones and remove the skin, then cut the chicken into small pieces and return to the pan.

4.  In a bowl, mix the cream and egg yolks thoroughly, then put this in the soup pan over a gentle heat, stirring quickly, so that the mixture thickens the soup. Be careful that th egg and cream mixture doesn't cook too quickly or scramble! Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, then serve with crusty white bread.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Honey Roasted Parsnip Soup

 First off, let me apologise for there being no soup recipe last week - possibly the first time I've ever missed a post (but not really - it seems I've missed quite a few...)  Anyway, the reason for my absence was that I was in Bruges, enjoying the sights and tastes of a quite beautiful city.  I ate deep fried gravy (Bitterballen)  which has already featured on the blog, and Flemish Rabbit stew, which I shall attempt to replicate this weekend (Any Belgian readers who have a recipe, feel free to send 'em my way...) as well as many, many beers, waffles and frites.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be having a Belgian soup special, in the manner that last year we had Dutch week, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to this week's soup.  Regular readers may remember my dismay when a few weeks ago, my vegetable box did not deliver on its promise of parsnips.  Well, this week (Huzzah!!!) there be parsnips in that thar box (Did pirates eat parsnips?) so I can make parsnip soup. The vegetable box, by the way is from Yorkshire Farm Shop

The last time I tried to make parsnip soup, it was a parsnip and cranberry recipe that ended up like pink wall-paper paste, so this time I was determined to avoid repeating that mistake.  I can't stand those soups that are thick and gloopy, so I always strain through a sieve or add more stock to keep the consistency, well, soupy.

I guess you could make it without the crispy bacon bits, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken if you are a vegetarian (or 'fussy eater' as my Grandma would have put it)*

*My Grandma's views are not the views of Soup Tuesday or its writers...

450g Parsnips
1 Large Onion
1 Medium Potato
1 Medium Carrot 
1.2l Chicken Stock
2tbsp Honey
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp Grated Ginger
1/2tsp Chili Powder
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

1 Parsnip
150g Bacon

1.  Heat oven to 180ºc.  Peel the parsnips and cut into sections.  Slice the onion into wedges.

2.  In a bowl, mix the parsnips and onions then drizzle them with oil, the spices, ginger and garlic, then add the honey an mix everything together so the vegetables get coated in all the other flavours. (Really get your hands stuck in there, as Jamie would have it, or you could just use a wooden spoon and not get your hands all sticky...)

3.  Roast Onion and parsnip for 30 minutes, until everything is nice and golden brown.  Check regularly, so the parsnips don't burn.  You can always add a little more oil if you wish.

4.  Remove from the oven and allow everything to cool for a while.  Peel and cub the potato and carrot

5.  In your soup pan, heat some oil, then fry the carrot and potato until they start to brown.  Then add the stock to the pan, as well as a few sprigs of fresh thyme.  Bring the soup to the boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minute, or until all the vegetables are soft

6. Meanwhile, make your parsnip crisps for garnish.  Slice a parsnip very thinly - you could use a mandolin, but I just used a vegetable peeler.  Coat the strips in oil, season and then the oven on a baking tray, pre-heated to 160ºc for 25 minutes, turning half way through.  Also, I fried some bacon until crispy to use as a garnish as well

6.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then blend until smooth, return to the pan and heat through and serve, garnished with the parsnip crisps and crispy bacon.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Ahhhhhh!  That was the sound of panic when the doorbell rang this morning at 7.15.  Not because I was still in bed and there was someone at the door, but because the person at the door was our lovely veg box man.  Don't mis-understand me - there was nothing actually wrong with the veg box, nor the hour of its arrival (although a more fashionably late hour would suit me better)

No, the cause of my outburst was that there was meant to be parsnips in the box this week, which were going to form the basis for this weeks soup, Curried Parsnip.  Only, now bereft of parsnip, what is a boy to do?  Well, what is that I spied in the veg box, nestled under some cabbage and next to the potatoes?  Carrots?  Still covered in mud you say?  Well that gives me an idea...

