It is one of the simplest but most comforting soups. There’s no waste with this soup. Use the whole broccoli head, including the stalk, to really make the most of this valuable vegetable. Top it up with crumbled blue cheese or a mature cheddar, or it is just as good on its on with crusty buttered bread.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 potato, diced
approx 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
1 big head of broccoli, finely chopped
100g any cheese you prefer, for serving (optional)
- Heat the oil and the butter in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water if the onions start to catch.
- Add the leek, carrot and potato. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes under the lid.
- Then pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
- Now add the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve.
- Serve with any cheese on top or just as it is.
I mentioned before how much I liked the recent Nigella transformation, her new TV show and updated recipes. I even bought the book and already cooked 1/3 of its content and wasn’t disappointed with any of the recipes. No fuss, lovely ingredients, full of new ideas and new takes on classics.
One such recipe is a Stir-fry with double sprouts (Brussel sprouts and bean sprouts), chilli & pineapple. It’s good enough on its own, but even better with some pulled ham hog. I also didn’t have beansprouts this time, which makes my version ‘single sprout’ one.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CHILLI, PINEAPPLE AND HAM STIR-FRY
250g Brussel sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
3cm fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
150g fresh pineapple, chopped into cubes
250g cooked and cooled brown rice (or any other rice of your choice)
250g cooked pull ham hog (optional)
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
chopped fresh coriander to serve (optional)
- Prep and chop all ingredients beforehand.
- Heat up a wok, add groundnut oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, chilli, ginger and spring onion and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
- Then add the rice and pineapple chunks, stir-fry for 3 minutes or so, before adding the ham hog pieces, season with soy sauce and lime juice. Stir-fry for another minutes or until everything is hot, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve immediately.
A kedgeree is often thought of as breakfast here in the UK but I prefer mine as a main course. Lots of kedgeree recipes use cold smoked haddock – which is delicious – but I had only smoked salmon on hands, and this substitution didn’t disappointed. It’s a quick dish, it’s easy, it’s filling … but most importantly it’s delicious and good for you.
300g cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
200g frozen peas
225g smoked salmon, cut into chunks or flaked
4 spring onions, finely shredded
bunch of fresh coriander/parsley, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
- In a frying pan, heat up the oil, butter and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes, then add the spices and fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add cooked rice and peas, splash of water (if required), cover with lid and cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the peas are cooked.
- Meanwhile cook the eggs how you like them (I personally prefer soft-boiled or poached).
- When rice is done, mix in the salmon, spring onions, coriander and lime juice. Taste, season it and top with the halves soft-boiled eggs.
Lately I felt a bit under the weather. Our office at work is a hive of stinky cold germs at the moment, with every other person being sick, it’s hard to stay untouched by the seasonal bug. I’m trying to fight it in my own way, hot baths, plenty of liquids (whiskey & Hot Toddy counts too) and also some nourishing soups. This was one of them, super easy to prepare, full of spices and with a kick of ginger.
I used canned green lentil this time, because I needed to eat something quickly. Alternatively you can use a dry lentil of your choice and just cook it longer.
ETHIOPIAN – INSPIRED LENTIL SOUP
(Adapted from The Kitchn)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 green chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
2-3 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
2 cans of green/puy lentil
2 stock cubes (veggie or chicken, whatever you prefer)
about 2 litres of water
about 200g baby spinach
juice of one lemon, plus more lemon wedges for serving
- Sauté the onion in a pan until it starts to brown.
- Add all the spices, cook it for 2-3 minutes, then add chilli, ginger and garlic, stir and sauté for a further minute.
- Add the lentil, stock cubes, water, bring up to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for further few minutes.
- Then add the spinach and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Add lemon juice, check for seasoning and serve with extra lemon wedges, if you like.
This salad combines all my favourite ingredients. It is perfect for this time of year, as the courgettes are at its best at the moment. You can also leave the vegetables to marinate for a couple of hours before serving, but always fry halloumi at the last minute, as it is best served warm.
CARROT, COURGETTE AND HALLOUMI SALAD
(adapted from Waitrose magazine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 large carrots
50g cashew nuts
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
250g halloumi, cut into 1cm slices
- To make a dressing whisk the oils, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and ginger together in a large bowl. Using a vegetable peeler or a spiraliser, peel ribbons of the courgettes and carrots into the bowl with the dressing, toss it all together, set aside to marinade while you prepare everything else.
- In a large non-stick frying pan toast the cashew nuts for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until golden, set aside. Next toast the sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, set aside with the nuts.
- Fry halloumi for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
- Lift the vegetables from the dressing and put on a plate. Top with the halloumi and scatter over the nuts and seeds. Serve immediately while the cheese is still warm, spooning over a little extra dressing, if you like.
Here is the one of many versions of the traditional dish from your local Chinese takeaway. Chicken breasts are coated in a light batter, then fried along with any vegetables of your choice, before being served with a tangy lemon sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.
LEMON CHICKEN STIR-FRY
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen sweetcorn
1 yellow pepper, diced or sliced
3-4 spring onions, chopped
sesame oil, for drizzling over (optional)
- In a bowl zest 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice the lemon and whisk 3-4 tablespoons of the juice with water, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sliced pepper, cook for another 3 minutes, add sweetcorn, continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
- Whisk the sauce mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spring onion at the end of cooking and serve with rice or noodles.
Happy Chinese New Year 2016 to everyone who celebrates! Best wishes to all!
Beans are one of the staples of Mexican cuisine and they come in dozens of varieties. The simple recipe of cooking them gently with onion and an aromatic herb is, perhaps, the most common method of preparation for any beans.
BLACK BEAN SOUP (SOPA DE FRIJOL)
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
250 g black beans, soaked overnight
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
about 100 g cubes of Feta cheese
handful spring onion and parsley, chopped
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and peppers and cook until tender about 5-8 minutes. Stir in oregano and cumin, toss to coat vegetables. Pour in stock and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the beans are tender and cooked. Puree half of the soup in the blender until smooth and stir back into soup pot. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with garnishes.