Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sopa de Ajo

roasted garlic and chorizo soup

Inspiration for soups comes from many places.  For this one it was as simple as Mrs Soup telling me that she fancied a soup with eggs poached in it.  So off I went to the interwebs to do a bit of research and that's where I came across this amazingly tasty and simple little number.  I've always been taken with the idea of roasting whole bulbs of garlic, as it smells and tastes wonderful - a flavour that I've never experienced with anything you can buy in the shops.  And rather brilliantly, roasting the garlic until it's caramelized takes away the garlic-y smell and the harshness of raw garlic flavour, leaving a deep and savoury taste that's perfect in soups.

Add to the garlic flavour some poached eggs - I used a chef's ring to stop the egg from spreading everywhere and it came out just perfectly - and some chorizo and I found this soup to be one of the tastiest that I've blogged for a good while.

And whilst we are on the subject of chorizo, do you pronounce it 'cho-ritz-oh' or 'chore-ee-tho'? For some reason the latter makes any non-spanish person sound like a pretentious hipster.  And before you start telling me off for pronouncing foreign words incorrectly, bare in mind that English people still can't settle on a correct pronunciation of the word 'scone' (It rhymes with bone, not gone as any fool knows)  So, if any actual Spanish people care to weigh in, I'll totally respect their decision, but still pronounce it my 'chor-itz-oh' when no-one's listening.

Also, is it pronounced 'see-a-bata' or 'chee-a-bata'?

Also, this has totally reminded me of Moss from the IT Crowd - "It's pronounced tay-pass"

Anyway, on to the soup...

3 Bulbs of Garlic
70g Chorizo
1l Chicken Stock
100ml Dry Sherry
2 Ciabatta Rolls
4 Eggs
1tbsp Sweet Paprika
1/2tbsp Smoked Paprika
1tsp Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper

1.  Heat the oven to 200ºc.  Peel the outer layers of the garlic bulbs and then slice the top off, so you can see the tops of all the individual cloves.  Place the bulbs in an oven proof dish and pour a glug of olive oil over the top.

2.  Put the garlic bulbs in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, until they are golden brown and caramelized on the top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Squeeze the cooked garlic from its skins into a dish.  This can get pretty messy...

3.  In your soup pan, heat some more olive oil.  Cut the chorizo up into small chunks and gently fry for 3-5 minutes, then add the garlic puree, paprika and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes and then add the sherry.  Allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then add the chicken stock.  Bring the pan to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes

4.  Cut the ciabatta into slices and toast until golden, then place a few slices in each soup bowl

5.  Poach the eggs gently in the soup for 4 minutes, then place one in each soup bowl, then ladle the soup over the top.  Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Kale Soup

After my last blogpost I had a few comments about my maligning of kale (although it's funny, people seem quite happy to cast disparaging words against offal and few raise their voices to come to its aid...) so I thought that I'd have a go at making a kale soup recipe to come to terms with my dislike of said vegetable.

Before we start, I should point out that I have nothing really against kale itself, but just that it seems to be the poster vegetable for the whole healthier-than-thou/no-fun strain of diets and recipes, and it really does look like swamp water when it's blended to make a soup or (ugh) smoothie (why? why would you do that to yourself?) 

Veg, fruit, steak, eggs and buns!
Every few weeks we here at Soup Labs get a rather brilliant veg box, delivered to our door (along with amazing steaks and cream buns) by the wonderful Market Delivered* and it nearly always has a bunch of kale in it.  As Mother Soup didn't bring me up to waste food (or be late for anything. Ever) I keep trying to find fun things to do with it.  This soup recipe is one of the fruits of my labours.  It turned out pretty nice actually, athough the addition of some bacon or maybe blue cheese/cream would have tipped it towards brilliance.  It still looks like something from the Planet Dagobah though...

*Check their website to see if they deliver to your neighbourhood - especially if you're in Leeds.  Cream buns! Steaks! Delivered to your door, from local shops! Brilliant! Running out of exclamation marks!!!!

150g Kale
150g Potatoes
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
25g Butter
900ml Chicken Stock
200ml Milk
150ml White Wine

1. Peel the onion and potato, then cut into small chunks.

2.  Heat the butter in your soup pan.  Cook the vegetables until they start to soften.  Add the finely chopped garlic cloves and cook for another couple of minutes

3.  Add the stock and wine, bring the soup to a simmer.  Remove the tough stalks from the kale and shred the leaves.  Add these to the soup and cover, cooking for 20 minutes. 

4.  Once the soup is cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool, then purée using a stick blender.

5.  Reheat the soup, add the milk and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Indian Lambs Liver Soup

I love offal.  Two of my favourite meals of all time are Steak and Kidney Pie and Liver & Onions (Is this the diet of an old man?).  If I'm in a restaurant and there's a dish containing any form of offal at all, I'm all over it.  Of course, I'm aware that I'm in a minority in this love, but there it is.