I told you all a while ago about the first ever soup I made, minestrone as part of a home economics class when I was 12? Well today I'm going to tell you about the first soup I ever cooked to impress a girl...  Carrot and coriander soup.  This soup seems to be a bit of a student classic, probably because it's cheap and easy to make, healthy and quick, and there are hundreds of ways to do it.

Some people add lentils, some tomatoes, cream, sour cream, coconut milk.  It is, in a nutshell, what is brilliant about soup - it's tasty and it's very hard to mess it up.  So I thought it would be perfect for impressing a girl that I invited to come round for a meal.  It was the first time I'd ever cooked to impress, so needless to say, I was worried.

The soup simmered away, with vegetable stock as she was a vegetarian, not too much chili as she didn't like her food too spicy. The ginger and lemon a sharp counterpoint to the earthy carrots sweet tomatoes and spices.  It was perfect...

She turned up, the lights were low, the music was soft, the chat was small, and then I dished up the soup and... she loved it, was very impressed - in fact, it was the best carrot and coriander soup she'd ever tasted - even better than her friend who worked in a vegan cafe made (which was previously the pinnacle of soupy perfection for her)

I could hardly believe my luck.  Maybe there was something in this cooking malarkey after all.  And then I served the main dish - tandoori salmon, choked on a fish bone and spent the next three hours retching and coughing like a cat coughing up a hair-ball...  The girl left rather quickly after that...

500g Carrots
10 Medium Tomatoes
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Lemon (Juice Only)
750ml Chicken Stock
1 Tin Coconut Milk
1tsp Grated Ginger
1tbsp Coriander Seeds
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Chili Flakes Oregano

Balsamic Vinegar
Bunch of fresh Coriander
Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 200ºc.  Cut the tomatoes in half and de-seed.  Put them in an oven dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a pinch of dried oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar, then a pinch of salt and pepper.  Put the dish in the oven and roast the tomatoes for 35-40 minutes, until they have started to brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

2.  In a dry frying pan, heat the coriander and cumin seeds over a moderate heat for 2 minutes, until the seeds start to pop.  Transfer them to a mortar and grind.

3.  Slice the onion and fry gently in a little oil.  Add the  garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes, then add the ground cumin and coriander seeds, as well as the chili flakes and stir until everything is coated in the spices

4.  Add the tomatoes, stock and peeled sliced carrots.  Bring the soup to the boil and then cover, simmering and cooking for 30 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through

5.  Blend the soup until it's smooth and then return to the pan.  Gently heat through.

6.  Stir in the coconut milk, chopped fresh coriander and the juice of a lemon.

7.  Garnish with a few coriander leaves.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

African Chicken and Peanut Soup

Here's a little known and rather sad fact.  Mr Ed, the talking horse (of course) was often said to have been made to talk by having peanut butter smeared on his teeth.  As the horse attempted to lick it off, it looked like his mouth was moving in speech.  The truth of the matter is that the horse had wires attached to his mouth, but the animal trainer thought that the peanut butter story was more charming, child-friendly and less likely to have those pesky animal rights busy-bodies interfering. Nowadays of course, Mr Ed would be made to talk via the wonders of computer animation (and probably voiced by Eddie Murphy - which would be a good thing...)

Another little known fact is that peanut is actually a bean.

A third (and final) fact is that peanut butter is my father's least liked food in the entire world.

At least two of these facts were brought to you with the aid of Wikipedia, see if you can guess which one wasn't...

The reason, of course, for these nut-based facts was that today's soup has peanut butter as an ingredient.  I love peanut butter on toast from my breakfast, but for some reason, I'd never gotten round to using it as an ingredient in cooking before.  I now feel that I have been remiss for all this time, as it added so much to this soup.  Indeed, if anyone has any other recipes which use peanut butter, feel free to point me in their direction in the comments section below!

On the question of crunchy vs smooth, however, I leave the choice entirely up to you!

