Tag Archives: soup

15-minute ‘Spring greens’ soup

22 Sep

Today marks the officially turn of the seasons from Winter to Spring and for many of us it also marks a celebration of everything green and fresh after a long and cold Winter filled with heavier stews and other rich comfort foods. “Fresh” doesn’t always have to be “raw” –  if you can preserve something of that green freshness in the comfort of a smooth and utterly satisfying soup, I’d say you’re covering best of both worlds.

I wrote this recipe for First Choice Dairy after they asked me to create something for Spring, preferable something light or a side dish, incorporating their cream. Although I don’t associate cream with “light cooking”, this soup is indeed light and bursting with the intense green flavours of peas, broccoli, baby spinach, mint and leeks. I pulsed the vegetables (except the peas) in a food processor to match the size of the peas, then cooked it for a mere 5 minutes in vegetable stock. Immediately transferred to a blender, it is transformed into a smooth, beautifully green soup, adding the cool cream to stop the vegetables from cooking any further or losing their colour. By lack of any other fat or oil in the recipe, the cream provides the necessary luxurious roundness and smooth mouthfeel.

 

To serve, I love adding as much luxurious goodness and texture as possible: a swirl of cream, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, some smoked roasted pumpkin seeds, finely sliced sugar snaps, fresh pea shoots and mint leaves, and of course a few thick slices of fresh ciabatta that’s been freshly toasted with olive oil. The smoked pumpkin seeds add fabulous flavour and crunch, but if you’re looking for a meaty kick, you’re welcome to add a handful of crispy fried bacon nuggets.

This soup is wonderful served warm, but just as good served at room temperature. It’s a nutrient-packed, mood-lifting, flavourful celebration of a promising new season – happy Spring Day!

Notes:

  1. First Choice Real Dairy Cream (long life)  is available in 250ml and 1 liter tetrapacks. It has no preservatives and can be stored safely on the shelf for months. Once opened it should be refrigerated and used within 7 days. The tetrapacks are 100% recyclable.
  2. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the vegetables and cook them a little longer, adding the peas half way through the process and cooking until everything is just tender. You’ll still need at least a stick blender to blend the soup to a smooth puree.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a main meal or 6 as a starter)

  • 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 200 g leeks, white parts only, sliced into chunks
  • 250 g broccoli, sliced into florets
  • 250 g frozen/fresh peas
  • a generous handful baby spinach
  • a small handful fresh mint leaves, stalks discarded
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) First Choice Cream
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for serving: (all optional, but you can add all of these and more!)
    • a swirl of First Choice Cream
    • a few drops of extra virgin olive oil
    • a few tablespoons pumpkin seeds, smoked & roasted
    • croutons, or ciabatta brushed with olive oil and toasted
    • a few fresh pea shoots
    • a few mint leaves
    • a few sugar snap peas, finely sliced

Method:

Place the stock in a medium size pot over medium heat. While it is heating up, place the leeks and broccoli in a food processor and pulse until it matches the size of peas. Add the pulsed vegetables along with the peas to the stock and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn down the heat and simmer for 4 minutes, then add the spinach and simmer for another minute. Remove from the heat and carefully ladle into a powerful blender. Add the mint and cream and blend to a very smooth puree. Season generously with salt & pepper, then mix well. Serve at once, with a swirl of cream and your choice of toppings and bread (can also be served at room temperature).

This post was created in proud collaboration with First Choice Dairy.

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Smoked pork minestrone

9 Apr

While completing the last batch of photographs for my new cookbook with Tasha Seccombe during February this year (due for launch in September), I collaborated with Le Creuset SA in providing me access to the most beautiful array of cast iron casseroles and ceramic servingware for styling purposes. One of the items that I particulary fell in love with, was this beautiful 31 cm (6,3 liter) oval casserole in Agave – a mesmerizing blend of dark teal and inky navy that seems to change in different lighting. It is probably the most beautiful Le Creuset casserole I’ve ever seen, to be honest. Mysterious, intense, regal.

