A soup for all moods and weathers: Beet and carrot soup

June 26th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Beet and carrot soup

Here’s a soup for this crazy summer.
One for the days when you don’t know where the weather will be taking you…
Heartwarming, fragrant and colourful.
Perfect chilled on a hot day or steaming hot when you need a cheer-up and wish it wasn’t cold and rainy again.
Petit Tom and I can’t have enough of it lately.
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Sea, Sun and Spring veggies

April 2nd, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

For a blink, Petit Tom and I teleported ourselves in the middle of Moroccan Spring and It felt like heaven after all those long dark winter days inside…

What a joy to watch Petit Tom avidely laying out his eyes on the breaking waves of the Atlantic ocean for the 1st time,…

Or just to sit side by side, laughing anf babbling, on the terasse in the afternoon shade,…

Before finally pigging out on super fresh fish and all these delicious spring veggies and fruit that we will still have to long for a while back in NL: the first strawberries, tiny zucchini, tender green peas and mini artichokes…

Spring tajine with veal, artichokes and green peas

Until I blink again, here’s a taste of my Moroccan spring with this delicious spring tajine with veal, green peas and baby artichokes that I’ve been saving you since last spring… (and the delicious pea shell soup you can cook with all the pod shells you will end up with afterwards)

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La Soupe de Maman

October 1st, 2010 § 6 comments § permalink

So much warmth and love in just a bowl of soup… My Mum’s Harira.

It’s all the warmth and heartiness of the love of a mother for her children, the color and spiciness of a buzzing and happy family reunion, the mix of simplicity and complexity of an ancestral tradition… an epiphany.

Harira [1]

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Pumpkin soup for a shopaholic

November 26th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Not only am I a food addict, I am a shopaholic as well. Yet, it seems that I have more and more trouble to handle the crowds of the cold and rainy winter saturdays, when the city fillls up with people rushing around in all directions to get the best deals of the beginning sale period and the ideal Sinterklaas of Christmas presents a bit like a flooded river.

Do you even think that it will keep me away from shopping… Drop that thought immediately! I want my share of winter shopping too, the bite of the cold, the christmas lights in the streets, and this cute pair of Paul Smith pumps and this fab Red Valentino dress I’ve been drooling around for a couple of months patiently awaiting for the sales. Even if that means I’ll have to drown into the crowd. And most of the times it happens. Suddenly my own futility turns me into an exhausted ball in a flipper game. It’s time to escape the shopping streets just before drowning and take refuge at Lapsang, this cosy and friendly little tearoom in the side streets of the Hague, where a fuming bowl of pumpkin soup awaits me together with fresh Desem bread, creamy butter and a fragrant cup of tea.

Yet another pumpkin soup

Last week, while I was stuck in bed with the flu, shopping was the last of my wishes. Yet, I couldn’t help but dreaming for a marmite of Lapsangs’ pumpkin soup. So, as soon as I gathered enough strength, I improvised my own version of it…

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The almost grumpy, very sniffy, but lucky gourmande

May 1st, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

After crying my eyes out for the last couple of weeks due to a newly declared hayfever (pfff… it seems that all they say it’s true: decline really starts after 30), I have caught my yearly spring cold, the one I catch every year after trying out the newest items of my summer garderobe on the first sunny days… Well, timing was far from ideal: with the swine flu spreading around the world and the newsreports , my colleagues started taking their distances, looking at me with a slightly suspicious look while innocently inquiring if I had by any chance been to Mexico lately…

Luckily, I’ve not! I won’t say that I didn’t kind of freaked out considering my red runny nose and feverish headache while watching the news… But well considering what hundreds of people are enduring around the world, I swallowed my grumpiness and spoiled kid complaints… I’m just a lucky bastard: It’s just my yearly spring cold, I’ve got a great new dress, and there’s plenty of spring greens full of vitamins around to pep me up. So, all feverish that I was, I got up from under the blankets and cooked myself a revigorating brunch: one “oeuf cocotte” with fresh herbs from my garden, my favourite eggs, and a silky peppery cress soup just like my mom used to do, with the leaves of the beautiful bunch of radish I got from the greengrocer. I feel better already!

Vitamine shots

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Un bol de soupe pour Sophie!

January 15th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

There’s nothing like a fuming cup of Erwtensoep (dutch pea soup) to warm you up from head to toe during the cold dutch winter days…

Ewrtensoep

My friend Sophie would definitely agree with me… Although, she might not be the most objective on that one: she likes it so much she would also ask for it when visiting me in april! She’s been begging for the recipe for years now… With the great tips provided by my butcher and the icy weather from the last couple of weeks I really didn’t have anymore excuses to keep her waiting any longer, so here it is…

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Warm and spicy, very comfy…

February 23rd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Today, I’d like to give a little praise to the foodies around the net who make me drool regularly in front of my computer.  To start with, I’ve chosen two seasonal treats I have tested and adopted because they are all I like on lazy winter days like today… simple, warm, spicy, very comfy. Sounds good to you too?

