Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Selection of Soups and other Recipes

With winter crawling ever nearer, today I am offering up a few soup recipes, especially those that can be made with those veggies that need to be used up. As with many soup recipes, use the ingredients as a guide and add or subtract according to what you have. It may not end up tasting as it should, but often it could taste better.
A tip: always read through a method first as often half measures are used at the start of making, and by not reading carefully it is so easy to throw in the full amount before the error is discovered. This I have done myself (often), so now I am much more careful. I have highlighted the 'half' in bold this time to bring it to your attention. Ever after, you are on your own.
First I start with the classic Chicken Soup - known as the 'Jewish Penicillin', in this instance made with fresh chicken (it could be an old boiler), although the carcase of a roast chicken could be used instead - with perhaps less curative effect. It freezes beautifully, so worth making plenty ready for the winter sniffles. And yes, it does take some time to make, and of course you could shorten this, but to get the most nutrition from the ingredients, do it the correct way.

Chicken Soup: makes 6 helpings (F)
1 chicken
1 leek, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 small swede or turnip, chopped
2 tblsp mixed fresh herbs, chopped
5 1/2 pints water (3.15 litres)*
salt and pepper
Joint up the chicken and place in a large pan with the water* (freeze the carcase to make the next batch along with some chicken winglets). Cover, and simmer very gently for ten minutes, checking every few minutes to skim off any scum that may have arisen. Add the chopped herbs and all the vegetables except the carrots. Continue to simmer, for an hour and a half. Again skimming as and when necessary.
Using a slotted spoon, take out the chicken and pull the flesh from the bones. Put this into a container, cover and chill overnight. Cover the soup and simmer for a further half an hour, then remove the vegetables (at this point I see no reason why they couldn't be blended with a little of the stock to make a soup for that day). Cool the stock and chill overnight. The next day remove any fat that has settled on the top (use this for frying - Beloved also likes it on toast sprinkled with salt). Put the stock back into the pot, add the carrots and simmer until they are tender. Cut the pre-cooked chicken into pieces and add these. Season to taste and serve.
(Traditionally fresh or frozen peas and some small pasta (vermicelli) are added towards the end of the cooking time.) Said to be even better eaten the day after making.
Note: * If you have no pan large enough, use less water and half dilute the stock/soup with more water when it comes to serving or reheating.

This next soup makes good use of parsnips which need using up. Only core the top half if the parsnips are old and woody, the thinner end should cook through well enough. For an economy version, using your finest grater, use up those oddments of hard cheese you may have in your fridge. In fact keep the oddments especially for this purpose.
Roast Parsnip and Cheese Soup: serves 5 - 6 (F)
1 lb (450g) parsnips peeled and quartered
2 oz (50g) grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
2 tblsp olive oil
1 oz (25g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tblsp plain flour
2 pints (1.2 litrs) chicken stock
salt and pepper
4 tblsp double cream
Cook the parsnips in salted water for 4 minutes. Drain and sprinkle over half the cheese. Put a roasting tin on the hob, put in the oil and butter, and when hot place in the parsnips, turn in the oil and place in an oven 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40-45 minutes, basting several times. When roasted, remove parsnips with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the buttery oil from the pan into a frying pan and use this to saute the onion. When soft, stir in the flour, cook for one minute then stir in the stock until it begins to thicken. Add the parsnips, and boil for ten minutes. Cool slightly then puree in a blender, food processor, or push through a sieve (chill and freeze at this point). Stir in the remaining half of the cheese, reheat, season to taste and serve in individual bowls with a swirl of cream.

This next is a great one to use up a white cabbage which can often go a bit brown and sorry around the edges, just trim off the bits and you will surely find something inside that can be used. Hard white cabbage is so inexpensive and keeps for quite some time in the fridge, it is always worth having some in store. Don't discard the core, grate it up and add to the soup.
Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup: serves 3
half a small white cabbage, finely shredded
1 1/2 pints vegetable or chicken stock
5 fl.oz (15cl) tomato juice or canned tomatoes
2 apples, peeled and grated
1 onion, grated
2 tblsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
Put the stock and tomato juice into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the cabbage, apples and onion, cover and simmer gently for half an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and just before serving stir in the lemon juice and sugar to taste.

My final soup today is made with mushrooms and lettuce (the core end will do), both often left wilting in the fridge. So don't throw in the bin, throw in the pan.
Mushroom and Lettuce Soup: serves 4
3 oz (75g) mushrooms, diced
5 oz (150g) lettuce, cut into 1" (2.5cm) chunks
1 tblsp sunflower or corn oil
1 1/2 pints (3/4 litre) water
Put the oil into a pan and stir-fry the mushrooms until they begin to soften. Add the lettuce and stir-fry for 2 more minutes. Add water and bring to the simmer. Cook uncovered until the lettuce is soft. Add salt to taste and serve hot.
Note: Based on a Chinese vegetarian soup, make it more traditional by adding 2 oz (50g) soaked cellophane noodles to the soup. If not vegetarian, throw in a few cooked prawns as well. Sweetcorn too if you want to make a meal of it.