For my cookbook, I used it to showcase a ridiculously tasty pulled pork dish (more to be revealed later), but in the meantime, I’ve reserved a few dishes to try in this new oval addition to my Le Creuset kitchen family. I baked an enormous oval mosbolletjie pull-apart potbread for Easter, which was so good I didn’t even take photos, we just gobbled it down with lashings of farm butter and a crowd of friends. This is the kind of casserole that you pull closer for special occasions and larger feasts, not only because of the size but also because of its royal look and feel.

On a recent visit to my favourite pork butchery & deli, I laid my eyes on some smoked kassler steaks, a beautiful bunch of seasonal kale and freshly picked butternut. I wanted to make a seasonal meaty smoky Italian-style vegetable soup – the kind of feel-good food that makes me excited about simple ingredients, about local produce and about cooking from scratch. Glugs of extra virgin olive oil to serve, generous gratings of aged parmigiano, fresh ciabatta for dipping. Life cannot get more delicious in these moments.

Here’s my easy recipe for a simple, seasonal, hearty, smoky and meaty minestrone using small haricot beans and rosmarino pasta. The yield is large, so if you don’t have a bunch of friends over you’ll be able to freeze numerous batches for when you’re too lazy too cook – trust me, you’ll thank me later. If you also own a very large cast iron casserole, this is the recipe to make it shine.

Ingredients: (makes about 4,5 liters; serves a crowd)

Note: All veg are peeled before dicing/chopping. You’re looking for a small dice of maximum 1 x 1 cm for best results, but to speed things up you can certainly also pulse in a food processor.

  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for serving)
  • about 450 g boneless smoked pork, diced (I used kassler steaks, but you can also use neck steaks or even thick cut bacon)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • a small bunch kale, stalks chopped separately, leaves shredded separately
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 small/medium butternut, diced
  • 2 x cans whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 2 stock cubes, dissolved in 1 liter boiling water (chicken or vegetable flavour)
  • 2 x cans cannelini beans, drained
  • 250 g dried rosmarino or orzo pasta
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • up to 1 liter boiling water extra, according to desired thickness
  • grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Using a big cast iron casserole (I used a 31 cm oval Le Creuset casserole with a capacity of 6,3 liters) over medium high heat, heat the oil and add the cubed pork. Fry until lightly brown, then add the onions, kale stalks and carrots. Fry for another 2 minutes, then add the garlic and smoked paprika, stirring for a minute. Add the butternut, pureed tomatoes, dissolved stock cubes in water and beans, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the pasta and shredded kale leaves, seasoning generously with salt & pepper and stirring well. Return to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often as the pasta tends to stick to the bottom easily, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10 more minutes. Taste and add more salt & pepper if necessary. Add more boiling water if you soup is very chunky (I added a full extra liter of water, as the pasta continues to absorb water on standing). Serve hot in bowls with a generous grating of parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, with or without bread for dipping. Note: The soup freezes and reheats very well – freeze in smaller portions for easy midweek access.

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Strawberry gazpacho – a #zerowaste recipe with First Choice

21 Dec

Bright, festive strawberry gazpacho, made with bruised strawberries that might have otherwise went to waste. Drizzled with a strawberry leaf and basil oil.

I’ve learned so much over the past year about what I throw away, and how to minimize waste to a point where there’s hopefully none. The team from First Choice have launched a #newnorm campaign in order to raise awareness about #zerowaste, and I’m wholeheartedly on board with spreading the word.

There are so many small things that you can do to make sure you really get the most out of what you buy. We love strawberries, but if they’re not eaten straight away, some of them might look bruised or become overripe after a few days. Here’s a great way to use those “slightly sad” strawberries – make a bright and festive gazpacho!

In case you didn’t know, strawberries are excellent when paired with more salty or sour flavours. They love a drizzle of balsamic vinegar too, so remember that for next time! In this case, I’ve added a few bold ingredients like green chilli, a ripe tomato, red wine vinegar and olive oil to make a smooth and bright gazpacho – an elegant starter for your summery festive celebration. The flavours are complex and bright and the colours are so vibrant. Use the strawberry leaves to make a beautiful green drizzling oil – yes, you can totally eat strawberry leaves!

