Category Archives: Soups

Thai Green Curry

Why hello there, long time no see.

I must apologise – over the past couple of weeks I’ve been most unadventurous in the kitchen.  Dinners have consisted of either leftover freezer food or easy easy things which may be tasty but are definitely not blogworthy (spag bol anyone?!).  I have been occupying myself out of the kitchen (shock!), primarily with the assistance of sewing (preceded by incredibly necessary maintenance on my very very pretty but 50-year-old sewing machine), knitting, attempting to crochet and origami.  All with end goals in sight, I swear!  As a result I’ve been neglecting you – I’m very sorry for that.

Today has been gorgeous, and I wanted something fragrant and delicious for dinner.  I haven’t cooked thai food for ages, and the fact that we had to go food shopping anyway seemed like a perfect excuse to make a green curry.  It takes a while to make the paste, but it’s totally worth it.  This one’s almost soupy, the way I like it, but if you prefer a thicker sauce then you don’t have to add as much liquid as I do.  You can also make the paste in a food processor, but I find chopping and grinding it to be quite cathartic (although I did enlist the assistance of A Man when my arm got tired!).

Having never been to Thailand, I’ve no clue whether this is anywhere close to authentic, but it really hit the nail on the head for me.  Definitely what I needed to eat tonight!  You can change up the ingredients to use fish, prawns or veggies if you like.  If you’re making a vegetarian version, just use soy sauce instead of fish sauce.

Both A Man and I have been cooking with a lot of garlic recently, partially because we both love garlic, but also because one of the souvenirs he brought back from our recent holiday in France was a grappe of garlic from the Rennes food market.  The bulbs are really big, less harsh-tasting than supermarket stuff and frankly damned tasty.

Yes, we really did go to France and bring back garlic.  So shoot us.

Love love

Gemma xx

Thai Green Curry

Unveiling the curry 🙂

For the Paste
Root Ginger – about 2 cm
Fresh Galangal – about cm
Shallots – 2 or 3
Spring Onions – 3 or 4
Finger Chillis – 2-4
Garlic Cloves – about 5 fat cloves
Lemongrass – 1 or 2 stalks
Kaffir Lime Leaves – about 5
Zest of 1 lime
Pinch of course salt
A little vegetable oil

For the Curry
Chicken, prawns or whatever you fancy.  I used chicken thigh fillets, chopped into chunky pieces
Red onion, chopped
Butternut squash, chopped into thin slices
Carrot, chopped
Mushroom, sliced
Courgette, sliced
Sugarsnap peas
250ml coconut cream.  Not coconut milk, because the stock dilutes it somewhat.
250ml stock.  I used homemade chicken stock
Fish sauce/soy sauce
Coriander.  Fresh and chopped for preference, but I had to use some prepared coriander from a jar 😦
Juice of 1/2 lime

  1. Peel and grate the ginger and galangal with a microplane grater.  Squeeze the juice from any fibrous gunk and discard the fibrous bit.
  2. Finely chop the remaining paste vegetables and spices.  Use 2 chillis to start with – you will be able to add more later if necessary.
  3. Grind all of the paste ingredients together until it’s fairly homogeneous, although lumps are OK.
  4. Heat a little vegetable oil in a wok.  If using chicken, brown it all over and then remove from the pan.  Fry the paste ingredients for 3-5 minutes on a low heat, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the onion, squash and carrot to the paste and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add the mushroom and courgette and fry for a couple of more minutes.  Stir through the coconut and stock and add the chicken/prawns etc to the sauce.  Turn down to a medium-low temperature, cover the wok and cook for 5 minutes or until the meat has just cooked through.
  6. Add the sugarsnaps, a few drops of fish sauce/soy sauce, a heaped teaspoon of coriander and the lime juice.  Stir well and taste the sauce.  Season further with fish sauce if necessary.  If you feel like it needs some more heat, chop up another chilli and fry for a minute or so in a separate pan.  Add to the sauce and taste again.  Remember, you can always add more chilli but you can’t take it away!  It’s taken me a long time to learn this 🙂
  7. Serve with rice noodles and crackers.  And spoons.  Definitely spoons – you don’t want to miss out on all that juicy deliciousness.
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Pea and Mint Soup

Hi there

Yesterday after work, I bought a couple of kg of fresh pod peas which were seriously reduced.  I then sat on the sofa and shelled them over a couple of episodes of Don’t Tell the Bride.  Totally intended to tidy the house.  Didn’t.  Never mind!

