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Simple n’ Sweet Potato Chutney

23 Oct

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This recipe for sweet potato chutney is one of my favourites due to its simplicity and freshness. Great served cold with cheese and crackers or -even better- heated up and with a fried egg after coming home tipsy from the bar.

Try out this sweet potato chutney for your next event/dinner party/hangover cure.

Sweet Potato Chutney

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anchor powder (powdered mango) (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro (to taste)

Combine all ingredients until smooth. Let sit, refrigerated for at least 1-2 hours before serving. This allows the flavours to blend and intensify. The result is tangy, smooth and strangely addictive.

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I made a big batch and it kept really well, at least a week, in the fridge. It is really versatile stuff that can be used to enhance many dishes, sandwiches and snacks. TIP: make sure there is enough lemon juice. It is supposed to be tangy, and a but crunchy from the onion.

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This was a pretty cheese and chutney plate I made for Thanksgiving. The others are mint, and a spicy bottled one that was a gift from The Netherlands with ingredients I could not begin to understand.

Dutch is a weird language.

xo

M

Easy Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

16 Jan

Someone in this apartment does not much care for mushrooms. That being said, he’s been slowly coming around.

So… I decided to push this soup on him.

I loved it. (Too much, too soon?)

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It is really easy and fast with a rich, deep flavour.

Not recommended for those who are shy around mushrooms.

Easy Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup 

Serves 4, total time: approx 20 minutes. Adapted from this recipe from food.com

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 cups (approx) thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small white onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken. I used homemade chicken stock)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice mushrooms, and fry with onions, garlic and butter.  Add wine and Dijon and reduce (approx 5 minutes)
  2. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour.
  3. Add stock and stir frequently until well incorporated and slightly thickened.
  4. Stir in cream with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Add remaining seasonings (salt, pepper, nutmeg, sugar)
  5. Serve hot!

This beats the gloopy sodium bomb that is canned cream of mushroom soup any day. I lightened up the cream quotient by substituting milk, to minimize the January guilt pangs. For a soup that eats like a meal, add a hearty scoop of cooked quinoa.

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Yum!

M

Kensington Market, Carlo’s House of Spice, and my Curried Carrot Coconut Soup

27 Oct

Oh, Toronto.

You aren’t so pretty, all street car tracks and telephone wires, parked cars and concrete.

Noisy and sprawling with expensive taxis, glacial transit and grubby pigeons.

But you’ve got character. For all the shopping malls and chain stores, there is plenty of independent and creative spirit alive and thriving in Toronto

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Perhaps nowhere more so than Kensington Market

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One of my favourite things to do is spend the afternoon poking around, grabbing coffee and eating lunch with someone lovely tucked away somewhere in this neighbourhood.

One of my favourite shops is Carlo’s House of Spice. Because I’m a huge fan of spices! Did you know?

He’s got everything, including personal blends.

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This place is my Mecca.

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I like to go and buy obscure spices I have yet to experiment with. This trip I procured sumac powder, amchur powder (mango powder), curry leaves and fenugreek.

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For vintage shopping

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People watching

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And the obscure,

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Kensington Market always puts me in a good mood.

The last last time I visited Carlo’s, I bought his custom hot madras curry powder. I’ve twice made this curried carrot coconut soup, which was so delicious, healthy and simple, my fave combo.

Great for an appetizer, lunch, or in instances requiring immediate night-vision.

20131027-215551.jpgCurried Carrot and Coconut Soup 

  • 1 big bag/bunch of organic carrots (2 lbs?)
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (of your choice)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat for maximum richness)
  • Appox 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock. Water will do too, in a pinch.
  • salt n’ pepa
  1. Roughly chop carrots, and add to boiling water, peels on. Boil until soft
  2. In the meantime, thinly slice onions and fry in coconut oil until soft translucent over high heat.
  3. Add curry powder and mix. Add 1 tablespoon more oil so spices do not burn. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Drain carrots of water and add stock to the pot. Add onion and spice mixture and coconut milk.
  5. Blend with hand held blender until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Let simmer for about an hour

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This soup was even better he next day, as most soups are. It was hearty, spicy, satisfying, and healthy too!