What are you doing to minimize waste in your home cooking?

Check out my how-to video:

Ingredients: (serves 3-4 starter portions)

  • about 500 g strawberries (they can be lightly bruised or slightly overripe, no problem)
  • 1 large ripe tomato, quartered
  • 1 green chilli, stalk removed and halved lengthways
  • 1 slice white bread, crusts removed and cut into quarters
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 30 ml First Choice extra virgin olive oil

Remove the leaves* from the strawberries and reserve them for later. Place all the ingredients (except the strawberry leaves) in a blender and blend until very smooth. Refrigerate until cold, then serve chilled with a drizzle of green strawberry leaf & basil oil.

*For the strawberry leaf and basil oil:

Place the reserved strawberry leaves and a few basil leaves in a small blender. Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use, and use within 2-3 days. Can also be used over salads or as a dip for fresh bread.

Note: Proudly created in collaboration with First Choice SA.

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Instant Pot clear roast chicken broth

8 Feb

A clear chicken broth made in my Instant Pot with leftover roast chicken carcass, some vegetables and spices. Easy and affordable.

 

I received an Instant Pot last year, to test and review and perhaps post one of my favourite recipes. After missing the deadline for posting a recipe as part of the festive season (my schedule at the end of 2018 was just a mess), I decided to keep on using this fantastic machine and see what my favourite way of using it really is.

As you might know, the Instant Pot has revolutionized the way many people cook and has instigated a global fan-community of note. It’s a 7-in-1 smart-cooker: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker, steamer, sauté pan, warmer and yoghurt maker. I’ve never owned a pressure cooked or a slow cooker, but I know how to make rice, how to steam and the rest. My biggest mission was to make bone broths and stocks that would truly unlock the most flavour possible out of very simple, humble ingredients.

The Instant Pot.

 

I’ve made quite a few bone broths since – beef, mutton, chicken and a combination of all 3. Although the Instant Pot has a setting for broths and soups, I’ve found that I got really incredible, crystal clear results with the slow cooker function over 12 hours. I’ve used raw bones and I’ve used roasted bones, and both yielded fantastic results with deep flavour.

My motto this year is to buy less and not to waste anything. A broth is an excellent way of utilizing “older” vegetables and leftover roast chicken bones (or a shop bought rotisserie chicken carcass, after you’re cut the meat from it) that might have otherwise landed in the bin. Use whatever you have on hand and try it out – this recipe makes around 2,5 liters and it freezes really well. It can also be utilized as a great stock, just season the end result with less salt.

This broth can easily and safely be made overnight with no stress about anything boiling over on your stovetop. You can of course also pressure cook the broth if you want it to be ready faster, and by using the ‘Delay start’ timer, you can run it during the day while you’re at work and come home to either a bone broth or stock ready to use.

I love serving my broth in a drinking cup, with a small drizzle of soy sauce and a piece of fresh or preserved ginger – so light, yet hearty in taste and rich in nutrients. I’ve also added a sprinkle of seaweed and dried blossoms on the broth in the photograph as a colourful suggestion of serving it to guests.

This Instant Pot is a great addition to my kitchen and I cannot wait to try more recipes like silky cheese cake and homemade yoghurt. You can buy it online from Yuppiechef for R2199.00.

Note: You can also use a whole raw chicken for this recipe, and shred the tender slow-cooked meat afterwards for a bulked up meaty alternative. Sprinkle with roughly chopped parsley.

Crystal clear broth results using the Instant Pot’s slow cook setting over 12 hours.

