Vegetarian French Onion Soup

It is raining this morning, so I am looking out the soup recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium to large onions, peeled and thinly sliced into rings. 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.2 litres of hot stock 
  • 300ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp brandy 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 250g Emmental cheese, grated.

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C gas 4
  • Mix 1 tbsp olive oil with one clove of crushed garlic, and put into an oven-proof tray or baking sheet.
  • Slice the baguette into thin slanting slices, and mix with the olive oil and garlic. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes. 
  • In a large saucepan or casserole dish, on a high heat, melt 50g of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil, and when this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep turning and stirring until the onions are getting quite dark around the edges. 
  • Reduce the heat right down, and cook very slowly for another 30 minutes or so. 
  • Pour in the stock and wine, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and then cook very gently for about an hour. Don’t cover with a lid. 
  • Just before serving, put the grill on.
  • Transfer the soup into a tureen or serving bowls. Put the toasted baguette onto the soup, cover with the grated cheese and put everything under the grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling. 
  • Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. The bowls will be very hot, so be careful. 

 

Celeriac and celery soup

This has its roots in Delia Smith’s vegetarian cook book. Some of the recipes have lasted with me, and it is a book I dip back to regularly. It is a good way to use all of the celery that gets left from other recipes that only use one or two stalks. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g approx of celery stalks
  • 550g approx of celeriac, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1.5 litres of marigold stock
  • 3 bayleaves
  • salt and pepper
  • creme fraiche or greek yoghurt, chopped herbs to serve. 

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 140C gas mark 1
  • Use a peeler or sharp knife to remove any stringy sections from the outside of the celery stalks. Cut into large chunks.
  • Peel and chop the celeriac, and cut the onion into large wedges.
  • Put all of the ingredients into a large casserole dish with the stock, bayleaves, salt and pepper. Bring it to a simmer on the hob, cover, and transfer to the oven. 
  • Leave to cook in the oven for three hours. 
  • Remove the bayleaves, and blend using a soup wand, 
  • Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche, and chopped herbs. Parsley or chopped celery leaves work well, so do chive flowers, the colour contrast is so beautiful. 

 

Cannellini Bean, Garlic and Lamb Soup

I’m not sure if this is a soup or a stew. It is very sweet from the gently stewed garlic and lamb, just the most delicious comfort food. I found it in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 head of celeriac, peeled and chopped into small dice
  • 20 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lamb or beef, in 2cm squares
  • 1.75L water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 7 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp date syrup or brown sugar
  • 250g small firm potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon wedges and chopped coriander, to serve

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and celeriac on a medium heat for fie minutes, until the onion starts to brown. 
  • Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another couple of minutes before taking off the heat and setting to one side
  • Put the meat in the water in a large pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes, skimming any foam from the surface.
  • Add the onions, celeriac, beans, cardamom, turmeric, tomato puree and sugar. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for an hour. 
  • Add the potatoes to the soup season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and tender. You may need to add water and stir from time to time to prevent the soup from sticking. 
  • Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon and some chopped coriander leaves. 

Yoghurt and Barley Soup

I had a guest staying last week, and as well as being very busy at work, I also ended up trying to cook new dishes. I would add, she is a good cook and a fantastic guest who took her turn at cooking too. I will see if I can pinch one of her recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1.6 litres of water
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • a handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 60g butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 500g yoghurt
  • 3 Spring onions and mint or other fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a little lovage)

METHOD:

  • Soak the barley in the cold water overnight. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil and cook for around 20 minutes, until the barley is tender. 
  • Meanwhile, saute the onion and the mint in butter until very soft, around 15 minutes. Add the mixture to the barley and water. 
  • Whisk the eggs into the yoghurt. Add in a large spoonful of the soup, and keep whisking, adding soup until the yoghurt and egg mixture is hot. Add the mixture back into the soup, whisking it in. 
  • Reheat, but do not boil the soup. 

Garnish with sliced spring onions and herbs. I had to experiment – the first version was a bit odd, with the barley a bit al dente – the soaking is important. 

 

Chickpea, herb and spinach soup – Ash-e Mast

I’ve bought a few new cookbooks this year, the theme seems to be about the middle east. This book of Persian recipes is called ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Hopelessly romantic title, but then again, I have a photograph of two Tehrani police officers outside our gate in northern Tehran, posing for my mother with bunches of roses and honeysuckle. 

I never had this soup, though, until today. It is easy and delicious. The recipe makes a large quantity, it says it serves four but only if you have two helpings each. It takes about an hour and a half to make. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1.5 litres boiling water
  • 50g arborio rice
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 pack of coriander leaf, chopped (around 40g)
  • 1 pack of flat leaf parsley, chopped (around 40g)
  • 1 tbsp dried summer savory (or substitute a mixture of thyme and mint)
  • 300g spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 250ml greek yoghurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Black pepper to garnish

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. When it is hot, add the chopped onions, and fry for 10-15 minutes until the onions are brown. Stir in the turmeric and mix. Set aside a tablespoonful of fried onions for a garnish at the end. 
  • Add the water and rice to the rest of the fried onions, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • Add the chickpeas, herbs and spinach, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes. 
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste, then beat in the yoghurt. Don’t boil once the yoghurt is added, because it will curdle. 
  • Garnish with extra yoghurt, the fried onions, and a grating of black pepper. 

