Category Archives: Soup

Spicy chicken and coral lentil soup and dog ASBOs

chickencorallentil

Every time I go to London I’m reminded of just how unruly our dogs are. Dogs in London parks amble around acknowledging each other politely, sometimes stopping for a chat or a bit of a play, then rejoining their owners as soon as they’re called. Our dogs? Not so much; if canine ASBOs were a thing, we would have an impressive collection. Hugo, in his labrador way, does have a certain amount of innate savour faire, but it doesn’t stop him and his 30 kilos from climbing onto unsuspecting visitor’s laps or availing himself of the driving seat of their cars. He also has a tendency to break into neighbour’s kitchens to relieve them of their baguettes.

Last time I visited the vet with Hugo, we were asked to leave by the back door because his arrival by the front door (the Door for Civilised Dogs) had created pandemonium (try to picture cats and small dogs splattered all over the walls). The following week when I visited with Java, I was allowed to leave by the Door for Civilised Dogs, which was a big mistake because she launched herself at a pony-sized Pyrenean sheep dog like a tiny heat-seeking missile. Luckily for her, enormous dogs tend to have impeccable manners and gentle dispositions and he shook her off like a rather annoying fly. With great shame I picked her up, seat-belted her into the back of the car and ignored her all the way home.

The dogs have outdone themselves this week though: Hugo got stuck in the car for nearly four hours and we only realised where he was when we heard the car horn tooting persistently. Java, not to be outdone, got herself stuck in the railings of the staircase. Between her wriggling, our giggling, and not knowing whether to push or pull, getting her out was quite a feat. In hindsight, we should have left her there because on our walk afterwards we met five seriously well-trained and hard-working English Setters with a hunter. (At least they were well-trained until Java intervened – I think she must have revealed a chink in their training armour.) She ran into the midst of the pack, her body quivering with high-spirited enthusiasm, despite her presumably bruised ribs from the staircase debacle, hysterically barking ‘PARTY TIME’ and after that there were six setter reprobates running around like maniacs. I’m off to lie down.

Ingredients (serves 6)

4 chicken thighs, skin removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Dried rosemary

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 onion

1 celery stick, chopped

1 leek, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon curry powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

3 litres chicken stock

250g coral lentils

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the chicken thighs into a roasting tin coated in olive oil, dried rosemary and seasoning and roast for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once cooked, cut or rip into pieces, removing from the bone and set aside. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery, leek, carrots and garlic and fry until golden. Then add the seasoning and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the coral lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes (don’t cook the lentils too much or they’ll go mushy). Add the chicken pieces, warm through and serve.

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Leek and potato soup with mushrooms and repeat offenders

leekpotatomushsoup

After a busy week for tumbles — my husband fell backwards off his horse and frontwards off his bike — we had planned to go the beach for lunch on Sunday. Léo however had other plans; he performed a forward somersault off his bike and landed on his already twice-fractured arm.

Emergency departments are never a pretty sight, but even less so on Sunday mornings when they’re full of bloody rugby players (I don’t have anything against rugby players, but they always seem to have blood spouting from somewhere), and the dregs of Saturday night. As they fast track young children, I told Léo to make himself look little, which, as he’s over 6ft now, made me sound a bit insane.

The receptionist greeted us like old friends and commented more than once on the fact that our family’s records took up a substantial amount of room on her database. As this was potentially his fourth broken arm (he once very efficiently broke them both at the same time), she wondered if he might have any deficiencies. I said that yes, I was convinced he had a number of deficiencies: fear and common sense to name but two. She looked at me strangely and said that she had be thinking more along the lines of calcium or vitamin D. In the end, it turned out that his arm wasn’t broken, just badly dented, which didn’t really sound much better to me, but I suppose it made for a change. For some reason, on our way out I felt compelled to shout over to the receptionist like a madwoman that his arm wasn’t properly broken this time. I felt the need to justify as she’d made me feel like a repeat offender. I suppose she might have a point…

Leeks are an extremely rich source of  vitamin K which is surprisingly important for bone health. Mind you, so is avoiding falling off your horse or bike. Vitamin K has repeatedly been shown to help avoid bone fractures. Leeks also contain substantial quantities of vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus and are a rich source of allicin, a sulphur-containing compound with anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Ingredients (serves 6)

45g butter

6 small leeks, rinsed and diced

2 large potatoes, peeling and diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

1 thyme sprig

2 bay leaves

500ml chicken stock  (or vegetable if you prefer)

1 teaspoon paprika

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons crème fraîche

85g mushrooms, sliced

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the leeks, potatoes, garlic, shallots and thyme and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the stock and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Remove the thyme and bay leaves. Blend the soup until smooth and add the crème fraîche. Fry the mushroom in a little butter until golden brown, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add a spoonful of mushrooms to each bowl of soup and serve.

