Pumpkin soup

I’m currently experimenting with soups, trying to make one pretty much every week, whilst keeping it interesting at the same time. It’s probably no surprise that being a Halloween week, I’ve made pumpkin soup today. I don’t normally use pumpkin in cooking much at all, so it’s actually nice that I have as the soup is lovely!  The consistency of my soup is quite like that of  velouté, velvety and smooth. If you would like yours thicker, I would just reduce the amount of the liquids in my recipe.

2 onions, finely chopped
splash of olive oil
1 pumpkin (mine was 1,8kg)
1 litre of vegetable stock (I mix Bouillon powder with water)
2dl double cream
salt
pepper
pumpkin seeds
pea shoots

1. Peel, deseed and chop the pumpkin.

2. Heat the oil, then cook onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the stock, and after bringing it to boil simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper.

4. After cooling the soup down a little bit, puree it in a blender.

5. Re-heat if needed, drizzle some olive oil on top and serve with some pumpkin seeds and pea shoots.

Winter warmer beef and root vegetable soup

I was planning on making this soup for few weeks. Since I started planning it I’ve gone on a diet, and after I made it, I decided to count the calorie content of the soup. My recipe makes a really big amount, which only contains 2000 kcal. I was very pleased to find out that a portion size only contains a couple of hundred calories. The purpose of this soup was not a low calorie meal options, but it for sure is an added bonus. You will still get soft meaty pieces of beef, and the fresh vegetables bring such great flavour. It’s perfect winter warmer food.

600g diced beef
500g swede (about 1/2 of a large swede)
350g turnips
400g parsnips
250g carrots
600g potatoes
1 onion
125g cauliflower
125g broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
2 dl frozen peas
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
handful of fresh thyme sprigs
4 litres of water

1. Place the beef pieces and half of the water to a large pot. Cover with a lid, bring to boil, and boil for couple of hours, until the pieces are starting to get soft. It doesn’t necessarily matter what cut of the beef you use. If you are using tough, cheaper cuts, boiling them this way before you add the other ingredients will make them wonderfully soft. At the beginning of the boiling, keep on eye on the pot, as the ‘muck’ coming out of the beef may foam a lot. You may want to skim some of the foam / muck away. After about an hour’ add the salt, peppercorns, allspice, finely chopped garlic, bay leaves and thyme.

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2. While the beef is boiling, prepare all the vegetables. Peel and cut the turnips, swede, parsnips and carrots into small pieces. Peel the potatoes, and cut them into bigger, still bite sized pieces. Finely chop the onion, and cut the broccoli and cauliflower into small florets.

 

3. After the beef has been boiling for couple of hours (or longer if required) and is soft, add the carrots, swede, parsnips, turnips and potatoes, and the remaining half of the water. Bring back to boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Add the onion, cauliflower, broccoli and peas and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check the taste, and add seasoning, if required.

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Marrowfat pea soup

This is one of the soups I’ve really been missing from my native Finland. Ask anyone what food is served on Thursdays, and they should all say it’s this pea soup, followed by pancake for dessert. I found it difficult to find dried marrowfat peas traditionally used, so I decided to try a soup mix of pearl barley, green split peas, haricot beans, marrowfat peas, red split lentils, yellow split peas and brown rice, and was absolutely delighted at how close it came to the real deal! I was organized and planned my roast pork which literally fell apart (click here for recipe), for the weekend before making this soup, and it was perfect.  You will need to be a little bit organized when making this soup even if you haven’t planned to cook the meat in advance, because you need to soak the dried pulses for 12 hours. This recipe will make a big soup.

500g soup mix of dried pearl barley, green split peas, haricot beans, marrowfat peas, red split lentils, yellow split peas and brown rice
~500g pork shoulder meat, pulled to shreds
4 litres water
2 beef stock pots
salt
white pepper

1. Place the dried pulses in a large bowl, and cover with plenty of cold water. Leave to soak for 12 hours.

2. Drain and discard the soaking water. Place the pulses in a large pan, together with 4 litres of water. If your pan isn’t large enough, start with 2 litres, and add more after some liquid has evaporated. Bring to brisk boil, and boil for 10 minutes, unvovered.

3. If using uncooked meat, place the piece in the pan, skin removed. If you are using already cooked meat, leave until later. Bring the mixture to a softer boil, add the stock pots and cover with a lid. Boil for 2 hours. Stir a few times during the cooking.

4. If you cooked the meat with the soup, remove the piece, pull apart to shreds and add back to the soup. If you are using pre-cooked meat, add it in now, and heat through, stirring occasionally.

5. Season with the salt  and pepper to taste. You should have a nice, slightly thick soup. Also, it will taste even better when reheating it again the following day. As a serving suggestion, do also try it with a little bit of mustard mixed in.

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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.