Also, I used left-over chicken from a Sunday Roast (Again) but there's no reason on that you couldn't use chicken thighs or breast if you wanted.  This is a lovely, hearty and a little bit spicy soup

450g Cooked Chicken
1 Onion
1 Small Squash
2 Red Peppers
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
3 Cloves of Garlic
3tbsp Peanut Butter
2tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Small Piece of Ginger
1tsp Chili Flakes
2tsp Curry Powder
1l Chicken stock

1. Peel and de-seed the squash then cut into cubes.  Finely chop the onion and garlic.

2. Heat some olive oil in your soup pan, then cook the onions until the soften.  Add the garlic and grated ginger, then cook of 3 minutes over a low heat.

3.  Add the squash, chopped pepper chili flakes as curry powder and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, stock and sesame oil.  Finally add the cooked chicken

4.  Bring the soup to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, before adjusting seasoning and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Beetroot Soup with Goats Cheese

By my count, this is the third soup that I've made involving Beetroot, and that's what I'm enjoying so much about writing this blog.  Even after 2 years, there are still so many soups left un-made, so many ingredients yet to so soupified and so many classics yet to be tried.

Speaking of which, I'll hopefully have a new challenge coming up in the next few weeks - along the lines of the Olympic Food Challenge, but less stressful as I'll be doing it on my own and won't have anyone else cracking the whip at me to get posts done on time, but nevertheless, should open the door to many new and interesting soup recipes - watch this space for details

All soup and no play makes Dan a dull boy...
I love beetroot, although it always looks like someone has been murdered in my kitchen, especially if there is a food blender lid malfunction, as happened today.  On the other hand, I now have free Halloween decorations in the flat - it's a scene from The Shining...

Although I started this post by saying that this is the third different soup I've made with beetroot, this could be seen as a variation of Borscht.  I'm assuming though, that Borscht has to have cabbage and/or ham in it to be proper Borscht.  If that is true, then this is a completely different soup, of not, then this is just a variation on a theme.

The vodka and horseradish give it a bit of a cheeky kick, and the sharpness of the goat's cheese is the perfect complement to the earthy sweetness of the beetroot.

750g Beetroot
800ml Beef Stock
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1tsp Fresh Thyme
1tbsp Horseradish
3tbsp Vodka
1 Large Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
Black Pepper

1.  Top and tail the beetroot, the scrub them under cold water, like you would new potatoes.

2.  Heat a large pan of water, bringing to the boil and then put the beetroot in, simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  When they are cooked through, remove from the heat, drain and allow the beetroot to cool.  Cut into cubes.

3.  Chop the onion and garlic.  Heat some olive oil in the soup pan and then fry off the onion and garlic.

4.  Add the beetroot, stock, tomatoes, thyme, horseradish and vodka to the pan, bring to the boil and then simmer.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

5.  Once the soup is cooked through, let it cool and then use a stick blender to make it nice and smooth.  Return to the pan and heat through.  Adjust seasoning and then serve.  Crumble some goats cheese on top of each bowl to garnish -  lots of goats cheese, as it tastes brilliant.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cullen Skink

On Saturday, I attended what seems to be rapidly becoming an annual tradition - Trafalgar Day (It must be a real thing, it's got its own wikipedia page...) which regular readers will remember, last year I made some hilariously inedible ships biscuits to take with me.

The good Admiral...
This year, amongst the colossal amounts of rum being drunk, and the highly inaccurate re-telling of Nelson's victory against the Villeneuve and the French (I don't remember Gerard Depardieu being a member of the Napoleonic French Navy...) we were served some lovely Fisherman's Soup (And it was very nice, thanks Mrs Atkinson) which was, to all intents and purposes Cullen Skink.

Cullen Skink, besides having the best name of any soup, is a rather nice fish and potato soup from Scotland, made from smoked haddock (although originally made from beef).  It's very similar to a chowder, (and I always think of The Simpsons when I think of chowder - it's pronounced 'Show-dare') and seemed to fit nicely with our nautically themed evening, so I thought I'd have a go at re-creating it for the blog

I have to admit to a vague phobia about fish, and especially fish with the head on - I don't know what it is, and I'm not normally squeamish about foodstuffs (see Tripe Soup or my love of Black Pudding for evidence)  However, fish staring at me with their dead, Doll-like eyes makes my stomach turn.  So haddock fillets are great as they don't look up at you as you cook them!  Also, most recipes recommend not using the dyed fish (bright yellow) but I couldn't find the non-dyed variety in the supermarket.  The soup, I'm glad to say, didn't take on a bizarre yellowish hue though

