Spiced Pomodri D’Oro and Coconut Soup

They say necessity is the mother of invention and that never seems truer than when there’s nothing in the fridge. 


I’m rather pleased with this nutritious and delicious soup recipe given that the ingredients were sourced almost entirely from my cupboard (save a mere sprig of spring onion).  I tend to have a tin or two of coconut milk on standby to add to curries, use as a dairy substitute in baking and so on.  I also happened to have a tin of Sainsburys Taste the Difference pomodori d’ori- yellow plum tomatoes- that I’d been hanging on to in the hope that inspiration might strike and present me with a worthy purpose for them. 

Together, these two tins made a mighty fine spicy soup, warming from added chili and cumin while still refreshingly light- perfect for this drab summer we’ve been having.  I can’t recommend making a spicy tomato soup with coconut milk enough,  it was an absolute joy to eat and incredibly simple to prepare.  It’s also a bit of a different take on the classic, but let’s face it, rather dull, tomato soup. 

I think, sadly, that Sainsbury’s has now stopped doing tins of Pomodori d’oro, but you could always use fresh yellow tomatoes or just a tin of normal plum tomatoes, although you will of course end up with a more pink-tinged soup. 

Pomodori D’Oro and Coconut Soup

You will need:
2 fat spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/s tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tin pomodori d’oro tomatoes or 500g fresh yellow tomatoes, chopped. 
1 tin coconut milk
To serve: a wedge of lime, fresh coriander or mint leaves, flaked coconut. 

Method:
1. Fry the spring onions in the oil and add all of the spices, sauté until aromatic without catching in the pan.

2.  Add the tinned tomatoes and ‘mush’ a little with a wooden spoon.  Simmer for 5 minutes. 

3.  Add the coconut milk and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, until thickened slightly.  You could blend the liquid at this stage, if you prefer a smoother soup. 

4.  Serve with wedges of lime, coriander or mint and flaked coconut.

Spring’s Around the Corner Soup

Cauliflower is not my favourite vegetable.  I find it a bit bland and meek, really.  It just doesn’t pack the same punch as cabbage or kale.  It’s like the youngest child in the Brassica family, a bit lost and unsure of itself in a clan of bolder, vitamin-loaded greens.  It needs a bit of assistance to come into its own and that help quite often seems to be cheese-shaped. 

It would be easy to dismiss this soup as a liquid version of the classic cauliflower cheese, but that would be doing it a disservice.  In fact, it has a creamy consistency similar to a Vichyssoise with added spice and tang from the mustard and cheddar.  The croutons add an unusual twist and provide a satisfying crunch that would work well in salads too. 

The recipe is by Heidi Swanson (of the 101 Cookbooks blog) in her cookbook ‘Super Natural Everyday.’  I have, however, added a bit more mustard and cheese for even more oomph.  The result is a cheerful, sprightly soup that is still warming and wholesome.  Perfect for beginning of the end of the cold winter months.  Nothing bland about that. 

Cauliflower Soup with Mustard Croutons
From Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day



You will need:

For the mustard croutons:
170g bread (preferably stonebaked or artisan), torn into small chunks
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
sea salt

For the soup:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
sea salt
1 large potato (I used sweet potato as that was all I had to hand)
2 cloves of garlic
900ml stock or water (I used chicken stock)
340 g cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 1 medium sized vegetable)
50g strong cheddar, the better the quality and the more stinky, the better the soup, grated
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Method:

1.  First, make the croutons.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  

2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat.  Once, melted, take off the heat and stir in the mustard, olive oil and sea salt, whisking until you have a smooth mixture. 

3.  Place the croutons on a baking sheet or in an oven proof tray.  Drizzle with the mustard dressing and toss to evenly distribute.

4.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until the croutons are golden and crunchy.  Check on them half way through and do be vigilant as they will burn in a millisecond.

5. While the croutons are in the oven (and you are keeping one eye on them), start preparing the soup. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and shallots with a pinch of sea salt.  Fry them over a medium heat, until softened.  Make sure they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the potato and, stirring constantly, cook for a further 4-5 min, until softened.

7. Stir in the garlic, leave for a minute or so, before adding the stock. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer until the potatoes are tender.

8.  Add the cauliflower and leave to cook for about 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft.

9.  Wizz the soup in a blender or use a stick blender, as I did, taking care not to splatter yourself and the whole kitchen with boiling liquid, as I did. 

10.  Stir in the mustard and about half the grated cheese.  Add more stock or water if you feel it is too thick.

11.  To serve, ladle into bowls and add croutons, a sprinkling of cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

A penny pinching soup.

I found an aubergine at the back of the fridge yesterday and was happy to discover upon further investigation that although a bit bruised, it was still good.  Which meant that I had to use it up and pronto.  So I did what I always do with aubergines and threw it in the oven with some sea salt, olive oil and pepper.  This soup is what happened next.

