We seem to be in a continuous cycle of warm temperature to bitter cold temperature and back again. Germs everywhere! Minestrone soup is a great antidote to fighting off all the stuff going round. As remedies go, it’s a delicious comfort food.
My husband had sent me an article from the Guardian about Ultra Processed Food. For those that follow this blog, you know we’re big on cooking from scratch and keeping overly processed food out of our diet. I found it interesting when the article mentioned that it’s a good sign to see a container of sugar in the kitchen. The reason is, it’s a sign that home cooking from fresh ingredients occurs. Which is so much better than buying boxed goods.
Technique for Minestrone Soup
While this is a very easy soup to make on a busy night, I do recommend to make it a day or so ahead for the flavours to really come out.
Heat up the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sautè the onions until they soften. Add the garlic, carrots and celery. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the mushrooms and peas. The beauty of this soup is you can add whatever veg you want. I don’t like zucchini/courgettes and the like, especially in soup, so I left those out even though they are more traditional.
For the diced tomatoes I like to use fire roasted for a deeper flavour. Continue to cook for a few minutes before adding the veg bouillon. Bring to a simmer.
Season with the herbs, sea salt and pepper. Add the pasta and bring to a boil until the pasta starts to soften. Turn back down to a simmer.
Years ago, on our honeymoon in Italy, we had taken a cooking lesson and the woman gave us a tip on how to use up the parmesan ends. Throw in the piece into the soup and simmer. It gives a really lovely cheesy balance to the soup.
Serve with fresh bread and butter. Perfect for the whacky winter evenings.
Heat up the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sautè the onions until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, celery and carrots to the pan. Cook for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms and peas. After cooking for a few more minutes add the diced tomatoes.
Add the bouillon and the pasta. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the herbs and season with the sea salt and pepper. Toss in the cheese end. Once the pasta is cooked, it is ready to serve.
Quick as a flash we are firmly in soup weather. Last night we had a frost and surrounding towns had a dusting of snow. I am so not ready for winter but Mother Nature doesn’t want to listen to me. She doesn’t want to listen to the pepper plants either. I will be pickling and preserving as much as I can this week so they won’t go to waste. My Hot Pepper Jelly is first up.
At the end of my in-laws visit we did a tapas night and I planned way too many dishes, enough for an army, so there were many mushrooms leftover and I needed to use. I thought cream of mushroom soup would fit the hearty bill for the cold weather. This is so incredibly easy to make and the flavours are so good! Perfect to have in your dinner “toolbox” when life gets crazy.
Technique for Cream of Mushroom Soup:
Prep all your ingredients before cooking. Slice the mushrooms so that they are somewhat chunky.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and begin to brown the mushrooms. Do this for several minutes, the longer you do it the more flavour you will get. Once they start to brown add the onion. Allow them to become translucent. Then add the garlic and fresh thyme.
Cook for a couple of minutes. If the mushrooms have sucked up too much butter add a bit more to make a roux with the flour. Add the flour and cook for another couple of minutes.
Slowly add the beer as it can get really fizzy.
Add the veg bouillon and bring to a simmer. Season with sea salt and pepper. Simmer until just before dinner.
Add the cream and serve immediately.
My husband made delicious Ciabatta to go along with it.
A hearty soup for the cold nights. Perfect when you are having a busy week.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
AuthorOur Growing Paynes
2 cupmushrooms, sliced
2-3cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cupheavy cream
pinchground black pepper
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and cook for several minutes to brown the mushrooms. Then add the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent.
Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes. If the mushrooms have soaked up too much butter add a bit more before adding the flour. Cook again for a few minutes then add the beer. Bring to a simmer.
Add the vegetable bouillon. Season with the sea salt and pepper. Simmer until it's near dinner time. Add the cream then and bring back up to a simmer. Serve with crusty bread.
New England Clam Chowder, or Chowdah if you want to get it right, brings me back to our family trips to the seashore in New England. There is nothing like the sound of the sea and the smell of the ocean. We would spend a day wandering round and it would invariably include a lobster meal with New England clam chowder. Back when a lobster dinner didn’t require a mortgage to get!
With my in-laws visiting, I try to make meals that are a treat for them so when my father-in-law mentioned how much he loves New England clam chowder I knew I had to make it for him. It’s been years since I had it so it was a treat for me as well.
Technique for New England Clam Chowder
As this doesn’t take long to cook, prep the ingredients up front. Finely dice the potatoes and onions. If you can find a large onion, you only need one. For some reason we’re still getting tiny onions.
