Garden fresh – cream of tomato soup with a simple pasta

We have been blessed with plenty of tomatoes this year and having used it in our daily cooking for the last three weeks last night was an opportunity to make some fresh tomato soup.  There is something to be said about picking vegetables fresh and cooking them as there is a distinct difference in flavour versus supermarket bought vegetables.   The soup was simple to make and tasted great with a simple pasta starter.

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Cream of tomato soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes boiled, pureed and strained
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Small handful Thai basil chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the garlic for a few minutes before adding the onion and carrot.   Cook for 5 minutes till the onions appear translucent and then add the paprika and strained tomato.   Add a vegetable stock cube with 500 ml water and simmer over a low heat for another 20 minutes.   Blend the soup and return to heat.   Adjust the seasoning before adding the single cream and chopped Thai basil.  Enjoy.

Cherry tomato pasta

What do I need to make it?

  • 2 large handfuls of gluten free penne boiled
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 6-8 queen size olives sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • Handful fresh oregano and basil chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp oilve oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat oilve oil in a pan and then add the garlic.  Saute for a minute and make sure the garlic doesn’t burn before adding the chilli flakes.   Stir for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes.   Cook for five minutes before adding the sliced olives and cooked penne.    Adjust the seasoning and add the fresh organo and basil.   Enjoy as a starter or make a larger portion for a main meal.

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Twice cooked corn chowder

Today’s lunch was inspired by a recipe posted on catholicfoodie.com.  Our Apache chilli plant has more chillies than we can give away or use and so we looked for ways to use more than one or two chillies in a dish.  The soup is a revelation and could feature as a starter for our next dinner party or barbecue.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 3 ears of corn roasted and shucked
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes (picked fresh from our garden)
  • 10-12 Apache chillies (reduce to taste – also picked from our garden)
  • 2 small capsicums (1 medium green pepper would work just as well)
  • 1 whole garlic pod (roast with skin on)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 100 ml single cream
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Place tomatoes, chillies, garlic and capsicum in a bowl and drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil to coat all the vegetables.   Then place in a pre heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for 25-30 minutes till the vegetables begin to char and are roasted.   Remove garlic skins and place with remaining roasted vegetables in a blender and blend to a paste.  Heat pan with remaining olive oil and add chopped onions.   Saute for 5 minutes before adding the paste.   Stir for a couple of minutes before adding the stock cubes and about a litre of water.   Bring to a gentle boil, add the shucked corn, salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for another 20 minutes on low heat.   Finish the soup with the cream, lemon juice and fresh coriander.

Radish salad

On a blistering summer’s day as today (temperature expected to reach their highest for the year!!) thought it would make sense to have a radish salad for lunch.  Radishes are a naturally cooling food and their pungent flavor is highly regarded in eastern medicine for the ability to decrease excess heat in the body that can build up during the warmer months.  Something I wasn’t aware of was that radishes are supposed to increase one’s appetite and therefore normally eaten at the end of a meal in Eastern cultures.

Radish salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 1 large white radish cut into small pieces
  • 1 green chilli chopped finely
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • Handful of chopped basil leaves
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste – I used an Indian onion salad seasoning instead

How do I make it?

Put the cut radish in a bowl and add the other ingredients.   Give it a good mix and serve at your next summer barbecue.

Gardening woes

I must admit that trying to grow my vegetables without pesticides is a challenge.  My home made oil based pesticide does not seem to deter pests.  I was upset to see the leaves of my brussel sprouts completely stripped.  On careful investigation and to my utter horror I saw colonies of caterpillars on the leaves.  I tried to remove them manually using forceps but just gave up when I saw the biblical proportion.  I do not think I am going to grow brussel sprouts again next year.  My beautiful bluish green cabbage leaves have large holes in them and the slugs seem to have taken over every inch of the garden.  My squash and pumpkin plants have been afflicted by some sort of black powdery bug which is so sticky and difficult to remove.  We have had small victories like a few beautiful cauliflowers and rhubarb chard and baby green tomatoes are looking promising.  My initial enthusiasm has almost turned to despair and just hope that I will have some vegetables before winter for the hard work I have put in.

caterpillar

Stir fried choi sum and mushrooms

Last night we had a Malaysian meal of chicken Rendang with brown rice soba noodles – the ingredients for the Rendang came pre-packaged but the simplicity of the dish has inspired me to make it from scratch next time.  I served the Rendang with some stir fried choi sum and mushrooms which was relatively quick and easy to make.   Both of us enjoyed the vegetable accompaniment so we have decided to share it with you.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 bunches of choi sum – washed and chopped to 3 inch pieces
  • 4-5 chestnut mushrooms chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili
  • 1 tsp spiced black rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 generous portions

How do I make it?

Heat wok and add vegetable oil.  Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds before adding the crushed red chili and repeating the process.  Add the sliced onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms.  Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the choi sum and cooking for another five minutes.  Adjust the seasoning and drizzle the spiced black rice vinegar and sesame oil.  Serve hot.

 

Soup de jour – leek and potato

Thanks to the intermittent summer weather we have in the UK tonight was an opportunity to make a hearty bowl of leek and potato soup.  We saw some fresh leeks on offer at Sainsbury’s and decided to pick some up to make the soup.  Making it is not exactly rocket science but the soup tasted great and so we’ve decided to share it with you.

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Leek and potato soup

What do I need to make it?

  • 2 leeks roughly sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 carrot cut in pieces
  • 2 sticks of celery cut
  • 1 bunch of spring onion chopped
  • 50 ml sour cream
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 30 gms of butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

4 hearty bowls

How do I make it?

Heat pan with butter and olive oil.  Add the carrots, celery and spring onion first and allow the vegetables to sweat for five minutes before adding the leeks and potatoes.  Stir the vegetables for ten minutes before adding the stock cubes and about 1 litre of water.  Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook on low heat till done.  Blitz the ingredients to a puree and return to heat – add sour cream and switch off the heat.  Serve hot.

 

 

 

Sunday Soup

Sunday is the day I try to clear out our refrigerator.  I usually find some   tired and limp veggies lurking  in the fridge and absolutely hate wasting them. Sometimes we buy packets of herbs for dishes we make during the week and often find that there is a bit leftover. A ll my leftover herbs go into my wholesome Sunday soup.  Shiv and I try to make our soups interesting.  He is a lot better than I am.  I admit defeat when it comes to finesse.  I am the pedestrian home cook and he is more  the chef.  My soup last Sunday had Moroccan flavours and a lot of vegetables which were saved and used before they rotted and had to be thrown away.

I am not going to write a specific recipe for the soup because one can use any vegetable lying around in their refrigerator.  I used carrots, parsnips, broccoli, radish  green peppers, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, mint, fresh coriander a few curry leaves and garlic.  I sautéed onion and garlic in a bit of butter.  Just as they softened,  I added a bit of salt and two teaspoons of Moroccan Rose Harrissa paste, a teaspoon of cumin powder and then all my vegetables and herbs.  I  then added about a liter of water and two vegetable stock cubes and cooked the vegetables till they were soft enough to be blended.  Once blended I poured enough water to get it to my desired consistency and brought to a boil.  For the garnish,Image I sautéed fresh Rosemary  in butter. I served the soup with a dollop of soured cream with the Rosemary butter drizzled on top.  A delicious and healthy way to use up all my veggies.

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