For me, the question isn't 'why would you eat that?' but rather 'Why WOULDN"T you eat that'?  Offal - and all those other overlooked bits like tongue and cheek - are tasty, unusual and cheap.  In a world where people are going crazy over such boring fare as pulled pork and gourmet burgers, I'd rather have a bit of Lamb's Liver or Ox Heart Ragu any day.  In fact, could there be a market for an offal-based fast food outlet on every high street? I'd eat there, for sure.  Although I may be one of the only ones.

What am I, chopped liver?
Despite this love of all things offal, I haven't done too many soup recipes that show this off - there was Menudo, a tripe soup, that I blogged a while ago, and while I've had quite a few in my to-soup list for a while, I haven't gotten round to making them.  Until I found this little gem of an Indian soup recipe.  Like the Beetroot Rasam that I blogged recently, it should be cooked in a pressure cooker, but as I still haven't extended the kitchen, I made this in a pan.  Many of the recipes I found for this soup used just water, not stock, but I found that just a little bland, and if there's one thing I can't abide it's a bland soup...

If anyone has any other suggestions for soup recipes containing offal of any kind, I'd love to hear them, and maybe put them on the blog for the rest of the world to enjoy.  Also, if you think you don't like offal, dig out a cool sounding recipe and give it another go, you might be surprised!

350g Lambs Liver
2 Onions
4 Tomatoes

1.2l Stock
2tsp Ground Cumin
2tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Turmeric Powder
1tsp Red Chilli Flakes
2tsp Garlic Purée
1tsp Ginger Purée
1/2tsp Garam Masala
Coriander Leaves

1. Place the tomatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove the skins, de-seed and finely chop them

2.  Heat some oil in your soup pan.  Peel and finely chop the onions.  Gently fry them for 5 minutes, until they start to colour.

3.  Wash and thinly slice the lamb's liver.

4.  Add the chopped tomatoes, liver, garlic and ginger puree and fry for another 5 minutes

5.  Add the stock, bring the soup to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the liver is soft

6. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve garnished with some chopped coriander leaves.  Enjoy

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Beetroot Rasam

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with beetroot.  On one hand, beetroot risotto is one of the greatest things ever, on the other is that lingering taste that can only be described as earthy.  Or to be less charitable, I made a beetroot and chocolate cake, and despite using half a tonne of chocolate and cream, it still tasted of soil.

It is the kind of vegetable that, to my mind, is healthy but dull - the twin of kale in being a joyless thing that healthy eating advocates bang on about, but I really can't stand,  Or at least it takes a fair bit of effort to make it palatable. Of course, it's entirely possible that beetroot has the same effect on me that sprouts have on others - a chemical that renders if awful tasting to me whilst others don't suffer. (Scientists are telling me that this theory could be what they describe as 'utter tripe')

And yet, and yet, here I am, attempting the fourth soup recipe involving beetroot (and reading the old entries, I see I have rather belaboured the point about beetroot's eccentricities, so I won't malign the poor purple vegetable any more) but suffice to say that this Indian soup recipe, through some subtle alchemy of spices tastes amazing, and not a hint of the evil 'soil taste'*

So here at Soup HQ we have a rather small kitchen, mostly consisting of jars of spices of one kind or another, and it's a huge decision every time we think about investing in another kitchen gadget.  "There's no room!" goes the cry.  Which is why I still don't have a deep fat fryer despite recently discovering the joys of making my own chips.  Another gadget that I still crave is a pressure cooker.  If you have one, it would be prefect for this recipe, as it would cook the lentils and beetroot amazingly, but alas, until I open the West Wing of my kitchen and have room for more gadgets, I'll have to do this the old fashioned way - just boiling the heck out of the beetroot.

Also, be careful when blending the soup.  It went everywhere when I deployed my stick blender and made the kitchen look like Halloween had arrived early...

Also, beware the side effects of eating too many beets...

*Some of you may be wondering, if I have such strong feelings about beetroot, why am I eating it?  Well the simple answer is that we got some as part of our veg box delivery and I'll be damned if I'm going to let any vegetables go to waste.  Apart from Kale...

500g Beetroot
100g Yellow Lentils
50g Tamarind Paste
4 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Dried Red Chili Flakes
1tsp Coriander Seeds
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1tsp Mustard Seeds
Pinch of Asafoetida

1. Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes.  Roughly chop the Tamarind and put ina small bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes too

2. Heat some oil in your soup pan.  Add the Coriander Fenugreek and Cumin Seeds and Chili flakes, and fry gently for a minute or so, until they flavour the oil.

3.  Wash and strain the soaked lentils and add these to the pan, along with the peeled and chopped beetroot and the peeled garlic cloves.