The flavour of this soup is nice and delicate, but improves if you make it a day before and keep it in the fridge overnight.
300g Smoked Haddock
1l Milk
1 Medium Onion
1 Large Potato
2 Small Leeks
Spring Onions
Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper
40g Butter

1.  In a large pan, put the haddock, bay leaf, parsley and milk.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer (making sure the milk doesn't stick) for 6 minutes, poaching the haddock.  Turn the fish after 3 minutes, so it cooks on both sides.

2.  Remove the pan form the heat, set aside the fish and reserve the milk.

3.  Finely chop the leeks - white parts only, onions and potatoes.  Heat the butter in your soup pan and then gently fry the vegetables for 8-10 minutes, until they start to soften.

4.  Add the milk that the haddock was cooked in, back to the soup pan.

5.  Flake the fish, removing the skin and any bones, then add that to the soup too.  Bring to the boil and then simmer, cooking the soup for 15-20 minutes.

6.  Check seasoning, adding the grated nutmeg at this point, garnish with finely sliced spring onions and serve in warm bowls with hearty bread.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Bacon

On a trip to the supermarket the other day,  I had to wade through aisle after aisle of skeleton themed sweets, plastic vampire fangs and bottles of bleach in the shape of Frankenstein's Monster (although I may be making one of these up...) which led me with the swiftness of Sherlock Holmes, to deduce that Halloween is almost upon us.

Me, with terrible wounds...
Much like Chrismas, birthdays and that day when they roll cheeses down a hill somewhere and people chase after them, Halloween seems to be a decisive event.  From people moaning about it being an American holiday, being over-commercialised to people objecting on religious grounds and so on and so forth.  Me, I love it - always have done, back from when I was a nipper and we used to make turnip lanterns as pumpkins were such stuff as dreams were made of back in the 70's in Leeds. 

On to student days when we dressed as zombies, lobster creatures and, erm, werewolves with jaundice (yes, we still remember that Kris!) and now in more sedate times re-watching old Hammer Horror films like Frankenstein and The Monster From Hell and Taste the Blood of Dracula (man those films had way better names that modern horror films do...)

And yes, it goes without saying that the one vegetable that symbolises Halloween is the pumpkin (which are everywhere now...) so here is a pumpkin soup to warm your bones as you prepare to chill your soul this Halloween.

Of course, you could leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock if you wanted, but scientists have discovered that the addition of bacon improves any dish by 1027%, and who am I to argue with science?

40g Butter
2 Onions
1kg Pumpkin
2 cloves Garlic
1.2l Chicken Stock
60ml Sherry
50g Smoked Bacon
Pumpkin Seeds
1tbsp Chopped Fresh Sage
Grated Nutmeg

1. Finely chop the onions and garlic.  Heat the butter in your soup pan and then gently fry the onion and garlic until it starts to colour.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
2.  Peel the pumpkin, de-seed it and then cut the flesh into cubes.  Add these to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the pumpkin flesh is soft.

3. Add the stock, sherry, sage,and some salt and pepper, bring the pan to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin is very soft.

4.  Remove the pan from the heat and then blend until smooth, pass the soup through a sieve to remove lumps and make it extra smooth at this point if you like, then return to the pan.

5.  Re-heat and serve.  Garnish with grated nutmeg, toasted pumpkin seeds, basil leaves fried in a little butter until crisp and some cubes of fried smoked bacon.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tuscan Chicken Soup With Orzo

I remember the first soup I ever learned to make, when I was about 12 in Home Economics lessons at school.  The teacher didn't actually teach us how to make it, but let us all cook one thing that we ate at home.

Pretty much every Friday thoughout the winter months, dinner was either Macaroni Cheese or Minestrone - made from scratch by my mother, and I did love the minestrone soup, so that was the dish that I decided to cook in school.  I badgered my mum for the recipe and then got all the ingredients, turnied up in the classroom and started to cook.  And suddenly, lo-and-behold, there was soup!  I felt like an alchemist, I had combined vegetables, pasta and meat, and with the judicious application of fire, the end result was soup, and it even tasted pretty good!

