Kesäkeitto (Summer soup)

Since I started writing my blog, I’ve really been enjoying going back to my past, all the way to childhood, to make foods I’ve not had in a long time. There are so many lovely things I’ve almost forgotten exist, but luckily I now have an excuse to really look into them. This tasty soup’s key elements are milk, and fresh vegetables, and it’s also suitable to vegetarians. I tend to prepare most of the ingredients before starting the cooking, as the soup actually cooks pretty quickly. This recipe makes a big soup, enough for about 8 people.

2 carrots
200g green beans
2 dl peas
1/2 broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets
500g new potatoes
150g spinach, chopped
4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 litre water
1.2 litres milk
4 tbsp plain flour

1. Cut the vegetables.

2. Boil the water with the salt and sugar added, then add the carrots, green beans and peas, and boil for 3 minutes.

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3. Add the potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli, and boil for about 10 minutes, until almost cooked.

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4. Mix the flour with 2 dl of the milk, until there are no lumps. Pour the remaining 1 litre of milk into the soup, followed by the flour- milk mixture. Add the chopped spinach, and cook for a few minutes. It’s good to stir the soup during the cooking after the milk has been added, to prevent it from burning at the bottom.

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Gazpacho

This summer soup is one of my all time favourite chilled soups. All ingredients are served raw, so you can be sure that all the flavours and nutrients are still present for sure. You can serve it on it’s own, or perhaps with finely chopped cucumber / red pepper pieces, or perhaps with some goat cheese mousse. I use quite a lot of cucumber in my recipe, as I love it, however it dilutes the redness of the soup a little bit. The soup is very liquid, as it’s drained through a sieve, but it is really flavoursome. You can serve it as a very light lunch or dinner, in which case you’ll probably get two servings from this recipe, or you could serve it as a little appetizer or starter on a garden party, in which case you’ll get many servings.

400g large tomatoes
1 cucumber
1 garlic glove
2  handfulls of basil leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
3 dl water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp tabasco
salt
black pepper

1. To get the skin off the tomatoes more easily, place them in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and let cool. With a sharp knife, make a slit on the skin going around the whole tomato, this will make it easier to peel them. Then chop the tomatoes, discarding the hard core part.

2. Peel and chop the cucumber while the tomatoes are cooling. Place in the liquidizer, together with the peeled garlic clove. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, basil leaves and water, and blend until smooth.

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3. Strain through a sieve, and push as much through as you can. This step will take a while.

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4. Stir in the lemon juice, oil, tabasco and seasoning. Chill in the fridge for at least couple of hours. Before serving, check the taste, and add seasoning if required, as chilling may reduce the strength of flavours.

Asparagus soup

Don’t you just love it when asparagus starts coming to season? Something I always make during that period is asparagus soup. You only need a few ingredients, and it’s pretty quick to make (unless you want to make your own chicken stock for it).

serves 2-3
500g asparagus
2 shallots
600 ml chicken stock
25g butter
olive oil, for drizzling over the portions

1. Trim the asparagus stalks, by peeling the lower half of them. Otherwise you’ll end up with woody strings in your soup, that are edible, but somewhat uncomfortable in the mouth. Rinse, and cut the tips off. Set the tips aside for later. Roughly chop the asparagus stalks and the shallots.

2. Melt the butter in a pan, and soften the shallots and asparagus, frying for 5 minutes at medium to high temperature. Reduce to low to medium temperature, and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Cool the mixture, then liquidise the soup until smooth. Place back in the pan, heat and season to taste.

4. Boil the asparagus tips separately for 2 minutes, and drain. Mix into the soup, saving a few to be put on top.

5. Drizzle with little olive oil.

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Chinese chicken noodle soup

I love this basic Chinese soup. I make different variations of it, sometimes with chicken, sometimes with king prawns. It’s also easy to add / leave ingredients out, I sometimes add thinly sliced red peppers, as well as sesame seeds on top for visual effect. Also, I don’t always use the egg. The only thing however that is a must to me, is to have my homemade chicken stock in the freezer. I’ve never made this soup with shop bought stock, and I’m not interested in trying it either. This doesn’t mean you can’t try it of course, I just don’t know how that kind of stock would affect the end taste. Sometimes I use chicken cut in pieces, today I wanted to use shredded chicken.

serves 2
1 egg
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 spring onion
2 chestnut mushrooms
half a thumb size piece of fresh root ginger
1 small green chilli
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
800-900ml chicken stock Homemade chicken stock
vermicelli rice noodles
1 chicken breast

1. Poach the chicken breast in the simmering stock for 10-15 minutes.

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2. Finely chop garlic, ginger and chilli.  Slice the mushrooms and spring onion. Remove the chicken breast from the stock, and cool. Add garlic, ginger,chilli, mushrooms and spring onions to the liquid, and simmer for few minutes.