4.  Remove the pulp from the tamarind and add the flavoured water to the pan

5. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring the soup to the boil and simmer on a high heat, covered, for 30 minutes, until the beetroot is cooked and softened.  Remove the pan from the heat

6.  Blend the soup until smooth.  Return to the pan, reheat gently and adjust seasoning to taste

7.  In another pan, heat 3tbsp of oil.  Add the Asafoetida and mustard seeds and heat until the seeds start to pop.  Stir the flaovoured oil into the soup and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup

It's October!  Where did the summer go? Still, now it's time to pack up your shorts and pull out those woolly jumpers, that can only mean one thing - it's soup season again (aka The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year)

I was in two minds  about starting up the soup blog again; after all, there must be a finite number of soups a man can cook, right? So yesterday, I was opening a carton of soup for my lunch and two things struck me - firstly that I feel guilty every time I buy soup rather than making it, especially as cooking soup is as easy as falling off a log, but less painful, and secondly, that most shop bought soups are usually hugely disappointing. As if to prove my point, the Goan Spicy Lentil and Chicken soup that I eat was slightly bitter tasting, had woody vegetables and left me feeling sad rather than being a hug in a bowl, like all good soups should be

To ease myself back into blogging (and soup making) I set myself the challenge of opening up the vegetable drawer of the fridge, grabbing the first few things that I could lay my hands on and tuning them into a tasty soup.  Just to get myself back into the swing of things.

The first things I pulled out were a can of beer, a bottle of vodka and a lime.  Which would make an awesomely demented cocktail, but not really good for soup.  The next dive into the fridge yielded sweet potatoes and parsnips.  This, I thought to myself, I can work with...

So some quick thinking, a look in the spice cupboard and viola,  a simple, rich and tasty soup that took about 5 minutes to make, 30 minutes to simmer and then was ready for lunch.

Can't say easier than that, can you?  So shut up and make some soup...

2 Onions
2 Parsnips
2 Sweet Potatoes
2 Cloves of Garlic
2tsp Finely chopped Ginger
1tbsp Lemon Juice
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp Cumin
1tsp Dried Chili Flakes
1tsp Salt
1.2l Stock
Fresh Coriander

1. Chop the onions and fry fry gently until golden

2.  Peel and chop the sweet potato and parsnip.  Add these to the onions and sweat gently for a few minutes until the start to soften

3.  Add the stock, ginger, garlic and spices.  Bring the soup to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 minute, or until all the vegetables have softened

4.  Using a stick blender, purée the soup until smooth.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

5.  Garnish each bowl of soup with yoghurt and fresh coriander.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Papas Rellenas Colombianas - WCFC2014 : Colombia

This is my last entry for the World Cup Food Challenge of 2014, and at least one of my teams got through to the quarter finals - Colombia.  Over the (admittedly brief) course of this challenge, during my research and cooking the dishes, I've fallen a little bit in love with South American food.  There are some amazing recipes out there and I feel like it is the undiscovered continent of food.

Of course, probably come this time next week we'll all be eating Arepas Colombianas from street food vendors like the hipsters we are and the secret will be out, but until then, I highly recommend tracking down some South American recipes and giving them a go yourself, there's a (fifth of a) world of taste excitement out there waiting for you...

On to the recipe though.  When I was a kid, I remember going to my Nana's house and there, on the stove top was a huuuuuge black pan that she used to fry chips in (my Nana had two methods of cooking - boiling for hours or deep frying) and I used to love her chips.  As a student, one of my favourite meals was Crispy Pancakes and potato waffles, all chucked in the deep fat fryer and served with mushy peas and drowned in so much vinegar it made my eyes water (Yes, I've come a  long way since then...)

Over the years, deep fat frying has gotten a bit of a reputation as being unhealthy but as I've learned during this food challenge, it still seems to be big in Colombia, and this dish is a fine example - deep fried mashed potato stuffed with beef and eggs - whats not to like? Its like a Shepard's Pie drowned in hot fat, and then served with a spicy fresh salsa called an Aji.

So until the next world cup, Olympic games or other excuse for a blogging food challenge, its back to soup for me...
1kg Potatoes
250g Minced Beef
2 Hard Boiled Eggs
2 Tomatoes
1 Onion
4 Spring Onions
2 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Cumin
1tsp Garlic Salt
1/2tsp Paprika

1 Egg
30g Plain Flour
60ml Milk
1/2tsp Paprika

2 Tomatoes
4 Spring Onions
1 Red Chili
1 Lime (Juice Only)
50ml White Wine Vinegar
50ml Olive Oil
25ml Water
 Handful Fresh Coriander
1tsp Caster Sugar

1. Peel and cube the potatoes.  In a pan, cover with water, add a some salt and boil until they are cooked (10-15mins) and the drain, set aside to cool

2. In a frying pan, heat some oil and then add finely chopped onion and spring onion, plus the garlic.  Fry for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.  Then add the minced beef and continue to cook until the beef is broken up and browned.

3. Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes, along with the cumin, garlic salt, paprika, salt and black pepper.  Cook for 2 or 3 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.  Roughly chop the hard boiled eggs and add these to the mixture

4.  Put the ingredients for the Aji in a food processor and blend roughly.  Pour into a bowl and put in the fridge until it's time to serve.