 

Ingredients:

1 deboned rotisserie/roast chicken carcass, with pan juices

2 onions, peeled & halved

2 celery sticks, cut into large chunks

1 large carrot, cut into large chunks

1 kale leaf (optional)

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 large knob fresh ginger, peeled and halved lengthways

1 slice of lemon

10 whole peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

3 liters water

salt, to taste

soy sauce and fresh sliced ginger, for serving (optional)

fresh herbs or edible flowers, for serving (optional)

Method:

Place the chicken bones, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger, lemon, peppercorns, bay, star anise, cinnamon on the Instant Pot and add 3 liters of water. Cover with the lid, select the “slow cook” function and set the time for 12 hours. Wait for a few seconds, you’ll hear a soft beep and the timer will start. Leave to cook until the timer is up, then leave to cool in the pot. Strain through a regular fine metal sieve, then season generously with salt. You’ll see that the broth can do with a lot of salt. If you’re using preserved ginger for serving, you an also add a few teaspoons of the preserving ginger liquid for some added sweetness. Serve warm in cups or bowls with a dash of soy sauce and more ginger.

Store any leftover broth covered in the fridge for up to 5 days (freezes well too).

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Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle

14 May

One of my favourite recipes this winter: a brothy white bean soup made with lamb knuckle and topped with salsa verde. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Although many of us know and love traditional South African bean soup made with red speckled beans, there’s another variety that you absolutely have to try. It is made with small white haricot beans (almost like Italian canellini beans, which are not very common in SA in its dried form). These beans are very smooth in texture and they tend to not fall apart as easily as their speckled cousins, resulting in a non-stodgy end result. This is a slightly thickened brothy soup with chunks of deliciously tender meat and beautiful, small, silky beans. Made with chicken stock instead of mutton or beef stock, the soup is also lighter in colour than most bean soups. A dollop of punchy green salsa verde adds just the right lift to this meal.

A single lamb knuckle, sliced by your butcher, is enough to add the meatiness that this soup needs. It’s an economical way to serve a stylish soup in a fresh way this Winter. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • about 600 g lamb knuckle, sliced horizontally by your butcher
  • 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 liters chicken stock
  • 500 g small white beans (haricot)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for the salsa verde:
    • a handful each parsley, basil & mint
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 teaspoons capers
    • 15-30 ml lemon juice
    • 45-60 ml olive oil
    • a pinch of salt
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard

Method:

  1. Heat the oil on high heat in a large wide pot (at least 6 liters capacity), then fry lamb knuckle in batches until browned on both sides (cut larger chunks of meat in half). Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then turn down heat to  medium.
  2. Fry the onion, celery & carrot until soft, stirring often (add a little more oil if needed). Add the garlic & rosemary (add the sprigs whole, you’ll remove the woody stems later) and fry for another minute.
  3. The bottom of the pot should be coated with sticky brown bits by now. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze. Add the fried meat with all the juices back into the pot, then top with stock. Add the beans and stir. Note: Don’t add any salt until tright at he end, otherwise the beans won’t become tender.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring now and then, then turn heat down to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 2,5-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the beans are really tender.
  5. Season generously with salt & pepper and remove from the heat to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the salsa verde, chop all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  7. Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of salsa verde (and some crusty bread for dipping, optionally).

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Roasted tomato soup with pumpkin bread and garam masala marrow bones

25 Jul

A Winter evening’s delight: roasted tomato soup, roasted marrow bones with garam masala, and pumpkin bread toast. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Tableware, linen and cutlery by HAUS.

 

There are few things that beat the smell of freshly baked bread. But have you smelled oven roasted tomatoes? Man, that is something very special. It permeates your house with a sweet and savoury umami fragrance that is second to none.

I’ve put together a menu for the ultimate wintery soup night in. Oven roasted tomato soup has been one of the favourites for many years, so I’ve decided to serve it this time with a deliciously chewy pumpkin loaf and roasted garam masala marrow bones instead of butter.

Because all three recipes need oven time, start with the soup. While it’s in the oven, make the bread dough. Then when the bread is baking, prep the garam masala. Roast the marrow bones right before serving everything.

Oh, and I’m also going to tell you how to make your own super fragrant garam masala. It will change your spice game in a huge way.

Bon appetit!

