Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hot and Cold food for cold and hot days.

Today I am giving you choices, some soups that can be chilled, some that can be eaten hot or cold, and some warming ones.
(Note: Cold soups have less flavour than when served hot, so add more seasoning and herbs than you would do if serving a similar soup hot.
The quickest Chilled Soup ever: serves four
1 pack (about 10 oz/275g) frozen vegetables (green beans, peas or carrots etc)
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
1 shallot or large spring onion
3 sprigs parsley (remove stems)
seasoning: sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut any large frozen vegetables into chunks and put in a blender with the rest of the ingredients except seasoning. Whizz until pureed, season well to taste.

Hot or Cold Tomato Soup : serves four
4 cups beef stock
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 shot of white vermouth or vodka
8 parsley sprigs (without stems)
zest of 1 large lemon (variation - use zest of an orange)
Bring the stock to a boil and simmer for five minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further five minutes. Put into a blender and puree. Serve hot, or chill to serve cold.

Hot or Cold Squashy Soup: serves four
2 oz (50g) butter
6 courgettes or half a butternut squash
1 shallot, chopped
1 3/4 pints (1 lt) chicken stock
4 springs of parsley, stems removed
paprika pepper
Put the butter in a pan over low heat, add the shallot and cook until softened. Cut the courgettes into thick slices (or peel the butternut and cut into cubes), and add to the pan. Stir for a few minutes then add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Puree in a blemder, season with paprika to taste.

No need to season Celery and Almond Soup: serves four
1 1/4 pints (725ml) home-made chicken stock
1 head of celery, using about 12 of the inner, paler stalks
20 whole almonds with skins
Heat the stock and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove any strings from the celery and cut into small pieces, and add to the stock. Simmer for about 8 minutes until softened. Pour into a blender and whizz until creamy then add the almonds and whizz again until they are coarsely chopped. Serve hot.
(Note: Home-made chicken stock should be full of flavour, stock cubes are too salty. Almonds eaten with their skins are said to be very beneficial to health).

Cucumber and Cream Soup: serves two to four helpings
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 large or 2 small gherkins, chopped
juice of 1 large lemon
3 tblsp grated onion
6 fl oz (15 - 30 cl)
salt and pepper
1 tblsp chopped dill
Remove some thin slices from the cucumber to use as garnish, and roughly chop the rest. Put the chopped cucumber into a blender with the gherkins, lemon juice and onion. Whizz until smooth, pour into a chilled tureen, stir in the cream, season to taste, add the dill if using. Garnish with cucumber slices and serve chilled.
Just for One Soup: serves one
2 tomatoes
1 tblsp each lemon juice and olive oil
pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh herbs, finely chopped, for garnish
Put the ingredients into a blender, and fast blend for 2 minutes. Serve chilled with a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

And - if you are really in a costcutting mood, try this traditional Italian soup!
Zuppa Mituna: serves 6
10 oz (300g) stale home-made bread, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, halved
4 pints (2 litres) chicken or beef stock
2 tblsp chopped parsley
Put the bread on a baking sheet and dry out thoroughly in an oven heated to 180C/350C/gas4. Meanwhile heat the stock. When the bread has dried out, rub each slice with the garlic cloves and put into an ovenproof tureen or deep casserole. Pour over the hot stock a little at a time so that it is absorbed by the bread. Put back into a hot oven (200C/400F/gas 5 for 10 - 15 minutes. By then the top should be browned. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.
Tip: use up odds and ends of hard cheese, grate and put on the bread before pouring over the stock.

...or this Portuguese version
Acorda Alentejana: serves 6 - 8
8 oz (250g) dry bread, broken into pieces
1 spring coriander (or herb of your choice)
3 - 4 garlic cloves
pinch salt
3 tblsp olive oil
4 pints (2 litres) boiling water
Pound together (or blitz in a small processor) the coriander, garlic and salt. Put into a bowl and add the oil. Mix well the pour in the boiling water and add the bread. Mix together until smooth.
This soup is often served with grilled fresh sardines.

For my final offering (I've given a more concise method, she does go on a bit- look who's talking!):
Hannah Glasse's delicious Onion Soup: serves 4 - 6
8 large onions, chopped
6 oz (175g) butter
2 tblsp flour
2 - 3 pints (1 - 1.5 ltrs) boiling water
4 oz (110g) stale bread, crumbed
pinch salt
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vinegar
Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onions and fry gently for about 15 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions. Cook for a further 3 minutes then add the boiling water, stir to blend and thicken, then add the bread. Season with salt to taste (pepper if you wish). Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the vinegar, add a little of the soup to this mixture then add to the hot soup and mix well. Pour into a heated tureen and serve.