5. In a large bowl, mix the batter ingredients, whisking until smooth.

6.  Mash the cooled potatoes and then split into roughly 8 balls.  Roll them out until they are about 8mm thick and spoon some of the filling into each one, carefully shaping into a ball.

7.  In a heavy pan, heat your oil to 180ºc and then carefully put the batter covered balls in, frying them for 4 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen towel to remove any excess oil.

8. Serve with the Aji.  Enjoy!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Avgolemono -WCFC2014 : Greece

The second country that made it through to round 2 from Group C is Greece (Not The Ivory Coast, which is both a shame - as I'd bought the ingredients for an Ivorian soup as it looked like they would get through and I'd done my research, and a blessing as it was a gaspacho soup style made with avocados, and as we all know from yesterday, I really don't like avocados) and as this is the Soup Round, we're having a Greek soup.

A while ago, I made a Turkish dish - it's name escapes me right now - but it was basically lamb meatballs in lemony custard.  This soup is very similar and I would say it's kind of an acquired taste. It's a standard chicken soup but it's thickened with an egg and lemon mixture that resembles a custard as it's cooked.  It was, ummm, interesting, but worth a try as it was also quite a summery taste

Also, if you can't get orzo (rice pasta) you could just use ordinary white rice, and cook it for a little longer than you would pasta

4 Chicken Breasts
2 Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
1 Onion
60g Orzo Pasta
3 Eggs
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 2 Lemons
Bay Leaf
Salt and Black Pepper

1. Put 1.5 litres of water into a large pan, then add the chicken, finely chopped carrot, onion and celery.  Bring the water to the boil and cook for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.  Remove any foam that forms on top of the pan.

2.  Remove the meat and vegetables, shred the chicken and set aside.

3.  Add the orzo pasta to the stock and simmer for 10 minute, until the pasta is cooked.

4.  While this is cooking, in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until they are fluffy, and then add the juice and zest of the lemon, mixing thoroughly.

5. Take about 2 cups of the stock and slowly add them to the egg and lemon mixture, whisking constantly to stop the eggs from curdling or separating

6.  Return the egg mixture to the pan, along with the vegetables and chicken, taste and adjust seasoning as you like, then simmer over a low heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes

7.  Garnish with some fresh parsley and then serve.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ajiaco - WCFC2014 : Colombia

And so Team Soup head into the second round with our heads held high, unlike *some* teams I could mention, where the two qualifying teams get a second crack of the whip.  And because we are Team Soup, this 2nd round will henceforth be known as The Soup Round, where, you guessed it, I'll be making soups from the Group C qualifying countries.

First on the list is Colombia.  Much like the huge Colombian fry-up that I made for round 1, this soup is an 'everything and the kitchen sink' type of soup, which skirts closely to being a stew (but remember, it's not a stew unless it has dumplings in it, and even then that distinction is blurred) Many versions of this recipe call for not two, but three types of potato, but that seems like it might be over-egging the pudding (over potato-ing the soup doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?)

Also, it's been ironic that pretty much every Colombian dish I've looked at involves avocado in some way, either as a main ingredient or as a garnish, when it's just about the only fruit that I don't really like.  I find its texture unpleasant, and the taste vaguely awful too, yet here I am, manfully preparing dishes and then eating them, piled high with avocado.  The life of a food blogger isn't as easy as you think it is, I suffer for my 'art' sometimes too...

3 Chicken Breasts
2 Ears of Corn
400g Red Potatoes
400g White Potatoes
1 Large Carrot
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
Chicken Stock Cube

3 Spring Onions
1 Tomato
2 Red Chillies
3Tbsp White Wine Vinegar

Sour Cream

1. Cut the corn in half, peel and cube the potatoes, slice the carrot and onion and chop the garlic

2. Put 1.2l of water in a pan and add the chicken, veg and stock cube, then bring to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just starting to break up.

3.  Put the spring onions, tomato, chilies and vinegar in an blender and puree until smooth

4.  Once the soup is cooked, shred the meat and then put into a bowl, put some of the purée over the top and garnish with sour cream, avocados, capers and freshly chopped coriander.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Kedjenou - WCFC2014 : Cote D'Ivoire

Today's dish in the World Cup Food Challenge is from the Ivory Coast, and is the last of the first round dishes I'll be cooking.  Whichever teams go through to the next round will get another dish, those who go home, well... I'm never eating anything from their country again.

Before we get to the food, let's hit up some Cote D'Ivoire facts, for your edification and mine...
1. The Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer of cocoa beans
2. You've heard of the Nobel Peace Prize, but have you heard of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize? Named after the first President of the Ivory Coast, amongst its recipients was Nelson Mandela
3. The national motto of The Ivory Coast is Unity, Discipline, Labour. Which, whilst being inspirational, is also a bit dull

One of the fun things about the World Cup Food Challenge, as well as compiling my fun facts, is researching the recipes, finding out what fun and unusual ingredients I might need for a dish and where to find them.  Some of these things are relatively easy to find - Plantains are found in most supermarkets, if you're lucky, Cassava in good markets, duck tongues in any Chinese food suppliers, but then some things are almost impossible to find.