And from then on, I realised I could cook (although I didn't actually cook much for another six or seven years when I went away to University)   and I loved the buzz I got from being able to do that.. It's something that hasn't ever gone away.

Which brings us, in a very round about way to today's soup.  Although I'm not making Minestrone (and I still pronounce it Mine Strone in my head...) this soup is very similar, using as it does lots of vegetables, a bit of meat and a rich tomato-y stock.  And it also uses Orzo, which I love - it's pasta that thinks it is rice!  Crazy!

If you can't get orzo, any small pasta shells will do - I was over-joyed when I first found it in a small corner shop, and immediately bought some for Mrs Soup, as she had never been able to find it in this country before, for which I won brownie points, and gained a nice ingredient for soups, stews and casseroles.

3 Chicken Thighs
1 Large Onion
3 Carrots
2 Stalks of Celery
1 Medium Potato
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tin Tomatoes
1.2l Chicken Stock
75g Orzo (Pasta Rice)
Fresh Basil
Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper

1.  Heat some oil in your soup pan. Fry the chicken thighs until they are golden and cooked through.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.

2. Finely chop the onion and garlic.  In the same oil that you fried the chicken in, soften and brown the onions and garlic (add some more oil if there isn't enough left)

3.  Add the chopped carrot, potato and celery and let them soften over a low heat for 3-5 minutes, then add the stock, cooked chicken and tomatoes.  To this add the thyme, salt and pepper, simmer and cover, then let cook for 25 minutes.

4.  Add the orzo to the soup and let simmer for another 10 minute, until the pasta is cooked through.  Check seasoning and then serve, garnished with fresh basil.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Scotch Broth

Another cold day, another warming soup for you!  This one involves the left-overs from a rather lovely Sunday lunch (well, the meaty / gravy parts anyway) and is an old favourite of mine.  If you don't have any left over lamb, you could just get a lamb chop and use the meat from that, it will work just as well.

This is a slight adaptation of Scotch Broth, with the mint and balsamic vinegar being my own additions, as I think both flavours go particularly well with lamb, and help to cut through the fatty taste that you can sometimes get with that meat.  If you want to be more traditional, leave those two ingredients out (and don't write me emails saying I got the recipe wrong, please...)

Also included in this recipe is some pearl barley, which I think in another brilliant but under-rated ingredient, although it does show up quite a bit in Scottish recipes.  It makes a brilliant risotto instead of rice, and can be used in countless stews and soups - indeed, I suspect that as the nights grow darker, more and more people will be reaching for the pearl barley as well as their favourite stew recipes.

2 Large Carrots
1 Small Turnip
1 Large Onion
1 Small Leek
1 Medium Potato
50g Pearl Barley
250g Lamb
2l Stock
3 Cloves Garlic
1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Handful fresh chopped mint leaves

1. Cut the carrot, turnip, potato and lamb into small cubes. Finely chop the onion, leek and garlic.

2.  Heat your stock in a soup pan.  Throw in any left-over gravy from Sunday lunch at this point too, and add the balsamic vinegar.

3.  Bring the stock to the boil, put in the vegetables and lamb then cover and bring to a simmer.  Cook the soup for 2-3 hours on a low heat.

4.  30 Minutes before serving, add the pearl barley.

5.  Check seasoning, adding plenty of black pepper before serving and garnish with a handful of chopped fresh mint leaves.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Home-made Sausages (Adventures in Meat Grinding)

So it was my birthday at the weekend.  Whereas normal people get Xboxes or new shirts, Mrs Soup bought me a sausage making machine.  When I tore the wrapping paper off the box, my slightly girlish shrieks of joy probably woke the whole street up!  As well as the meat grinder itself, there were also a pack of sausage skins and a book of sausage recipes, methods and tips.