Roasted tomato soup: (serves 6)

  • about 16 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes
  • 200 g (about 4 large) leeks
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a handful thyme sprigs
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml sugar
  • 15 ml salt
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 250 ml crean

Preheat oven to 180C. Chop the tomatoes in batches in your food processor. They don’t have to be very fine, just chopped. Add it to a large deep rectangular roasting pan or a wide deep dutch oven. Process the canned tomatoes to a pulp and add it to the pan. Pulse the leeks, carrot and cloves into pieces, then add it on top of the tomatoes. Place the thyme sprigs on top, then drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar, salt and red wine vinegar. Without stirring too much (just flatten the surface) place into the oven and roast for 2 hours, stirring well every 30 minutes. The mixture should get toasty on the edges and reduce by about 25 %. When it is read, remove from the oven, then remove the stalks of the thyme. Use a ladle to transfer the mixture to a pot, then use a stick blender to blitz to a smooth pulp. Because your using the tomatoes skins and all, your soup with still be chunky – that’s the way I prefer it. Add the cream and mix well. Check the seasoning and add more sugar, salt and vinegar if needed. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with more cream or olive oil and your choice of herbs or croutons.

For this shoot, we got our hands on the fabulous new collection of Haus tableware by Hertex. Go to your nearest showroom to see the full collection, it is absolutely gorgeous!

A round loaf of pumpkin bread – chewey and nutty. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Linen by HAUS.

Pumpkin bread: (makes one large loaf)

  • 1 small butternut or pumpkin
  • 4 cups stone ground white bread flour
  • 10 ml salt
  • 7,5 ml instant yeast
  • 10 ml mixed spice
  • 125 ml pumpkin seeds
  • about 1/2 cup water

Peel the butternut and cut into chunks. Boil in water until tender, then process to a pulp. You’ll need about 2 cups processed pumpkin pulp for the bread. Set aside to cool slightly, but use it while still slightly warm.

Place the flour, salt, yeast, spice and seeds in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the cooked pumpkin and water and stir until it starts to come together. Use your hands to shape it into a soft pliable dough, kneading it until it is smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Add a little more water or flour if necessary. Shape into a smooth ball, then place on a lined baking tray. Cut a cross shape on the top, then cover with a plastic bag to rise until doubled in size. When ready, bake at 220 C for about 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve the slices toasted or untoasted with butter or with roasted marrow bones.

Make your own garam masala:

  • 30 ml cumin seeds
  • 30 ml coriander seeds
  • 30 ml fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 15 ml black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 2 bay leaves

Place all the ingredients in a wide pan, then dry roast them over medium-high heat until the mixture becomes fragrant. Transfer batches to a spice grinder, then store in an airtight container.

Roasted garam masala marrow bones on toast. Platter, linen & cutlery by HAUS.

Roasted marrow bones:

  • 3 marrow bones, sliced in half horizontally (ask your butcher)
  • 15 ml garam masala (see above)
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • salt flakes

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Place the marrow bones cut side up in a roasting tray lined with foil or baking paper. Mix the garam masala with the oil to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the bones. Roast for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked. Serve at once, with toasted bread.

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Soup Season with Poetry Stores

12 Jun

Winter doesn’t need to be dreary with this colourful soup spread, featuring recipes from “Clean Soups” available from Poetry Stores. All homeware and linen also available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Finally, Winter is here! It is the season of soups, cozy blankets and marathon movie nights.

If you’re in need of soup recipe inspiration, look no further than Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson’s book “Clean Soups” available from Poetry Stores. It is a brilliant book stuffed to the brim with delightful soups varying from clear broths to thick purees. They also provide fresh ideas on how to serve their soups, including toppings like kale crumble, herb drizzle, nut cream and a few different salsas.

The nourishing smell of properly made soup permeates right through to your soul. Start with this incredible “magic mineral broth” – a vegetable stock/broth that forms the basis of many of their other soups, yet also to be enjoyed as is. I used this broth to also make their recipe for Moroccan carrot soup as well as minted pea soup. The chermoula works perfectly as a topping for the carrot soup and as a bread dip.