When I googled Ivory Coast cuisine, I found that giant land snails were an ingredient that is eaten in that country, which peaked my culinary curiosity, but alas, no giant land snails were to be found anywhere (and I didn't want your common or garden small snails.  Where's the fun in that?)

I finally found a dish that sounded fun - a stew called Kedjenou, traditionally cooked in the embers of a fire, but seeing as there are court orders preventing me from setting fire to things (not really) I decided to do mine in the oven - of which more later.  Kedjenou can be made with a variety of meats - beef and chicken seem to be most common, but then I can across Kedjenou avec Agouti.  Ooooh, what can that be, I thought and promptly searched for it, only to be greeted with... this

A Cane rat.  I giggled.  Where the heck could I get a cane rat from? I checked, I asked twitter, I considered stealing the next door neighbour's Guinea Pigs (But their grandkids would be heartbroken) but sadly, my search was frustratingly drawing a blank.  So in the end, I had to settle for chicken.  Bah! I feel defeated.  Still, the kedjenou was delicious, but it just goes to illustrate that even in the days of being able to get most things from Amazon, it's still a struggle to make some dishes authentically

4 Chicken Thighs (or 1 Cane Rat, quartered)
1 Large Onion
1 Aubergine
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
3 Tomatoes
4 Cloves of Garlic
2tbsp Chopped Ginger
1tsp Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper

1. In a large heavy pan, add a little oil, heat and brown the chicken pieces.

2. Add the vegetables, chopped and seasonings then cover the pan with silver foil before putting the lid on, to create as near to an airtight seal as possible.

3. Put the pan in the oven at 150ºc for 90 minutes, shaking the pan regularly to ensure that the ingredients don't stick.  You don't need to add any more liquid, the vegetables should provide enough to cook everything properly and make a sauce.

4.  Serve with cous cous or white rice.  Enjoy

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Souvlaki - WCFC2014 : Greece

Our trip round the great (and not so great) footballing nations of the world has reached number 3 in Group C, and as is customary, we'll start with some fun facts about Greece

1. Greek citizens are required by law to vote in elections.  This is presumably because they invented the whole democracy thing...
2. Greece is the world's leading producer of Sea Sponges
3. Football is the national sport of Greece.  They must be good at it then (checks results. Hmmm hold that thought)

And that brings us, in a roundabout way, to the dish I've chosen for Greece, souvlaki (Which has nothing at all to do with the Slowdive album of the same name, 90's shoe-gazing indie fans...) but it a fast food that is popular in Greece.

One of the things I hate is watching a TV chef lecturing me about how, instead of eating a burger, kebab or other fast food, it's really easy and healthy to make your own.  Whilst this may be perfectly true, it's kind of missing the point. When I want a greasy kebab, I'm usually drunk, on the way home from the pub and in no fit state to have a crack at anything more elaborate than opening a bag of crisps.  Therefore takeaway food is the perfect solution and all those multi-millionaire TV cooks so 'do one' in the parlance of the youth. 

The same thing goes for any restaurant that advertises 'dirty' burgers. No, sir, your burger is prepared with the finest ingredients, served on a clean plate that I sit in your tastefully decorated establishment to eat with a knife and fork.  There is nothing 'dirty' about it.  'Dirty' is a burger from a pizza/kebab/fried chicken/burger shop at 2am that drips with grease and assorted and unidentifiable other sauces.  Anything else is simply for people with too much money and too little sense trying to relive their student days in the safety of a street food vendors. (takes deep breath and thinks about meat to calm down...)

That being said... if I could get my hands on some awesome souvlaki at 2am, I would die a happy happy, drunk man. Its a tasty, meaty, sloppy delight and would work just as well for a family BBQ as a tasty snack. Still, I'm not trying to claim it will replace your takeaway treat, I'd never be that much of a hypocrite...

Ingredients (Makes 4)

For the Souvlaki
500g Shoulder of Pork
30ml Lemon Juice
3tbsp Olive Oil
1tsp Dried Oregano
1tsp Dried Mint
1tsp Chili Flakes
4 Cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper

For the Peppers
3 Peppers

For the Flatbreads
200g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
200g Greek Yogurt

For the Tzatziki
1/2 Cucumber
200ml Greek Yoghurt
1tsp Dried Mint
4 Cloves Garlic
2tbsp Lemon Juice

1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade and cover the meat. Put in the fridge overnight.  At the same time, soak 4 wooden skewers to stop them from burning when you grill/BBQ the meat

2. Grate the cucumber, then squeeze as much of the liquid out of it as you can.  Add this to the yoghurt along with the mint, crushed garlic and lemon juice. Mix well and refrigerate until needed

3.  Heat your grill to maximum and put the peppers under it.  Keep turning them until the skins are charred and black on all sides.  Remove from the heat and put into a bowl, then cover with cling film and allow to cool.  Then remove the skin, seeds and stalk and cut into strips.  Put aside until needed.