I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the humble banger. I absolutely love good sausages, but in my student days I used to eat a lot of bad, cheap and nasty sausages, so I tend to think of greasy, nasty, 90% eyeball type sausages, instead of the juicy, meaty things that we all know and love.
Just think of the possibilities...
As far as the cost of shop bought, good quality (80 or 90% meat) versus doing it yourself, how does it work out?  Well, once you have bought the machine (and as it was a present, I didn't ask how much it cost, so you may have to do that particular bit of research yourself, or ask Mrs Soup...) it's not too bad.  A lot of pork sausages in particular use belly or shoulder, which isn't too expensive.  This first batch made about 1kg of sausages for around £4.50. which is pretty good value for money.

As well as the value issue, there is also the benefit of knowing exactly what goes into your sausages - even some 90% meat sausages can contain various things like connective tissue (whatever that is... personally, I'm not all that bothered, as a big fan of offal to start with, I'm not too squeamish about what bits of an animal I eat)  As I used a whole cut of meat, this sort of thing isn't a problem.
*****History Factoid*****
In World War II, sausages weren't rationed, but there was no minimum meat content set by the government, which lead to the scarce meat being bulked out with bread, as well as shredded newspaper, sawdust and other unsavoury things. Offal was similarly 'off-ration.
The sausages were also very tasty, fun and pretty easy to make, and also, now I have the kit, my mind is racing with the possibilities for future fillings - black pudding, haggis, offal-based sausages are all within my grasp!  My first batch, however were some pork sausages with a little spiciness to add a kick...

Spicy Sausages
1kg Pork Shoulder Joint
1 Onion
75g Breadcrumbs
5 Garlic Cloves
15g Salt
2g Black Pepper
2g Cayenne Pepper
4g Thyme
1tbsp Tabasco Sauce

1.  Cube the pork joint, and then pass through the mincer and into a bowl.  This was the first fun stage of the process - there is something primal about doing this - I imagined myself as both Sweeney Todd and a kid with a play-doh machine as it oozed out of the grinder!

2. Mix in the breadcrumbs, and other dry ingredients. Finely chop the onion and mix this in as well.  Cover the bowl and leave to marinade overnight.

3.  Now comes the fun bit - putting the filling into the sausage casing.  The stuff I had was dry, but some skins need soaking first.  Another thing was, until this point, I hadn't realised there were different sizes of casings.  Mine didn't quite fit over the nozzle of the sausage machine...  However with some jiggery-pokery (and with the help of Mrs Soup) I managed to get the filling flowing into the casing.  And surprisingly, it didn't go all 'Generation Game' but was quite easy - although I reckon it's a two-man job, at least until I'm a bit more practised at it.

4.  Twist the sausage into links and then put in the fridge for an hour or two before cooking (I froze some at this point as we did make 1kg)

5.  Fry and eat! They smelled so much more meaty and delicious than any shop-bought sausages I have ever encountered!  I served mine with the traditional mash and thick, rich and tasty onion gravy.... Enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Leek and Bacon Soup with Squash Dumplings

It's raining!  It's cold and wet and miserable.  Welcome to Soup Tuesday, where we have soups for every occasion, to suit every taste  and whatever the weather, there always be something hot and tasty on the stove!

Today's soup has it all!  Bacon! Interesting vegetables!  Dumplings!  Un-necessary exclamation marks! Continuing the the theme of conjouring something up from the vegetable box which is delivered every Tuesday morning, we have Squash dumplings, made from a rather pretty Harlequin Squash, which, ummm, seems to be pretty much the same as a butternut squash but a bit paler flesh and with green bits on the skin.

Roasting the squash with a bit of ground coriander made the whole kitchen smell amazing all morning, and the resulting dumplings are a bit more like gnocchi than the sort of dumplings I usually make (of the suet variety).  I think these squash dumplings would go well with a tomato sauce and lots of basil and parmesan.

Squash Dumplings

350g Squash
300g Plain Flour
50g Butter (Frozen)
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2tsp Ground Coriander
Pinch Chili Pepper
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil 

Leek and Bacon Soup
100g Bacon
2 Large Leeks
1 Large Onion
1 Large Potato
1.2ml Chicken Stock
100ml White Wine
1 Sprig of Rosemary
Salt and Pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 200ºc. Peel and cube the squash, Put on a baking tray with the Oregano, Coriander, Chili, salt and pepper and olive oil.  Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until the squash is golden.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

2.  Finely chop the onion, peel and dice the potato and cube the bacon.  Heat some oil in your soup pan and then toss in the bacon, letting it fry for 2 minutes before adding the onion and potato.  Let that fry off for 3-4 minutes, until everything starts to colour.