Coarsely chop the salt pork and brown in a saucepan. Do this on medium heat as you want to render the fat a bit but don’t want to burn the meat. After a few minutes add the chopped onion with the butter and bay leaves.
Cook until the onions start to become translucent. Then add the flour to make a bit of a roux. The goal is to have a hearty soup, not a watery soup. Then add the potatoes and sautè for a minute.
Add 2 cups/16oz of chicken stock and 10oz of clam juice. Bring to a simmer. Add the fresh thyme and season with sea salt and pepper. Add the clams.
At this point, if the soup is still watery, make a slurry of flour and water and add that to the pot. Later when you add the cream and white wine it will thin it back out so it’s ok to go thick here. Allow this to simmer for about a half hour to reduce a bit and to get the flavours going. Just before you serve remove the bay leaves and add a cup/8oz of heavy/double cream and a third of a cup/3oz of dry white wine. Don’t bring it to a boil but rather allow it to simmer.
Perfect with crusty bread
Serve it with some fresh baked bread. Not surprisingly this was even better the next day. It was very much enjoyed and it did bring back some lovely memories of when I was a child.
A delicious stick to your ribs soup for the cool nights.
AuthorOur Growing Paynes
2/3cupsalt pork, coarsely chopped
1largeonion, coarsely choppedor two small onions
1large potato, cubed
1/3cupdry white wine
In a sauce pan, brown the salt pork on medium heat. Add the butter, onions, and bay leaves. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the flour to create a roux.
Add the potatoes and cook for a minute then add the stock and clam juice. Bring to a simmer. Add the thyme and season with the sea salt and white pepper. Add the clams. Cook for a half hour. Add a slurry of flour and water if the soup needs to be thicker.
Just before serving add the cream and wine. Bring to a simmer but don't boil. Serve with crusty bread.
Our puppy boys aren’t actually puppies, they are 11 and 8. We call them puppies as they like to act like that and occasionally they teach themselves new tricks. Guinness, our 11 year old, decided to channel Houdini this morning. Because we’re still having work done on the house we put the dogs safely in a room. It usually works. Only this morning Guinness figured out how to open our sliding doors. It got a little hairy as we corralled him. It was bit bit like a comedy of people going in and out of rooms but no one could see anyone else.
Murphy has been taking this in stride but Guinness has taken to muttering at the intrusions. Definitely put out! Fortunately it will be over soon and he’ll soon get his room back. Silly sausage.
With the cacophony going on, comfort food hits the spot. Bacon chicken white bean soup fits the bill. I added bacon and chicken to this soup because they needed to be used up. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.
In a saucepan add a half chicken breast that has been cubed and 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon that has been chopped. Sauté on medium heat.
Slice 2-3 mushrooms and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Once the bacon has rendered a bit add the veg to the saucepan.
Add 3 cups/24 ounces of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Next add 2 cans of 15 ounce cans of white beans after rinsing them. Continue to simmer until the beans are cooked through. Season with se salt and pepper. A healthy splash of white wine, ahandful of fresh parsley and 4 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan finishes off the soup.
Fresh baked crusty bread with butter is a perfect companion to this soup.
I really enjoyed this hearty soup. A nice break from all the upheaval.
I have to hand it to our son, he had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and he did really well. Me? Didn’t sleep the night before. It’s so much easier when stuff is done to you rather than your kids. Now he gets to hear his parents telling him to eat his ice cream. Think he’ll be ok. 😊
Woke up being very happy for fuzzy socks with freezing temperatures and gusting winds. Definitely soup season! On one of our date nights, my husband ordered an amazing mushroom soup and it sparked an idea for a mushroom and parsnip soup. Their soup just had mushrooms in it with Gorgonzola cheese. Well I shouldn’t say just as it was delicious. But I went off on a tangent.
As luck would have it, the co-op had a great selection of mushrooms. Including a Japanese mushroom called maitake. Slice up the mushrooms and toss them in olive oil.
Roast them at 350F/175C until they are nicely browned. In the meantime, peel and dice 1 to 2 parsnips depending on the size. Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves. Sauté the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.
Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, sauté for another minute or so. Add about three cups of chicken stock and half a cup of dry sherry. Bring to a medium simmer. Once the mushrooms are roasted, add them to the soup.
Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook until the parsnips are soft and the broth has reduced about a quarter. Remove from the heat and purée until reasonably smooth.
Top with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive. This could easily be made vegan with a veg broth. The parsnip makes it very creamy so I didn’t have to add any cream.