4.  Make the dough for the flatbreads by combining all the ingredients and kneeding for 3 minutes.  Then cut into 4 chunks and roll into flat circles about 15cm in diameter.

5.  Put the meat on the skewers and then put under a hot grill (or BBQ) until they are cooked through - about 10-15 minuted, depending on the size of the chunks. 

6.  Heat a griddle pan and cook the flatbreads for about 2 minutes per side

7.  Assemble the dish - put some tzatziki on the flatbread then peppers and finally chucks of pork.  Eat them with your hands, not knife and fork, and from a polystyrene carton for that '2am takeaway' feeling, or possibly overlooking a sunny Mediterranean beach for that authentic Greek feel

Monday, 16 June 2014

Japanese Feast - WCFC2014 : Japan

Mrs Soup is a bit of a Japan-o-phile, so I turned over responsibility to her for this dish.  I was good and didn't even hang round in the kitchen, fussing and 'helping' like I often do when someone else is cooking for me.  What I got in return was a rather magnificent feast.

First a bit about Japan, which, it turns out has never been attacked by Godzilla. 

1. Japan has the worlds largest population of robots! Over 800,000 of them live and work in the country, although none of them play for the national football team (as far as I know)
2. Japan has the world's oldest national anthem - Kimigayo - which dates back to 1880, but is based on a waka poem from the Heian period (794–1185) but it doesn't feature any lines about pouring gifts on people, like the British nation anthem does.  (This is why it's considered bad form to give the Queen a present of soup)
3. My Neighbour Totoro, a Japanese animated film directed by Hayao Miyazake is THE BEST FILM EVER MADE

So, anyway - now that you know more about Japan then 97% of the people who actually live there, on with the food. Rather than cook a single meal, Mrs Soup opted for a number of small dishes served at the same time.

All the recipes came from a book called Hashi by Reiko Hashimoto, which is a brilliant introduction to Japanese cuisine, I can't recommend it enough and I'm totally hooked on it.

Amongst the dishes were Tamago-yaki, which are slices of sweet omelettes with ham, sweetened with sugar and mirin, then sliced thinly and served cold.  Like most Japanese dishes, everything is served sliced on the plate to make them easier to eat with chopsticks (although I opted for a knife and fork as I lack the co-ordination for chopsticks, or walking in a straight line for more than 4 meters)

Next up was Spinach with Gomadare Sesame Sauce, which was blanched spinach leaves again served cold accompanied with a sauce made of tahini, caster sugar, mirin and sesame seeds. This sauce definitely had umami coming out the wazoo, so to speak.  This is a brilliant way to make spinach a tasty dish without actually doing much to it. 

And finally (unless you count the aubergine and miso dish which was somehow left in the oven and burnt to a rather exciting purple crisp, but we wont mention that...) we had prawn and vegetable tempura with ponzu sauce.  2 things I learned watching Mr Soup prepare this dish was that 
1) Chopsticks are a brilliant utensils to aid in the deep frying process, great for making sure the food doesn't stick together and perfect for grabbing things from the hot oil

2) Ponzu is a sauce, not an elaborate insurance scam, made with lime juice, soy and dashi.

Also, being a Northerner experiencing oriental food, I was excited to find that tempura comes with scraps like you used to get from the chippy.   Well, maybe it isn't actually meant to be part of the dish in the strictest terms, but the light golden and crunchy batter was so amazing that I couldn't help just eat it on its own....

Friday, 13 June 2014

Bandeja Paisa - WCFC2014 : Colombia

Aaaaaand they're off. Oh, wait, that's horse racing isn't it? Well, the World Cup is under way and love it or loath it, you can't escape from it. My plan is to lock myself in the kitchen and cook so much food I can't even see a telly, much less a football match.  But there's a challenge to be undertaken that is football related, and I shall rise to it...

First out of the hat is Colombia.  I know nothing about the prowess of Colombia's football team, so here are some facts to distract you from my shocking lack of soccer knowledge (and why I suck at the sports rounds in all pub quizzes, although these facts may aid you should your pub quiz have a round about Colombia in it...)

1. Colombia is where 95% of the world's emeralds are mined
2. Women were first allowed to vote in Colombia in 1957
3. Colombia's national animal is the majestic Condor.

First port of call for me when I'm researching a country's cuisine is to find out what it's national dish is, closely followed by what gross or weird ingredients do they cook with.  In Colombia's case, the national dish is Bandeja Paisa, which, rather brilliantly is basically a huge fry-up, so that's the first dish I cooked in the World Cup Food Challenge.