This soup is seriously easy and very pretty too!  If you’re feeling extreme, you can strain it after it’s been blended to ensure it’s super-smooth, but I didn’t bother.  It can be served hot or cold, and the addition of a little cream or yoghurt can make it really special.

You can of course use frozen peas if you  prefer.  With fresh peas, you end up with tons and tons of pods – I chucked mine in the slow cooker to make an easy veggie stock.  I also had too many peas to blend so removed some of them from the stock and chilled them for use later in the week.

Much love

Gemma xx

Pea and Mint Soup

It’s so greeeen! A Man seasoned his with lots of black pepper.

2 red onions
Several fat cloves of garlic
Butter and olive oil
Dried and fresh mint
1 – 2 pints vegetable stock
Lots of peas
Salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste
Cream or natural yoghurt (optional)

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in some butter and olive oil until starting to soften.  Add the dried and fresh mint.
  2. Add enough stock to cover the onion by about an inch and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Add the peas and more stock if necessary to ensure they are covered by an inch or two.  Simmer for around 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and whiz with a hand blender until smooth, adding more liquid as necessary.  Strain if desired.  Season well with salt, pepper and a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar to taste.  If serving chilled, leave to cool and then chill in the fridge – it may thicken as it cools, so add more liquid if necessary.
  4. Add the cream or yoghurt if desired and serve with toasted pitta bread.

Cheeky Leek Casserole

Hullo hullo

Well, if you’ve ever spent more than 2 minutes with me you’ll most likely be well aware of how clumsy I am.  I’m currently sitting on the sofa with my ankle iced and elevated after coming off of my bike earlier today.  I still  pushed through an hour of karate (granted I probably oughtn’t to have) but had to pass up A Man’s request to go roller skating.  He looked very sad.  I felt very guilty.

Luckily for both of us, I made dinner yesterday in the slow cooker.  I had to pop to the supermarket and came across some reduced price pork cheeks.  I’ve seen them come through my till several times but had never bought them before.  They’re kindof hard to come across usually as it’s the kind of meat that tends to be made into sausages, but Morrisons stocks them (as, apparently do Waitrose) and you might be able to get hold of some from a decent butcher.  Even at full price, they’re only £5 per kilo and have no bones, gristle or much fat (if they’re trimmed as mine were) so they’re really good value for money.

They can apparently be a bit on the tough side, but you just wouldn’t know it from tonight’s dinner.  It was some of the tastiest, most tender pork I’ve eaten in a long time.  Really to be highly recommended!  I also only used the dark green ends of my leeks (I had used the paler bits last night, in leeks in cheese sauce) which stand up better to the long slow cooking and might otherwise have been thrown away.  Overall, I’d thoroughly recommend this dish.  Even if you’re a bit squeamish about eating cheeks, you really can’t tell when you just have the meat, and the end result is so worth it!  No photo I’m afraid – I was feeling lazy.

