Posts in soup toppings
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….



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!

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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Let's Lace It With Brandy!
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I remember people used to make French Onion Soup as part of a dinner party menu - it was terribly ‘in’ in the 60s, egged on no doubt by Robert Carrier, the showman chef ‘that launched a million dinner parties’! Difficult to imagine how the dinner guests got through the remainder of the courses - it’s a darned good soup when it is made with loving care and attention but boy, is it filling!

This Onion Soup Gratinée is taken from Margaret Costa’s masterful Four Seasons Cookbook. A mighty tome but the millions of Margaret Costa fans around the world simply couldn’t live without this book - it is a true classic.

This is one of her very many inspirational quotes. “Fine cooking is as different from day-to-day meal-providing as delicate embroidery is from darning socks - but not so difficult. It doesn’t demand a very high degree of skill and expertise - except, perhaps in the highest reaches of the confectioner’s art - but it needs enthusiasm and imagination, time, patience and practice. To set aside a few leisure hours each week in which to enjoy cooking, to prepare an interesting new dish or bake an unusual cake with all the care it deserves, will reward you as this sort of loving care always does, and it will improve your everyday cooking out of all recognition”.

THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR A CHICK PEA SOUP!
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The fabulous chick pea! 15g of protein, 45 g of carbohydrate, 13g of dietary fibre, 4g of good fats and a whole load of minerals per 150g so this soup is a veritable monster of goodness!

Yet again I am trawling through my cookbooks and if you like a soup that you can pretty much stand your soup spoon in and take to work in a wide-necked flask and ensure that you get the very best nutritiously superb lunch, it could well be this one!

I only have one book from the pen of the brilliant Amanda Grant called Lunchbox but it is well-thumbed and I have been making her soups (and best-ever combination of ingredients in her sandwiches on everything from rye to sour dough to foccacias to pittas and the rest) since it arrived in my cookbook collection in 1999.

I haven’t made her Italian Chick Pea Soup for a while but as the weather is a bit nippy right now in Scotland it won’t be long I can assure you! And, even the corner shop has most of the ingredients so it is a no-brainer to pick them up at the end of the day and rustle this soup together in super-quick time…

More Pesto Please!
MINESTRONE SOUP

MINESTRONE SOUP

A really good spoonful added to Minestrone, fantastic on sour dough toast with ripe tomatoes, alongside steamed vegetables or perhaps sneaked into a baked potatoes, stirred through pasta at the very last minute or maybe just spooned straight from the jar - it’s has got to be said - pesto is kind of addictive!

But have you made pesto with oil that is rich in essential fatty acids? An oil that enriches our food while delivering the superb qualities of the much-needed EFA’s for our health and wellbeing and has had no damaging heat treatment at all?

I like Udo’s Oil, 3*6*9 Blend but there are others on the shelves - try avoid the ones in plastic bottles (they tend to be cheaper but they are not so pure).

I am struggling to remember where this pesto recipe came from but I think it had something to do with Udo Erasmus (what a great name!) whilst I was studying nutrition and his ground-breaking research into Omega 3’s BUT I do know it is really good, particularly when it is straight out the blender and slung in a devil-may-care fashion on top of my minestrone soup!