For a vegan version, leave out the yoghurt, or use coconut yoghurt. For a meaty version, use beef stock instead of water and add small meatballs. 

Carrot and coriander soup with chilli and cumin

Last weekend, a friend and I dug up the last of last year’s carrots, where they had overwintered in the ground. I froze some and I also made this soup. I kind of made it up as I went along, using some ingredients that I already had.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 400g approx chopped carrots
  • 500ml vegetable stock (or other stock)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • Juice of half a lime
  • salt and pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • A pinch of chipotle smoked pepper (from Seasoned Pioneers)

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, fry the chilli and the onion slowly in the olive oil, until the onion is softening.
  • Add the cumin and the carrots, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the stock, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Take of the heat, and add the sour cream, lime juice, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper and coriander leaves.
  • Use a soup wand to make a smooth creamy soup. Add a bit of stock or water if the soup is too thick.

Serve with brown toast.

Mushroom soup with cayenne and dill (Hungarian Mushroom Soup)

My brother-in-law, John, served this to us one evening. It was only the second time we met and the soup was one of the many highlights of the evening. The taste recalls the evening around 25 years ago.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • Salt
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 pint of stock
  • 1 tsp miso (you can substitute marmite if no miso available)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

METHOD:

  • Finely chop the onion and fry gently in the oil, with 1/2 tsp salt
  • Chop the mushrooms and add to the pan
  • Add the dill, thyme, paprika and cayenne, and cover. Cook slowly for around 7 minutes.
  • Add the stock and miso and bring to a simmer for three minutes.
  • Liquidise, and add the sour cream and lemon juice.
  • Reheat without bringing to the boil.

Serve with brown bread.

Pea and Ham Soup

This is a classic soup – so classic that I couldn’t find it in any recipe book. Apparently we are to learn how to make it as a hereditary skill. This recipe makes a huge vat of soup, but I don’t see how you could make much less.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large ham bone, ham hock, or left-over cooked ham
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped into small chunks
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 3 potatoes, diced (optional)
  • 500g bag of yellow or green split peas – rinse the peas.
  • 1.5 litres of stock (ham stock, chicken stock or vegetable stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 level tsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • In a large soup pan, fry the chopped onions and celery gently in the olive oil, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two longer
  • Add the carrots, peas, stock, ham, paprika and bay leaves to the pan, and bring to the boil.
  • Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water if it is becoming too thick.
  • If you are going to add potatoes, do so at this point, and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the ham bone from the pan and set it aside to cool. Pull any meat off the bone, shred it and return it to the pan.
  • Season with salt and pepper if required, and heat to a simmer before serving.

If you want to freeze this soup, don’t add any potato. If you’d like a smoother soup, you can blend it with a soup wand before adding the shredded ham.

Spiced beetroot and tomato soup

I had two more large beetroot left, so I made this soup, adapted slightly from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking, which I bought in 1983s. The link is to a subsequent edition.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large beetroot, peeled and diced
  • 500ml water
  • butter
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or a 2cm stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 level tsp ground black pepper
  • Sour cream or double cream

METHOD:

  • Cook the chopped beetroot in the water. Simmer for about an hour, to make sure the beetroot is really soft.
  • Drain the beetroot, and make the liquid up to 450ml if necessary.
  • Add the beetroot back to the liquor, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and use the soup wand to liquidise
  • In a saucepan, fry the spices in butter, and then add the beetroot and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Strain the soup through a coarse sieve to remove the whole spices, and then add the cream, and reheat.

Cauliflower and walnut soup

Initially, I wasn’t sure about this soup. It looks odd, but then I caught myself having extra portions. It is even better after being frozen, it seems to enhance the walnut flavour. It is worth spending some time reducing the walnuts to a paste before adding.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bayleaves
  • a pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 450ml stock
  • 450ml skimmed milk
  • butter
  • 50g walnut pieces

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion finely and cook slowly in butter until soft and beginning to brown.
  • Chop the cauliflower into florets and boil in the stock with 2 bayleaves until tender, at least 10 minutes.
  • Remove the bayleaves, add a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper, and puree the cauliflower and stock until smooth. (I used a soup wand)
  • Grind the walnuts and pound to a fine paste in a pestle and mortar.
  • Add the cooked onions, ground walnuts and skimmed milk to the cauliflower base, and puree again.
  • Strain through a coarse sieve to remove any lumps.
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer for two minutes before serving.