Velouté anisé (2)
A spoon of provence… The warm and fragrant ‘velouté anisé’ from Miss Epices’

The first one is a long time favourite I picked from my online french recipe bible Marmiton*. I’ve been using and abusing from Marmiton for ages before I even had set my eyes on the foodies blogging network. I mostly use it to look for cooking techniques and inspiration on how to cook a specific ingredient. However, there are a couple of recipes that I follow almost to the letter, like this fragrant and velvety fennel and zucchini soup from Miss Epices, exhaled with a gulp of pastis and a dash of lemon juice. The zucchini gives it an amazing smooth and velvety texture. It’s warm and refreshing at the same time, a trip to provence at every spoon. I love it during the cold winter nights when I feel nostalgic of my Provence but it also makes an original soup dish for a fancy dinner.

Pear and ginger crumble (2)
Warm, spicy, crunchy… soothing! The pear and ginger crumble from Holler

The second one was a ‘love-at-first-sight’ encounter, a couple of weeks ago while I was drooling in front of the round-up of the Januari in the bag challenge on Julia’s A slice of cherry pie. I was in pretty bad shape that day: feverish, with a flu and a red clown like nose, longing for something sweet, warm and spicy to pep me up. The pear and ginger crumble from Holler on her vegeterian blog Tinned Tomatoes was my salvation. The juicy pears, the spicy ginger and the crunchy almonds. It looked perfect. It was perfect:  warm, spicy, fudgy and crunchy… Soothing. Like Holler advises, it will do miracles with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… or a spoon of crème fraiche. I had to slightly adapt the recipe because I was missing a few ingredients and because I was craving for candied chinese ginger (while Holler used powdered ginger). Thank you so much Holler, I think this crumble will become a regular in my kitchen!

That’s it for today, but I’m working on a new section in the sidebar so that I can share my  ‘drooling’ and ‘to-do’ list with you in the near future. In the mean time, I’ve posted my versions of Miss Epice’s and Holler’s recipes below… Take a look at the original recipes on Marmiton (in french) and Holler’s blog.

Velouté anisé (1)
Velvety fennel and zucchini soup with a dash of Pastis
Velouté anisé
 
source: Miss Epice on Marmiton (in French)
serves 4 to 6 pers.
prep: 10 min. cook: 15 min

Ingredients:
1 large zucchini roughly chopped,
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped (keep some of the green leaves to decorate)
1 Tsp olive oil,
750 ml chicken or vegetable stock,

salt and pepper to taste,
1 Tsp cream cheese (optionnal)
A gulp of pastis,
A dash of lemon juice.

In a deep cooking pan, sauteed the zucchini and fennel in the olive oil for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Pour the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat and leave to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fennel is tender. Leave to cool a bit before blending the soup with the cream cheese. Heat up on low heat, and season with a gulp of Pastis and a dash of lemon juice just before serving.

Bon appétit!

Pear and ginger crumble (1)
Pear and ginger crumble
Crumble aux poires et au gingembre

source: Holler on Tinned Tomatoes
serves 6 to 8 pers.
prep: x min. cook: y min

Ingredients:
4 firm and juicy pears (I used Doyenne the Comice which are quite large, count ~1kg fruit), peeled and chopped in chunks,
50g candied chinese ginger (I thought it was perfect, my dutchie thought it was a tad too much… maybe I’ll try 25g next time!), chopped thinly,

Juice of half a lemon, (I usually pou the juice directly on the pears when I peel them to avoid oxydation)
3 Tsp raw cane sugar,
a pinch of cinnamon,
a pinch of cardamom,
freshly ground pepper,
a knob of butter,

For the crumble topping:
80g butter, cold, and cut in small pieces,
50g finely ground almonds,
50 g all purpose flour,
3 Tsp raw cane sugar,
a pinch of salt,
zest of a lemon,

2 handful of blanched almonds halves,

Usually, I first prepare the crumble dough: In a bowl, mix the butter with all the other dough ingredients (except the almond halves) with a wooden spoon until it crumbles (you can also use your fingers, but the warmth of your body might have the butter melt faster that you would like). Refrigerate until further use.

Preheat the oven at 180 deg. In a frying pan, melt the knob of butter and throw in the pears and lemon juice, the ginger, sugar and spices. Toss a couple of minutes on high heat until the flavours and juices get together.
Pour in a large oven dish greased with butter and sprinkle withe the crumble dough and the almond halves. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crumble crust turns golden. Serve slightly warm.
Bon appétit!

