Leek, White Bean and Smoked Ham Hock Soup (4)

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Soup comes in an endless variety of flavors and textures. It can be hot or cold; it can be thick or thin; it is supposedly curative – think chicken noodle soup. Discovering that my butcher sold smoked ham hocks without the dreaded nitrites persuaded me to experiment with a new soup (no seasoning needed – hock provides just the right amount of saltiness) and this soup hits the spot – it is thick, full of nutritious veg. and then there is the lovely backdrop flavor that comes from the smoked ham hock and some of its meat.

Adding a smoked ham hock (a cut of meat from the leg just above the foot) to the veg. and broth makes a world of difference to the taste. This soup is best made in a slow cooker and cooked for some 6 hours. At the end of cooking the ham will be dropping off the bone. In fact you should pull it off using two forks and half of the ‘pulled’ meat can be added to the soup and processed in the food processor. The bone and skin can be discarded. Some of the rest of the meat can be used to garnish the soup and the remainder used for other purposes – for breakfast with eggs, for example.

1 x 1 1/2 pound smoked ham hock (uncured if possible)

3 leeks – sliced

2 large garlic cloves – grated

1 x 19 oz can of cannelini beans

2 cups veg. broth

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Place all ingredients, in the order listed above, in a slow cooker. Cook on ‘high’ for 6 hours.

Then, remove the ham hock from slow cooker, take the meat off the bone and remove the skin. Throw out the bone and skin.

Transfer contents of slow cooker to a food processor and process, adding half of the reserved ham in small pieces.

When serving, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle a little of the ham, finely chopped, onto the soup.

 

 

 

 

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Fall Soup (4)

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This soup is a beautiful orange color and reminds me of the leaves as they turn and soup season begins. I teamed butternut squash with carrots and sweet potato and added some ginger and some coconut milk to make a delicious, smooth and filling soup.

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz. onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – finely chopped

2 inch piece of ginger – peeled and finely grated

1 pound butternut squash – peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

12 oz. sweet potato – peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

8 oz. carrots – peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

3 cups veg. broth/stock

1 x 13.66 fl.oz. (403 ml) can of lite coconut milk

Heat seasoned olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish.

When sizzling, add onion and cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Let onion soften and brown slightly

Add all veg. together with broth/stock.

Bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Add coconut milk.

Process in food processor.

Vegetable and Bean Soup (4)

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Dull, wet day so made soup. This is a hearty soup – almost a vegetable stew – and stuffed full of goodness – celery, carrots, tomatoes, cannellini beans and kale (if you don’t like kale, try spinach).

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – chopped

1 large clove of garlic – finely chopped or grated

3 sticks of celery – finely sliced

2 largish carrots – finely sliced

1 cup of chopped tomatoes

1 can of cannellini beans

4 cups of veg. broth/stock

2 handfuls of chopped kale

Heat oil in cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add onion and let it brown a bit, then add garlic.

After a few minutes, add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on.

 

Chicken and Spinach Soup (serves 4)

Chicken and Spinach Soup (serves 4)

Home-made chicken broth/stock is something I only make if I have an organic, no GMO feed, no antibiotics, etc. kind of chicken.photo - spinach and chicken soup This particular chicken produced a really good jelly once it cooled down as I used the gravy/jus from my Umbrian Chicken recipe and then diluted it until all the chicken bits – legs, wings, carcass were 3/4 covered with liquid. I added 3 bay leaves, half an onion (cut into quarters) and two carrots (cut into chunks). I brought the liquid to a boil then simmered contents of pot for one and a half hours (turning chicken carcass over half way through). Cooled contents and put in fridge overnight, removed skin from bones and threw them away along with bay leaves, leaving me with chicken meat.

Placed chicken meat back in pot (cast iron casserole dish) along with 5 oz. spinach, seasoned it with salt and freshly ground black pepper, brought to boil and simmered for 20 minutes. Liquidized contents and there was my ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’.

Celery and Pea Soup with a Dollop of Mustard (serves 4)

Celery and Pea Soup with a Dollop of Mustard (serves 4)

Due to a large packet of frozen peas being neglected and hence thawing out I have been scrambling to use them up, hence this soup. I love peas but they are sweet (which is why I like pea and ham soup) which is why I added some mustard and this solved the ‘sweet’ problem. I still have half a packet of peas left so watch this space!

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 a large onion – chopped

1 large garlic clove – chopped

1 head of celery – chopped

2 cups of frozen peas

3 cups of veg. broth/stock

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Heat seasoned olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until onion is a little softened.

Then add celery, peas and veg. broth/stock, bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Puree in food processor along with mustard.

Potato Soup (serves 4)

Potato Soup (serves 4)

Have you ever had potato soup? Only had it once. Made by an American girl who was once a roommate briefly. It was very nice and different. Don’t know her recipe but here is my approximation (with addition of bacon bits sprinkled on top). Also cheap, filling and vegetarian if bacon bits are omitted.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 largish onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – chopped

2 large baking potatoes – peeled and chopped into fairly small chunks (cook quicker)

4 cups veg. broth/stock

2 large rashers of bacon

Place seasoned olive oil in cast iron casserole dish and, when sizzling add onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until a little browned and softened.

Add potatoes and broth/stock and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes until potato is soft.

Heat a skillet and when hot place 2 rashers of bacon in it and cook until crunchy.

When cooled cut into small bits with a knife or scissors.

Process soup in food processor.

Place soup in bowls and sprinkle bacon bits on top.

Chipotle Tomato Soup (serves 4)

Chipotle Tomato Soup (serves 4)

I made this soup with leftovers and it turned out to be a winner – lovely red color, rich flavor and somewhat on the fiery side (which was intentional). For the first time in my life I used a tomatillo – green with a papery skin and are as good raw as cooked. The man in the veg. department told me that I should always buy firm tomatillos and you have to wash them before using as they are sticky.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 x medium onion – chopped

1 x large clove garlic – chopped

1 x tomatillo – washed and chopped into chunks

1 cup passata/strained tomatoes

8 baby tomatoes

1/2 a 7oz. can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 1/2 cups veg. broth

Place olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add onion and garlic and let soften and brown for a minute or two.

Add all the other ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree in the food processor