Category Archives: soup

Split-pea and cumin soup from Marrakech

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Today I take you to Marrakech, the red city of the desert, the Mother of all oasis! We went to the fruit and veg’ souk to choose the ingredients for a very typical Marrocan soup in the warm colours of the flag.

Diced vegetables for a stunning mix of colours

Diced vegetables for a stunning mix of colours

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Ingredients list:

  • Split-peas, one cup
  • Water, 5 cups
  • Carrots, 2 diced
  • Red onions, 2 diced
  • Cumin, 3 Tbsp
  • Parsley , chopped to taste
  • Lemon, ½ squeezed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bay leaves, 2

 

First wash and chop all the vegetables.

Then melt the onions in a pan (with lid) and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cook until brownish.

Add the well rinsed split-peas, the diced carrots and churn all into the hot oil for a few minutes.

Add the cumin and the bay leaf with the 5 cups of water.

Season with pepper and a little salt ( I prefer to add the rest of the salt at the end).

Leave on a medium heat for 45 min to one hour. Remove the bay leaves. Check the tenderness of the split-peas and carrots. Serve with parsley and lemon juice . Add salt or water if necessary.

Good food is a journey in itself, it bears a story, it stirs your soul. It takes you away and back…

Enjoy !

 

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“Ajo Blanco”, star soup of the Med Diet!

My Spanish born great grand-mother on my maternal side had a wonderful family recipe for “Ajo Blanco”, or so I am told because alas nobody recorded it and therefore nobody can recall its details… So, to complete my family recipe archives, I can only try to recreate this recipe with voices others than hers… Why does it seem so important to me to do so? Because Ajo Blanco is a bit of an iconic Andalucian soup and because it happens to be at the same time a very healthy and rejuvenating combination of almond meal and garlic. Popular and traditional cuisine often combine the qualities of being at once tasty and healthy and this very ancient recipe proves the point with its elegant simplicity.

I am just back from a long week end in Seville where summer was already warm and dry and the beautiful gardens of the Mudejar palaces where full of the most generous and fragrant blossoms. The photos below were taken inside the Casa de Pilatos in Seville Old quarter. But Seville is full of secret gardens that you can visit or sometimes just glimpse, past a patio of azulejos opening onto the heat scorched street… IMG_4397 IMG_4401

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Ingredients list

  • Raw peeled almonds ,200 gr
  • Garlic cloves,2
  • Olive oil, 70 ml
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Bread, 100 gr 70 gr de aceite de oliva virgen extra
  • Jerez or wine vinegar, 50ml
  • Water, 1L
  • Grapes or cucumber chunks to serve

This is a Thermomix adapted recipe but any good blender will do.

A fresh and crisp taste

A fresh and crisp taste for this “white garlic” soup

Soak the almond and bread in water separately for a few hours, if possible. Remove and do not use this water,

Mix the garlic, salt and almonds for 30 sec at speed 5. Add the chopped bread (no crust) and mix another 15 sec. You should get a sort of thick paste.

Keep at speed 5 and add the olive oil, followed by the vinegar and the water. Mix for 1 min at speed 7 to 8.

Season with a little salt and serve cold with the chopped cucumber or grapes to decorate and give a nice biting texture.

I like to serve this in glasses decorated with a mini skewer with fresh grapes and to sprinkle a few flaked almonds and some fried toast on top.

This is a strengthening, wholesome,  cold soup; a godsend in summer and a little miracle of health…

Favourite gardens in Seville:

  • Parque Maria Louisa – I had a beautiful morning run there, but you can take a horse carriage to it if you are no runner!
  • Los Jardines del Real Alcazar – The beautiful gardens of the moors kings… A treasure!
  • Gardens and patios of the Museo de Bellas Artes
  • Gardens of Casa de Pilatos – see pictures above.
  • And many more!!!

Butternut squash and ginger soup – make it fiery!

Ginger is still a running theme or obsession of mine currently, so there you go: another ginger recipe but fiery this time and velvety, and so perfectly suited to the cold spell we are having in London at the moment… Will it snow? Will it not?!

IMG_9600Ingredients list

  • Butternut squash
  • Ginger and lemongrass stock by Maggi
  • 200 ml of hot water
  • 100ml of coconut milk
  • 5og of coconut cream
  • 50g of soya cream
  • Fresh red chilli ( to taste)
  • Coriander to sprinkle

Slice the squash in large chunks and take all seeds out but do not peel it- This last step is much easier to take after roasting! No sweat! Take the easy route for once… You can also roast it whole in the oven and chop later, as in my picture!

Roast the sliced squash with a bit of olive oil- I use Olivio at the moment.In a hot oven under grill for 20 min should do. Take the opportunity to roast other roots vegetables or pepper and aubergines at the same time – you can always use those in salads or couscous later!

Peel the butternut slices when ready and soft.

Mix them in the food processor with the stock, boiling water and all the other ingredients – but do be careful with the chilli: you want a gentle kick, not a huge explosion!

If using a Thermomix, get it to heat at the same time as you chop (100°C/speed max/5 min).