Now, I recognise that this is perhaps not the most inciting introduction to ever have proceeded a recipe, but this post is not concerned with inspiring you to take up the spatula.  This is about using what you have to hand, waste not want not and frugality.  This is my homage to the toast sandwich.  Except, you know, tasty despite being a bit austere.

Be warned, it’s quite actually quite rich and filling (so far, so appropriately 1950’s).  It makes a good dinner with a bit of crusty bread or a filling lunch on its own.

Aubergine and Lemon Soup


You will need:
1 Aubergine
1 large white onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
chicken stock
cream or creme fraiche
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt
pepper
cumin
coriander

Method:

1.  Start by putting the aubergine and garlic cloves (unpeeled) in an oven at about 180 degrees.  You want to make sure you get some burnt, crispy bits on the aubergine.  It should take about half an hour for this to occur and for the inside to go really soft and squishy.  If you have a gas hob, you can cook it directly on this.

2.  Meanwhile, fry the onions over a medium heat until transparent, adding the seasoning.  Go steady on the salt as you will be adding stock, which is of course quite salty as it is.

3.  Once cooked, add the aubergines to the pan and slip the garlic cloves out of their skins and add them as well..  Then puree the lot till you have a thick paste.

4. Add stock, about 500 ml, and bring to a simmer.

5.  Take the soup off the heat and add the creme fraiche and lemon zest and juice.  You can adjust with more stock if you feel it is too thick.

6.  Serve with a scattering of coriander and lemon peel as a garnish.  You can also make a garlic cream to stir into the soup (for a rebellious, anti-austerity treat) by roasting more garlic and mixing this with creme fraiche.  Feta crumbled into it would also be fit as.

Crusty.



This is a Delia recipe that I found surfing the net trying to figure out something different to do with some leftover celeriac.  Not being from these parts and having been raised elsewhere, I didn’t grow up with Ms. Smith and (dare I say it) find her approach a bit old school.  I haven’t been able to really embrace her in the manner of a proper English person, I’m afraid.  


 I was particularly unimpressed with her recent(ish) book of cooking by cheating.   The shortcuts it detailed seemed to me not to be shortcuts at all, but rather advertising for products that aren’t much quicker to prepare than cooking from scratch. Not to mention the fact that no sentient being interested in cooking would actually ever buy them (frozen mashed potato, anyone? How about some tinned mince?).  


But the girl has done good with this recipe, I must say. This bread is brilliant and very easy to make (even without any shortcuts).  It works particularly well with soup.  
Celeriac and cheese bread
You will need:
175g celeriac (peeled)
110g Lancashire cheese, crumbled
175g self-raising flour, plus a little extra
4 spring onions
pinch cayenne pepper
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
salt, pepper
Method:
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, adding the spring onions, two-thirds of the crumbled cheese, the cayenne pepper and the salt.
Then coarsely grate in the celeriac and mix well.
Beat the egg and milk together and gradually add it all to the mixture until you have a loose, rough dough.
Shape into four round rolls and sprinkle each with a bit of the remaining cheese and some flour.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or so until golden and crisp on the outside.  Great served warm.  You can also shape into a whole loaf, which you will need to bake for longer, about 45 minutes. 

Fishy Business

My grandmother makes the most amazing fish soup.  I grew up with it as a regular highlight in her repertoire of homely comfort food.  Traditional Swedish dishes are often quite heavy (I seem to always gain a few pounds whenever I stay with my Mormor for a few days), but this soup is light, even despite the addition of cream.  I suppose you could always substitute it for creme fraiche if you want to make it healthier.  It also has the added addition of a dash of curry powder, which might sound strange, but because it is so scant,   adds the merest hint of fiery backbone.  All in all, it’s actually quite a mild soup, with delicate flavours.
I hereby pass the recipe on to you, in the hope that it might provide you with as much joy as it has given me.  You don’t have to include the mussels, if the thought is just a bit too much.  It was for Toby, who hates fish, but bravely tried a bit of this. 
Mormor’s Fish and Seafood Soup
You will need:

About 400g frozen fish fillet (cod, haddock, plaice)
2 yellow onions
butter
1-2 tsp curry powder
800ml fish stock
1 tin of mussels, about 125 g
approx 100g prawns 
a large handful of chopped dill or some chopped chives
150-200ml single cream
Method:

First off, semi defrost the fish.  Peel and slice the onions and fry them in a click of butter with the curry powder.  Meanwhile, chop the half-thawed fish into 2cm thick chunks.  Add these to the onions and pour over the stock.  Let everything simmer on a low heat until the fish has cooked, about 5 minutes.  Add the mussels, if using, and the prawns.  Finally, pour in the cream and let everything heat up gently before adding the fresh herbs.

There we go.  Serve with hot, buttered toast.  For an extra fishy hit, I even made some anchovy butter to put on my toast.  But I can understand if this isn’t for everyone!