Cream of porcini soup and dog day trips

cepsoup

Immediately following The Ditch Fiasco, Hugo was very solicitous and insisted on staying by my side at all times. This was very sweet, but a bit of a logistical nightmare when it came to showers etc.  After a little while though, the novelty of me not moving anywhere very fast wore off and he began to search for new horizons. Deciding that Luc’s porcini hunts were a poor substitute for long hikes, Hugo took matters into his own paws by organising vigorous ‘sorties’ every morning to our neighbours’ house a kilometre away. This was a sly plan for two reasons: Their cats hadn’t yet eaten their food (which he gallantly saw to) and his coming home either entailed a horse being saddled up to accompany him, or his absolute favourite – a car trip. I’ve managed to curtail the visits for the moment with the promise of short walks and Java’s electric collar. Why is it I seem to specialise in errant, insubordinate animals?

We have had more porcini than ever this year. I think that the combination of a hot Indian Summer and just the right amount of rain have made for ideal growing conditions. Porcini soup sounds very decadent, but less so when you’re finding several kilos a day.

Ingredients (serves 4)

300g fresh porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

30g butter

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 medium size potato, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

10ml white wine

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

750ml chicken or vegetable stock

50ml single cream

Place the mushrooms, butter, shallots and garlic in a large saucepan, heat gently and leave to ‘sweat’ for about five minutes. Add the potato and parsley and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the white wine and seasoning and then the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cream and blend.

Cream of mushroom and spinach soup and Hugo’s take on sterilisation

soup2

HugojournoandJava

Java spent all day yesterday at the vet. Although I had a nice peaceful day, I did miss her, which is a bit like missing a sore paw really. I heard Bossy tell someone that she was being sterilised. I know that she’s inclined to be dirty (Java, not Bossy), because she’s often covered in mud (and sometimes worse), but I didn’t realise that it was that bad. And anyway, once she’s been sterilised, surely she’ll just jump into the river and roll in the mud and be dirty all over again. When she came back last night she was in a very sorry state; I think that the sterilising machine must have slipped or something because she had a big bandage on her tummy. Also, she cried all evening and couldn’t walk properly and had to be carried to bed. I’m not allowed to practise my judo on her or chew her ears for two whole weeks, which makes me wonder what the point of her is. I hope they don’t take me to the vet to be dry-cleaned because I don’t want to end up like that. She seems to be better today, but I’m not: I’m quite exhausted because I had to comfort her all night while everyone else was asleep *exploited doggy sigh*.

Thank you Hugo. I’m sorry that you’re feeling exploited, but it was very kind of you to take care of Java. This soup is packed full of nourishment. The mushrooms provide vitamins D and B complex, as well as minerals such as selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper. The spinach contains high levels of iron, folic acid and calcium as well as vitamins A, C and K. The butter and cream aid absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).

Ingredients (serves 6)

10g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

125g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (I used button mushrooms but you could use any sort)

225g baby spinach leaves

1 litre organic vegetable or chicken stock

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

100ml pouring cream

Gently heat the oil and butter in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes before adding the spinach, stock and seasoning. Simmer for about 15 minutes and purée until smooth. Add the cream, stirring well and serve.

Spicy coral lentil soup and a baguette of dubious provenance

coralllentilsoup

 

hugobaguette

I have been trying to convince myself that when Hugo helped himself to a baguette off the kitchen counter of the friends we were visiting last Sunday, it was his contribution towards dinner; a welcome accompaniment for the soup I’d made. And then I pulled my head out of the sand, removed my rose-tinted glasses and woke up and smelt the coffee: with no end of previous convictions to his name (including the time he stole no fewer than eight baguettes from a friend’s car), he’s nothing but a pathologically incorrigible food pilferer and I couldn’t be more embarrassed.

hugobaguette

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 leeks, washed and sliced

3 cloves of garlic

2 red peppers

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons’ freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon paprika (or piment d’Espelette)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

250g coral lentils

1.5 litres organic vegetable stock

Gently fry the onions, leeks and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Once golden brown, add the peppers, carrots, ginger and seasoning. Then add the lentils and pour the stock over the top. Simmer for 30 minutes and then purée. Serve with crispy baguette, if at all possible free of doggie dribble.

Cream of cauliflower and walnut soup and karmic boomerangs

cauliflowerwalnutsoup

Hugo has fallen victim to the karmic boomerang and he’s not a happy bunny. His great pleasure in September is to run wild in the corn fields lifting pheasant (and anything else that might be in his wake; he’s not fussy).  Of course pheasant and big black monster dogs appearing out of nowhere terrify the horses who carelessly deposit their cargo on the ground and make a run for it, but Hugo doesn’t let this bother him. His latest lifting episode was frenetic enough to cause him what I can only describe as groin strain (I’m assuming that dogs have groins?), poor thing. The good news though is that he’s now housebound for the time being and banned from ‘lifting’, which increases our chances of staying in the saddle for at least the next week or so.

Ingredients

10g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium cauliflower, trimed and broken into pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

3 tablespoons walnuts, broken into pieces

500ml organic vegetable stock

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

30g cream cheese (such as Boursin)

Parsley and chopped walnuts to garnish

Fry the onions in butter and olive oil in a medium casserole. Add the cauliflower, carrots and walnuts and fry gently for a few more minutes. Add the stock and seasoning and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cream cheese and then purée until smooth.