Chase the winter chills away with a fabulous floral watercolour table cloth and tableware from Poetry Stores – all homeware items pictured available in store and online.

Magic mineral broth. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Magic mineral broth: (makes about 6 liters)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 unpeeled brown onions
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 2 unpeeled white-fleshed sweet potatoes, quartered
  • 1 unpeeled orange sweet potato, quartered
  • 5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 (20 cm) strip kombu*
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice or juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 liters cold, filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

Rinse all the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 12 liter or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek , celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries and bay leaves. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for at least 2 hours, or until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out.

Strain the broth through a large coarse-mesh sieve (use a heat-resistant container underneath) and discard the solids. Stir in the salt, adding more if desired. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

*Kombu is edible dried kelp/seaweed.

Roaste Moroccan carrot soup with chermoula. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Moroccan carrot soup: (makes 6 servings)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1,5 kg carrots, cut into 2,5cm pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1,5 litres magic mineral broth (see above)
  • 2,5 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or half lemon half tangerine/orange juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark maple syrup plus more if needed
  • chermoula, for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chilli flakes, saffron and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until well conbined. Pour in 125 ml of the broth and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the remaining broth and another 1.4 teaspoon salt and cook until the carrots and tender, about 20 minutes.

Put the lemon zest in a blender and puree the soup in batches until smooth, each time adding the cooking liquid first and then the carrot mixture. If need be, add additional broth to reach the desired thickness. Return the soup to the pot over low heat, stir in the lemon juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt, and gently reheat. Taste; you may want to add another squeeze of lemon, a pinch or two of salt, or a drizzle of maple syrup. Serve with chermoula or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Sweet pea and mint soup: (makes 6 servings)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white part only, rinsed and chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 300 g frozen sweet peas, defrosted, or 465 g freshly shelled peas
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 1 cup pea sprouts (if available)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • 1,5 litres magic mineral broth (see above)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
  • 6 tablespoons full-fat plain yoghurt, for garnish (optional)
  • pea shoots, for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the leek, pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and the lettuce and another pinch of salt. Pour in 125 ml of the stock to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat.

Pour one-third of the remaining stock into a blender, add one-third of the vegetable mixture, one-third of the pea sprouts and the mint. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a soup pot over low heat. Divide the remaining stock in half and repeat the process two more times. Stir in the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste, you may want to add an additional squeeze of lemon and a couple of pinches of salt. Serve garnished with the yoghurt, pea shoots and a bit of mint, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Credits:

Food preparation, styling and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography and styling: Tasha Seccombe.

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Creamy roasted butternut soup with spicy roasted seeds

27 Feb

Thick, roasted butternut soup with spicy roasted seeds and a drizzle of fresh cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I was a student, there used to be a place in Church Street called Spice Café that served various soups daily with a slice of bread of your choice. They used to make the most delicious butternut soup – extra thick, super smooth and very creamy. I used to order two bowls in one sitting, my gluttonous nature taking charge.

Although butternut soup has become something of a retro classic (even hated by some), it remains one of the most comforting meals to eat. There’s a school of soup makers that relishes the simplicity of the-two-ingredient-butternut-soup (butternut and cream), but sometimes that can resemble baby food. I prefer a soup made with roasted sliced young butternut, scattered with brown sugar, cinnamon & cumin. I add an onion and a small stick of celery, some good quality stock and fresh cream. If you’re in the mood for a special touch, reserve the seeds of the butternut and roast them with more spices to create a delicious crunchy topping.

Spicy roasted pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top of your roasted butternut soup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Here’s to the ultimate thick butternut soup – such a meatless Monday favourite. Enjoy!

Ingredients for soup: (serves 4)

  • 1-1,2 kg young butternut, peeled & sliced into 1 cm thick slices (reserve seeds and keep aside)
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 30-45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 2,5 ml ground cumin
  • 15-30 ml soft brown sugar
  • 375 ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 125 ml cream

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Arrange the slices of butternut , onion and celery on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, preferably in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil then season with salt & pepper, cinnamon, cumin and brown sugar. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the edges start to caramelize and the butternut is tender.

