Category Archives: soup

Parsnip And Pear Soup With Crispy Sage And Brown Butter

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The humble parsnip, in all its creamy-white glory, benefits immensely from being cooked with something naturally sweet. I think of parsnips roasted with honey, yes please! Parsnips grated and baked into a cake, sure why not? Even this parsnip soup benefits from a little sweet kick.

This addition of a natural sweetener to parsnips makes perfect sense to me. Apparently if parsnips are picked before they receive a night or two of a cold frost the natural sugars don’t develop properly and then the parsnips lack the sweetness they deserve. I can only assume the parsnips I bought fell to this fate. But that’s where a little kitchen intuition and a piece of fruit – in this case pear – can come to the rescue.

Now! Enter the burnt butter with crispy sage.

Are you familiar with that moment when fresh sage hits foaming butter in a hot pan and it begins to froth and splatter, the sage crisping in front of your eyes? Or when the butter begins to turn to a shade of golden nuttiness and you just know it’s time to add a squeeze of lemon juice? Sigh! I love those moments. They don’t happen too often in my kitchen but for this soup it was the crowning glory, the finishing touch, the necessary addition. I imagine you’ll think so too.

 

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Parsnip and pear soup with sage and brown butter

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 sticks celery, diced

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

600g parsnips, peeled and sliced into rounds

1/2 cup white wine

1 large pear, peeled and cut into large pieces

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt

For the burnt sage butter

75g salted butter

handful of picked fresh sage leaves

squeeze lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan; add the onion, garlic, celery, parsnip and chopped sage, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 5 minutes.

Turn the heat up, add the white wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped pear and chicken stock, bring to the boil then cook on a medium heat for 25 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat, add the yoghurt and blitz the soup with a stick blender or food processor till smooth. Check the seasoning.

For the burnt butter, place a fry pan on a high heat, once heated add the diced butter, swirl the pan. As the butter melts and starts to froth throw in the sage leaves, swirl the pan as they crisp. Right at the moment the butter looks like it can’t froth any more, and before it turns too dark, remove the pan from the heat, squeeze in the lemon juice and swirl a final time.

Ladle the parsnip soup into 4 bowls and drizzle the crispy sage and burnt butter over the top.

 

Chicken, Kale And Lemon Soup

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I make and freeze soups all the time.

During these colder months of the year, when I’m cooking a different pot of soup each week, I portion the left overs into small individual serves and have them on hand in the freezer for when I need good food fast.

At the moment I have a decent but small crop of kale growing in my urban garden, (it loves this cold weather) and this chicken and kale soup is a perfect way of using it up.

 

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I steered clear of potato as a thickener in this soup, instead, short grain risoni pasta is used to add body to the stock and a smoothness to the soup that I find irresistible.

A free range chicken will give the best results here. The stock will be flavoured from its bones and the chicken is then shredded and added back to the pureed soup.

Of course, as with all kale, there is a slight bitterness here that is then accentuated from the lemon, but this too is part of the charm of this particular soup. And with the help of the sour cream and brown sugar the queen of greens flavour is smoothed out, and a silky soup is left in its place.

 

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Kale, chicken and lemon soup

Ingredients 

1 bunch kale

2 medium brown onions, diced

2 large sticks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3 fresh bay leaves

1 tbsp chopped thyme

1.5kg free range whole chicken

1 whole lemon – wax free if you can

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

white pepper

Sea salt

2/3 cup risoni pasta

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

To serve

Chopped parsley

Extra virgin olive oil

Wash the kale and trim away the inner woody stalk. Shred into thin pieces.

Place the onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme, chicken and the lemon in a large pot, add the chicken stock and add 2 litres of cold water, gently bring to the boil.

Skim off any impurities that bubble to the top, turn the heat down and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and the lemon, and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the soup back on the heat, bring back to the boil, add the shredded kale and risoni pasta, and cook on a rapid heat for 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze and strain the juices into the soup. Add the brown sugar and sour cream and puree the soup till smooth. Check the seasoning.

Meanwhile, discard the skin from the chicken and shred the flesh into thin pieces.

Once the soup is blended and seasoned to your liking, add the shredded chicken back to it, warm it through and ladle into bowls. Garnish the soup with chopped parsley and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Chicken, Ginger And Udon Noodle Broth

DSC_0211One of my favourite smells in the kitchen, the one that brings feelings of comfort and nourishment, and a guarantee of food that can be shared, is a pot of chicken soup as it gently simmers on the stove top.

This chicken soup is one of a sweet nature. The combination of sweet and salty soy sauce flavours the broth and gives it its rich dark colouring. There is fresh ginger, kaffir lime, chilli and cardamon added, and by the time the broth is ready the flavours are complex and layered.