Dilute with the cream and coconut milk especially if you find it too strong or too thick: it should be served creamy though, not watery.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of coriander.

IMG_2550While you sip, feeling virtuous and engaged, there is still time to write your New Year resolutions : Why not change the world this year?! One step at a time. Be bold!!! There is much that needs doing… Ok, more soup and wholesome food might be a good start; some exercise will not kill you; but do not stop at that, go further: the future is ours! Lets be ambitious. Lets save the world this year. I mean it. Find a platform, a charity, a movement and go with it. And above all: choose your motto!

No wars, no drugs, no hunger.

It feels good already just saying it.

 

 

Cold gaspacho of melon, cucumber and mint – as fresh as a kiss!

A sweet and savoury soup as cool and healthy as a salty kiss, the kind you get when you are flirting in the waves! Try it!

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Ingredients list:

  • Honeydew melon, 1 small
  • Cucumber, seeded, 1/2
  • Grape, one small bunch  (if the melon is not sweet enough)
  • Yogurt, 150g
  • Chopped sweet shallots, 2  small ones
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice, 1 lemon
  • Olive oil, 50 ml
  • Mint, small bunch plus sprigs to decorate

    A peek at the mix!

    A peek at the mix!

Scoop out the melon’s flesh, peel the cucumber and take the seeds out.

Peel the garlic and took out the inner shoot if green.

Chop and mix all of the above ingredients then blitz into a blender (or Thermomix). Add the chopped mint and blitz again. Keep a few sprigs aside.

Reserve and chill until ready to eat.

Decorate with fresh  mint and a little stick with fruit on it. Add a few ice cubes when serving.

Freshly made

Freshly made

We had this in a little “chiringuito” in El Palmar, not far from the Roche beach that I have pictured above. I fell in love with the sweetness and coolness of this perfect summer combination. Soups are a great summer dish – a welcome alternative to the salads… The beauty of cold soup is that they are choking-full of watery fruit and veg and therefore so hydrating and refreshing in the heat. Plus the extra shot of vitamins will leave you radiant when returning from the beach.

This is the second in my series of Spanish themed soups for summer goodness. Hope you are loving them as much as I do! Third one soon on it’s way and it is the famous and mysterious “Ajo Blanco”…

 

Salmorejo – The other gazpacho!

On a very hot like today, this cold soup is a godsend!  I first tasted last year in Granada and a few days ago on the beautiful beach of El Palmar near Cadix, in a Chiringuito with a view. I am writing this from the roof terrace of my hotel in Seville, on a still and very hot night – the temperature having hardly cooled down since sunset…

I gift this dish to my friend and neighbour “Abracadabra”, who will recognise herself and recently asked me for healthy, “eat beautiful” recipes with a Thermomix!

View from the Chiringuito

View from the Chiringuito

Ingredients list:

  • Tomatoes, ripe 1kg
  • Wholemeal bread150g,
  • Garlic cloves, 1 or 2
  • Olive oil, 150ml,
  • Salt and pepper ,
  • green pepper, one seeded
  • Vinaigre of Jerez or cider 30ml,
  • Pimenton dulce, 1 tbsp parsley, chopped , couple of sprigs
  • Soft boiled egg,chopped , 1 per guest
  • Spanish cured ham, chopped, a handful

Serve this with aubergines chips (recipe to follow!)

To Drink: A Tinto de verano with lots of ice! It’s 37 in the shade of the orange grove today as I write this…

The Giralda, a muslim tower turned Belfry

The Giralda, a muslim tower turned Belfry

First soft-boil the eggs and chop the ham. Reserve.

Put the whole tomatoes in a pan of just boiled water. Leave a couple of minutes then peel, quarter and seed them.

Put the garlic (centre shoot removed), the pepper and tomatoes in the Thermomix: feed them through the top hole while turning at speed 4/5.

Tonight's version

My version

Mix the bread chunks with the oil, add the vinaigre and seasoning. Leave to rest a few minutes then add to the tomato mixture.

Whizz thoroughly at speed 6/7. Check and adjust the seasoning with “pimentón” (a kind of Spanish paprika that can come in sweet or hot according to taste), salt and pepper.
Blend at top speed until smooth. If using a Thermomix, you might be able to cut corners and not peel nor seed your tomatoes! If not using one, on the other hand, you might have to sieve the mixture at this point… The soup needs to look like a beefed up gazpacho, creamy and thick.

Reserve in the fridge until serving : Then decorate with chopped cured ham and parsley and chopped hard boiled egg or your soft boil one. I tried this version the other night in Puerto Santamaria and fell in love with it! The soft boiled or poached egg once cut, oozes a delicious yolk into the soup.

This is one of several super-healthy summer soups that I will be posting during the next month, to show that summer soups can be very versatile as well as nutritive and full of health. And that there is so much more to it than Gazpacho!

The Spanish drink a “Tinto de Verano” when the weather is hot like it is at the moment in Andalucia and I am fast becoming partial to it: red Rioja and lemonade with lots of large ice cubes and a slice of lemon…  Enjoy your summer!

With my son in the ocean waves...

With my youngest son in the ocean waves…