Zucchini Garlic Soup

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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)

Ingredients

  • 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

Methods

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.


Sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup

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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)

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.


Carrot and potato soup with cumin and ginger

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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)

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.


Kale, chorizo and white beans soup

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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)

Ingredients 

  • 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

Method

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


The pork and prawn balls in aromatic broth cook off: Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course

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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)

Ingredients 

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

Instructions

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


Fish stew

fish stew

For a couple of days, I start to believe it was possible, after all, to feel the Spring. I even looked for my sun glasses and rush to the basement to a light coat… Well, much for my dismay, it seemed that Summer was last Tuesday, right on the very day I had a TC I could not reschedule. Wednesday was a bit iffy, Thursday, autumnal. Saturday, we all woke up to snowfall.

Not a single comment on Facebook or Twitter, but…. Fish stew it is. It could have been my mother’s caldeirada – it tastes as good as – but her recipe has a completely different method and a much briefer list of ingredients. In any case, it was delicious and warming. Comfort food doesn’t get much better than this… 

Fish stew (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, very finely diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • • 250g potatoes floury potatoes
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • Good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml white wine
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  •  600ml cold water
  • ½ fish stock cube
  •  2 tsp superfine sugar
  • ½ tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
  •  400g thick white fish fillet
  • 200g cooked and peeled king prawns, thawed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or wide, heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onion and celery for 8 minutes until well softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Don’t let the garlic burn or it will give your stew a bitter flavour. If the onion starts to stick, add a splash of cold water to the pan. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 2cm chunks. Deseed the pepper and cut that into chunks too.

Stir the ground coriander, saffron and bay leaves into the casserole and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over the wine and let it all bubble for a few seconds before adding the yellow pepper, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, water, stock cube and sugar. Season with the ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of ground black pepper.

Bring the stew to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are softened but not breaking apart. Trim the green beans, cut them in half and add them to the pan, then return to a simmer. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the skin from the fish fillets and cut the fish into rough 2.5cm chunks. Drop the fish pieces on top of the bubbling liquid and cover the pan with a lid. Poach the fish over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until it is almost cooked. Remove the lid and very gently stir in the prawns, trying not to break up the fish too much. Cover again and simmer for 2 minutes more or until the fish i opaque and the prawns are hot. Don’t let the prawns overcook.


Beetroot soup with tarragon yogurt ice cubes

beetroot soup with tarragon

And we here go: #beetrootgate dish number 2. Truth to be said, T. found the recipe and executed it with no fault.  Don’t let the unusual combination of flavors stop you to try this soup. In fact, it is delicious. Ideal to serve as an appetizer or for brunch.

Beetroot soup with tarragon yogurt ice cubes (adapted from BBC Goodfood)

Ingredients

For the soup

  • 3 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 75ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1l vegetable stock
  • 500g cooked beetroot , unvinegared, roughly chopped

For the yogurt ice cubes

  • 500g pot natural yogurt
  • small bunch tarragon

Method 

 For the yogurt ice cubes

To make the ice cubes, mix the yogurt with a handful of chopped tarragon leaves

Half-fill  ice cube trays

Cover with cling film and freeze overnight.

For the soup

Put the onions and sugar in a saucepan, cover with a lid, then cook over moderate heat for 10 mins, shaking the pan from time to time.

Pour in the wine and vinegar and bubble away until syrupy.

Now pour in the stock, add the beetroot and a handful of tarragon leaves. Bring to the boil, then cook for 15 mins.

Blend the soup until smooth

Season with lots of black pepper

Serve hot with a yogurt ice cube on top