Category Archives: Soup

Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Lentil and Chestnut Soup (8822)

These past couple of weeks are turning out to be so weird. What a way to start today’s post, eh? In the spirit of Halloween I am still feeling like a zombie. Sleepy (strong anti-ear infection medication does that to you, trust me) and generally very light-headed. I meant to post a recipe yesterday, but my to-do list went out the window in the afternoon since I didn’t feel well at all. The situation hasn’t improved much. My ear still feels like someone’s lighting a lighter in it and to top it all off I get stabbing pains at intervals, as if someone is literally poking a needle into my eardrum. Not fun. Babies are prone to getting ear infections, I am constantly hearing right now. True. I’m not a baby but I still feel miserable. Poor things (little ones not me), no wonder they constantly cry in pain.

Let’s move on to the more cheerful things, shall we? I have two pieces of good news. I have my new desk! I am so pleased with it. I almost couldn’t believe it was here while watching J and his dad assembling it in the study. I am really enjoying working in this room even more. It’s my haven. Nearer completion we plan to purchase a comfortable reading chair to place next to the window. Can’t wait. The second piece of news is that I am waiting for a number of cookbooks to arrive, all of which are for review. I’ll be happy if they all make the cut, so we’ll see.

Continue reading Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Two Simple Recipes: Vegetable Soup and Garlic and Chilli Kale

Garlic and Chilli Kale with Chunky Vegetable Soup (8631)

It’s still reasonably cold in the Med and I’m still nursing a very bad cold. My neighbour’s kid is having a ball running amuck right above my head, most probably sitting on a desk chair and sprinting across the corridor. Either that or playing boċċi. Who knows? Can’t imagine the grief he’s giving his mum, but I can definitely picture the grief he’s giving me!

So just when my head starts to ache I decide to post two recipes on C&T. Simple stuff but they are just the things I want to eat when I’m inside with quite some time to spend in the kitchen. There will be plenty of chances in the future for chips. That’s exactly what’s keeping me going! *Checking my forehead for fever*

Continue reading Two Simple Recipes: Vegetable Soup and Garlic and Chilli Kale

Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup (8542)In general we all overindulge on food over the holiday period. I, for one, did so. I love to bake, even more so during Christmas but I have to say that this year I have eased on baking extra goodies; I end up with too much food during the first week of January. For example, one of the first things I let go is the traditional Christmas cake. (J loves it but it’s not a particular favourite of mine.) Now, before you say I am the meanest person on the planet, let me explain why. We are only two people in this house. I don’t want a big cake to sit there for 6 months in a container, waiting for J to finish it up. The cake keeps but there’s a limit to freshness, with anything, especially in summer. We made plenty of other goodies this year, so J put his mind at rest when we discussed our plans.

As you might have figured by now, you know I’m not a health nut, and I would devour anything when I’m hungry. Nonetheless I like soothing foods, even if it means having some soup on a regular basis. For me, a good soup can be classified as comfort food. When I was a child my mum made sure I ate loads of fruit, veggies and protein, but many years ago I lost track of what I was eating. Now I pace myself, instead of half a cake, I eat one slice! As they say, it’s not rocket science, but I never judge someone for overeating or putting on weight. I know how hard it can be to lose it. I’m no expert – this is just my experience.

What I like to do is to ease on the cakes and sugars, especially in January. It does me a world of good. I eat normally; it’s not healthy to go cold turkey anyways. So let’s ease into 2014 with a very simple recipe, shall we? As with many soup recipes, I make this whenever I have too much broccoli. I never throw extra ingredients away, unless they go bad obviously. However I try not to let anything get to that stage in the first place. It’s good to plan weekly meals, but as a shopper I do go overboard, once in a while. Fact. It just happens. Instead of getting all hot and bothered about it, I go through my cookbook collection, or simply google recipes. It works!

I made this broccoli soup very recently. It’s almost like a broth. Now to be honest, I’m a fan of thick soups. The thin stuff doesn’t usually do anything for me. I recently had a lovely long chat with a reader of this blog about the pros and cons of thick soups. Yes, it’s amazing what food bloggers talk about. It drives people mad! I like this recipe, but if you prefer you could always add more potatoes to bulk it up. It just needs to be served very hot. I don’t like cold soup. You can even have it in a large mug while snuggling under a warm throw, watching The Mentalist. Like one normally does! Serves 4.

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large potato, peeled and roughly chopped in chunks
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon mixed spice or garam masala
  • 500g broccoli, washed, roughly chopped and stalks removed
  • 2 litres vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a swirl of sour cream and another of extra virgin olive oil, for topping each serving

Place a large pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil together with the onions, garlic, potato, celery and spices, and give everything a good stir. When the onion turns golden, add the broccoli and stir, making sure the broccoli are covered with the onion mixture.

