Posts in soup
BIT OF A TREAT!
Watermelon & Tomato Gazpacho

Watermelon & Tomato Gazpacho

I was in Manhattan last week for a mind-blowingly-fabulous wedding in Brooklyn! The weather was blisteringly hot and The Liberty Warehouse on Pier 41 in the historic shipping yards of Red Hook, Brooklyn where the wedding, the feasting and the dancing took place was something else with the Statue of Liberty looking on and Manhattan in the background - very, very special indeed!

Of course, there was a fair amount of eating and drinking throughout the week with great friends - plus lots of new friends!

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Two that I should mention: ABC Kitchen - everything our server, George suggested was superb (there was a lot of oohing and aahing going on). And yes, the salted caramel ice cream, chocolate sauce and popcorn was everything that past reviewers of the restaurant have raved about!

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The Empire Diner at 210 10th Ave (corner of 22nd Street) where ‘he and me’ had a late brunch (pastrami on rye for himself, avocado toast and a really-spicy Bloody Mary for me). But it’s really more about the place which apparently has closed and opened over the years but locals keep coming back! It is a beautiful and fabulously-art deco space where you just kind of want to sit around and enjoy for hours!

However… you might be wondering where the soup in the intro pic came from? Well, as I mentioned, it was blisteringly hot and somehow or other the conversation moved onto chilled soups one lunchtime and I was reliably-informed by a number of NYC residents that there are a number of restaurants and diners that do a brilliant Watermelon & Tomato Gazpacho when the weather is unbearably hot and it is said that there is nothing like it to cool you down. I didn’t get a chance to partake but blow-me-down, when we arrived back in Glasgow, the weather was magnificent so I gave it a try and it was a bit of a triumph! Thanks to Mark Bittman, the widely respected food writer for the bones of this recipe in one of his very many New York Times columns. Here’s it is…

'WARM NOT HOT' IF YOU PLEASE!
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You know how when you are in a rush and happen upon ‘certain coffee establishments’ (that are not your usual haunts) and your coffee is simply way too damned hot and you have to take the lid off and dear alone know what happens next when you don’t have some sort of ‘cover’ to contain the possibly-ensuing drama?

Same goes for take-away soups in my experience! Not all (but too many in my book!) Surely we don’t want to have to ‘blow’ on every spoonful? Lunch hour could easily be over before we’re done!

I imagine it all comes down to the setting on the microwave and the fear of ingredients not being properly heated through (and someone getting sick or worse!) I often microwave my own homemade soups and each soup is so very different - clear, noodle-y types are reheated in a jiffy, vegetable-y, bean-y, lentil-y ones take a little longer and the meat-y, vegetabl-y broths can take an age (generally, you are better to just put them in a pan on a medium heat until the soup comes (just) to the boil and then simmer gently until you are ready to dive in!

Or perhaps, those ‘soup cups’ don’t lend themselves to ‘cooling down quickly’! My advice is to look for a mobile caravan which still has ‘the soup of the day’ in big soup kettles where the staff are way more in control of the temperature of the soup - just saying!.

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One I am particularly fond of and follow is Union Genius of Edinburgh. They are quite a bunch - offering you a truly great lunch (soup is the main player) and maintaining their ethical approach to cooking and providing - have a look at their website - it’s inspiring….



DON'T YOU JUST LOVE A NOODLE?
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I suppose it goes way back to those slippery, little noodles in Knorr’s Chicken Noodle Soup? I don’t think I have ever come across a single person who was growing up in the 60’s who didn’t delight in that deliciously-lovely ‘powdered’ soup that only needed some water to make it come alive - with oodles of noodles!

Sadly, I have just had a look at the ingredients and they weren’t really proper noodles at all! Maltodextrin, EGG pasta [durum WHEAT semolina, dried EGG white, dried EGG yolk] (23%), potato starch, salt, flavourings (contain EGG, WHEAT, BARLEY), chicken (2.5%), sugar, chicken fat (2.5%), onion powder, yeast extract, citric acid, turmeric, parsley, antioxidant (extracts of rosemary). Oh well, didn’t seem to do us too much harm and perhaps gave us a taste of just why noodles are the business (especially in soups)!

It is hard to put into words just how utterly delicious my Thai Prawn Noodle Soup is … as I say in the intro, it is all about the spice paste right at the offset. I use one of those little spice-grinders and it makes light work of the process and your soup can be ready in less than half an hour!

Instead of the prawns, you can substitute cooked and shredded chicken or duck, strips of salmon, cubes of tofu or just a few diced spring onions, spinach or bok choy.

