Oh Dear…

It’s been more than a week since my last post and, whilst I refuse to be apologetic about writing at my own pace I do wish I could keep to schedules I make for myself.  However, it’s been a very pleasant and busy week which has kept me away from writing  so I can’t really complain too much or berate myself too harshly.

Wedding

Last Saturday was Scott & Kirsty’s wedding.  It was a beautiful day and everything was perfect – from the picturesque Roman Camp Hotel and it’s surroundings to the touching Humanist ceremony; the wonderful meal to the swingin’ ceilidh.  It was really nice to meet Kirsty’s family and those from auntie Beth’s side whom I’d last met when I was quite young.  The photos I’m restricting to facebook, though – too many people in them whom I don’t wish to expose to the open mercies of the internet via my little spot.  Suffice to say that everyone had a great time and that Andy and I both wish the couple a great deal of happiness in their continuing adventure through life together.  Much love to you both, and thank you for letting us be a part of your big day!

Saturday Soup

So as not to back things up for next week, I’m going to throw my Saturday Soup from last week onto the blog today.  I went for a sweet potato and chilli soup recipe from my usual haunt at BBC GoodFood.

Unfortunately, in the rush of Friday and Saturday, I forgot to take a picture when I first made it and hence had to make do with hastily microwave heated versions.  Unfortunately this is not quite as striking  as I’d have liked ;)  So be it, however, as I’m determined to keep up with and record my souply trials – even those which go slightly awry.

The cheese here is not the Gruyère suggested by the recipe, but Emmental. I was surprised that it actually went rather nicely with the flavour of the sweet potato – I’d never considered them bedfellows and especially would not have thought to put them together in soup – any cheese, that is, not just Emmental.  The soup was tasty and the little kick of chilli with sweet potato always brings out the flavour of it wonderfully but it suffered a little from being overly thick – almost like a watery ‘mash’ than a dense soup. It certainly gave my little plastic hand-blender a run for it’s money trying to whiz it into a smooth(er) soup.

I don’t know how often I’d make this but, given my propensity for having ‘spare’ sweet potatoes it might happen more often than I’d like.  Perhaps I need to try to find another sweet potato recipe!

Also, because it’s been a while since I assailed the blog with kitty pictures here’s one of Sam being uncharacteristicly playful :)

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Saturday Soup – Shallot Soup with Watercress Purée

This soup was plagued with difficulties in the making, which I admit may have somewhat biased me a little against it.  A litany of niggles turned ‘trying out a new soup’ into a severe annoyance – used up the cream I needed for something else, 1/3 of the shallots I bought turned out to be rotten, conflicting recipe instructions and so forth.  I also hate peeling and cutting shallots, even large ones: it just takes forever.

The watercress purée seemed a little superfluous – it had an almost identical flavour to the soup, albeit a litter stronger and with a green note, but there didn’t seem much reason to have it as a topper – you might as well have just added it into the soup… which I think I may do with the leftovers.

All that said, the soup did turn out rather tasty.  It was relatively mild, with mainly a stocky-garlicky taste to it, and very filling for a thin soup.  Making it again, I think I’d just go for onions and cut down a bit on the stock as well as, possibly, adding the watercress directly to the soup just before blending.

A beautiful soup, tasty, but not worth the frustration in making it this time around.  I might try it again another time ;)

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Saturday Soup – Judy’s White Bean Soup with Chilli Oil

You’re beginning to see a pattern as to where I get my soup ideas, right?  Of course, this week’s one is another BBC GoodFood one – it’ll take a while to plumb the depths of their soup selection even with a few ‘repeat’ recipes.  Still, if anyone wants to throw a suggestion from another site my way I’d totally appreciate it!

This recipe uses butterbeans.  Dried butterbeans: which you soak overnight and then must peel before using in the soup.  To say this is a tedious task is not even the half of it.  However, I looked to the other commenters, who said that it was worth it and, dubious, watched tv whilst popping beans out of their flimsy shells.  All said, it took me nearly an hour – though I wasn’t going at any great speed, if I’m honest.  Still, it was an impressive pile of discards at the end:

At least I have a compost heap to throw them on, too.  Maybe next year I can grow some of my own from that self-same compost =)

The soup itself is thick, tasty, and not over-seasoned.  If you’re used to salt-and-peppering most soups vigorously I’d strongly suggest holding off on this one – it’s got a superb subtle flavour, especially with the chilli oil, which would, I think, be overwhelmed by too much seasoning – especially salt.  It was, as the commenters on the recipe had said, totally worth the effort to make.  A beautiful soup and none too skimpy a portion.  I’m not sure how often I’d make the effort, but it’s certainly a soup I’d make again.  It’s an impressive soup, in looks as well as taste, and one I wouldn’t hesitate to serve up to guests.