Love love

Gemma

Cheeky Leek Casserole

2 or 3 pork cheeks per person (depending on size and how greedy you’re feeling)
Dark green ends of leeks, cut into chunky pieces
Half an onion, chopped
1 large or a couple of small apples, cored and chopped into chunky pieces (skin left on)
About a pint of chicken stock
Heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Teaspoon honey
Some white sauce (or cheese sauce – I used the leftovers from the leeks in cheese sauce)
Fresh tarragon
Mushrooms, chopped into chunks

  1. Chop the pork cheeks into 3 or 4 chunky pieces.  Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add the leeks, onion and apple.  Stir together well to distribute.
  3. Mix the mustard and honey with the chicken stock.  Make up the white or cheese sauce if necessary and stir into the stock.  Pour over the pork and vegetables.  Ad more water if necessary to cover.  Add fresh tarragon.
  4. Cook in slow cooker on low (or in a casserole dish in a low oven) for around 4-5 hours.  Fish out the tarragon and stir through the mushrooms.  Cook for another hour or so.
  5. Taste and season if necessary.  Serve with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes (we had rice) and a glass of cider.  Thank me later for just how tender the meat is.

Carrot and Parsnip Soup

Hiya

I love soup!  It’s easy to make, good for hiding veg that’s slightly past its prime, offers infinite variety and it’s really good for you.  Research has shown that if you’re trying to lose weight, you should eat soup because the exact same meal blended with some water or stock will keep you fuller for longer than if you ate it solid with a glass of water.  If you make soup with home-made stock made from bones, you will also get the kick of a whole load of minerals (particularly calcium) and the satisfaction that you’ve got an extra meal from your roast dinner.

Carrots are great for soup – they’re cheap, they cook pretty quickly and they go with lots of other flavours.  I chucked in the parsnips too, as they were reduced and are tasty with some good strong spices.

Much love

Gemma xx

Carrot and Parsnip Soup

Olive oil
Onion
Carrots
Parsnips
Cumin
Chilli Powder
Ground Coriander
Stock (I used chicken stock, obviously use veg stock if you want a veggie soup!)

  1. Warm some olive oil in a pan.  Peel the veg and chop into small dice.  Fry in the olive oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add spices in quantities to taste.  I used lots of ground cumin for this soup, but use your own favourites.  Fry the spices for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add stock a little at a time to cover the vegetables.  Simmer the soup until the veg is soft.
  4. You can serve the soup lumpy if you like.  I blended using a hand blender until smooth (add some more liquid if necessary).  You can also stir through some cream or herbs and season to taste.  Serve with some crusty bread or rolls.

Hot and Sour Noodles

Hiya

The weather is crappy.  It’s miserable and windy and rubbish.  But it’s June and we shouldn’t have to be eating beef stew.  These noodles in their spicy broth makes life seem much much better 🙂  It’s just the right combination of light (so you don’t feel like you’re made entirely out of dumpling) yet spicy (so you don’t feel like you’ve been short-changed out of a decent meal on a miserable day).  It’s also incredibly quick, easy, and pretty good for you too.  I needed to use up the leftovers from our Garlic Lemon Chicken, but it would be great with just veg or tofu.  The advantage of using the chicken is that it had rather cunningly been flavoured with the right kind of things, and when I stripped the carcass down I squeezed the limes which had been in the cavity all over the meat.  Clever girl.  You can also use uncooked chicken, which poaches in the broth like in the Chicken and Sweetcorn soup I made a couple of months ago.

Love love

Gemma xx

Hot and Sour Noodles

Stock (I used ham stock, but chicken or vegetable would be just as good)
Juice of 1 lime
Garlic clove, finely sliced
Galangal, finely sliced
Half an onion
Half a courgette
Carrot
Red pepper
Tinned sweetcorn
Chicken or tofu (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 red chilli, finely diced
Soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Egg noodles

  1. Slice your veg into fairly fine strips.  Cut the chicken or tofu into chunks and set aside.
  2. Warm through the stock, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic and galangal.  Add the veg and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chilli a little at a time, stirring through and tasting.  It is very easy to over-spice so try not to overdo it.  Dissolve the sugar into the soup and season with soy sauce if necessary (I didn’t need to as ham stock is very salty anyway).  Mine wasn’t quite sour enough so I added some cider vinegar as I didn’t have any more lime juice.
  4. Add the chicken or tofu, if using.  Simmer until cooked or warmed through as necessary.
  5. Break some noodles into the soup and simmer until cooked.  Serve immediately.