SPICING THINGS UP A BIT!
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You know those cookbooks that ask anybody and everybody in the surrounding area to donate their favourite and ‘best kept secret’ recipes to be included to make some dosh for a chosen charity? Well, I am a sucker for them all - you just know that Mrs S from Bonnyrigg or Mrs T from Borehamwood are simply not going to pitch in something they are not quite sure of, and, you often get loads of those ones entitled: ‘My Gran’s Best Ever Fruit Scones’ or ‘My Nan’s Fabulous Venison Stew’.

Oh yes, I am right there with my wallet and supporting the said charity! And one in particular I have to mention is a Canadian project called Fare for Friends which was in aid of a refuge for abused women in Ontario which one of my very dear friends, Chrissie, gave me over 30 years ago when she was living in Canada. There are at least 20 or more recipes in this little book that I cook on a regular basis (I think ‘Eleanor’s Egg Caviar’ and ‘Bacon Stuffed Avocados’ may well have appeared in one or more of my books!)

And here is one - Curried Broccoli Soup - the lady who donated the recipe (no name, sadly) thought it was a perfect start to a dinner party but I just make it whenever I have a rather large bunch of broccoli lurking in the fridge or broccoli screams at me from the veg section!

I have explained about the saturated fat content in the pdf of the recipe but please don’t judge me too harshly when I go for the full fat version - it is only occasionally and it is so good!

CHICKEN SOUP FOR COLDS AND FLU?
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No, not this time - I want to talk about Miso Soup, often forgotten when we need a bit of a pick-me-up when the weather is cold, damp and unforgiving and particularly when it comes to attracting the odd virus that is doing the rounds!

This recipe is from the Planet Organic Cookbook which was published way back in 2000 (think it may, sadly be no longer available but seek it out and you may be lucky) and created by Renee Elliot and Eric Treuille (he of Books for Cooks in Notting Hill fame). What a shop, what an experience and I am proud to say that he once stocked my Soup Cookbook - and - displayed it in the window!

The secret for selecting miso for soups is that red miso is thicker and saltier and is traditionally used in winter soups and white miso is more delicate and sweeter and is preferred for lighter, summer soups. I think you will find that red miso is the one for the job here, but it’s up to you.

JUST BACK FROM PORTUGAL!
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I may have mentioned (on more than one occasion!) that the Portuguese LOVE their soups AND they are many and varied!

One that I am particularly partial to is Caldo Verde and I just happened to pop into Casa do Ze on the front in the beautiful town of Lagos for a bowl …. and it was quite delicious! I didn’t manage to extract the recipe from the ‘mama’ who does the cooking in the ridiculously-small kitchen at the back of the restaurant but I have made it before using Carolina Martin’s recipe on her My Portuguese Mother blog which is always a triumph!

Some use collard greens instead of kale but I am not a fan - the kale seriously adds a lovely peppery taste that you simply don’t get from the collards and kale is available in most supermarkets and farmer’s markets so it is easy to find. Just remember to go for the kale leaves (not the ready-sliced bags) and remove the tough stalks, opt for a waxy potato and ensure the chorizo is not the super-spicy variety!

ENJOY!

HOW ARE YOUR BONES BEARING UP?
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I LOVE SARDINES! It’s not just because I discovered in my later years that they are incredibly good for my bones (once I started training to become a nutritional therapist, you understand), I have always loved the salty, fishy taste - I love anchovies too btw!

Mashed up, tinned sardines (in oil, not in brine or in tomato sauce, please) on toast are the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of greener than green soup for a quick lunch. OR - if you have been lucky enough to pass through Portugal and have a few tins of sardine paste lurking your fridge, you are in luck!

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The Portuguese are more than a little obsessive about these ‘silver darlings’ but only from late June to September when they are ‘fat’. The rest of the time they will opt for the canned versions when they know that they were harvested and canned during the peak season.

One of my ‘sardine-obsessive’ Portuguese pals tells me that the only way to eat sardines during the season is in a restaurant with a sympathetic chef that grills them on the barbecue, serves only two at a time (and keeps them coming) and as it is a gloriously-messy affair, you should be wearing an old t-shirt and shorts that you can sling in the washing machine after a fabulously-indulgent lunch! Hard to argue with that I reckon!

I offer many ‘greener than green’ soups on my souperydupery website but I am particularly keen on my Pea, Mint & Lettuce Soup alongside sardines on toast - a worthy contender! Loads of fabulous vitamins and minerals in that combo - and let’s not forget the vitamin D for our bones, our heart health, our mental acuity and the rest from the sardines..…

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