* With more than 40000 recipes to this day, Marmiton is a very complete and well organised recipe database in french where anyone can post, search, comment on recipes. Attractive with seasonal themes, cooking and decoration tips and workshops animated by famous french bloggers. Ok, it’s all in french but if you’re not a french speaker, you might want to have a look at it’s little english brother Let’s cook french

A time for soup

February 1st, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Lately, I am craving for my bed, a lot of sleep and soup! Chicken soup, leek and curry soup, fennel soup, celeriac and spinach soup… I  just can’t get enough!


Not surprising you would say, with all those microbes and viruses running around lately: I am surrounded by running noses, low hoarse voices and feverish eyes… My dutchie and I didn’t make an exception to the rule and are both trying to cope the best we can.  At least one good thing to the story: for once, I manage to have him eat soup without (hardly) any complaints!

In case you too are having trouble to crawl out of bed, desperatly looking for yet another pack of tissues, while your nose has nothing more to envy to the nose of that clown you laughed so much about at the christmas circus, I’d thought I would share a bowl of my favourite chestnut soup with you! It’s heartwarming, smooth and velvety… and it doesn’t only work great for colds: with a few thin slices of foie gras or of smoked duck breast, it’s a great starter to a fancy winter dinner!

Velouté de chataignes

Chestnut cream soup
Velouté de chataignes

serves 6 pers.
prep: 15 min. cook: 25 min

Ingredients:
500g steamed chestnuts (peeled),
900 ml chicken or turkey stock,

10cl liquid cream,
1 knob of butter,
1 small shallot, peeled and diced,
sea salt and pepper to taste,
Optional but so good: dices of fresh foie gras to garnish,

In a pan, sauteed half of the chestnuts with the knob of butter for 5 minuts. Lower the fire, add the remaining chestnuts, the shallot and cover with chicken bouillon and the liquid cream. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chestnuts are soft. Leave to cool and mix until smooth using a blender (don’t add all the liquid at once so that you can adjust the texture to a velvety creamy soup). Before serving, warm up the soup on low heat. Serve the soup in individual bowls and for a real treat garnish with dices of fresh foie gras sprinkled with ‘fleur de sel’ and freshly crushed pepper.

Bon appétit!


White christmas in a bowl of soup

January 6th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

Now that the christmas and new year festivities are over, I am craving for soup and lots of vegetables. (I am just back from a new year in Munich and a couple of days in Austria where bread and potato dumplings and spatzles are more frequent than greens as side dishes… which probably gives you an idea of the extent of my crave). So be sure to find some greens and soups around my kitchen in the coming weeks.

Although, do not worry, I have accumulated quite a couple of treats (both sweet and savoury) during the last couple of months that I haven’t had the occasion to share with you yet: appletart with hazelnuts, french brioche and its spicy compote, smoked duck breast salad, my very first stuffed turkey, dutch winter comfort food, bites and cookies….   

appeltaartdindebrioche et compote épicée aux pommesmini financiers

To start with, here´s  a delicate velvety cream soup I served for christmas eve dinner…
I have a crush on old fashioned vegetables. For christmas, I always like to introduce one of them in the menu. Last year was Jerusalem artichokes, this year my mind was set on parsnips…  I could already picture the creamy colour of a parsnip soup: white christmas in a bowl! (I soon realised I was not the only one when I got to study the food magazines for the december month: parsnips were everywhere! It made my quest for parsnips much easier than for the jerusalem artichokes that I finally had my mom bring back with her from France).

I wanted to keep the ingredients to a minimum to reveal the subtil taste of the parsnip at its best. I finally got my inspiration from one of my favourite french food bloggers: Mercotte. Short before Christmas, she posted two mouthwatering scallops recipes from two french cooks from her region (Savoie), Jean Claude Delaporte from “Beau Rivage” at Bourget du Lac, and  Yves Vincent, chef at “Mont Carmel in Chambéry. Yves Vincent got me seduced at once with his “Noix de St Jacques rôties, purée de panais et caramel de balsamique” (roasted scallops, parsnip purée and balsamico caramel)… I had already settled for a mixed greens salad with sauteed scallops and argan oil dressing so, almost heartbroken, I decided to skip the scallops, well almost: I deglased the pan where I seared the scallops with the balsamico glaze I used to garnish the soup.

veloute de panais
I took the photo in a rush, just before serving, but you get the idea…

Parsnip cream soup
Velouté de panais

serves 6 pers.
prep: 15 min. cook: 15 min

Ingredients:
2 large parsnips (~500g),
600 ml chicken stock,

20cl liquid cream,
1 knob of butter,
sea salt and pepper to taste,
balsamico glaze* to garnish,