I can’t wait to experiment more with my growing spice collection, and share it with y’all!

Oh, and if you’re ever in the Market, make sure to check out Carlo’s.

Fun Facts:

Carrots: protect against Cardiovascular Disease, are high in antioxidants and Vitamin A, and are extremely low in calories.

Coconut milk: although high in fat, it is “good” fat, which makes you feel fuller, longer. It is also packed with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is an anti-viral, coconut milk contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, which is quite valuable to the human body. When it enters the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a compound that has antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Onions: the phytochemicals in onions improve the working of Vitamin C in the body, thus gifting you with improved immunity. They also contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar.

What are your favourite new spices to cook with?

 

Classic Chicken-Noodle Soup for the Sneezing Soul

8 Oct

Everyone in the world seems to be sick right now. Including me. I was feeling sorry for myself and craving a hearty bowl of chicken soup. The result was this blog post, and a first for me. This was the first time I’ve made chicken stock from scratch. Ever.  It is a bit time consuming, but if you’re sick at home and have nothing but, why not?

I had a frozen chicken carcass in the freezer from a previous roast that I had been meaning to make a stock out of for ages. I threw it in a pot with some carrots, onions, garlic, celery, rosemary and thyme, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves and simmered for 3 hours ( although I fell asleep watching The Hunger Games and simmered it a bit too vigorously, seriously harming my yield. However, not an entirely futile exercise… I managed to salvage roughly 2 cups worth)

It turned out tasting beautifully.

Stock is great to have on hand, and you can freeze it in cubes and add it to enhance sauces, rice and soups. I’m a convert.

Tip: save on food waste by keeping a ziplock bag of future stock items such as chicken bones and the ends of onions, celery, carrots, root veggies, random garlic cloves and unused herbs in the freezer, and add to it until the next time!

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Part One: Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Peppercorns (about 20)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  •  carcass of a leftover roast chicken
  • Water to cover
  1. Add all items to a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a vigorous boil for about 10 minutes, and then a low simmer for about 3 hours, skimming any fat off the top as needed. Your house will smell amazing the entire time.
  2. Once reduced to about half, cool and filter through a sieve, reserving only the liquid. Discard the rest.
  3. Keep stock in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for indefinite future use.
  4. Congratulate self on becoming Domestic Goddess

Part 2: Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 2 cups condensed chicken stock (homemade or boxed)
  • 2-3 cups water (or per package instructions)
  • 3 chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or whatever you fancy)
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (again, whatever you fancy. Spicy helps with decongestion!
  • Chopped Celery
  • Chopped Carrots
  • 1 cup fusilli ( or egg noodles, or those adorable orzo things)
  • Fresh thyme

1) Sauté celery, carrots and onions until soft with oil
2) Add garlic until fragrant
3) Add water, stock and bring to a boil
4) Add chicken, bay leaves, peppercorns, chili flakes, parsley, salt and pepper and bring to medium simmer for about 15 minutes
5 ) Remove chicken, which should be cooked through, and remove meat from bones. Add chicken meat back to the pot (save bones for future stock!) and add pasta
6) Cook another 6-8 minutes until pasta is almost done and add fresh lemon juice and thyme.

The lemon juice and chili peppers remind me of the soup my mum used to make for me when I was feeling under the weather. Great for colds!

Now cozy up and enjoy while watching a highly anticipated new release (hopefully for you its not This is the End. Way too long)

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OMG I almost forgot. I served this with this awesome sweet potato chutney and crackers. The chutney was dead easy and soo tasty. Tangy, sweet, salty and savory all at once.

Part 3: Sweet Potato Chutney

1 sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pure vanilla powder or mango powder to taste.

Combine. Let sit for 2 hours before serving for best flavour result. I originally made it to accompany some failed samosas. Also fantastic with cheese and crackers.

This is my 50th post on Food, Mostly! A small milestone, in terms of blogging.

