French onion soup (with meat)

I remember the packet French onion soup from my childhood, that was used to enhance other foods, but we never ate it on its own. So I was intrigued to try to make my own, to see if I could change my mental image of this famous soup. As this soup requires beef stock, and for this kind of food I don’t like to use ready made ones, I made my own stock, and then decided to add some of the leftover meat into this soup, which actually worked really well.

1 litre beef stock Beef broth (stock)
4 large onions
25g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp cognac or brandy
150ml red wine
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Peel and cut the onions in half, then slice thinly. Put in a pan together with the butter and oil. I think quite a large, deep pan is good for this, due to the flaming at later stage. On a low temperature, fry the onions for 20 minutes, until soft, stirring from time to time.

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2. Add the sugar, and fry, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes.

3. Add the cognac, and carefully set alight. I used long matches. At first, the flames will be quite big so stand back. They will however quickly reduce. The flambéing process reduces the alcoholic content in the food, whilst still keeping the flavours of the drink.

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4. Once the flames go out, add the red wine, stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

5. Check the taste, and add salt and pepper if required.

6. As I made my stock particularly this soup in mind on the same day, I had all the meat left. Even though this soup is slightly sweet, I decided to add some of the meat into the soup. I just added the cooled, stripped meat pieces straight into the soup in the serving bowls.

Spicy ginger and carrot soup

When I heard this combination mentioned recently I thought it makes sense. I also thought it sounds like something that could benefit from a bit of heat from a chilli, as well as the usual suspects onion and garlic. And I always tend to add potatoes to pureed soups, for that rich, smooth texture. I have just been experimental and  thrown ingredients together for this soup, however I do think the ginger, sweet carrot and spicy chilli make a good team. And did you know that ginger, chilli, garlic, onion and turmeric are all natural medicines to fight off those colds too, so perfect for boosting your immune system when the weather is getting cold outside.

4-5 medium-large potatoes (900g), peeled and cut into pieces
1 kg carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
100g fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garclic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions (I used red onions)
1 small green chilli (the smaller the variety, the hotter it will be), chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 liter water
1/2 dl cream
salt and black pepper

1. Roughly chop onions. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and fry onion in medium heat for 5 minutes.

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2. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, and fry for few minutes. Add turmeric and cumin, and fry until fragrant.

3. Add the carrots and potatoes, as well as water. Bring to boil, and cook, covered, for 45 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are soft.

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4. Let cool slightly, and puree in a blender.

5. Add cream, and depending on thickness, a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower soup

This tasty soup is very easy and simple to make. I usually use some crispy bacon for some crunch and texture, but this can easily be left out to make the soup a vegetarian version.

1 cauliflower
4 large potatoes
2 medium onions
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp bouillon powder
2 dl double cream
2 dl
sweetcorn
salt
ground black pepper
1 liter
water
150g-200g
bacon

1. Peel and chop the potatoes, onions and garlic. Cut the  cauliflower, and add all four ingredients to a pan. Pour water over, and add the bouillon powder. Bring to boil and simmer until cooked and soft. If you don’t want to use bouillon powder you can always replace the water and the powder with same amount of vegetable stock.

2. Cook the bacon in the oven / under a grill, until overcooked but not burned.  I normally use smoked bacon, but use whatever bacon you prefer. Take out and let cool. Once cooled, crumble to small pieces by hand.

3. Once onions, potatoes, garlic and cauliflower are cooked. Let cool slightly, and puree in a blender. Pour back in the pan and add cream, sweetcorn and crispy bacon crumble. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Salmon soup

I would probably go as far as to say this is my all time favourite Finnish food. My husband and I have been together for nine years, however he still hasn’t bought into the Finnish style soups of thin liquid base with chunky pieces. He does enjoy the flavour of this soup, so I’ve added a step to make this soup (step 1) slightly thicker. It does actually make it richer, so this has now become part of my recipe.

