Tag Archives: soup

Winter Vegetables

Well, just take a look out the window. Chances are it is raining, or the sun may be glaring, but you know that it’s freezing outside, that misleading swine. This was the view from our living room window at about 3pm this afternoon. Miserable, isn’t it ?

A couple of friends and I have taken up yoga in an attempt to beat our winter blues (and premature back pain). I realise that it is only October, but for someone who hates this lack of sun and heat as much as I, it may as well already be winter; I’m seriously considering hibernation. As we spilled onto the pavement outside Brighton’s Buddhist centre last Friday evening after a class, limber and supple and refreshed into the chilly night air, we encountered a farmer’s market about to close for the evening. With gleeful excitement we perused the colourful array of tasty and healthy fruit and veg and outstayed our welcome long enough to warrant free figs. We ate yellow baby tomatoes out of a paper bag as we walked home in our leggings, each with our own respective plans to make soup for dinner that evening. It seemed like the perfect way to round off the day.

My choice: chunky vegetable and lentil – just saute an onion, add 500ml vegetable stock, cube a potato and some butternut squash, add a few handfuls of lentils and simmer for 20 or so minutes. Throw in a can of chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato puree, and some chopped leafy greens (I used spinach and kale). Season as you wish.

Freeze what you can’t physically fit into your tiny, cold-shrunk stomach in mismatched plastic tubs. Above is this very soup in its frozen form, a soup-cicle, if you will. It is necessary, as I find myself making a lot of soup recently, what with having developed somewhat of an obsession with fresh vegetables and farmers’ markets.

And another good way of using up a mismatch of leftover veg…

… like I need an excuse to make pizza.

I’ve been experimenting with different doughs. This here pizza is on the gluten-free base I have made previously. It’s nutty and chewy, kind of like a wholegrain, savoury cookie, topped with a plethora of Mediterranean delight.

I went to the Turkish/Greek market near where I live, one of those ones with all the fresh olives and sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes and baklava on display, and you can spoon them, dripping in oil and herbs, into little tupperware dishes and pay per lb; with freshly baked bread, pitta and fruits and vegetables and nuts and yoghurt and all the goat and sheep’s cheese you could possibly want at any one time. Going there is like a trip to the zoo for me. Markets are beautiful.

I bought some halva and some Greek yoghurt, the figs and the feta. A true Mediterranean feast. Though I have never visited Greece, I feel like this was a subconscious effort on my part to ignore how cold and grey and dreary England is becoming. I like to think that the figs on this pizza add a little sunshine to my wintery squash vibe.

Feta and butternut squash pizza with fig and caramelised onion

Roast some butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary for about 25 – 30 minutes on medium-high heat.

While the squash is roasting, caramelise your onions.

When you take it out, mash it up a bit. I didn’t think the figs would go very well with tomato pizza sauce, so I left it out. You can either go commando or make some kind of cheese or white sauce with which to top your pizza (I find a mixture of cream cheese and lemon juice works well on tomato-less pizzas), or just drizzle some olive oil over the top, then spread the mashed butternut squash mixture across your pizza base of choice (Wholemeal, gluten-free, or see below !).

Slice your figs, crumble your feta (any goat’s cheese would work well) and arrange your onions over the top, with an extra sprinkling of rosemary and pepper for good measure (use judgement – too much rosemary can end up tasting soapy, I’ve heard…). I chose to omit the final dash of salt I usually put over my pizzas before baking – mozzarella needs it, feta does not.

Providing your pizza base has been pre-cooked, you should only need to cook your assembled pizza for about 10-15 minutes.

The colours on this remind me of a seventies caravan.

Pizza Fiorentina

So, from Greece back to the homeland of the pizza, tonight I made fiorentina. That’s tomato, mozzarella, spinach, black olives and artichokes all topped off with a poached egg, black pepper and parmesan cheese. It’s perfect.

This is my favourite food to eat of all time.

On my journey to create the perfect pizza base I have had to relinquish some of my health-fascism in the form of using WHITE FLOUR. Well, as I read on a forum wherein the pros and cons of wholemeal flour were being discussed, some things where just not meant to be wholemeal. Pizza dough is one of them. Sure, I will happily make and eat a wholemeal pizza crust, but you can’t compare it to those soft, chewy and smooth white bases that the Italians and a number of UK-Italian restaurants do so well.

So I’m trying this recipe tonight, with the semolina and strong white. It turned out really good, if not a little crispy. At the moment I’m yearning for that stretchy, doughy puffiness that I can never seem to achieve with homemade pizza, especially not in the gluten-free or wholemeal versions. It is so elusive.