Place the roasted veg plus all the roasting juices in a deep medium size pot, then add the stock and cream. Use a stick blender and process to a very smooth pulp. Adjust seasoning and add more stock or cream, if necessary. Reheat just before serving.

Tip: If you prefer an ultra smooth texture, push the soup through a fine sieve after blending.

For the roasted seeds:

  • reserved seeds from your butternut (see above)
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt flakes
  • ground black pepper
  • 2,5 ml paprika
  • 2,5 ml dried thyme
  • 2,5 ml smoked chilli flakes

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Remove most of the stringy bits from the seeds, then rinse them under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry. Arrange the seeds on a baking tray, then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, then scatter with paprika, thyme & chilli flakes. Roast in the oven for 10-15  minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Let it cool on the tray, then store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

To serve:

Serve the soup in bowls with a swirl of cream, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some toasted seeds.

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Spinach & ricotta gnudi with chicken and herb broth

29 Jun

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Although most people associate soups with substance and texture, there is something strangely mesmerizing about an understated, translucent broth. This fragrant liquid can pack surprisingly bold flavours and is a fantastic vessel for carrying beautiful treasures like bright vegetables, botanical herbs, curly noodles or delicate dumplings.

My recipe for spinach & ricotta dumplings in a chicken & herb broth is actually 2 dishes in one. The dumplings are cousins of Italian gnocchi – a comforting dish that I usually serve with a bright red pommodoro sauce and grated parmesan cheese. The broth is a light version of traditional American chicken soup that is often associated with “getting better soon”, but also fabulous as a flavoursome home-made stock for making risotto.

This is one of the most comforting meals that I can possible imagine, especially in the cold weather that we’re experiencing in the Cape Winelands. Serve it as a light lunch/dinner with grated parmesan cheese and some buttered toast to soak up the broth.

TIP: Make the broth first, then keep it warm while you cook the gnudi. The broth also freezes well.

For the chicken broth: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 litres (6 cups) water
  • 400 g frozen chicken necks, thawed
  • 1 large knob of ginger, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced leeks
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & sliced
  • a handful of parsley stalks
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
  • salt & pepper

Method:

Place all the ingredients for the broth in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid, then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for another 30 minutes, uncovered, then strain through a sieve. (Keep the solids for processing with your next soup or use in your next stew.)

For the gnudi/dumplings:

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 450-500g ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, or Grana Padano) plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Method: In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauteé the spinach over medium heat for about 5 minutes until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg and yolk, salt, pepper, parmesan and flour. Roughly chop the cooked spinach, then add it with the parsley to the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it starts to form a coarse-looking ball. Lightly dust a rimmed baking tray with flour. Using 2 large dessert spoons, shape heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes, then place on the floured tray and dust with a little more flour (you should have about 30). Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the gnudi, then cook for 4 minutes until cooked through and tender (gnudi will quickly float to the surface; continue cooking or they will be gummy in the center). Using a slotted spoon, remove gnudi from water and divide among bowls.

To assemble:

  • 1 batch chicken broth
  • a cup of finely chopped mixed vegetables (leeks, celery, mushrooms)
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • a handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • cooked gnudi (about 4 per person)
  • finely grated parmesan cheese

Method: Bring the broth to a slow simmer. Add the finely chopped vegetables, ginger, garlic, parsley & chickpeas, then remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls with the freshly cooked gnudi, then top with grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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A New Year’s eve cocktail party with Poetry Stores: Part 3

19 Dec

A New Year’s eve cocktail spread from “The French Affair” by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

For my last collaboration project with Poetry Stores this festive season, I’ve chosen some fabulous snacks for a glitzy New Year’s eve cocktail party. The recipes all come from The French Affair by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (available from Poetry Stores for R375) – a beautiful hard cover book with amazing photographs and mouth-watering recipes. Jan Hendrik played the part of both recipe writer and photographer, and I have tremendous respect for the amount of work that went into this book! He did an amazing job.

