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Chicken Dumpling Soup (Thai)

22 May

Chicken and rice dumplings simmered in a spicy coconut broth with vegetables.

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to make  Tom Kha Gai or chicken in coconut soup but I did not have enough chicken to feed everyone so I used rice to mix with the chicken and make tasty dumplings instead.  Delicious!

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup cooked cold white rice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 clove garlic
  • garlic chives or spring/green onions
  • a splash of fish sauce
  • a splash of soy sauce or pinch of salt
  • pinch freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 red or green chilli minced (optional)
  • 1 egg white
Bung the whole lot in a food process and pulse or finely mince all the ingredients together. Take a heaped tsp at a time, shape into balls then drop into the hot broth gently. The dumplings will rise to the surface when cooked, in about 5-7 minutes.
For the soup broth
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • red chilli sliced
  • sliced galangal
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
Put the ingredients for the soup broth into a roomy pan and bring to a simmer, drop the dumplings in to cook. After 5 minutes or so add some green vegetables. As soon as the vegetables are just cooked the soup is ready to serve. Check the seasoning and add a dash of fish sauce and / or a squeeze of lime to taste, ladle into bowls and scatter with a bit of fresh coriander, a few slices of red chilli or sliced spring onions.
Vegetables Use any green vegetables for colour and flavour such as green beans, runner beans, asparagus, garden peas, broccoli, mangetout peas, cabbage or pak choi
Noodles I sometimes serve this soup over noodles to make more of a meal of it. It is best to cook the noodles seperately to ensure that they don’t get over cooked any kind of oriental noodle works well, soba, vermicelli, yellow wheat noodles or big fat rice noodles. Just put a serving into each bowl and ladle the soup over them.
Tip To make your own stock simmer chicken bones with an onion, galangal, lemongrass and a few peppercorns.

Tomato and White Bean Soup

2 Aug

This is such a lovely soup. Tangy iron-rich tomatoes with almost sweet, velvety white beans to give it an extra special dimension. Great in the summer when there are plenty of tomatoes in the garden or market and particularly good if you grown your own shelling beans.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 500g tomato pulp (peeled and chopped)
  • 200g fresh white beans or 100g dry (steeped and boiled til soft)
  • 1 litre stock or bean liquor
  • 1-3 bay leaf
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh Herbs such as: thym, parsley, rosemary or oregano

Fry the onion in a little olive oil with a dash of salt until soft then add the garlic and when it is aromatic add the tomatoes, stock and bayleaf . Season well and cook for 30 minutes or so. At this point you can liquidise the tomato soup, or pass it through a sieve for a smooth soup, if you like it with a bit of texture leave it as it is and add the beans and fresh herbs. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the beans are tender and serve scattered with a few more herbs.

TIP This soup is also a great storecupbaord staple using dried beans and bottled tomatoes.

Variation you can also use green beans, the long French types or runner beans cut into short lengths.

Courgette & Basil Soup

2 Jul
This is a lovely summer soup with plenty of flavour. I like to serve it with crispy garlic croutons for lunch. 
Serves 4 Cooking 25 minutes total prep & cook
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion (green onions or regular)
  • pinch salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 medium sized or 5 small courgettes
  • 1litre of stock or water
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • large handful of fresh basil
  • Parmesan cheese
Mince the onion and fry in a little olive oil with the salt and pepper until the onion starts to colour. Meanwhile slice or cube the courgettes and add to the pan sauté slowly until the courgettes are starting to colour which brings out the flavour. Add the bay leaves if using and the stock. Stir well, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile make the croutons, cut stale bread into small cubes then bash up a couple of cloves of garlic and stir into some olive oil toss the bread cubes to coat and spread out on a tray sprinkle with salt and cook in a frying pan or under a hot grill for a few minutes until they get crunchy. Back to the soup, add the fresh basil roughly torn and about 2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese, remove from the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before liquidising. I don’t often purée soups but I think this one works best when it is smooth. Serve topped with crispy garlic croutons and a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Cook’s Tip I make large batches of vegetable stock and freeze it in clean 1L plastic bottles that you get juice or milk in.
For croutons use left over or stale bread. Home-made sour dough or wholemeal breads are the best; the better the bread the better the croutons will be. I sometimes use basil oil on the crutons to give another slightly different basil hit.
Gardeners Tip to avoid a glut of courgettes in summer pick them when they are small, not only do they taste better but the plant will carry on producing fruit for longer. Grow courgettes for flavour, there are so many hybrid courgette varieties available but really the old varieties have much better flavour such as the Italian striped var pictured.