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3. If using the egg, beat it together with the sesame oil. Add all other remaining ingredients to the stock apart from the egg and chicken. Cook for few minutes, and add the vermicelli noodle. The noodle I use is a packet of 5 ‘blocks’, total weight of 225g. All that is needed is one of the blocks.

4. Once the chicken has cooled, shred it by hand. It will very easily break into strands when you start pulling it apart. One breast gives you surprisingly much. Once shredded, add to the stock.

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5. Pour the egg to the stock in a fine stream. Stock will become cloudy at first, but once the egg is cooked, stock will be clearer again. Pull egg into strands by a fork or chopsticks.

Roasted red pepper soup

This tasty soup is light and healthy, and just seeing the vibrant colour makes you want to tuck your spoon in.

5 red peppers
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
450g tomatoes
900ml chicken stock, click here for recipe (or for vegetarian version, vegetable stock)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
salt
black pepper

1. Cut the peppers in half, and core and deseed them. Place on a foil lined oven tray, skin side up. Brush with 2 tbsp olive oil, and grill under medium to high temperature for about 10 minutes, until the skin is getting black, and peppers soften. Remove from the oven, wrap in the foil and let cool for about 10 minutes.

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2. Boil some water. Dip the tomatoes in the water for about 30 seconds, and take them back out. We are not cooking them at this stage, this will just allow for the skin of the tomatoes to come off easily. Peel and chop the tomatoes.

3. Peel and roughly chop the onions, and peel and finely chop the garlic. Fry the onion in 1 tbsp of the olive oil for 5 minutes until they become translucent, then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stock and vinegar.

4. Peel the blackened skin off the cooled peppers, and roughly chop them. Add to the other ingredients and bring to boil. Cover with a lid, lower the temperature to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool, then purée into a smooth soup.

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5. Pour the soup back in the pan, re-heat, and season to taste.

Spinach soup

This soup is another one of those foods from my childhood that didn’t impress me back then. Most of my experience of it, however, was as a school lunch, and most children hated it. Now when I make it, I think it’s absolutely delicious! I think it’s important to use as nice beef stock as possible, as that brings a lot of flavour to this soup. Traditionally, the soup is served with hard boiled eggs.

500g fresh spinach
2 litres water
4 tsp salt
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50g butter
3 tbsp plain flour
1 litre beef stock
1 1/2 dl cream
salt
black pepper
nutmeg

1. Wash the spinach leaves, and bring to boil in the water with the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked, then pour the water off and drain the spinach.

2. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour to it and mix together.

3. Start adding the beef stock, little by little, mixing continuously, until it has all been used and mixed together.

4. Puree the drained spinach in a blender, and add into the stock. Stir until it has all been mixed in properly.

5. Add the cream, then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cook for few minutes, and the soup is ready to be enjoyed!

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Mince beef soup

This winter warmer soup is especially perfect for those cold, cosy days. This is a very Finnish style soup of basic runny liquid base, with all the ingredients as bitesize chunks, rather than those thick, puréed soups. I personally quite like these kind of soups, because you can see and taste the ingredients separately. This soup contains a lot of healthy root vegetables, and doesn’t actually require a lot of cooking itself, most of the work goes to chopping the vegetables. This recipe makes a big soup, which is perfect. I think homemade soups are a little bit like curry, in a way that they seem to taste even better the next day. Also, the great thing about this kind of food is that you are not restricted to follow the ingredients too strictly, but can add other ingredients too. My recipe will be ever so slightly peppery-hot, if you don’t like any heat in your food you might want to leave out the white pepper, or reduce the amount.

1 onion, finely chopped
250g mince beef
1.2kg potatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp allspice
1.5 litres beef stock click here for homemade recipe
1 large parsnip (200g)
2 small turnips (200g)
300g swede
1/2 large leek, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
2-3 dl frozen peas
(1 tsp salt if necessary, to taste at the end. I tend to use sea salt for this)

1. Fry the onions in vegetable oil in a pan, until starting to get translucent. Add the mince beef and mix with the onions. Add the spices, and fry until cooked. During the cooking process, keep braking into small pieces.

2. Take about a quarter of the potatoes, and peel and chop into small pieces. Boil in the stock, covered, until cooked, then mash them.

3. While the potatoes are boiling, peel and chop all the other root vegetables into small, bite size cubes. Add to the stock and mashed potatoes, together with the bay leaves.

4. Peel and cut the remaining potatoes into small pieces, and add to the soup. Lastly, add the finely chopped leek, peas and the mince beef.

5. Cook until all vegetables are cooked. After all the ingredients have been added this should only take about 10 more minutes, depending on the size you’ve cut your potatoes.

6. Check the taste, and add the salt if required.