I have chosen a selection of cold cocktail snacks, including vichyssoise (a traditional French cold potato & leek soup), old-fashioned prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce, roasted pepper and tomato tart with anchovies, and dark chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing. All of these go well with a glass of bubbly, so don’t be shy to drink while you snack!

Thank you so much to Rilee Palmer from Poetry Stores for this amazing opportunity to work with your in-store books, homeware and kitchenware. It was an absolute feast of a project, and I look forward to many more of these in 2014.

We have used some of Poetry‘s beautiful pewter (silver metal) homeware: trays, flower shaped bowls and Moroccan inspired candle holders. They are available in different sizes and are the perfect way to create a festive atmosphere! They also make great gifts.

(Please note: Linen, cutlery and vintage copperware are the photographer’s own.)

Vichyssoise (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Vichyssoise:

  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chopped leeks (white part only)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • chopped chives for garnishing

Method:

  1. Simmer the vegetables in the stock for 40-50 minutes, partially covered. Season with salt.
  2. Blend in batches using a blender or food processor until you get a very smooth consistency. Strain through cheesecloth to remove any lumps or pieces (optional).
  3. Add the cream, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold, garnished with chives.

Red pepper, anchovy and tomato tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Sweet red pepper, anchovy and tomato tart: (serves 6-8)

For the filling:

  • 350 g ripe red tomatoes
  • 4 medium red peppers
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 ml smoked paprika (or paprika)
  • 50 g anchovy fillets in oil

For the pastry:

  • 110 g cake flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 15 ml finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 5 ml chopped thyme

Method:

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Butter a 23 cm loose bottomed tart tin.
  2. Skin the tomatoes by placing them in a large bowl of simmering water for 2 minutes. Remove from the hot water and cover with cold water. Slip off the skins and cut in halves (or in thick slices if the tomatoes are very big).
  3. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Slice each pepper into 3 strips and mix with the tomatoes, oil, garlic and some seasoning. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for about 50 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Start cutting in the butter with a palate knife, then start rubbing it in lightly with your fingers until they mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan and thyme and 1 teaspoon of cold water. Bring the dough together and shape into a ball. Add more water if necessary. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the pastry on a flat work surface lightly sprinkled with flour. Line the tart pan with the pastry, and prick with a fork to prevent it from rising. Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes or until a light golden colour. Cool slightly.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks and paprika along with the oil from the anchovy fillets. Arrange the peppers, tomatoes and anchovy fillets in the tart shell. Increase the oven temperature to 190 C, then pour the egg mixture into the tart shell and bake for 35 minutes, or until firm in the centre. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate and apple sauce cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and fresh cherries (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate and apple sauce cupcakes: (serves 12)

For the cupcake mixture:

  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) cocoa powder
  • 1250 ml cake flour
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml salt
  • 250 ml butter
  • 250 ml sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 250 ml dark chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 250 ml cream cheese
  • 60 ml créme fraiche or sour cream
  • 60 ml butter at room temperature
  • 2.5 ml vanilla extract
  • 500 ml icing sugar, sifted

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar with electric beaters. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla, then stir in the  flour mixture and apple sauce alternating between them. Fold in the chocolate chips and mix well. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out relatively clean (the chocolate chips will be melted, so it cannot come out 100% clean). Let it cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, combine the softened cream cheese, creme fraiche, butter and vanilla and beat until creamy. Slowly add the icing sugar and beat on a medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl until smooth and fluffy. Spread or pipe the frosting evenly over the cooled cupcakes and top with berries or chopped nuts.
  6. Credits:All recipes by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, from his book The French Affair (available from Poetry Stores at R375).
    Food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox

    Photography: Tasha Seccombe

    Styling: Ilse van der Merwe & Tasha Seccombe

    Homeware: Poetry Stores

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