Thanks so much for following!

M

Hearty and Spicy Potato Leek Soup

2 Jan

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Christmas and New Years was a whirlwind. From December 23rd to the 2nd of January, my feet barely stepped foot in my own apartment, let alone the kitchen. Today was specifically planned to be a day with no plans. Sleep in, watch some episodes of Misfits (check it out), head to my favourite neighbourhood lunch spot (Zocalo at Bloor and Dundas West) and stock up on some groceries. Scheduling, obligations and rules of any kind were strictly forbidden today. We even skipped yoga.

Pure heaven.

Scott’s parents own a catering business and as a result, we inherited lots of leftover perishables, including  a 10 lb bag of potatoes (!) a 10 lb bag of onions (!!)  and another 10+ lb bag of carrots (!!!). So tonight we made big batches of caramelized onions, carrot ginger soup and potato leek soup.

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The potato leek soup was the stand out winner here (unless eating fork-fulls of pure caramelized onions counts, but it doesn’t). It was the first time I’ve ever made it, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It turned out to be really fast, with great depth of flavour. This recipe is pretty healthy, being free of cream, and yet is still nice and creamy (and also happens to be vegan and gluten free).  So hearty and satisfying!

Spicy Potato Leek Soup

  • 1 large leek, rinsed and finely chopped (white and tender pale green parts only)
  • 8-10 medium sized potatoes (lost count, sorry)
  • 1 medium sized white onion, sliced finely
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Water (about 6 cups, or just enough to cover the potatoes in a large pot)
  • 1 cube vegetarian bouillon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh pressed olive oil
  • 2.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • black pepper to taste
  1. Wash and chop potatoes into medium sized cubes and add to large pot. Fill pot with water just to cover and bring to a boil
  2. Add bay leaves, veggie stock and salt to water. Boil until potatoes are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, in frying pan,  sauté leeks with garlic, onion and white wine until browned, soft and fragrant.
  4. When potatoes are cooked, add leeks, garlic and onion to pot with potatoes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves, and puree mixture until creamy and well incorporated.
  6. Add almond milk (can also use regular dairy)  until desired consistency is reached. Add olive oil and blend well.
  7. Add parsley, black pepper and hot pepper flakes.
  8. Heat gently (do not boil) for a few more minutes, until heated through.
  9. Garnish with caramelized onions, croutons, cheese, or all of the above!

I picked up a spice mixture of peperoncino, aglio (garlic) and Italian parsley (prezzemolo) in a Roman market during my recent foray to Italy, and threw it in at the last minute. I’m glad I did, as the hot peppers added a nice, subtle kick and the parsley some colour. It really enhanced the recipe!

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Tell me, what would you do with 10 lbs of potatoes?? (I’m asking because… there are still quite a few left over)

Carrot Soup with Black Garlic and Feta

9 Nov

I have a million photos of food from Italy. It was such an amazing, inspiring trip. If you are at all interested in food and wine, head to the Terra Madre conference in 2014. Book it now. Just go.

Carpaccio, pizza, fried artichokes, fresh green olive oil, gnocchi, spicy  goat stew and cheese cheese cheese!

I will tide you over with an appetizer, I mean a  primi, until I get these essays done am able to try out and share some true Italian  recipes.

Until then, why not start off with a delicious soup?

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This soup was easy to make, and perfect for a cold fall day. I finally tested out that black garlic I picked up on Granville Island in Vancouver, which was exciting indeed!

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Black Garlic is essentially fermented, caramelized garlic. It looks just like regular garlic, but the cloves are jet black, sweet and sticky. The flavour is phenomenal.

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I topped the soup with a drizzle of black truffle oil, a generous amount of feta cheese and arugula.

Perfetto!

