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Archive for December, 2009

Butterbean and beef soup

Butterbean and beef soup

This weekend I did not really know what soup to cook. After a little online research I found a picture of a butterbean and lamb soup and was all sold. The picture looked delicious. As I had a nice piece of organic beef in the freezer, I made a few changes to the recipe and created this fantastic soup.

And I learned something about soaking beans: They need a lot of water. A lot more than I was expecting. I left a medium-sized bowl of bean covered by water over night and the beans were still quiet hard the next day. I had to cook them (with the soup) for about 45 minutes. They were lovely in the end.

Level: Easy | Time: 60 minutes | serves 4

Ingredients

Olive Oil

250 grams of beef steak

1 big tin of butter beans or dried beans soaked in water over night

2 carrot, peeled and sliced

1 small onion, peeled and cut in rings

1 celery stalk, sliced

4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

750 to 1 litre of vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Fresh Thyme

Preparation

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot and add the meat and the onion when the oil is hot.
  2. Brown the meat all around and add the fresh Thyme.
  3. When the meat is browned add the rest of the vegetables and the stock and keep cooking on a low heat for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Check if the soup needs salt or pepper and if all the ingredients are soft and well mixed together. If not keep cooking for 10-15 minutes longer.
  5. Serve in a warm bowl with some bread.
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chestnut soup

This soup takes a little more effort than my usual recipes but I promise it is well worth it. Chestnuts are a rare treat and for me they belong to Christmas like Santa Claus. I never prepared them though. I usually enjoy them roasted at Christmas markets. This year I decided that the time has come to give chestnut soup a try.

You will see that the recipe is very simple: a carrot, some leek, onion and celery and you almost have the soup ready.

But here is the tricky part: The chestnuts!

It took me about 1 hour to peel 500 grams of chestnuts and it was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. First of all, I did not know how they were supposed to look “naked”.  After peeling a few today, I can tell you that they have 2 skins. The hard brown one you would expect and a softer lighter brown, I did not expect. It is essential to get both of them off.

But the good news is: It doesn’t have to be that hard! I disregarded every advice to cut the chestnuts before boiling them, as I thought the extra effort of cutting a cross into the skin was not worth it. … Well I can tell you know: It really is! The few chestnuts I had prepared like that were a lot easier to peel than the rest. You should cut a cross at the top (the light brown part) before boiling them and peel them straight away when they are still hot. And if that is still too much effort for you (and I could not blame you) you can buy them cooked and peeled as well.

Here is a helpful link on “How to peel chestnuts“.

If you never had chestnut soup before, be warned: it tastes slightly sweet. But after the 3rd spoonful you will love it. I do anyways!

Level: Medium | Time: 60 minutes (depending on the chestnut peeling skills)| serves 4-6


Ingredients

Knob of butter

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

1 leek (white part only), washed and sliced

1 small onion, sliced

1-2 celery stalk, peeled and sliced

500 grams of chestnuts (cooked, peeled and cut into pieces)

100 ml of sour cream

1 litre of vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg

Parsley for decoration

Preparation

  1. Heat the butter in a big pot on medium heat.
  2. Add the carrot, onion, leek and celery and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked and peeled chestnuts and the stick and cook on a low heat, covered for 20 minutes.
  4. Take the pot off the heat and blend the soup till smooth and silky.
  5. It the soup is too thick add a little bit of stock.
  6. Now, add the sour cream and the nutmeg (1-2 TS) and stir well.
  7. To serve, ladle a bit of soup into a warm bowl, stir in some extra sour cream and sprinkle with parsley.

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Gulasch soup

gulasch soup

I love this Gulasch soup recipe as it reminds me of my father. It was generally my mother who was in charge of the pots and pans in our house but when it came to Gulasch my father was the man for the job. He always puts a lot of effort in his cooking: Shopping for the right ingredients, chopping everything to the exact perfect size, cooking slowly and enjoying having the kitchen to himself. Our dinners would usually be late when my dad was cooking, but we were rewarded with fantastic flavours.

Now where I live quiet far away from my parents, I love preparing this soup and cherish a few good old memories.  This soup is absolutely perfect for the wintery season and tastes great with a glass of red or mulled wine.

Happy second advent!

Level: Medium | Time: 60 minutes | serves 2


Ingredients

1 knob of butter or vegetable oil

5 baby onions quartered

1 carrot, peeled and cut in pieces

1 red pepper, washed and cut in pieces

1 small (or half a normal) leek, washed and cut in rings

100 grams of smoky bacon

250 grams of beef (don’t use a too lean cut)

Salt and Pepper

Sweet paprika powder (2 TS)

A few fresh thyme stalks

2 bay leaves

Beef stock 600 ml

Sour cream

Tomato puree

1 glass of red wine

Mushrooms (I used brown mushrooms. If you can get wild mushrooms, that would be even better.)

Preparation

  1. Put the butter in a heavy base pot on a high heat and fry the bacon and meat for a few minutes until brown all around.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add the red wine. Cook for about 5 minutes allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
  3. Add the spices (paprika powder, salt, pepper, Thyme and Bay leaves) and the tomato puree and give it a good mix.
  4. Now add the rest of the vegetables besides the mushrooms, and the beef stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower the temperature to a low heat and cook covered.
  6. After 30 minutes add the mushrooms, mix well and cook for another 20 minutes.
  7. Serve the soup in warm bowls with a drop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of fresh Thyme.

Bon Appétit!

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Kale and bacon soup

kale and bacon soup

When I started this blog I was afraid that my husband would start protesting very soon. Don’t get me wrong. He is absolutely fantastic and supports me in every way possible. He proof reads all my posts to make sure you have a chance to understand what I am writing about and compliments my pictures every time.

But eating soup at least twice a week? I was not sure that he would like that idea. Three weeks into my blog project, he has not complaint once, which makes me really happy because he is not the kind of person who would give you a happy face when he doesn’t like the food that he being served.

Nonetheless I decided to add a few meaty soups to my repertoire to keep the smile on his face. As kale is very healthy and widely available at this time of the year, I decided to use it as my main ingredient. I added some smoked bacon, potatoes and veggies and had a great soup in no time.

Level: Easy | Time: 40 minutes | serves 4-6

Ingredients

150 grams of smoked bacon, cut into pieces

3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

1-2 stalks of celery, peeled and cut in small pieces

1 leek washed and cut into rings (I use the green part as well but if you don’t like it, just leave it out.)

1 small to medium head of kale, washed and cut into small pieces

(Make sure you give the leek and kale a really good wash. They can be quite sandy. I don’t throw away the tougher pieces of the kale because I like a little crunch to my soup. I just cut them into smaller pieces to make sure everything is done at the same time.)

750 ml of vegetable or chicken stock

Salt and Pepper

Preparation

  1. Heat a frying pan on medium heat and fry the bacon. You don’t need any extra butter of oil; the bacon contains enough fat. Cook it for about 10 minutes until most of the fat has cooked out and it is slightly crispy. Take it out of the pan and put it on kitchen paper so that it absorbs some of the fat.
  2. Put the pan back on the heat and fry the veggies in the rest of the bacon fat for 5 minutes.
  3. Now transfer everything to a pot and add the stock. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Take the soup off the heat and blend half of the soup till creamy.
  5. Bring everything back to the pot (bacon, creamy soup, rest of the soup) and cook for another 3-5 minutes and serve in a warm bowl with brown bread.

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