Much like the English fry-up, there seems to be a few opinions in what goes in a good Bandeja Paisa, so I picked a few components that seemed to go together.  Other things you could add are steak, arepa (Colombian Cornbread) or black pudding.   The main philosophy of a good Bandeja Paisa seems to be More is better so if you're trying it at home, pile as much on the plate as is humanly possible (I didn't for the pictures because I don't want you all to think I'm a fatty, but as soon as I'd finished snapping, I doubled the quantity that you see here...)

Carne en Polvo - Powdered Beef

450g Braising Steak
5 Spring Onions
1tsp Cumin
Salt and Pepper

Cut the steak into cubes and rub with the cumin, salt and plenty of black pepper, finely cut your onions and then put everything in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and put in a pan, then cover with water.  Bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 45 minute to an hour, until the meat is cooked and starting to break up.  Remove from the heat, take the meat out of the liquid and leave to dry and cool thoroughly

Once it is dry and cold, put the meat in a food blender and process until it's a fine, powdery consistency.

Chicharron - Fried Pork

300g Belly Pork Slices
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Salt

Rub the pork slices in the salt and baking powder, and then fry gently for 10-15 minutes, until its golden and crispy on the outside

Frijoles Paisas _ Colombian Style Beans

200g Dried Pinto Beans
1 Large Onion
50g Bacon
3 Cloves Garlic
1tsp Cumin
1tsp Salt
1tsp Baking Soda

Soak the Pinto Beans overnight (or use tinned if you are totally lazy) in water with the baking soda to help the beans soften

Drain the beans and rinse, then add to a pan with some water, the bacon, cumin, chopped onion and carrot garlic and salt.  Bring the pan to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes, until the beans are softened and cooked through.  Drain if some of the liquid if you don't like it too runny and then serve


1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
5 Spring Onions
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp White Vinegar 
1 Tsp Cumin
Salt and Pepper

Chop the onion and fry gently. Add the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and cumin, then simmer for 10 minutes.  Season to taste

Serve the meal with Fried Plantains, Chorizo Sausage, white rice, avocado and a fried egg.  Enjoy!  This meal also works well as a breakfast to chase away a hangover caused my drinking too much during a game, or drinking too much trying to avoid a game...

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

World Cup Food Challenge 2014

Are we all excited about the World Cup? Who doesn't love a ball kicking festival?

Well we here at Soup Tuesday HQ are, if we're honest Football ambivalent.  I do enjoy the odd match but I don't go into mourning my team lose. Mainly because I don't have a favourite team.  But there's one thing I do love, and that's food (although you may be forgiven for thinking I'd stopped eating given the lackadaisical attitude to blogging I've shown over the last few months)

Anyway, after the success of The Olympic Food Challenge from a while ago, the lovely Ewan from Tonight's Menu has organised a new challenge  - The World Cup Food Challenge, and guess what, Im taking part.  You can follow the exploits of my fellow participants on the WCFC2014 blog and I'll be posting recipes from the coutries in my group here too (also, if you're on twitter, the official hastag is #WCFC2014 cos we're super high tech here at Soup Tuesday)

My group from the draw was Group C which consists of the following countries

Cote D'Ivoir

I'll be cooking one dish from each country and then additional dishes from countries that proceed through to subsequent rounds.  It's an interesting mix of countries and hopefully I'll have some good dishes coming up.  Don't forget to check back for more, and also check out the rest of the blogs in the challenge.  Oh, also, remember to watch some footie, if that's your bag...

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Wild Garlic Soup

Wild Garlic Soup

It's springtime! The sun is (sometimes) in the sky and everywhere, nature is erupting from its winter slumber like an, erm, volcano of green things.  And one of the greatest things about this time of year is wild garlic!

I've done a few soups with wild garlic before, but out of every one I've tried, this is by far the best and the most simple.  On  Sunday afternoon, we had guests for a roast dinner, so I served this soup as a starter, which meant a quick walk down the the canal, following my nose until I smelled the unmistakable smell of the wild garlic, grabbed a carrier bag full of the stuff, headed home and an hour later the soup was on the table - how's that for 'straight from nature'?

Wild Garlic
Wild Garlic, yesterday, in a secret location
 Of course, it goes without saying, if you are going to pick wild garlic, make sure that you know what it is first, no picking deadly poisons and then trying to sue me, okay? Secondly, wash it thoroughly - there are lots of dogs and dog walkers around where I pick mine, so it needs to be cleaned properly.

Wild Garlic
Even more wild garlic. Surely no-one will miss a few kilos for soup purposes, right?
Bearing that in mind, wild garlic is about the easiest thing in the world to forage for, and its a brilliant ingredient that you never see in the shops, for reasons I can only guess at. Anyway, the addition of some cream, black pudding slices and croutons will make this a quick, easy and tasty soup.

Wild Garlic Soup

150g Wild Garlic
1 Large Onion
1 Large Potato
40g Butter
900ml Vegetable Stock
100ml White Wine
Juice of half a lemon
Double Cream
Black Pudding Slices
Salt and Pepper

1. Peel and chop the onion and potato.  In a large pan, heat the butter and then gently fry the onion and potato until they start to soften.

