Sunday, November 20, 2016

Soups of the World - Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e fagioli is a traditional Italian soup meaning pasta and beans. So it comes as no surprise what some of the ingredients are for this one. It's another cheaply made soup that was popular with Italian peasants. We could be today's equivilent of peasants since we love a nice cheap meal.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3-4 celery stalks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound pasta
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Chop up the onions, carrots and celery and saute them in the olive oil.

When they have started to soften add the Italian seasoning, minced garlic and chilli flakes. Saute for another minute.

Now add the stock, tomatoes and pasta. Stir well and simmer for 20 minutes until the pasta is almost cooked.

Lastly add the beans and chopped parsley. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then serve.

This was a lovely hearty, warming soup. The stock and tomatoes had reduced down into a really tasty broth. Unfortunately I added 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes instead of 1/4 teaspoon so our soup was a bit too warming. Oops! We remedied this by adding a bit of cream to cool it down. It's just what you need on a cold November day with the Christmas expense on your mind. A cheap but filling and  warming soup to tuck into. Perfect!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Soups of the World - French Onion Soup

I've had french onion soup before but didn't like it so I thought I'd have another go at it without the wine. It was popular as a food for poor people anyway since it's made of easily grown abundant onions so without wine makes more sense!


1kg onions
500ml beef stock
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons flour

If you want to serve it with cheese toast on top then you will also need some sort of bread, baguette or roll plus some cheese such as gruyere.

Peel and chop the onions in half and then slice thinly.

Heat up some butter or oil in a pan and soften the onions. Add the sugar and slowly caramelise the onions, stirring constantly.

Stir in the flour and then add the hot stock. Simmer for about 15 minutes until it thickens a bit.

Grate the cheese onto whatever bread you decided to go with and grill it until the cheese melts and the bread toasts some. Place the cheese toasts on top of the soup. I decided to serve the bread separately.

I loved French Onion soup this time! The cheese bread was fantastic dunked in the soup. I broke up some bread to have as croutons and it was delicious soaking the soup up. The caramelised flavour of the onions made the soup tasty and the texture of the softened onions was lovely too. It wouldn't be too bad being a poor French peasant as long as you could afford a bit of cheese and bread to dip in your soup. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Soups of the World - Liver Dumpling Soup

It seems many countries have their own version of a liver dumpling soup. Germans call it Leberknodelsuppe and in Czechoslavakia it's called Poleka z Jatrove Knedlicky. I picked this different recipe to try because I couldn't decide between them!


200ml milk
250g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon oil
25g butter
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
100g chicken liver
500ml beef stock

Mix together the milk, flour, salt and oil.

Add a bit more flour to make it less sticky and then knead until you have a smooth dough. Wrap it in clingfilm and set aside to rest.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the herbs. Heat the butter until it starts to turn brown. Add the liver and cook until done. About 1-2 minutes each side.

Roll out small pieces of dough to make rough circles. I made 5 each for us but there was tons of dough left.

Chop the cooked liver into small pieces and place a spoonfull in the middle of each circle of dough. Gather up the dough to make a small pouch and pinch shut at the top.

 Heat up the beef stock and cook the dumplings in the stock for 2-3 minutes.

We were much anticipating this soup as the liver smelled delicious when it was cooking. The soup was quite disappointing though, it wasn't very filling and the only taste came from the liver which there wasn't very much of. It was too much effort to make with no enjoyment at the end. Not one we'll be having again!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Soups of the World - Tuscan Bean Soup

Now it's starting to get darker earlier I feel like we're heading into soup season. So here's a nice hearty, comforting soup from Italy to help keep you warm.


2 cans cannellini beans
1 carrot
1 rib celery 
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 butternut squash
1 handful kale
1 potato
Salt and pepper
12 tsp fennel seeds
Some sort of crusty bread

I got some cute tiny crusty bread rolls to use for this soup. Also, I didn't have garlic so substituted garlic granules instead.
Roughly chop the carrot, garlic, celery and onion. Saute it all in some oil until it's softened. Remove half and set aside for adding later. Add one can of beans plus about two cups of water. Use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth. 

Chop up the butternut squash and potato into small cubes.

Add them to the soup and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Add the vegetables from earlier back into the soup.

Chop and add the kale at this point and cook a further few minutes to wilt the kale in the soup. 

Crush the fennel seeds and then add those to the soup along with salt and pepper to your taste.

Slice your bread and rub with garlic. I made some garlic butter to spread on mine. Toast the bread and serve alongside the soup.

We really enjoyed this one! It was a lovely, hearty soup with plenty of flavour. The blended vegetables and beans made it thicker and creamier which really added to the comforting feel of this soup. The crusty garlic bread and soft vegetables went well together too. All in all there's everything to love about Tuscan Bean Soup :)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Soups of the World - Posole

Posole (or pozole) is Spanish for hominy which is an ingredient in this soup often served at celebrations in Mexico.


1 tablespoon oil
500g pork
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can hominy
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 cup green chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt

Hominy is a difficult ingredient to get hold of in the UK but luckily JD brought some back with him from his last trip to America. Hominy is dried maize kernels, shaped liked sweetcorn but bigger with a soft smooth texture.


 Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and then brown it off in the oil.

 Cut up the onion, chillis and garlic, place in your slow cooker along with the hominy, enchilada sauce, cayenne, oregano and salt.

Stir it well, add the meat and top up with water to the consistency of soup you'd like then cover and cook on High for 6-7 hours.

Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on the soup, sour cream to soothe the chilies fire and tortillas to soak up the last of the soup. Posole is also often served with avocado slices or shredded cabbage if you want to try those too.

This soup was much anticipated because we could smell it cooking for hours before we could eat it. The pork was tender and flavourful and the soup was a lovely thick consistency. The heat of it was too much for us though, the chilies drowned out all the other flavours even though I'd used much less than the recipe specified. It was disappointing not to enjoy it more after we'd been looking forward to tasting it. The hominy was a nice addition, giving more comfort to an already thick, hearty soup. JD likened the hominy texture to chick peas in this soup. I'd maybe leave out the chilies entirely if I made it again. *runs off to wipe my runny nose*!!

In case you were wondering if the sour cream helped soothe the heat of the chilies:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Soups of the World - Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo (or Matzah) balls are a Jewish food often eaten on Passover. They can be light and fluffy (floaters) or dense (sinkers) but usually served in a chicken broth. I opted to try mking the denser version.


4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 cup matzo meal
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dill

Mix together the eggs, water and oil.

Add the matzo meal, salt and pepper. Combine well and then put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 Form the matzo mixture into small balls and place in a pan with the chicken stock.

When the matzo balls were almost cooked (after about 35 minutes) I realised I'd forgotten to add the chopped celery and carrot so I had to quickly soften them in a frying pan instead.

Place the cooked matzo balls in a dish and spoon over the chicken broth and vegetables. Garnish with a pinch of chopped dill.

I was unprepared for how delicious this soup would be. The matzo balls were dense and meaty in texture, tasting of chicken so much that it was like eating chicken balls. The balls had absorbed flavour from the stock and were lovely to eat with a mouthful of hot chicken broth. A very warming and surprsingly filling soup. I'd like to try making some lighter 'floater' matzo balls now!
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