I’ll let you know when I get there.

Amy x

French Onion Soup

I found some cheddar in my freezer.

I had a big fat juicy onion that needed some lovin’.

I grabbed some vegetable stock. Gotta have stock. Never know when the mood for soup’s gonna hit ya.

Being a person who never knows when the mood for anything is going to hit her, I keep my kitchen fully stocked with an array of ingredients, no matter how often or how little they are used. One of these ingredients is fortified wine. Which just so happens to make a fantastic French Onion Soup.

All I needed to do was shuffle up to the shop and get a crusty, wholemeal roll to toast and adorn my fragrant and flavoursome French friend.

French Onion Soup for One

Preheat your grill to high.

Peel and chop one large yellow onion into rings.

Heat a dab of butter and a splash of olive oil in a pan. On a low heat, cook onions, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 25 minutes, until they are sweet and caramelised.

Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sugar.

Stir 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour into the onion mixture to thicken it slightly.

Stir 2-3 tablespoons of sherry or white wine into about 200ml of vegetable stock (which works just as well as the beef stock that is traditionally called for in this recipe). Add to onion mixture.

Let simmer for a few minutes while you toast a slice of wholemeal bread.

Pour the soup into an oven-proof bowl. Top with toast. You can cut into croutons if you wish.

Cover with a generous layer of cheese and grill for a few minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. Gruyere or emmenthal is usually used to top this soup, but what sane person has gruyere or emmenthal just lying around ? Cheddar is the common man’s cheese, and cheddar is what I had, so cheddar is what I used.

Gobble up. It’s so comforting.

Winter is coming.

Yoga for Breakfast

Posted on

…mushroom soup for lunch !

No, but really, I had a real breakfast. Peanut butter toast and a banana, to be precise.

I am slap-bang in the middle of that part of my week in which I have all the time in the world to focus on exercising, cooking, composing, practising, writing and revising, which is useful and all that but I’m telling you, Cabin Fever is imminent. The weather has been terrible lately, and it really, really makes me feel horrible when I have to run in the rain, or I look out of the window to be met with nothing but grey, drab skies. I know this shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but it does, so there.

I reacted too quickly back in March when we had that all-too-familiar bout of unusually sunny days to which the UK is so often subjected during the early days of Spring, causing everyone to be too hasty in getting their skin out and eating salad outside. Then suddenly the weather snaps back to, well, standard Britain and you’re all like, Oh, what have I done with my winter coat/umbrella/thermal underwear ? and I really fancy some soup.

Which is what I did today. Yes, my winter coat has indeed made its way back out of storage, much to my disgruntled mumbling and cursing. And yes, mushroom soup has occurred ! Aren’t mushrooms pretty ?

I know what you’re thinking, “But mushroom soup has to be creamy, and you’re vegan, so this recipe is going to suck.”

Well, it is creamy. And it is vegan. And it most definitely doesn’t suck. So read on, oh, sceptical one.

Mushroom Soup with Cashew Cream
(by Joy the Baker)

Serves 2

You need:
Olive oil
1 onion (I only had red, so I used it)
2 cloves of garlic
250g mushrooms (you choose the type. I used chestnut)
1 tbsp soy sauce/2 tbsps Worcester sauce (fish-free – I know right ? It really exists !)
Salt/black pepper
375ml vegetable stock
30g cashew nuts
60ml water

Method:

Finely chop the onions and garlic. Fry the onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes on a medium heat, then add the garlic and stir through on a low heat for a further 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, chopped. Stir for a further 5 minutes.

Stir in the soy and Worcester sauce, salt and pepper. Then add the stock and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend together the cashews and water in a food processor, until creamy (see where this is going now…?)

Transfer cashew cream to another container and blend the soup.

When smooth, you can reheat in the saucepan, lightly stirring through the cashew cream.

This really was good, if a little salty. In hindsight, go easy on the salt because of the soy and the Worcester, and especially if like me you use cheap stock cubes that are mainly salt. Also, you really have to work at blending the cashews. If you’re finding it hard to get the lumps out, sieve the mixture and scrape and mash it through with a spoon. Transfer pulp back to blender and whizz again, add a little bit of the sieved cream and process again, and repeat until you have a decent amount of creamy cashew-y cream.

It is completely and utterly worth the effort.

Shroomy-love,

Amy x

Too Lazy to Type Pt. 2

Continuation of  the Home Alone Vlog Experiment:

1. Breakfast and beginning to bake the baguettes

 

2. More baking (and coffee)

 

3. Garlic bread and soup

Tomato and Basil Nom

Argh I had the most fantastic idea that is so much more amazing than cheese bagel: fresh tomato and basil soup (so obsessed with basil right now). So instead of my pre-planned ½ wholemeal bagel, cheese, tomato and basil, I looked up a recipe for tomato and basil soup and found this: by Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking. Why didn’t I think of this sooner ?!