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If there is one piece of advice to follow, be it this: Start with a quality free-range chicken. This will give your broth the best flavour it deserves. That flavour leaches out into the broth permeating the stock with goodness and as well as the flesh of the chicken, once shredded being of a greater quality remaining soft and succulent.

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It’s imperative that the noodles are cooked to order. The udon noodles I buy are portioned into 90g serves, which is the perfect size for one person. If there’s two, use two portions, and so on…

The remaining broth can be stored for several days. You heat it and cook more noodles as required. The broth also freezes well so portion it up and keep it frozen for those days you need nourishing and comforting.

 

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Chicken ginger and udon noodle broth 

Ingredients 

1.6kg free range chicken

2 brown onions, quartered

2 carrots, chopped

2 large sticks celery, chopped

5cm piece of ginger, sliced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 chilli, split down the middle

1 bunch of coriander root and stem

6 cardamon pods

10 black peppercorns

1/3 cup sweet soy sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 litres water

To serve

Udon noodles (allow 90g per person)

Picked coriander leaves

Sliced green spring onions

Baby spinach leaves, or any Asian green vegetable

Wedges lime

Hot chilli sauce

Chinese red vinegar

Place the chicken in a large pot, add the onions, carrot, celery, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime, chilli, coriander root, cardamon pods, black peppercorns and both the soy sauces. Add 3 litres of cold water, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, skim off any impurities that rise to the top and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stand chicken in the broth for another 15 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside on a tray. Once cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred chicken into thin strips. Discard the bones, set chicken aside.

Strain the broth into a medium sized pan, press the vegetables into the strainer to squeeze all the flavour from the cooked veg, discard the vegetables. Skim off any excess fat and taste for seasoning.

Mix together a 50/50 ratio of Chinese red vinegar and hot chilli sauce.

To serve, cook the udon noodles in plenty of boiling water to packet instructions, drain and divide noodles between bowls.

Heat the amount of broth required, once it comes to the boil add some shredded chicken back into the broth and ladle over the hot noodles. Garnish with spinach, coriander leaves and green onions. Spoon over some hot chilli and vinegar sauce, squeeze a wedge of fresh lime on top and eat immediately.

French lentil casserole an alternative to meaty dishes

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French lentils, with their motley coloured blue skins, are an excellent choice for cooking. They require no soaking and hold their firmness well.

This peasant style French lentil casserole is one I like to cook because it’s wholesome, hearty, and a great alternative to meaty dishes. I’ve just finished working on a round of winter recipes for the magazine that were rich and decadent and used various cuts of meat that needed long and slow cooking.  Ben Dearnley, one of Sydney’s well known food photographers, shot the pics yesterday, so officially, it’s a wrap! It’s time to satisfy my hunger for some lighter vegetarian fair.

 

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Don’t underestimate the importance of fresh herbs in a casserole. These should be used in the cooking and the finishing of the dish. My dearest winter herbs – lemon thyme and fresh bay leaves – are put to work in this lentil rich dish as the corner stones of flavour and labour alongside a large red chilli, split down the middle, which is then simmered gently in the lentils for a peppery bite to the dish. Diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic are necessary casserole ingredients.

The other herb that i use time and again is parsley. Here, it’s roughly chopped and pounded in the mortar and pestle with red wine vinegar, for acidity, and extra virgin olive oil for a smooth grassy flavour. If I was not to show restraint, parsleys vibrant colour and flavour would possibly end up in every savoury dish i cooked. Yet, with an abundant amount growing in the garden I hardly see reason to hold back. I also encourage finishing this casserole with a wild rocket pesto. Rocket leaves can be blitzed with pine nuts, parmesan, lemon and extra virgin olive oil for excellent results and a dollop added to the finished meal.

 

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Once cooked, this casserole doubles as a soup base and can be extended with a good vegetable stock and some toasted sourdough. It freezes well so portion it up into small amounts and satisfy your vegetarian cravings at a later date, possibly as a remedy to over indulgence.

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French lentil casserole

Ingredients

2tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

2 sticks celery

2 carrots

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tbsp picked and chopped lemon thyme

3 fresh bay leaves, or two dried bay leaves if fresh unavailable.

1 large red chilli, split length ways

1 cup French lentils

1 litre vegetable stock

350g washed kipfler potatoes

2/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

 

Dice the onion, celery and carrots into 1cm dice. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed casserole dish and add vegetables, cook gently for several minutes. Add garlic, herbs, and salt and cook a further 2 minutes.

 

Slice washed kipfler potatoes (skin on) into 1cm thick rounds. Add vegetable stock, lentils, kipfler potatoes and whole red chilli to the casserole dish, bring to the boil and cook gently for 15 minutes. Use a ladle to skim any excess scum that cooks out of the lentils. Cover with a lid and simmer a further 15-20 minutes. Check seasoning and set aside.