500g salmon
5-6 large potatoes
1.5 liters water
100g fine green beans
3 large onions
bunch of dill
celery stick
2 dl frozen peas
2-3 dl double cream
2 tbsp bouillon powder
sea salt
ground white pepper

1. Peel and cut half of the potatoes into small pieces. Put the pieces in a large pan, with 1 liter of water. Boil for about 30 minutes, until soft, and mash the potatoes.

2. Whilst stage 1 is cooking, peel and cut the remaining potatoes. Finely chop celery. Add both ingeriendts to the mashed potatoes.

3. Cut the green beans, and add to potatoes.

4. Slice all onions, and add to the soup. Pour the remaining 5 dl water into the pan, and add the bouillon powder, pinch of sea salt and pepper.

5. Cut the salmon into bite size pieces. I usually use salmon with skin on, so once I’ve removed the skin I have to wash the pieces, to make sure none of the large scales end up in the soup.

6. Add the salmon to the soup with the peas (as long as the potatoes are cooked through). Pour the cream in. The soup won’t need any more cooking after this, as they are pretty much cooked as soon as they touch the hot liquid. Just heat it up (adding cream and frozen peas may have cooled it). Add couple of more pinches of salt and some pepper, to taste, and add chopped dill. I tend to use scissors to cut the dill straight into the soup.

 

Spicy honey roasted parsnip soup

One of the great things about this time of the year is it’s the season for root vegetables. I’ve not been that experimental with parsnips in the past though, so I thought I need to explore this ingredient outside the normal roast vegetables on Sundays. I’ve decided to use parsnips for my soup of the week. This recipe will make quite a thick soup, you could always add more stock if you’d like it less so. Also, if you’re not a fan of spicy, I would suggest you go with one chilli rather than the two I’ve used. This soup is actually packed with the best medicines nature has for fighting off colds, so fantastic dinner option for these cold autumn days.

750g parsnips
2 medium onions
2 medium potatoes
3 garlic cloves
2 fresh green chillies
thumb size piece of fresh root ginger
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp clear honey
2 tsp ground turmeric
1.2 l beef or vegetable stock
2 dl cream
salt
pepper

1. Heat oven to 190°C.

2. Peel the potatoes, rinse and cut into smaller pieces. Wash the parsnips, and cut the end off. Cut in half, then half the thinner pieces, and quarter the thicker pieces. Cut peeled onions into wedges, and finely chop the garlic, chillies and ginger. Add all these to a roasting tin, coat with the oil and honey, as well as the turmeric. Mix all together, and roast for 45 minutes.

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3. Once cooked, transfer to a pan, and add the stock. I’m using my homemade beef stock as I think it goes well with parsnips, but you can use vegetable stock too. Let simmer for 5 minutes, and move aside to cool.

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4. Add cream and purée in a blender until smooth. Reheat and check the taste, adding salt and pepper as required.

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.

 

Borscht

I’m starting my blog with borscht soup as my first post simply because this is the first recipe one of my Instagram followers has asked for. This hearty winter warmer soup originates from Russia, and is also widely used in other Eastern European countries, with many variations. My one includes meat, but you can always leave the meat products off.

500g beef brisket
2 litres water
1 tbsp salt
2 bay leaves
4 white peppers
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 leek
5 parsley stalks
250g raw beetroot
1/2 stalk of celery
2 potatoes
1 onion
200g white cabbage
1 tbsp butter
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
150g frankfurters (hot dog sausages)
parsley
crème fraiche to serve

1. Cover the meat with the water, and bring to boil. Boil uncovered for 10-15 minutes, removing the foam that forms.

2. Add the salt, bay leaves, white peppers, garlics, chopped leek and parsley stalks. Cover with lid and simmer for two hours.

3. Remove the meat, and cut to bite size pieces. Strain the liquid through a sieve. For extra fine result, you may also use muslin.

4. Grate (or finely chop) the beetroot, celery, potato and cabbage to match size pieces. Finely chop onion. Keep 2-3 dl of beetroot aside. Soften in a pan with butter.

5. Add the liquid, and cook for 15 mins. Add the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, remaining beetroot, meat and chopped frankfurters. Check taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

6. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and chopped parsley.