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Roasted Squash & Apple Soup with Goat’s Cheese & Bacon

roasted squash & apple soup by The Culinary ChaseSoup. It needs no explanation – everyone knows what it is and it’s been around for a millennia.  There are so many variations.  I love the combination of vegetables and fruit.  There’s something so opposite about the two that you’d think there’s no way they belong together in the same pot…but trust me, the two are a marriage made in heaven.  Throw in some cheese and bacon and you’ll be singing hallelujah! The idea of roasting squash with apples may sound a bit odd but fondly enough they end up being best mates.  Granny Smith apples are tart but when roasted the apples become sweeter as does the squash.  Top this with the distinctive flavor from goat’s cheese and smoky accents from the bacon, it’s a soup that will have you coming back for more.

Serves 4
adapted from What Katie Ate

1kg squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into small chunks
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons sage powder
olive oil
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into small chunks
8 strips bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5 cups chicken stock
120g goat’s cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350f and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Place the squash, cumin, sage and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl and season, then toss to combine. Place onto the tray, arrange in a single layer and roast 15 minutes. Add apple and cook for a further 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat add bacon and cook. Set aside to drain on paper towel.
4. Clean out the same pan and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and cook until softened.
5. Transfer the squash mixture to a large saucepan along with 2 cups of stock and half the cheese. Use an immersion hand blender and whiz until smooth. Add remaining stock to pan and heat until hot.
6. To serve, top soup with bacon and remaining goat’s cheese.  Season to taste.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: I used 4 cups of broth as I like my soups hearty and thick.  Enjoy!

Carrot Soup with Feta and Quinoa

carrot soup with feta & quinoaWhen it’s cold outside there’s nothing more comforting and warming than homemade soup.  Soup, by the way, doesn’t need to be arduous nor does it need to take a long time to make to taste good. Carrot soup with feta and quinoa should make you take notice as this isn’t something ordinary but downright scrumptious! The crunchy chewy texture coming from the quinoa not only adds substance but will keep you feeling satiated longer (always a good thing when trying to stick to those new year’s resolutions!).  Carrots have a host of nutritional health benefits:  helps to cleanse the liver, improves vision, reduces the risk of cancer, anti-aging, and healthy skin to name a few.  This soup can be ready in 30 minutes.

Serves 4
adapted by Gourmet Traveller

2 1/2 lb (1.2 kg) carrots, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
300g Greek feta, coarsely crumbled
handful of coarsely chopped mint and flat-leaf parsley
extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

carrots by The Culinary Chase1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until tender. Add carrots, cumin, paprika and lemon rind.  Stir occasionally until carrot softens. Add stock and 2 1/2 cups boiling water, season to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until well-flavored.
2. Cook quinoa in a saucepan of boiling water until tender (10-12 minutes), then drain and set aside in a bowl.
3. Remove soup from heat, add lemon juice and half the feta, process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Top with quinoa, scatter with herbs and remaining feta, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Use a food processor with a grater attachment to speed up the grating process.  *You may need to add more water if soup is too thick.  With so many flavors and textures, this recipe is a keeper.  Enjoy!

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Garam Masala Cream

carrot & sweet potato soup by The Culinary ChaseSo, it’s your turn to provide food for your book club but you are short on time and ingredients. What to serve? This carrot and sweet potato soup is thick enough to satisfy any hunger pains. Add to it a side of warmed naan bread and pair with a chilled bottle of white wine.  Garam masala is an Indian blend of ground spices and typically includes black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, coriander and cardamom.  Garam masala is usually found in the international section of your grocery store.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from Ripe

¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup onion, chopped
4-6 carrots, roughly chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ teaspoon garam masala
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt, plus additional to garnish

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, sweet potatoes, salt and pepper, and ½ teaspoon garam masala. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the stock and 1 cup cold water and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Purée soup using an immersion blender. Or let soup to cool slightly and then purée in batches in a blender. Return soup to pot. Add lime juice, to taste. Taste and season with salt and pepper (if needed).
4. Mix sour cream or yogurt and remaining ¼ teaspoon garam masala in a small bowl. Swirl into the soup. Serve hot, garnished with additional sour cream or yogurt (optional).

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Soup’s on in 30 minutes!

Gazpacho

gazpachoIt’s funny how conversations get replayed in your head.  I was just thinking now about one I had a couple of months ago with my daughter, Laura.  She asked me if I liked her at this age (20) or when she was younger.  I paused, thought about what she asked, and said that I enjoy this moment in time just as much as before…they’re just different stages in our lives.  She smiled and hugged me.   I spoke to Jason, my son, yesterday and talked about how he was liking his new home, work etc. and of course how the cooking aspect of it was going.   He told me he loves to cook so that’s not an issue.  Jason was always eager to help out in the kitchen while Laura was keen to eat!  They’re two different people (thank goodness) and since Laura has been in an apartment for the past two years (university life), things have changed and she now calls me to ask how to cook this or prepare that.  It makes my heart sigh when I hear they tried a recipe from my food blog and had success.  They know how much I encourage them to eat a sensible diet and hope that this recipe is one they’ll try, too. This Spanish liquid salad is perfect when it’s too hot to cook. Gazpacho originated in the south of Spain and was food for peasants and shepherds.  Packed with vitamins and minerals, it’s a perfect way to incorporate veggies into your diet.

Serves 2

1 cup English cucumber, chopped
1 yellow pepper or red, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
14 oz. can Italian finely chopped tomatoes
1 large heirloom tomato, coarsely chopped
1 avocado, chopped (bite-size pieces)
1 can (10 oz.) tomato juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
handful cilantro, chopped
1 garlic, minced
Tabasco sauce (to your liking)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

gazpacho ingredientsIn a large bowl, add ingredients and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning and add more liquid (water or tomato juice) if too thick.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
If you like, once the soup is combined you can remove half of it and purée, then pour this back into the chunky soup.  Make sure the gazpacho is well-chilled.  Enjoy!

Chickpea Soup with Sweet Potato and Feta Crostini

Don’t you love a good soup?  I sure do and more so when there’s less time making it.  This is Yvette Van Boven’s second book – a follow up to her popular cookbook, Homemade.  Homemade Winter is full of hearty, body-warming dishes sure to satisfy the biggest of big appetites.  I adore her illustrations and hand written notes along with mouth-watering photography…it makes me want to eat the page!  Ok, enough gushing about the book my son gave me for Christmas.  This recipe is so simple, easy to prepare and nutritionally hits all the buttons!   Sweet potatoes don’t take long to prepare and are an excellent source of vitamin A, good source of vitamin C and manganese (keeps bones strong and healthy).

Serves 4
adapted from Home Made Winter

2 leeks, white and light green parts, washed and cut in to rings
1 teaspoon butter
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 baguette
1/3 cup crème fraîche  (or use sour cream in a pinch)
3 1/2 oz. (100g) feta cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, cook leeks in the butter until soft.  Add sweet potatoes and thyme and stir well.  Stir in the broth and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Add chickpeas and heat for another 5 minutes.  Use the back of a spoon to smash the sweet potatoes against the sides of the pot to thicken the soup.

Preheat broiler.  Cut baguette into slices and spread them with a bit of crème fraîche.  Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, crumble with feta on top, and place under the broiler until golden brown.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Soup’s on, let’s eat!  Enjoy!