Pea and Mint Soup (4)

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I was surprised to find this on a winter menu seeing it more as a summer item made with fresh peas and mint from the garden – maybe even served chilled. Frozen peas, an onion, garlic, a potato for thickening, some stock and mint from the supermarket made a really lovely, bright green soup – a change from the more hearty winter fare.

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

1 medium size onion – finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – grated

2 cups – chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 a large baking potato – peeled and cut into small cubes

12 oz. frozen peas

1 tbsp. mint – finely chopped + a little extra for garnish if you wish

Heat the oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the onion and let brown a little, then add the garlic.

Pour the broth into the skillet, add the potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just soft.

Add the peas and mint and cook for a further few minutes.

Place the contents of the skillet in a food processor and process until smooth.

Ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with some chopped mint.

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Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup (4)

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What a comforting and hearty soup this is. Two ingredients make this soup stand out. First the addition of dried mushrooms – porcini or chanterelles – and secondly mushroom stock (Kallo brand, which is both gluten and lactose free can be bought online from Amazon US and is widely stocked in UK supermarkets and gourmet food shops). The wild rice is cooked separately from the soup because otherwise it soaks up too much of the broth and is only added in just before serving. The addition of the rice adds bulk so that this recipe makes a satisfying lunch or a lightish dinner.

1/2 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms or 1 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms – soaked in boiling water and let to cool for half an hour then drained and patted dry

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

1 large onion – roughly chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

8 oz baby bella mushrooms – sliced

4 cups of mushroom broth

1 cup of wild rice

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp parsley – finely chopped

Heat seasoned oil in a Dutch oven.

Pulse onion about 6 times in food processor till finely chopped then place in the Dutch oven when oil is sizzling and let brown and soften, then add the garlic and cook a few minutes more.

Place both the resuscitated mushrooms and baby bella mushrooms in a food processor and process until in very small pieces but not mushy. Add to softened onions and garlic.

Pour over the mushroom broth, bring mixture to a boil then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add wild rice and cook for 15 minutes then drain and add to soup.

Stir in 1 tbsp. chopped parsley and stir then serve immediately.

 

 

 

Leek, Broccoli and Spinach Soup with a Hint of Mustard (4)

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Soup season, for me, runs from October to March or April. I like my soups to be thick and filling. This soup is a vibrant green color and looks especially good when served in a white soup bowl. The addition of some Colman’s Mustard adds a little piquancy to this very healthy dish.

1 tbsp olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – roughly chopped

3 leeks – sliced

3 medium heads of broccoli – roughly chopped

10 oz baby spinach

3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

1 1/2 tsp. Colman’s Mustard Powder mixed with an equal amount of cold water (it needs 10 minutes to stand before using)

Heat seasoned oil in a Dutch oven and, when sizzling, add the onion and let soften and brown.

Add the leeks and let soften a little before adding the broccoli, spinach and broth.

Bring to a boil the let simmer for 15 minutes.

Add mustard mixture and cook for 5 more minutes.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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’.