2.  Wash the garlic and remove any tough stems.  Add to the pan and allow to wilt.

3.  Add the stock, lemon juice and white wine, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 25 minute.  Take off the heat and allow to cool

4.  Blend the soup until smooth, passing through a sieve to remove any lumps, then return to the pan and reheat gently, adjusting seasoning to taste

5.  Fry some slices of black pudding

6.  Serve with a swirl of cream, some black pudding slices and a few crunchy croutons.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Budae Jjigae (Army Base Soup) - Korean Spam and Kimchi Soup

Budae Jjigae

Here it is.  The pinnacle of my soup making career to date!  If you could create a recipe that combines my love of soups of the world with my love of unloved ingredients, combine something I've never tried before and sprinkle a bit of military history on top (yes, I'm a history geek as well as a soup geek) it would look something like this unholy but delicious dish.

The story behind this soup goes as follows... A few weeks ago, I got a craving for Spam - I have no idea where it came from except that when I was a kid, every Friday in the summertime we had a salad that featured either Spam or Pek pork, nestled alonside limp lettuce, pickled beetroot and sliced boiled eggs.  Maybe I was feeling nostalgic for those days, or maybe I'd just been watching Monty Python, but regardless, my recipe seeking brain went in search of things to make and do with Spam, and it eventually lead me to South Asia...

Budae Jjigae
East Meets West.  It's like an episode of M*A*S*H in tinned form
After the Second World War (and the Korean War too) food in Japan, Korea and the Pacific Islands - recently devastated by a harrowing but highly cinematic conflict - was in short supply.  Indeed, the only regular supply of it was often to be begged, borrowed or stolen from the American GIs  who were still around.  And one thing they had plenty of was Spam. And since then it has become something of a delicacy in the region, even appearing as Spam Musubi (a form of sushi featuring Spam)

This soup (or stew) is made entirely of ingredients that could be scrounged from GIs, hence the name Army Base Soup, but its the sort of thing I would have eaten as a student, if I'd had access to kimchi.  It might now exactly be fine dining, but I'm guessing it's as authentic as any recipe from any cook book on your shelves, and doesn't it deserve some look as much as the pulled porks, confit potatoes, cronuts and quinoa stuffed, organically sourced alpaca steaks of this world?

If you can get Korean hot pepper paste, that is more accurate than the chilli powder that I used, and the instant noodles should be added without their soup powder mix!

Budae Jjigae

200g Spam
4 Hot Dog Sausages
100g Mushrooms
100g Kimchi
1 Small Tin Baked Beans
1 Large Onion
Spring Onions
Red Chilli Pepper
1 Packet Instant Noodles
1tsp Sesame Oil
1tbsp Minced Garlic
1tbsp Rice Wine
1tsp Chilli Powder
1tsp Fish Sauce
900ml Chicken Stock

1. Bring the stock to the boil, add the sesame oil, garlic, rice wine, chilli powder and fish sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat and set aside for later

2. Cut the hot dog sausages into small pieces, slice the spam, wash and halve the button mushrooms, peel and finely slice the onion.  Place the ingredients in a pan, along with the baked beans and then add the stock.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minute.

3. Add the instant noodles and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the noodles are soft.

4. Garnish the soup with thinly sliced spring onions and red chillies.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Potato and Caraway Soup

Wow!  This is my 200th post! Who knew I'd still be doing this thing (oh, wait, I said this all when I did my 100th soup recipe didn't I? Anyway, thanks for sticking with me, and there are still so many exciting soups to come, I promise...) 

Due to circumstances beyond my control I couldn't make the polish soup I'd planned this week (again) and I needed to throw together a quick 'cupboard' soup.  I can't think of any other kind of food where you can just throw random things into a pot and out comes a tasty result - that's why soups are so brilliant, but I wanted to also have something that had a bit of character, not just a random veggie thing.

I had a look in the cupboards where vegetables lurk and found a few things that would go well together, then added some caraway (I'm still addicted to the stuff in a way that's probably unhealthy) and some sausage to add a little meaty savoury taste to the whole thing, and voilà - a tasty soup was born...

600g Potatoes
1 Leek
1 Large Onion
2 Stalks Celery
40g Butter
3 Cloves Garlic
2tsp Caraway Seeds
1tsp Marjoram
1.2l Chicken Stock
2 Polish Sausages

1. Finely chop the leek, garlic, celery and onion, Heat the butter in your soup pan then gently fry the vegetables until the start to soften

2. Peel and cube the potatoes, then add them to the pan, letting them soften slightly too.

3. Add the stock, marjoram and caraway seed, then bring the soup to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are just starting to break up.

4.  Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree it, then return it to the pan (or alternatively, just use a potato masher - this soup works best with a few lumps in it)

5.  Slice the sausage and then fry it in a little oil

6. Serve the soup with slices of sausage as a garnish.  Enjoy