Root Soup

6 Dec

Roots are one of the staples of a winter garden and December is the month of roots in the soup. Use as many tasty roots as you can and the flavour will be all the better for it. This is hardly a recipe just a way of making the most delicious winter soup.
Serves 2-4 (2 huge portions or 4 normal size soup bowls).

  • knob of butter
  • a generous pinch of cracked black pepper
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 litre jug full of chopped root vegetables
  • stock or water to cover well
  • 1/2 tsp paella spice mix or a pinch of saffron
  • 1-2 leeks washed and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Herbs pick a good aromatic herb as the signature flavour I’ve use fresh fennel but you could use; parsley, dill or tarragon.
  • Handful of pasta shapes (optional)
  • some creme fraiche to finish (optional)
Sweat an onion, finely chopped, in a little butter season with salt and pepper. While the onion is sweating. Scrub the roots, peel if necessary, and chop into bite size pieces. I used parsnip, carrot, turnip, celeriac, radish and florence fennel but you could also use skirret, salsify, scorzonera, hamburg parsley, jerusalem artichokes or beetroot. When the onion is softened add the root veg, stir to coat and sweat for just a couple of minutes then add the stock, leeks, potatoes, saffron or paella mix. Cover and cook for 10 minutes then add the  and herbs and pasta, if using, cover and cook for a further 7 minutes. Serve with a splodge of créme fråche stirred in.

Chicken and Leek Soup

11 Nov

We eat a lot of soup, well made soup can be great; healthy, tasty, seaonal and easy to make. Using leftovers from a roast chicken this soup turned out to be a real winner, delicious and warming with a hint of Spanish luxury. I’ve also added rice to give it that extra carb power and make a substantial lunch. Perfect for a cold autumn day.

  • Chicken leftovers
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 litres home made chicken stock
  • 1-2 tbsp verdurette or 1 tsp of celery salt
  • 2-3 large leeks
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • pinch of saffron and/or paella mix
  • flatleaf parsley
Clean and slice the leeks. Pick over the chicken and chop the meat. Put a tiny bit of olive oil in a large soup pot add the sliced leeks with a pinch of cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Sweat the leeks slowly then add the rice, stir to coat, add the stock, verdurette or celery salt saffron or paella spice mix and chicken. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Cooks Note Paella is very popular in the south of France and ready ground spice blends are available everywhere.

Yellow Pea Vegetable Soup

24 Oct

This is a lovely protein rich soup, clean, fresh and packed with delicious autumn vegetables. The dried peas and vegetables are lightly cooked so that they retain all their flavour and shape.

  • 1 onion, minced
  • Olive oil
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 3 carrots
  • turnip, radish or mooli
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 2 small leeks
  • thyme
  • 2 bayleaves
  • stock or water
  • salt

Wash the dried peas and leave to soak in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes. Use a roomy pan and  fry the onion in a little oil until starting to brown. Add the herbs, peas and their soaking liquid then top up with water or fresh vegetable stock enough to double the volume covering the peas. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables, slice dice or chop in whaterever shape you feel like. Add the carrots and turnip but set aside the pumpkin and leeks while the soup simmers for another 15minutes. Add the leeks and pumpkin and simmer for a final 15 minutes or until the peas are tender. Adjust seasoning, remove the bayleaves and serve.
Tip adding the vegetables in a staggered order is to make sure each is just cooked and not turned to mush by over cooking so adjust the staggering according to what vegetables you end up using and how small they are cut.
Variation Fry some chopped bacon with the onions for a more meaty flavour

Tunisian Chickpea Soup

7 Oct

It is pepper and chilli harvest time so I’ve been making batches of home made harissa paste which is a fundamental ingredient of this soup. In North Africa this would be called Lablabi, a popular every day dish from Tunisia; filling, nutritious and lip smackingly good. Pared down it is chickpeas in a broth seasoned with cumin, olive oil and harissa paste, simple food that tastes divine.

It can also be varied enormously with seasonings and garnishes; this one is garnished with; olive oil, cumin, lemon, and a poached egg.

Wash the chickpeas well and put into a large pan. Fill with cold water, leave to soak for 12 hours.Discard some of the water leaving just enough to cover the soaked chickpeas. Put the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for one and a half hours or until the chick peas are tender. Stir in a good slosh of olive oil, a few cloves of crushed garlic, some ground cumin, some chopped parsley and lots of harissa to taste, cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon the soup into a dish, give it a squeeze of lemon, a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of crushed cumin seeds. Serve with bread croutons spread with more harissa or some tuna, a poached egg, or olives, whatever takes your fancy on the day.

