By accident, I found out a close enough version of the zucchini soup I used to ate at the university’s research centre canteen. Many years and canteens after, I now realise how much love and care was put into it. It was probably the most homely food away from home I ever had…
Zucchini Garlic Soup (adapted from a recipe found in The Kitchn)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 8 to 9 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 4 medium zucchini (about 750g), peeled
- 1L of chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 thumb of ginger, grated
- Salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. When it foams, add the onions and cook on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the crushed garlic and ginger. Fry for a couple of minutes more, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown.
When the onions and garlic are done, add the zucchini and cook until soft. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a low heat for about 45 minutes.Taste and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
It is cold in Zurich, and this is all I want to eat. It is warming, filling and packed with different flavours – what is not to like about this soup?
Sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup (recipe found in taste.com.au)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
- 600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
- 500g carrots, peeled, sliced
- 1.5L chicken stock
- 300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
- 1/2 small lemon, juiced
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add sweet potato and carrot. let them sweat stirring often, for 5 minutes until they are all covered with the spices and onion.
Add stock. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Add chickpeas to soup and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.
Remove from the heat and blend the soup with an hand held mixer, until smooth.
Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring until it gets to a soft boil. Serve.
I love to bits my nephews and nieces, but sadly, I don’t know very well. I don’t go to Lisbon that often, maybe once or twice a year and only for a few days. It is a real shame that I missing out the kiddies growing up. I try to keep up with their everyday life, and always find amusing when I found in these kiddies my own quirks. F, the oldest one is fearless in the water. I, the youngest one and my goddaughter, always wakes up in a bed mood and take her time to engage with the rest of the world. And, this Christmas I found out that V, the middle one refuses to eat his soup. “Oh, my dear boy, how can I understand you!”, I thought.
At the table the drama start to unfold, while I was having a déjà moment. “Eat you soup, V. Now.” said his mother. “You won’t eat anything else”. “No”, he answered and smiled defiantly. “V, try the soup”, replied the mother. V is a sweet kid and forced himself to have a spoon of the greenish liquid. “I don’t like soup”, he told his mother. “You don’t like soup???”, I asked him. “No, I don’t like soup” he retorted “I only like pumpkin soup. Or carrot”. Qed– not liking soup and taste preferences seems to have a strong genetic correlation. What else could I do but support V not to have his soup? He eventually moved to the main dish and dessert, soup uneaten… That is my boy!
This one is not a pumping soup, now out of season, but I guess carrots would have been enough for V to take at least 5 spoons. Or maybe even six.
Carrot and potato soup with cumin and ginger (adapted from a recipe found in taste.com.au)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 3 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 floury potatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 750ml chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until it is pipping hot. Then, add the onion, garlic and ginger and let them fry for 3 mins or until just soft.
Add carrots, potatoes and half the cumin seeds. Cover, reduce heat to low and let them sweat for 7 mins or until just golden.
Add stock, cover and simmer for 15 mins or until vegetables are just tender. Cool slightly then blend until smooth.
Season to taste, and sprinkle with some cumins if you like.
Just what you need when you get back home on a Winter: a hot plate of hearty soup. But, please don’t say my Mother I this is I am having for dinner almost every other week… Officially, I am still allergic to soup.
Kale, chorizo and white beans soup (adapted from The Hairy Bikers website)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1,5cm chunks
- 150g green beans, cut in 3cm pieces
- 75g chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into 1cm slices
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 400g can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 150g curly kale, thickly shredded
- freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan Add the onion and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring often.
Add the chorizo, paprika and carrots to the onion and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring until the chorizo begins to release its fat. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Tip the tomatoes into the same pan, add the stock and sugar, then turn the heat up to medium.
Bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and leave the soup to simmer for 12 minutes. Add the canned and fresh beans and the kale and bring it back to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender, adding a little extra water if the soup is looking too thick. Season the soup with salt and black pepper and serve in deep bowls
Last time I tried pork and prawn balls, it was a mess… After that, I talked myself to never try this dish again and stick to the Asian restaurant around the corner for my prawn and pork fix. Then, I saw Gordon Ramsay cooking them on his Ultimate Cookery Course and I sort of changed my mind. As usual, a very brief list of ingredients and a method which looked foul proof – definitely something worthwhile trying. In fact, it is so easy to do it has become one dishes I do over and over again. In less than 30min, I have the balls ready to be eaten. To make it even more convenient, once fried, the balls keep in the fridge for a few days. All you have to worry about is get the stock going and in less than 10min, you have your freshly cooked dinner ready. For added valued, almost not fat and no carbohydrates in sight…
Pork and prawn balls in aromatic broth (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)
For the balls
- 100g raw prawns, peeled, deveined and finely chopped until almost minced
- 250g minced pork
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped chives
- 1.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and diced
- Enough sunflower sun for pan frying the balls
- 2 big handfuls of spinach
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced, to garnish
For the aromatic broth
- 1L stock, home-made or from stock cubes
- 1 lemon grass stalk
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Place the minced shrimps in a bowl with the pork, chives and ginger. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and mix until the ingredients are well combined and sticking together. Roll the mixture into small balls about the size of a golf ball. Transfer to a plate, cover and chill until needed.