You know what I love ? Is when you look up a recipe and you already have all the ingredients ! It’s like fate wanted me to make this soup ! Okay so I didn’t have stock; a nice little stroll to the shop would have sorted that one out quickly, and got me out of my bed for a little bit which is always good but man, I went for a run this morning for the first time in over a month, it went well at first and I thought yeah, I’ll tackle the GIANT HILL that my house is on and felt great, then my heart started exploding, no jokes, and my lungs were screaming, “STOP, OH CRUEL MISTRESS, WE THOUGHT YOU’D GIVEN UP EXERCISE FOR WINTER AND GONE INTO HIBERNATION !” – which is pretty must what I have done since September – and I looked at my watch and a measly 12 MINUTES had gone by, so I pushed myself to 20 where I all but collapsed on my front doorstep. Ooh, it was not pleasant, but at least I know it’s all er… uphill from here.

So yes, due to this horrible experience I couldn’t even bring myself to walk to the shop, so I used hot water and balsamic vinegar in place of the vegetable stock (1 cup water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, pinch or two of salt).

This recipe serves 6, so I tried to estimate the quantities for one. Well actually this was all I had so I just shoved it all together and hoped for the best…

~

Fresh tomato and basil soup (adapted from A Wee Bit of Cooking)

2 small/medium tomatoes (this was all I had, probably use 3 if you can)

1 onion (the original recipe said 2 for 6 people, but I fricken love onion so I used a whole one, and especially as I only had 2 tomatoes I wanted to bulk it out)

1 carrot

1 garlic clove

Dash of olive oil

Vegetable stock (or whatever you decide to substitute)

2 tablespoons tomato puree (I didn’t diminish the quantities here because tomato puree is yummy)

(Generous !) Handful of basil leaves

Seasoning (whatever you like, salt, pepper, oregano etc.)

Peel and seed the tomatoes

Chop and fry the onion for a few minutes until softened, then add crushed garlic

Add tomatoes, tomato puree and carrots and cook for 10 minutes. If, like me, you made this on a whimsical whimsy whim and only had 2 tomatoes, make sure you stir it lots or it’ll stick. I get the feeling that more tomatoes would equal more juice and therefore less stick-age.

Add enough stock to cover mixture by a centimetre or two – I prefer a stodgy soup so I didn’t put a hell of a lot of “stock” in – and simmer for 15 minutes. More stock can always be added when blending if the soup needs thinning.

(I tasted it at this point - divine)

Add basil and blend

Season, reheat in the pan/microwave if necessary and serve !

Calories: 210; fat: 4.5g; of which saturates 0.6g

So easy and tasty and healthy and aaaah… grab something carby, wholemeal and chunky and get dipping. Be as uncouth as is humanely possible.

action shot bagel

I ate this by candlelight with my housemate, Tommy, and it was exquisite. I may very well have over-basiled it, but I think in light of the basil infatuation this is not surprising. Tommy tried some (he was polite and refused at first until I dipped a piece of bread in the soup and pretty much shoved it in his mouth) and guess what he said:

“Wow.”

Which I think means that I can safely say thank you, Wendy for the completely awesome soup recipe !

(Although Tom may only have said this due to the violent insistence with which I proffered his morsel…) But anyhow…

Mission Soup: accomplished !

 

The parents are visiting on Sunday (I miss them !) so I’m going to have to substitute one of the meals on the menu (most likely the pasta, and I’ll have soup for dinner – tinned, not gorgeous and homemade) with lunch out. I’ll write about it if it’s spectacular/a disaster.

Night !

Amy x

~

(Aaand here’s the whole recipe again but a bit clearer, without annoying commentary and mental pictures)

Fresh tomato and basil soup for one:

Ingredients:

2-3 small/medium tomatoes

1 onion

1 carrot

1 garlic clove

Dash of olive oil

Vegetable stock

2 tablespoons tomato puree

Handful of basil leaves

Seasoning (salt, pepper, oregano etc.)

Method:

Peel and seed the tomatoes

Chop and fry the onion for a few minutes until softened, then add crushed garlic

Add tomatoes, tomato puree and carrots and cook for 10 minutes

Add enough stock to cover mixture by a centimetre or two

Add basil and blend, adding more stock if the soup needs thinning

Season, reheat in the pan/microwave if necessary and serve