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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Butternut squash risotto

I didn’t used to like risotto in the past, and only started liking it when I started making my own. These days I have a couple of ones I keep going back to in my kitchen, a butternut squash one and a beetroot one (click here for recipe). They are also both good vegetarian recipes (apart from these risottos and a couple of other recipes I don’t cook much vegetarian), however make a great meal even for a carnivore like me.

serves 3-4
1 butternut squash
700 ml vegetable stock (I use water mixed with Bouillon powder)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
1 bay leaf
4-5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
250g Arborio risotto rice
4 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
200ml white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good)
80g grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 180°C / 355°F. Cut, peel and deseed the squash. Place half of the prepared squash in an oven dish. Drizzle with half the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Place the other half of the squash in a pan together with the vegetable stock, bring to simmer.

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2. Finely chop the onion, and place in a pan with the remaining olive oil, and half the butter. Whilst the onion is frying for few minutes, finely chop the garlic and celery. Together with the herbs, add to the onions, and cook for couple of minutes.

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3. Add the rice, and stir together. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, then add the white wine. Simmer until the wine is reduced.

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4. Start adding the stock, one ladle at a time. Let the liquid absorb before adding more. Keep stirring the mixture.

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5. When there is only a little bit of stock left, mash until pureed, and add to the rice. If the rice isn’t yet cooked enough, you can also add the puree little by little.

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6. Add most of the roasted squash pieces, remaining butter and most of the cheese. Mix together, and let stand for couple of minutes. Season if required, and give another stir. Serve with the remaining roasted pieces and parmesan cheese.

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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.

Rosolli (beetroot salad)

After any festivities, and overindulging, many of us are choosing the lighter leftovers for a snack. This beetroot salad is exactly what we need. For some reason, this particular salad is only seen on the Finnish table around Christmas time. I think the flavours are actually completely suitable to any time of the year. You get sweetness from the beetroot, saltiness from the pickled cucumber and freshness from the apple. Together with the other ingredients it all comes together like a perfect symphony.

1 salty gherkin
3 beetroots
1 carrot
1 small onion
1 medium size salad potato
1 sharp apple, for example Granny Smith
half a bunch of fresh parsley

1. Boil the beetroots in boiling water for about an hour. Once cooked, pour the hot water off, and cover the beetroots with cold water. You can now rub the skin off very easily, whilst submerged in the cold water.

2. Boil the potato with skin on, until just cooked, take care not to overcook. Once cooked, peel the potato and chop into small pieces. Peel the carrot, and boil until just cooked but still firm. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into cubes.

3. Finely chop the onion, and cut the gherkin into quarters lengthwise, then chop into cubes. Finely chop the parsley.

4. Cut the apple into wedges. I tend to do this first, and then peel each wedge, but you can also peel the whole apple first. I then cut the inside edge off, where the core is. Finally, chop into cubes.

5. Mix all ingredients together. For more flavour, leave in the fridge overnight before serving.

Potato salad

Potato salad isn’t something that was ever part of our Christmas table when I was growing up. Typically, in Finland it’s usually part of the Labour Day festivities. It has however now become a staple of any entertaining I might host, including becoming part of my Christmas traditions. I have been making it ever since it was a huge hit at a party a long time ago. Potato salad is simple, but I think it’s crucial to get couple of things right. I have many times had potato salad that leaves you disappointed, and my one is the best one I’ve had to date. You will need crunch from the onion, and the right saltiness from the pickled cucumber. The latter in my opinion is the crucial key for it being a success. Some recipes also use apples, but I don’t see it necessary.

500g salad potatoes
250g onions
7 gherkins
1/2 dl fluid from the gherkins
1 dl mayonnaise
grinded black pepper
1 dl cream
(salt)

For best result, prepare the salad a day before serving.

1. Boil the potatoes with skin on, until just about cooked, but do take care you don’t overlook them. While the potatoes are boiling, peel and chop the onions. Cut the ends off the gherkins, then cut in quarters lengthwise, then chop to cubes.

 

2. Once the potatoes are cooked, peel and mix with onions whilst still hot.

3. Add the gherkins and fluid, mayonnaise and pepper.

4. Rest in the fridge. Just before serving, add the cream (and salt if required).

 

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.

Vegetarian bake

This tasty vegetarian bake is a dish I learnt from my friend years ago, when we lived together as single ladies. Even though I’m more of a carnivore, this dish has stuck with me, and is something I make regularly, as it’s really flavoursome.

2 dl red lentils
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
3dl vegetable stock
handful of fresh basil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1-2 aubergines (eggplants)
4 large tomatoes
2 courgettes (zucchinis)
1-2 balls of mozzarella
grated parmesan cheese

1. Rinse the lentils, and drain in a sieve. Place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.

2. Finely chop onion and garlic, and fry in oil for 5 minutes. Add the carrot, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, stock, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Finally, add the cooked lentils.

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3. Slice the aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and mozzarella.

4. Layer in an oven dish. I tend to put a little bit of the sauce mixture at the bottom, as well as in between each layer, and also on top.

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5. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and cook in preheated oven 200°C / 390°F for 40 minutes.