3.  Add the stock, wine and finely chopped rosemary.  Bring to the boil and then add the sliced leeks and then let the soup simmer for 20 minutes

4.  Break up the squash in a bowl with the back of a fork.  Sieve in the flour, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Grate the frozen butter in and mix into a firm dough.  You may need to add a little more liquid to get the dough to the right consistence to roll it up.

5.  Roll it out into a strip that's about 3cm wide, and then cut into 2cm thick pieces..  Cover in flour and then set aside.

6.  Add the dumplings to the soup and let cook for another 8-10 minutes, then the soup is ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Chocolate Gateau with Rum and Hazelnuts - Happy Birthday Mr Soup!

Happy Birthday!
Today is Mr Soup's birthday, and in celebration we are having a slap up meal (in true Soup Tuesday style we're making it ourselves). Mr Soup is in charge of the meat as he'll make a much better job of it than me, but I am making pudding.

Now, everyone knows Mr Wallace is a big fan of the pudding, and when I saw his 'Favourite Puddings' book, I knew there would be some fantastic puddings in it, so onto my Amazon wishlist it went. Shortly after it landed in my Christmas stocking, and it's now our go-to for special occasions (the Soup Parents had rum-and-raisin ice-cream (p150) when they came round for dinner to much admiration!)

So when choosing a dessert for this evening, I handed the book to Mr Soup, and told him to pick whatever he wanted, and to my surprise (I was expecting something like a sticky spongey warm pudding), he went for a chocolate gateau with run and hazelnuts p84) (supposed to be walnuts, but I'm not a fan!).

Cheesy 80's sci-fi movie in the background.
The recipe was quite straightforward and in true Wallace style was absolutely delicious! The only thing I wasn't sure about is that the cake didn't have any cocoa in it, so came out quite a bit lighter than I expected. The icing more than made up for it in chocolateyness.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Russian Kale Soup with Smoked Sausage

Well, the nights are drawing in and I've noticed a lot of people saying it's Soup Season.  Well, guess what, here at Soup Tuesday, it never stops being soup season.  I never seem to be one for seasonal dishes anyway.  I eat stews in the middle of summer and salads in the snow.  It's all good to me.

However, what I do enjoy at this time of year is the later crops that arrive, like turnips, swede, big carrots and dark cabbages.  Today's soup involves just one of these, but it's my favourite!.  As I'm on a bit of a crusade to make soups from the more un-loved soups, I remembered when I was a kid and my favourite dish was Steak and Kidney pie (Still is my favourite actually) and my Mum would always serve it with a type of cabbage that I just can't seem to find anywhere any more - it had dark green leaves like a savoy, but was smooth, and had a taste that was almost bitter.  If anyone knows what variety it was, or even where to get my hands on said cabbage, I would love you for ever and dedicate a soup to you...

In lieu of that cabbage, I am including Kale in tonight's soup, which is a hearty winter warmer to get you in the mood for longer evenings, snow drifts and mince pies in the shops (I know they are already there, which is good news, bring on Xmas...)  Kale is pretty simialr in taste to the cabbage I remember from being a kid, and I know that its flavour is not to everyone's taste, but I like it as it has the strong, almost bitter thing going on, and is a prefect complement to the smoked sausage that goes into the soup as well

1 Onion
1 Large Bunch of Red Kale
200g Smoked Sausage
1 Tin Tomatoes
1 Tin Borlotti Beans
3 Cloves Chopped Garlic
1tsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1tsp Chopped Sage Leaves
1.2l Chicken Stock
Salt & Pepper

1.  Heat some olive oil in your soup pan.  Gently fry the  finely onion, garlic, rosemary and sage for 3-5 minutes, until the onion starts to colour

2. Add the tomatoes and stock, then bring to to boil

3.   Finely shred the kale, removing the stalks, and add this to the soup, as well as the beans and 2/3s of the sausage, cut into cubes.