Clean and peel the parsnips. Reserve 12 very thin and large slices to garnish. Dice the rest. In a pan, cover the diced parsnips with chicken bouillon and half of the liquid cream (10 cl). Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes or until the parsnip is soft. Leave to cool and mix until smooth using a blender (don’t add all the liquid at once so that you can adjust the texture to a velvety creamy soup). Fry shortly the reserved parsnip slices in hot vegetable oil until crispy. Reserve in an air tight tin. Before serving, warm up the soup on low heat and add a knob of butter. Whip the remaining 10 cl cream. Serve the soup in individual bowls and garnish with a spoon of whipped cream, a couple of parsnip crisps and a drop of balsamico glaze (my first idea was to top the velouté with thin slices of scallop just seared and seasoned with salt, pepper and vanilla… but I had just enough for the salad).

Bon appétit!

* Nowadays, you can find some pretty easily in many deli’s. If you dont have any, you can reduce some balsamico vinegar with sugar until you get a syrup.

Running late for Christmas?

December 21st, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

Eid, Christmas and Hanoeka are coming close…

christmas2

Are you all set? … I am not: the house is a mess, haven’t had one minut yet to think of my christmas dinner, still got to get the christmas tree, the presents… and my family will be at the door two days from now for a whole week of festivities! Sounds desperate… Well, nevermind! I’ve decided to (try to) keep cool this year. *deep breath*.  

In case some of you out there can recognise themselves, I thought I could share my christmas race with you (If I manage to fit posting in the program). 

First, I’ve got one tip for your christmas presents: Have you heard of the Menu for Hope raffle yet? If not, have a look… you’ve got until tonight to get a chance of winning amazing food related prizes worldwide (meals in world famous restaurants, culinary tours of your favourite cities, cooking equipment, signed cookbooks, cooking workshops…) while helping children in Lesotho getting food for lunch! Don’t miss it… I got tickets for the guided tour of El Bulli of course, a culinary tour of Barcelona and a lovely vintage print.

For the rest, my moto this year is: get organised and go simple!
(I know that my friends will no doubt get tears of laughter reading this…)

So in that spirit, here are a couple of tips for great homemade appetizers that will impress your guests while being so simple and easy to prepare…

apetizers
Asparagus mousse, cheese sablés* and candied tomato tartlets

Mousse or soup shots always make a great impression, while they can be pretty easy and prepared in advance. The asparagus and vanilla mousse on the picture is based on the recipe I cooked for Blog Appétit quite a while ago. This time I used canned asparagus, and I baked the mousse in shot glasses for 20min. They can be prepared a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. For the decoration, I used green aspasragus tips blanched for a couple of minnutes an strips of smoked salmon. For Christmas, I am thinking of trying this with artichoke hearts instead of asparagus, with seared slices of scallops on top maybe.

pumpkin_cappucino
You can also think of shots with a celeriac or pumpkin cappuccino or creamy jerusalem artichokes soup topped wth scallops or langoustines.

For the celeriac, cook in half water, half milk until soft (~15min) and mix. For jerusalem artichokes, sauteed them with a small shallot before adding the liquids, spice to your taste. You can prepare and freeze these soups well in advance. Take out of the freezer the night before. On the day itself, mix with liquid cream and warm up before serving. Top with whipped cream, seared scallops, truffles, langoustines, crushed hazelnuts, nutmeg, sechuan pepper… whatever fit your mood that day.

mini candied tomato tartlet
And what about homemade mini savoury tartlets? sounds to complicated…

The trick is to prepare a savoury shortcrust well in advance (70g flour, 30g powdered almonds, 60g butter, 1 Tsp milk, salt, pepper and any spices or herbs you fill like). Bake in mini silicon molds and freeze the tartlet bottoms. You’ll only need to take them out of the freezer a couple of hours in advance, garnish when thawed and warm up in the oven.
I like to garnish them with homemade candied tomatoes, or spicy apple compote topped with ‘magret de canard’ (smoked duck breast), sauteed spinach and goat cheese or smoked trout… but really the possibilities are endless!

asperge_stJacques
And then, there’s the scallops… I love scallops, just seared served with a drop of argan or hazelnut oil, spiced with sechuan pepper, or with a strawberry coulis. Or mini blinis or baghrir (prepared in advanced and frozen), just warmed up, topped with creme fraiche with a touch of lemon or wasabi and garnished with salmon or fish eggs.

I could go on for hours, but I’ve got to seriously get started, so I’ll finish with dried fruits… Prunes rolled in bacon and baked until crispy in the oven, dates filled with foie gras topped with sea salt and pepper. So easy!

Bon appétit and merry christmas!

*I’ll post the recipe later, I’ve got to run to the market…

 

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