Pour in the vegetable stock, let the stock bubble up, reduce the heat and let it simmer until you can comfortably pierce through the broccoli with a fork. Carefully pour the soup into a free-standing blender, or better still, insert a stick blender into the pan and blend, until you have a smooth mixture.

Add salt and pepper if you like. Pour the soup into your serving bowls and swirl the sour cream and a little extra virgin olive oil on top. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Rob x

Pea and Pesto Soup

Pea-Pesto-and-Lentil-Soup-(4443)

I’m trying to update this blog from top to bottom. I have been wanting to do this for ages but the procrastinator in me told me that it was going to be a chore and therefore I would hate it. Fact is I’m really enjoying it, although I do have to apologise for being such a patronising git during the early months of writing. I don’t like being patronised and I’m sure you don’t like to be either. I hate being that person! That being said I’m  trying to find ways to avoid making mistakes, but that doesn’t always work, and after all the most important thing is to learn from them.

Rummaging through photos and recipes I found this one, which I wrote about a long time ago. It was hiding in another post, which I now re-wrote, and I’m including this soup recipe here. I think that as long as a recipe is valid it should be given at least some thought. I haven’t made this in quite a while but I made a promise to myself to make it again as soon as possible, especially for this time of year, when we generally tend to overindulge!

To the original recipe I add celery, potatoes and green lentils mushed to make a thick creamy concoction either for an easy supper or to take along for a picnic in a thermos jug. Leave out the lentils if you don’t want to fuss about too much, but feel free to use tinned ones instead.

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 100g green lentils, soaked and cooked
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • pepper, to taste
  • 100g pesto (approx. half a jar)
  • 2 litres vegetable stock

In a large pot gently stir the garlic, onion and celery in the oil. You could add a little bit of butter here if you wish.

Add the potatoes and peas and coat these with the onion mixture.

Add the stock and the lentils. Leave to cook for around 30-35 mins or until the potatoes are completely cooked. All the other vegetables will be ready by this time anyway. Leave to cool slightly, blend everything and eat. Serves 4.

(Recipe adapted from Nigella Express, Chatto & Windus, 2007.)

Being good: Lentil Soup

Lentil-Soup-(5993)

There’s no denying it: I love food and spending time in the kitchen, but sometimes there is a limit, even for me. I don’t feel guilty about it – I used to but not anymore. J and I eat well throughout the week. Dinner prep is easy and quick most of the time anyway but I try to make every meal as varied as possible. Again, sometimes within limits, because you cannot be superwoman everyday. If you are, I applaud you. Really. No sarcasm here.

Times like these call for easy solutions, especially when I’m eating alone. I find that there’s no joy in that but it happens sometimes when J is abroad for work. He found a recipe by Alton Brown for lentil soup a few years back and we come back to it repeatedly, changing the ingredients according what we have in the fridge at the time. You know that I love a good steak, but there’s plenty of room for hearty soups in my life as I’m sure there is in yours. It might not be attractive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good; and comforting.

I remember one day, quite a few years back (I think I must have been 6 or 7 years old), when my mum and I went over to my grandma’s house. My nan had a large blue kitchen with a huge table in the middle. I opened the pantry and found two packets of small round pasta. I poured some water in a pan, emptied the packets of pasta into the water and swirled it around with a wooden spoon. I had no idea how to switch on the hob (thank goodness for that), so I left the pasta just there, imagining it was cooking. By the end of the afternoon this concoction was a gloopy mess; it would not magically turn into pasta soup obviously, but it was my creation and I felt so proud of it, until my nan told me off.

Fast forward almost 30 years, and this memory has stuck with me ever since. Every time I make an easy soup I am transported back in time to that sunny kitchen. For the life of me I cannot copy and paste the link onto this website so I’m giving the recipe here. It’s just a guide. What I don’t suggest though is adding potatoes. You will end up with cement. Take it from me: been there, done that and I won’t do it again!

Don’t be intimidated by the last ingredient. You can use a number of spices instead. I go for ground cardamom, ground ginger or even sumac. You need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 450g red lentils
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (you can use mixed spice or cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ground ginger or sumac (Alton suggests ground grains of paradise but stick to my suggestions if you don’t have it.)

All you need to do is sweat the onions, carrot, celery and salt into a large pot. (You need the salt to soften the veggies.) Add the lentils, tomatoes, stock and spices. Stir to combine the ingredients. Turn the heat up till everything comes up to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. If you want to, blend everything with a stick blender. (I would invest in one of these.) Taste and add some more seasoning if required. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Rob x