 

Place the roughly chopped parsley in a mortar and pestle, add red wine vinegar, sea salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil, pound till ingredients are well combined (you could also use a small food processor, or chop parsley by hand and mix together in a small bowl).

 

Add the parsley oil to the lentil casserole and stir to combine. Divide between bowls and eat.

 

 

 

Za’atar roasted cauliflower soup

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Soups are frequent on my table.

It’s true, soups feature more in the cooler months, when I tend to make them hearty and thick. But I’ll happily eat soup any time – no matter the weather.

You’re probably familiar with za’atar – the dried Middle Eastern herb mix, consisting mainly of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and sumac . It’s so delicious and really can be used on just about any thing. Grab your za’atar – store bought or home made – and sprinkle it over the sliced cauliflower and red onions. A little oil, sea salt, and black pepper and whack in to a hot oven.

Caramalised roasted cauliflower is sweet and nutty and the perfect flavour base for this soup.

For busy people, a quality store bought za’atar is just fine. I keep some store bought handy for fast flavouring. I can’t always be a kitchen goddess! 

 

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I like to make this soup with vegetable stock – home made if you fancy –  but chicken stock also works well. Now, this is the part where I dread to scare you off. A little blue cheese is added and blended into the soup for richness and depth of flavour. Don’t be afraid. I think it goes beautifully with the za’atar and may not even be detected by those who swear they don’t like blue cheese. By all means, you might add more blue cheese, or leave it out all together. If this is the case, grilled cheddar toast served to the side is a good alternative for combining that cheesy flavour with the cauliflower.

 

Za’atar roasted cauliflower soup

Ingredients

1 cauliflower

1 red onion, sliced thinly

1 1/2 tbsp za’atar

1 1/2 litres vegetable stock

2 tbsp blue cheese – I used Gorgonzola, plus extra for garnishing – optional

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Chopped parsley, to garnish

 

Pre heat oven to 220C. Slice cauliflower into 1cm wide pieces – keep them as much in their natural floret shape as possible – and spread on a large tray. Scatter over sliced onions, drizzle cauliflower and onions with olive oil, sprinkle with za’atar, sea salt and pepper, and rub gently to coat. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Place roasted cauliflower and onions in a large saucepan, cover with vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. (if you’re after a thinner soup, add an extra 500ml vegetable stock or water, boil, then simmer for 10 minutes).

Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz soup, add 2tbsp (or more) of  blue cheese and continue blitzing till smooth, taste, adjust seasoning.

Ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley. For those, like me, who love blue cheese, crumble extra pieces on top of soup, and serve with plenty of cracked black pepper.

 

 

Zucchini and red lentil soup

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Soup is the perfect meal. It’s warm, nourishing and easy to prepare.

 

Soup can be eaten all year long. In winter I eat hearty soups like pea and ham cooked with smoked pork bones or Moroccan lamb and lentil. In spring I eat chicken broths and Vietnamese pho. In summer I enjoy light vegetable broths and when Autumn hits I tend towards rich minestrones and thick vegetable soups.

 

This zucchini and red lentil soup is a staple in my kitchen at any time of year. I love it for it’s simplicity. The vegetable components of the soup, the onion, garlic, ginger and zucchini are all grated, for quick easy preparation. Turmeric and cumin flavour the soup with a simple Indian flavour and the red lentils cook to a soft consistency.  And the best part – there’s no blending!

 

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For the zucchini, you’ll need a grater with a coarse grating side to it. If you don’t have one, it’s a great tool to own. I coarsely grate zucchini for my stir-fry, my risotto, and my pasta dishes. It’s a quick way of getting a green vegetable into a meal with out fiddly slicing and dicing. The ginger and garlic are easily grated on a microplane grater – a fantastic tool to have in the draw.

 

The best way to finish this soup is with a dollop of yoghurt. I tend to use a “Greek style” yoghurt as my all rounder, though natural yoghurt does the job too.  A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh herb, a dollop of yoghurt, it’s the prefect finish to this beautiful vegetable soup. Enjoy!

 

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Zucchini and red lentil soup

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive or grape seed oil

1 onion, grated and squeezed lightly

2 tbsp grated ginger

4 cloves garlic, grated

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1 ¼ cups red lentils

2 ltr vegetable stock

Cracked black pepper

3 zucchini

2 tbsp chopped coriander stem

To serve

Greek style yoghurt

Chopped coriander

Extra virgin olive oil

 

Heat a soup pot with the oil, add onion, garlic, ginger and spices, cook gently for 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock, red lentils and cracked pepper, bring to the boil and cook gently for 20 minutes.

 

Coarsely grate zucchini. Add to soup with chopped coriander stem, simmer a further 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning before serving.

 

To serve, ladle into bowls, add a dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkle of chopped coriander and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

 

Handy tip – Portion and freeze left over soup for next week when there’s no enthusiasm for cooking.