Chestnut and chorizo soup

The weather is very dank at the moment, rain every day, overcast and cold, hardly like midsummer at all. I made this tonight, using vacuum-packed chestnuts, carrots and celery from the garden, and some cooking chorizo from the freezer.

The recipe is from the Moro cookbook, full of interesting recipes that are generally easy to cook and taste wonderful. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 120g mild cooking chorizo, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 small dried red chillies, crushed
  • half a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • around 500g cooked peeled chestnuts
  • 20 saffron threads, infused in 4 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 litre boiling water
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, and fry the onion, carrot, celery and chorizo for around 20 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are caramelised. 
  • Add the garlic, thyme, cumin and chillies, and stir in well
  • Add the tomatoes, stir again and then a couple of minutes later, add the chestnuts, water and saffron water and simmer for around 10 minutes
  • Remove from the heat and mash the chestnuts. I used a soup wand, leaving the soup slightly rough and chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

I think you could add a glass of dry sherry to this, I’ll try this tomorrow. It freezes well too. 

Summer vegetable minestrone

The vegetable garden is growing really well in spite of the high winds trashing the potatoes and the beans. This afternoon I started thinning out the root vegetables and removing some random kale plants that had self-seeded in amongst the leeks. I used about 500g of thinnings and leaves to make this soup. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • A mixture of vegetables. I had some mizuna greens, orache, Russian kale, carrots, mange tout, and some small beetroot tops. All washed and chopped small
  • A small onion, finely chopped. 
  • Celery salt
  • Marigold stock
  • 2 tbsp Green pesto sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Around 1/5 litres of boiling water
  • A handful of soup pasta, such as quadretti or stelline
  • Freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil on a low flame, and gently fry the onion until it is soft. 
  • Add the vegetables in the order in which they will cook, slowest to fastest. I added the carrots, then the beetroot tops, mizuna and kale, then poured over the boiling water, and seasoned with celery salt, black pepper, and some marigold stock powder. 
  • Once the kale is beginning to cook, then add the orache and peas, and the soup pasta. Check for taste and simmer until the pasta is just about done. 
  • Stir the pesto into the soup, and serve sprinkled heavily with grated parmesan or pecorino. 

Quick and easy carrot and leek soup

I’ve got bags of carrots in the freezer, and I’m experimenting again. I also made a very peculiar soup with pickled beetroot and sour cream that I don’t think I will try again. This was so quick and easy, and there are at least six servings in there. It is better made with a chicken stock. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 30g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped – do not include any coarse leaves
  • around 500g carrots, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 litre + of chicken stock or similar
  • around 150ml plain yoghurt, unsweetened
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion and leek in the butter. Cover the pan and let them sweat for around 3 minutes
  • Add a good pinch of salt and the grated carrots, stir together, and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Add the hot stock, and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes
  • When the vegetables are tender and cooked through, use a soup wand to blend the soup, and to blend in the yoghurt. 
  • Stir through the chopped chives, and add salt and pepper as desired. 

Serve with some good rye bread, or other wholesome brown bread. 

Duck Soup 🤓

There has been a culling of the Muscovy duck flock in Loch Eport. I am planning on a Persian stew with the jointed duck, made with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. After I jointed the duck, I made a delicious broth from the carcase, and then followed and adapted a recipe that I found online, to cover the ingredients available locally. 

The whole time, I was thinking of this classic film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_Soup_(1933_film) 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 duck carcase, chopped into three to fit into the stock pot
  • 2 small onions, chopped into quarters
  • Parsley – could be stalks or leaves
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 head of garlic, cloves chopped across the middle
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2+ bayleaves – I used 4 small leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 3 medium or 1 very large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 can of flageolet beans (not always available, I used haricot beans instead)
  • 40g pearl barley
  • 150g chard or spinach, chopped roughly
  • 50ml sherry
  • salt to taste – about a teaspoonful
  • freshly ground pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Put the duck carcase, onions, parsley, porcini mushrooms, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns into the stock pot, and fill with water to cover everything. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. 
  • Strain the stock, and put in a soup pan. Pick any meat off the carcase and reserve
  • Add the barley, and simmer for 45 minutes. 
  • Add the carrots, celery, bring to a simmer again for 10 minutes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beans and spinach, and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Add the sherry and any duck meat. 

Serve in large soup bowls, garnished with grated parmesan, and with a good bread, such as sour-dough bread. You could also drizzle good quality olive oil on the soup or the bread. 

Cracked wheat, courgette and yoghurt soup

This took a bit of testing before I got the method and recipe I liked best. It is from Van, in the east of Turkey. The history of this area is full of conflict, with Anatolian Christians being persecuted. I used to go to the Lake Van monastery in exile in Edinburgh, not really a restaurant, more of a place of welcome with food and history; I learnt a bit about the history of the Lake Van monastery there from the monk that ran the place.  