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Green Pea & Pesto Soup with Fish Finger Croutons

Peas.  I’ve not been that lucky with my peas this year in the garden, so I couldn’t pull off a pea soup from my own stocks, but I was determined to try this soup (courtesy of my usual go-to site for recipes, BBC GoodFood) anyway.  The topping of fish finger croutons is simply a wonderful extravagance that turns a lunch into dinner.

Unfortunately, this weekend Andy is away to London and has taken our camera with him.  I dragged out my old Kodak EasyShare which was a pretty decent camera for me, back in the days; simple and easy to use…. but slow.  I’m so used to my shiny little Casio Exilim which is pretty speedy, much smaller and less bulky, lighter and has a wider range of features (like decent shake correction for my wobbly hands).  Neither are super-amazing cameras compared to the big shiny DSLR’s that everyone and their auntie has these days, but they’ve both served me well over the years.

Anyway, the upshot of using my old camera was that something weird went on and I didn’t get pictures of the first bowl of soup so I had to have a second – which is why my Saturday Soup post is on a Sunday this week.  As much as I liked the soup, it was way too filling for seconds just to take more pictures!

The one thing I really loved about this soup was being introduced to the idea of part-blending.  I like chunky soups, but I also like ‘thick’, blended soups.  By blending two-thirds of the ingredients and keeping one third aside to add back later, I can have chunky pieces in a blended soup.  Souperb! (ba-dum tsh)

Pesto goes surprisingly well with peas, and gave the soup the necessary oomph.  I added, as the recipe suggested, a bit of fresh (well, frozen) parmesan to increase the flavour of the jarred pesto and was also pretty generous with the black pepper which I felt was needed to bring out some of the flavour of the soup.

This soup is really easy to make, and I think I could happily add it to my repertoire – it’s cheap, filling, makes a decent amount because you don’t need a tonne of it to fill you up, and it’s got a nice flavour which I think would do well in summer or winter.  Potatoes and frozen peas are something I always have around and there’s usually a jar of pesto in the cupboard or fridge – the fish fingers are nice, but totally not a necessity.  If I was making it for an actual dinner, I might serve a small bowl of soup beside a breaded fish fillet and some bread rather than fish fingers, or even do home-made fish fingers but either way it’s a damn nice dish.

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Super Saturday Soups

I love soup – I have it about 2-3 times a week for lunch or sometimes a light dinner.  Until about a year or so ago, most soups I’d tried to make turned into a thick, often grey, gloop – edible enough, so long as you don’t actually look at it… Since those experimental days of University, I’ve learned to make a passable lentil soup based on a recipe from my mum – it’s very much a vague recipe, with nothing measured out – but makes a super-tasty soup every time.  Lentil gets boring though – especially when you can only make it in 8-10 person quantities!

I’ve especially become fond of the carton-soups Tesco makes as they do a wide range, they’re fresh, and some are seasonal.  Given the price of them, and the waste of packaging, as well as the urge to improve my kitchen skills, it seemed like learning to make more of my own soups would be totally worthwhile.  So, I’ve decided to set myself a mini challenge of sorts: a weekly soup!

The one recipe which really set me on this particular trail was parsley soup, from a site by the same name.  I had been looking for something to do with the rather large, and growing, pile of parsley from the garden which was taking up space in the freezer and this recipe fit the bill.  It was rather unusual to me as I’d never have thought of making a soup based on parsley!  It was surprisingly tasty, savoury but still light – a very nice summer soup.

The picture at the top of the post is of the soup I made yesterday: Sweetcorn and chilli soup from my usual recipe source – BBC GoodFood.  It was really light and creamy and tasty. The combination of green chilli and coriander was one which worked well with the sweetcorn and I was surprised by how much one small green chilli came through in the flavour – especially because ‘tesco green chillies’ are not exactly super-flavoursome chillies compared to home-grown or named variety chillies.  The recipe also uses a huge amount of coriander – I was beginning to wonder, whilst crushing seeds, chopping stems and leaf, if this wasn’t some sort of ruse to make a sneaky coriander soup by another name.  However, despite using cheap frozen sweetcorn (because I forgot to get actual corn when I was at the shops, d’oh!) the flavour of the corn really did come through – I can only imagine how it would have tasted with fresh kernels in it.  It was an amazingly tasty soup!

I did have a few gripes with the recipe, though: mostly the portions.  It’s a recipe which is supposed to feed four but I found that once it was blended (zhszed, as I call it) and strained to create the smooth soup the recipe intended there really was barely enough for two people.  Add to that the fact that there was so much ‘waste’  from straining and I’m not sure I could really bring myself to make it again.  Perhaps fresher kernels, with softer skins, would have left less waste – but given I re-blenderised it after straining the first time, I’m not sure how much that would change the proportions of ‘leftovers’.

So, super-tasty but wasteful.  It’s a shame, as I love sweetcorn and, despite the fact Andy doesn’t, he liked this soup!  I think I need to figure out how to minimise the waste and up the quantities.

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