Meanwhile, get started on the broth. Heat the stock in a saucepan, add the other ingredients and mix well. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes to infuse, then taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and add a dash of oil. Fry the pork and prawn balls, turning frequently, for 6–7 minutes until golden brown all over. Transfer into the gently simmering pan of broth and leave to cook for 5 minutes until the balls are cooked through. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute until just wilted.
Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with spring onions
And another cook off: pork and prawns balls in aromatic broth. It is a bit of a foreign taste to my Mediterranean roots, but still delicious enough to me go back to it over and over again. Nothing that I would cook for myself, though. Never having cooked them before, the broths seem too complex and the flavours seem to be quite hard to get in the right proportions.
But, this Hairy Dieter’s version seemed achievable. A lot of work, but still, within my possibilities… Halfway through the process, there was a lot of huffing, puffing and fiddling around. Indeed it soon become a full blown mess, which included the mixer to go on strike to never work again. To make matters worse, it wasn’t as delicious as one would expect after all process. Well, maybe I haven’t “followed the recipe to the letter”, as The Hairy Dieter’s strong recommend, but after all this effort, I was somehow expecting something a bit more elevated… It is very unlikely I will try it again.
Pork and prawns balls in vegetables and noodles aromatic broth (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
For the broth
- 2 liters chicken stock
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 4 chillies (2 cut across, 2 deseed and thinly sliced)
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, dried or fresh
- 2 long shallots, thinly sliced
- 50g fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthways
- 4 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (1 1/2 limes)
- 3 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
- 2 medium carrots peeled and cut to thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 150 chestnut mushrooms
- 150 mangetout
- 50g fine vermicelli rice noodles
- large handfull of fresh coriander
For the pork and shrimp balls
- 250g lean minced pork
- 100g cooked peeled prawns, thawed if frozen
- 1/2 long shallot peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 chili, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoons of cornflour
- fine salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
Start with the broth, pour the stock in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and add the lemongrass stalks. Split w of the chillies lengthways almost all the way through and pop them in the pan.
Add the lime leaves, half the sliced shallots and finally, all the ginger and garlic. Bring the broth to a low simmer and cook gently for 20min. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for about 30min.
While waiting for the broth to cool down, start the balls. Put the minced pork and prawns in a large bowl. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, deseeded chilli, cornflour, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper in food processor. Blend to make a tick, slightly textured purée. Add the coriander leaves and it another quick blitz until just combined. Take out the processor blade the roll the pork and prawn mixture into 20 small balls.
Strain the infused stock through a sieve into a clean pan. Stir in the remaining sliced shallot, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir in the remaining chillies, very finely chopped. Bring to a gentle simmer and add to the pork balls. Let it cook for 5 minutes, allowing the liquid to bubble gently. In the meanwhile, cut the carrots into large ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Deseed the peppers and slice them thinly; clean and slice the mushrooms. Trim the mangetout and cut them in half diagonally. Still the carrot strips, mushrooms, mange tout, peppers and noodles into the broth and let it simmer for 3-4min more, or until the pork balls are cooked through and the vegetables and noodles are just tender, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the broth into deep bowls and scatter the coriander on the top.
“So, Burntsugar…”, said B. “How do you make this soup?”. “Well, it is not too difficult.”, I answered. “You pick a spread recipe from last Ottolenghi’s book, then decide to use boiled beetroot instead of roasted and finally get a watery yoghurt instead of a drained one.” B. looked a bit worried, but proceeded to eat its portion and lick the bowl as this had been a perfectly executed dish. Truth to be said, what could have been a really bad day in the kitchen, ended up with a delicate and colourful dish much to the delight of my
mobile calorie intake units guests. On the next episode of beetrootgate…
- 500g cooked beetroot (pay attention not to pull the vinegary ones from the shelf)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small red chilli
- 250g yoghurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon maple sirup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- salt to taste
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced
- 15g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed
- 60g of soft goats cheese, crumbled
Peel the beetroot and cut it in chunks
Place the beetroot, garlic, chill and yoghurt in a food processor. Blend it until you obtain a smooth paste.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in in the maple sirup, olive oil and za’atar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Transfer into small serving bowls (or glasses) and scatter the spring onion, hazelnut and cheese.
Serve at room temperature.