Carrot Soup with Black Garlic and Feta

  • 10 fresh carrots (approx)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (or chicken)
  • 5 cloves black garlic (or half a head)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • truffle oil (to taste. Go slow. It is strong)
  • salt and fresh black pepper
  1. Wash and chop carrots ( I didn’t bother peeling them…nutrients are in the skin, non?) and boil them in salted water until soft
  2. Meanwhile, fry onion in butter and white wine until brown. Add the wine over time, in quarters, so that the onions brown well. Reduce heat, add turmeric an mix well with the onions.
  3. Drain the carrots, and return to large pot. Add the onions, garlic and stock. Blend well with hand blender until smooth.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer for 30 minutes (or more)
  5. Once served, add 1/2 cup of feta cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil.

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If you don’t have black garlic, not to worry. The regular stuff will work just as well, but maybe use only three cloves instead of five, unless you find vampires absolutely terrifying.

A Graceful End to Summer, Spicy Corn Chowder with Shrimp and Bacon

17 Sep

The Queen West Art Crawl happened today, where local artists showcase their wares in Trinity Bellwoods park. It could not have been more perfect September afternoon in Toronto, sunny, clear, and 24°.

We chose to not only participate in an art crawl, but a self possessed food crawl as well. Because it is corn season, a buttery cob could not be passed up (and yes, the above vat of boiling goodness  is pure butter, or so they said)

Lemon pepper, salt, cayenne. Too many choices.

Food trucks are finally taking off in Toronto, but mostly only at sanctioned events. Despite being an amazing city for food, T.O severely lacks in any sort of  street eats other than burgers and hot dogs. New York puts us to shame (naturally), but I’ve recently discovered Vancouver does too (gasp!)

The blue truck is a cupcake truck. Not really my thing, but cute nonetheless!

We decided to try some tacos at Gourmet Bitches (or temruoG sehctiB, as the lettering on the truck states). It is a taco truck run by hot bitches in Van Halen tee-shirts. I dig the aesthetic.

Totally intrigued, we ordered the Bitchen’ Beef, described as Hibiscus vanilla bean beef (?!) with fresh tomato salsa and green onions.

$10 was a little steep, these were pretty tiny. The vanilla bean was present but subtle, and they had a nice heat. The hibiscus however, was lost on me.

Yum.

We then walked West along Queen, heading up to the Polish Street Festival on Roncesvalles. Why not, right??  We  ate meatballs with fried peppers and onions and salmon cakes with tartar sauce. Both were delicious, but the salmon from De La Mer Fresh Fish Market was outstanding.

(P.s. the distance from the Art Crawl to the Polish Festival was significant enough to warrant multiple snacks)

There was also fresh corn roasting going on there, which inspired me for dinner- Can you say, Chow-dah??

‘ I picked up five fresh ears on the way home.

Spicy Corn Chowder with Shrimp

Freakin’ Delicious.

Recipe inspired by Bev Cooks

  • Bacon, 3 slices, cooked crispy and chopped
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled
  • 3 cobs of fresh sweet corn
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp (ish) cayenne
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • course salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  1.  In large pot, boil corn on cob in salted water for approx 10 minutes and set aside
  2. In small pan, fry bacon. While bacon is frying, prep veggies, garlic and shrimp
  3. Remove bacon once crispy and set aside.  Fry shrimp in pan with bacon fat for about 4 minutes. Toss and cook another minute until shrimp are opaque (do not over cook), and set aside.
  4. Saute onions, red pepper and celery in same pan (if desired) until onions are well cooked. Add garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and cayenne and turn heat to medium low. Add small amount of water to pan if it starts to get too dry.
  5. Cut cooked corn from the cob to produce kernels, and saute with veggies and spices.
  6. In medium pot, bring chicken stock to a simmer.
  7. Add 1/3 of veggie and corn mixture from pan to the pot with stock and add sour cream. With hand held blender, emulsify until smooth (does not have to be perfect)
  8. Add shrimp, 2/3 of the bacon, and remainder of the corn and veggies. Add basil.
  9. Serve in bowls and garnish with dollop of sour cream, black pepper, more basil and bacon.

The bacon with paprika added smoky saltiness to the sweetness of the corn and shrimp, and the basil added freshness and depth.

Great flavours, pretty, and also, very filling.This eats like a meal!

A new favourite to be sure.

Immy May

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