Remember to start the night before. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g coarse bulgar wheat
  • 250g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 large courgette, diced
  • 1 tbsp plain white flour
  • 300g spinach, chopped
  • 100g coriander leaf, chopped, OR mint or savory leaves. 
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Cook the bulgar wheat in 500ml water, simmer for five minutes and then leave overnight. 
  • The next day, drain the wheat
  • In a large pan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer, and add the wheat and the courgette, and cook gently for around 20 minutes. 
  • Mix the flour with a spoon of hot stock, and add to the soup, along with the spinach and salt to taste. Cook for another ten minutes
  • Add the fresh coriander and whisk in the yoghurt before serving. 

 

Sprout soup

This recipe is very forgiving; you can vary the stock base, the proportions of the vegetables or the herbs you use, whether or not to include chestnuts or cream. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (subst wine if no sherry available)
  • 250g brussels sprouts
  • 500ml stock (increase if you are not using chestnuts)
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 200g chestnut puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp single cream

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion, and fry gently in the butter and vegetable oil, for around 5 minutes, so that it starts to soften without browning.
  • Add the sherry, bring to the boil and when the alcohol has boiled off, add the sprouts, stock, tarragon and pureed chestnuts, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for around 15 minutes. 
  • Use a soup blender and whiz until smooth. Season and add the cream, if using. 

 

Celery and bean soup

Delicious, cheap, easy, vegan, quick, filling. Not much more to say. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 small onions
  • 1 head of celery
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Olive oil for serving (best quality that you can get)
  • 1 400g borlotti beans, drained (this can be substituted, but I love borlotti beans)
  • 1 litre stock
  • salt and black pepper, freshly ground

METHOD:

  • Chop the onions and celery, and fry in olive oil in a large pan over a low heat, until soft; don’t brown the vegetables
  • Add the other ingredients, bring to the boil, and then cover to simmer for 20 minutes
  • Season, and roughly blend with a soup wand. Add a little water if the soup is too thick. 

Serve with a swirl of posh olive oil to each bowl, and a slice of brown bread on the side. 

Chickpea, dill and cabbage stew/soup

A middle-eastern dish that is very much more delicious than you might suspect. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 potato, peeped and diced
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and diced
  • 225g green cabbage, cut into 1.2 cm squares
  • 50g chopped dill leaves
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt, or more, to taste
  • Black pepper

METHOD:

  • Put the chickpeas, onion and 850ml water into a large pot, and bring to a simmer, and cook for an hour. 
  • Add the potato, tomato, cabbage, dill, tomato paste, salt and another 100ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and turn the heat to very low, simmer until the potato is cooked. 
  • Add the black pepper to taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve. 

Nettle soup with blue cheese

I finally found a nettle soup recipe that I really like. This needs to be made in early spring, when the nettles are small and soft. Pick the nettle tops wearing washing up gloves and push them into a measuring jug until you have around 400ml. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400ml nettle tops
  • 40g plain flour
  • 80g blue cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp butter

METHOD:

  • Wash and chop the nettle tops finely
  • In a large pan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil, and add the nettle tops and flour. Cook and whisk together for around 10 minutes. I like to use my soup blender.
  • Add blue cheese and simmer until it has melted into the soup, and then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg, add a couple of spoonfuls of the soup and mix together well. Pour the egg mixture back into the soup gradually, stirring as you go. 
  • In a small pan, melt the butter gently and cook until the milk solids in the butter start to turn brown. 
  • Serve the soup with the butter drizzled over the top. 

 

Beetroot soup with cumin and mint

This is a delicious middle-eastern twist on beetroot soup, warm and filling. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped teaspoonful of cumin seed
  • 750g raw beetroot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • Approx 1 litre of water
  • 3 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • a good pinch of sweet paprika
  • 1 heaped tsp dried mint
  • salt and pepper
  • Greek-style plain yoghurt to serve

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large soup pan, and when it is hot, add the onion with a pinch of salt, and fry over a very low heat for around 10 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and continue to fry for another minute or so, along with the cumin and paprika
  • Add the chopped potato and chopped beetroot, and then cover with water, around 1 to 1 1/4 litre, and bring to a simmer
  • Cook for around 20 minutes, until the beetroot is nice and tender. Use a soup blender to blitz it to a smooth mixture, and add the vinegars, mint, salt and pepper to taste. It needs quite a bit of salt. 
  • Serve with a goodly dollop of yoghurt in the centre, and flat breads and chopped herbs and a drizzle of good olive oil to garnish. This is also good without all the extras.