Try it with a bit of tuna too.

Variations: There are very many variations of this simple soup because Lablabi is a traditional dish so it has been around for a long time. The chick peas can be cooked with meat bones. Stale bread can be broken into pieces and used to line the serving bowl before pouring the soup over it or the bread can be served as croutons spread with harissa paste.

Topping: The basic soup is served topped with olive oil, cumin, and a dollop of harissa but for a more substantial dish the soup can be served topped with; fish such as tuna or sardines, egg, bread croutons, capers or olives.

Cooks TIP
The soaking and cooking of chickpeas takes a long time so save it, and cooking fuel, by cooking up a large batch then freeze or bottle in ready to use portions. I freeze cooked chickpeas drained for salads and small dishes like Spicy Chickpea Salad, Spinach and Chickpeas and hummous or in bags with their cooking liquor for soups like this one.

Recipe Sources
Mirage Blogspot
La Cuisine Marocaine
Cuisine d’Afrique

This recipe was originally posted on on 14/10/2008.

Lentil Soup

17 Sep

A classic lentil soup is hard to beat when you want something warm, nutritious and comforting to eat. It is such a simple soup, using basic ingredients, but I love it and it will always be a favourite. This is the way I make a basic lentil soup.

Serves 4 prep 7mins cook 30-45mins

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup red lentils washed and drained
  • 1 litre good vegetable stock ( or stock cube works fine)
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh if you can get them
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon to taste

Gently fry the onions, black pepper and garlic in the oil without browning until soft. Add the lentils, bay leaves add stock and stir. Cover and boil for 30-45mins or until the lentils are soft. Season to taste adding salt now if necessary. I usually give this soup a wiz with a hand blender to get an extra creamy texture, but make sure to remove the bay leaves first. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a slice for extra flavour.

Variations for a non vegetarian version fry lardons or cubed bacon with the onion for extra flavour or give it a kick an serve with a swirl of home made chilli oil or a squeeze of lemon juice.

TIP do not add salt when cooking pulses as they will be harder and take longer to cook.

This recipe was originally posted on  25/09/2006

Cucumber & Yogurt Soup

21 Aug

This is the best summer soup. A chilled, uncooked soup of pureed cucumber, yogurt and mint. Our friend Maggie made this for us, on her recent visit here this summer, and we were blown away by how simple and how delicious the soup is. It is wonderfully refreshing and perfect for a summer lunch or a light starter and great at this time of year if you grow your own cucumbers.

Serves 4 Prep 15 mins

* 1 cucumber
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 250g of natural live yogurt
* water (1.5 x the volume of yogurt)
* pinch of salt
* pinch crushed black peppercorns
* handful of fresh mint leaves

Peel the cucumber, if the skins are a little tough otherwise leave the skins on, and roughly chop. Put the cucumber in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and blitz with a hand blender or put into a food processor and blitz to a smoothish soupy consistency. Add a little more water if required, check seasoning and serve. As simple as that.

Black Tomato Soup

3 Aug

This is a truly extraordinary soup and really one for those who grow their own tomatoes, it won’t work with tasteless shop bought ones, they have to be the tastiest tomatoes you can grow. For me that means the heirloom black tomato Noir de Crimee, which has a rich smoky flavour and is, to date, the best tomato I have ever tasted. Since this recipe is about the taste of real tomatoes use the ones you like the taste of, just keep it simple and you will have delicious tomato soup. As there is no oil or anything else in this recipe it is delicious served hot or cold and makes a great summer starter.

Cooking scratch to table 25 minutes max

* 1 Kg very ripe tomatoes
* 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
* 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Wash and roughly chop the tomatoes stick them in a pan with the salt & pepper, you do not need to add anything else and simmer until mushy, if the tomatoes are very ripe this should take about 15minutes. Turn the heat off and put a metal sieve over another pan or bowl. Empty the tomato mush into the sieve and use a metal spoon to press the tomato mush through the sieve, all you should be left with in the sieve is the seeds, cores and skins discard these. That’s it its done! serve immediately or cool and serve cold.

Variations If you like things a little spicy or the tomatoes you use don’t come up to scratch try adding a little harissa paste.

The ‘black’ tomato is never truly black but more of a dusky brown or purple depending on the variety. My favourite variety is Noir de Crimee, pictured above. Harvest when the underside of the tomato goes a deep brown colour and the flesh becomes slightly soft, the shoulders stay green making it look under ripe. For this recipe I leave the tomatoes in a bowl in a sunny spot to ripen further as you really want them super soft and ripe for this soup.

This recipe was originally posted  3/08/2006