Kumara & Coconut cream soup

soupThe weather is foul, with a cold blustery wind whipping about the house, the ideal dinner tonight is soup. A hearty warming one.  I made this one up so it is an ‘add a bit of this and that’ kind of soup.  You can’t go wrong whatever you do.  I was making it for a crowd so this made a big pot.  Serve it with lovely crusty bread rolls.

3 large kumara, chopped into medium size pieces (a mix of pumpkin and kumara would be good too)

3 large onion – chopped and diced

3 cloves of garlic – chopped finely

Stock (any sort but chicken or veggie is best) – start with 2 cups but you might want more depending on how thick you like our soup – or water if you want.

1 can coconut cream  – light would be fine too

oil and butter – dashes of both

2 bay leaves

Cumin seeds both whole and ground – be generous

A couple of tablespoons of the spice paste of your choice

More of a guide than a recipe. Melt the butter and oil in a big pot. Add the onions and garlic and spice paste. When they are all melty and caramelised, add the cumin seed and bay leaves, add a little more oil and add the diced kumara and cook, stirring occasionally until it just starts to cook a little bit.  When the kumara is softish, stir in the ground cumin, add the stock, cover with a lid and let it all just bubble away for a goodly time. Taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Add water if you need to. Add more spice if you need to.  When the veg is all soft use a stick blender and wizz till smooth.  Add coconut cream and stir in.  Serve with some lovely bread.




Chicken and dumpling soup – its good for the soul

I had an earache.  It was the weirdest feeling, it was in both ears and I felt all woolly. Seemed like a chicken soup night to me.  I’m always going to prefer Asian flavours in this circumstance so I made this up on the spot. That makes it more of a method rather than an actual recipe and you will have to do lots of adjustment to taste as you go, and just before serving adding anything you think will help the flavour – go mad, go crazy add as much or as little as you want.


The key ingredient is the dumplings, I buy them frozen from Countdown, I’m sure you can get them other places.  You can panfry them for Gyoza but I love them in soup.  Go check out the frozen food cabinets.

As soon as you decide to make this go out to your freezer and get some of these yummy dumplings (or gyoza) and cook them in the microwave according to the instructions on the packet.  They will cook a bit in the soup but you don’t want them to go all manky and soggy and fall to pieces.

Put about a litre of chicken stock into a pot and begin to heat it up. (You have the option of defrosting your carefully pre prepared chicken stock or using a litre container that you bought – try to get a low salt one because there is plenty of salt in our lives without adding more, and this is why you are not allowed to use stock cubes for this soup.)

Grate into the stock a 3cm (ish) peeled knob of ginger this will depend on your taste but I’m a ginger kind of girl.

Add about 2 tsp of sesame oil, 2 tblsp of mirin, 1 tblsp of soy sauce (light is better but whatever you have will be fine)

I like a limey flavour and I have some Boyajian oils in citrus flavours and I add a little of that but you could substitute some lemon or lime juice.

Chop up a red chilli (discard the seeds) (or add half a tsp from a jar which you handily have in the fridge) and add to the pot.

Let this mixture simmer away, while you grate or slice a carrot into long slivers, and slice a spring onion to match.  Add the carrot to the broth and half of the onion.  Let it simmer away for a little bit – about 3 minutes.  Add the dumplings and simmer till they are heated through and cooked. If you have some greens throw them in (could be Asian greens or some spinach, broccoli would be good, steam it and add).  Adjust the flavourings.  Add some grindings of white pepper and a little salt if you really need to.

Serve with the rest of the green onion on top and sit in a big comfy chair and enjoy.

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Roasted Vegetable Soup

I made this a couple of weeks ago and loved it.  My Mum has just given me a stick blender, I’ve never owned one before and really needed to test it out, she couldn’t believe I’d never used one!  Turns out it is blimin wonderful and now soupmaking has turned from a chore into an opportunity to use my new stick blender toy.  The weather here is so manky at the moment I think this is the perfect time for this recipe.

Now I am not usually a fan of recipes where you have to make something (the roast veges) to turn into something else (soup)  seems a bit pointless to me when roast veges are perfectly formed by themselves.  I have changed my mind after making this.  There is no real recipe just a method and you can use whatever veg you like, I’m just going to tell you what I used.

Peel and cut up pumpkin, carrots, leeks, garlic, red onion and anything else you might want to put in.

Throw them on an oiled roasting dish in an oven preheated to about 180 and walk away.  Come back when your house is all roasted vegetable smelling and turn them over (if you want, it can be dangerous as I always tend to leave half the veg stuck to the dish, but never mind)  when they are cooked take them out of the oven and allow them to cool a little.  If any are getting close to burning (I’m thinking the garlic here) take out and store till the rest are done.

When they are cool put them in a pot and take your new stick blender and wizz them (or put them into the food processor and press go).  When they are all mushed up, add stock of whatever flavour you have to hand, for me that is usually vegetable but anything goes, you could use water, and thin to the consistency you like.  Heat it up gently, you must do it gently or you will have Rotorua style mud poolish spitting going on – mess.  Serve with toast, English muffins, cheese rolls or bread rolls.  You are allowed to put a big dollop of natural yoghurt on the top, but I drizzled some olive oil on.  It was fabulous.

The Potato Soup – as promised to Kevin

This belongs to Lois Daish – my fav NZ cook – and Judith Cullen, and Digby Law.  And I have lost the actual recipe so this is kinda how it goes.  It will work whatever you do.  No garlic necessary if you don’t want.

Put garlic on to roast – as much as you like.  she wants you to use two whole heads but – I mean – if you have to be with people this might be a little much.  Slice them across the top to expose the inside of each clove so that you can squeeze out the innards easily later.  Put them on a double thickness of foil, pull up the edges of the foil and sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and waer.  Seal them up and bung them in the oven fo about 30min when the smell is driving you wild with excitement.

Get out some spuds.  Peel them.  I don’t know how many spuds, figure this out for yourself.  Of course Agria are going to be fantastic, but whatever is lurking in the bottom of the cupboard will be fine.  More is better if you ask me cos then you can freeze some leftovers.  Cut them smallish bits, throw them in a pot with some bay leaves, you can never put in too many, grind some pepper over them and chuck in some salt – I’m Nigella’s kitchen bitch so I only use Malden but whatever. (Don’t I sound so posh).  Add some butter or olive oil and give them a wee sizzle around, do not brown them.  I do them till they are kinda getting mushy on the outside.  Stirring.

Cover the spuds with water, or chicken stock, or white wine and water or vegetarian stock or whatever, but water is fine.  Cook till tender.

When they are all slushy, cool them down and chuck in blender, (take out the bay leaves) or mash in the pot till they are soupy, throw in the garlic you squeeze from the cloves you roasted.  And you have soup.  Thin with a liquid from the list below.

Now:  add according to what you have available.  Some greens – I love watercress, baby spinach, leftover salad leaves – soft ones obviously.  You can chuck in some chunks of feta, some cream cheese, sour cream, cream, milk, because I am obsessed with pepper I put lots in, or just whatever you think.

This is truly the soup of my dreams.  I don’t know why it tastes so good but if you want to feel good about winter this is the soup to do it for you.