Carrot and Coconut Soup

Good evening good evening good evening

Even by my standards, my freezer has started to look a bit on the daft side.  I’ve been saving meat bones like there’s some kind of world shortage, and eventually got fed up of trying to pack “real food” around them, so I decided to finally make up the stock yesterday.  As I didn’t really have enough of any type of bones, the resulting stock was made in the slow cooker from a combination of chicken, lamb, ham and beef bones, along with a couple of carrots, some celery and some rosemary stalks.  I was dubious as to what would result, but pleasantly surprised by a delicious smelling, relatively gelatinous stock (click here for some fairly fool-proof stock instructions, adaptable for any type of carcass).

The fridge, on the other hand, is incredibly sad-looking.  Quite a variety of salad veg, a load of carrots and not much else.  Given that I really couldn’t be bothered to go shopping, I decided to make some carrot soup and concluded that the coconut cream leftover from the other day’s curry  probably ought to be used up too, resulting in this slightly tangy version of carrot and coriander soup.  Nice and simple, and fairly quick to make.  Hopefully I’ll regain inspiration later in the week and start cooking exciting things again!

Love love

Gemma xx

Carrot and Coconut Soup

I'm trying out a slightly more artsy style of photography. What do you think?

Lots of carrots, diced small
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Onion powder
1 green chilli, seeds removed and chopped finely (top tip – don’t rub your eyes unlike some silly cow did this evening…)
Good quality stock (use meat stock if you like, or vegetable to make it vegetarian/vegan)
Half a carton of coconut cream
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, roughly chopped

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a fairly deep pan.  Add the carrot and stir.  Shake in quite a lot of ground coriander and a smaller amount of cumin and onion powder.  Add the chilli and stir everything well.
  2. Add enough stock to cover the veg, topping up with water if necessary.  Stir through the coconut cream and turn the heat down to a slow simmer.  Cook for at least half an hour, until the carrot is really soft.  You don’t have to worry about boiling out all the goodness, as that’ll stay in the water, which will be whizzed up with the soup later!
  3. Once the carrot is soft, blend until smooth, adding more stock or water if necessary.  Stir through the coriander and serve with crusty bread.  A good tip if you have some bread rolls or a baguette or something which is starting to go a bit stale is to sprinkle some water over it and warm it through in a medium-hot oven.  Voila!  Fresh(ish) crusty bread 🙂

Leek and Potato Soup “Vichyssoise”

Greetings

Having made a heap of ham stock the other day and having bought very cheap leeks and potatoes, last night’s dinner was a no-brainer.  It’s not an especially summery soup but if you fancy you can eat it cold as a vichyssoise if the weather’s just too nice to be eating warm soup.  We had it hot, but only due to the fact that I left it too late to cook and to cool.  I pretty much followed the recipe in the New Covent Garden Soup Book, a great little recipe book with lots of different soup inspirations; some (like this one) quite traditional, and others much more unusual.

You can easily make this dish by using vegetable stock or water, and vegan by skipping the dairy.

Love love

Gemma xx

Leek and Potato Soup

1 small onion
3 leeks, cleaned
2 medium floury potatoes
About 1 pint stock or water
2 waxy potatoes
Milk, cream or fromage frais

  1. Slice the onion and two of the leeks finely.  Gently fry on a low heat for around 10 minutes, until soft.
  2. Dice the floury potatoes and add to the leeks.  Fry for another 5-10 minutes or so until soft.
  3. Add the stock or water and bring to the boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and blend the soup.  At this point, taste the soup and season to taste with salt, pepper and herbs (chives are particularly good here).  Add more water if necessary (if serving the soup cold, it will probably need to be thinner than if you’re serving it warm).
  4. Slice the remaining leek and dice the waxy potatoes and stir through the soup.  Cook gently until the potato is cooked.
  5. If serving warm, stir through some milk, cream or fromage frais and serve immediately.  If serving cold, cool and add the dairy once cool.  Chill until needed.