4.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, until the kale has completely cooked and softened.

5.  Slice the remaining sausage and fry this in some oil until it starts to brown.

6.  Check the seasoning of the soup, serve in warm bowls with a couple of the fried sausage slices on top.  Enjoy!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Weekly Bake-Off : Cappuccino Cake

Cake, we've missed you!
After a summer-holiday induced hiatus, we're back this week with the Weekly Bake-Off! This is a Good Thing, as there had been a couple of comments at work about it being a while since there had been cake!

As I'm now cycling to work, and a ride on a bike is not particularly conducive to cake-staying-togetherness, I made this on Tuesday evening to take in on the bus on Wednesday (after my Orange Wednesday movie night I prefer not to cycle home). The recipe for this week was Cappuccino Cake (p20), and it was very easy to throw together on a work night - the mix was made all in one bowl, and baked in 2 deep 20cm tins (I only have 1 deep tin, so did 2 batches, but I think just making 1 deep cake and slicing it would have worked as well).

I'm not a big fan of cream for icing, but decided not to mess with the recipe - and am very glad I didn't! Flavouring the cream with coffee (no sugar added) made for a light, tasty, slightly bitter (to offset the sweet cake) icing without the heaviness I normally associate with cream cake. The cake itself was light and moist - this might become my go-to chocolate sponge recipe in fact.

Mr Soup is more of a savoury man but even he absolutely loved this cake - when I was getting ready to take it to work I was told to leave 2 slices for him! Everyone at work enjoyed it too - a very good introduction back into the Weekly Bake Off routine.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Turnip Soup with Bacon and Rosemary

Way back in the mists of time that was 2010, I was spurred on to write this blog by a few things.  One of them was a desire to have my name up in lights on t'interwebs (still waiting for that to happen...) and the other was two soups I made in the cold depths of winter that made me think 'Hey, soup is awesome, but it's not sexy like cupcakes, thai food or bacon, it needs someone the be it's champion.

So, like some kind of brothy St George, I vowed to take up the cause, riding off into the jaws of the internet armed only with a wooden spoon and a desire to spread the good word about soups, broths and (maybe) consommes.  I was looking through the blog, reminiscing about the good old days, when I realise that the two soup recipes that had provided the catalyst  for Soup Tuesday never even got written up, consumed, as I was, by the desire to find newer, more amazing soup recipes and add balck pudding to them...

So here is a version of one of those soups (the other shall remain shrouded in mystery until nearer Christmas, when I shall unleash it upon you in all it's cruciferous goodness....)

Turnip is a sadly under-rated vegetable, along with it's yellow cousin the swede.  Lo and behold, one turned up in this week's veg box, so I thought I'd make it into soup, like I did all those months ago pre-blog.  I also dragged the bread maker out to make some crusty bread to go with it - one day I shall graduate to making 'proper' bread, but to be honest today I just couldn't be bothered.

Anyway - turnip soup, made much more exciting by the presence of bacon (is there anything it can't do?) and some home grown rosemary, plus a cheeky splash of white wine, all adds up to lift this soup way beyond what you would expect from a soup made out of turnips...

450g Turnip
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
200ml White wine
150 Smoked Bacon
1l Chicken Stock
30g Butter
2 Sprigs of Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Finely chop the onion and garlic.  Heat the butter in your soup pan and fry gently until the onion is starting to brown.

2.  Add the wine and stock, rosemary stalks and bay leaf, season and bring to the boil.

3. Add the chopped turnip and bring the pan to a simmer.  Cover and leave to cook for 30 minutes, until the turnip is good and soft.  Take off the heat and leave to cool

4.  Remove the bay leaf and rosemary.  Blend the soup until smooth (pass through a sieve to remove lumps if you want to soup to be nice and creamy)

5.   Cut the bacon into small cubes or strips and fry until they are nice and crispy..  Meanwhile, reheat the soup, checking and adjusting seasoning as you see fit

6.  Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle the bacon cubes and Parmesan on top.  Enjoy!