Summer Yoghurt and Green Pea Soup

Madhur Jaffrey’s Cookbook Food for Family and Friends sees a different side of this heavily relied upon author-cook. It constructs menus which are for a Western dinner table, but of course with a strong South Asian and Asian accent.

I first had something like this in Geneva, where, as is often the case hereabouts, restaurants/cafes have a very heavy hand with soups. Stodgy in winter, so thick in summer one could turn the plate upside down and it would sit there unmoved. I like soups to be much lighter, at least some of the time, and surely in summer. About a drinking-out-of-cup-thinness. Certainly not the ‘eat this soup with a fork approach’ so often seen in Geneva.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, tied in cheesecloth or inside a tea-ball
  • a knob of peeled fresh ginger chopped – 1/2 an inch or so
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetarian equivalent)
  • fresh green (for colour consistency) chilli to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) shelled peas, fresh or frozen
  • 30g/1 lightly packed cup fresh green coriander
  • 12 good sized fresh mint leaves
  • 150 ml plain yoghurt blended until smooth with 4 tablespoons of water
  • salt to taste

Method 

Put the potato, onion, cumin, ginger, stock and chilli in a large pot, bring to the boil. Cover and lower to a simmer for 30 minutes. Take out the cumin and add the peas. Bring to the boil, and then to a simmer for 2 minutes. Add the coriander and mint. Turn off the heat.

Blend/puree the soup until smooth. Pour the soup into a clean bowl, and after it is cool add the yoghurt and mix. Season with the salt. Cover and chill in the fridge. Serve cold.

In retrospect, I wonder if the coriander should perhaps be added, and the soup pureed, after it has cooled somewhat. Simon Hopkinson is totally against the idea of cooking fresh coriander and I can see why. Ditto with basil.

This is lovely and unaccountably I have failed to make it this summer.

 

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orange and carrot soup

Another cold soup we have quite often in summer. Shopping around for ideas for carrot, I came upon Linda Peek’s recipe. Unlike the cucumber and yoghurt soup this one has some cooking involved.

Ingredients

  • 500g or so carrots, peeled and diced
  • one large onion, peeled and chopped
  • ghee (or oil/butter)
  • 3 cups or so of chicken stock (or something to make it vegetarian)
  • around 2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • salt and pepper

Method

Fry the onion  in the ghee and when soft, add the carrots and stock. Bring to boil and then simmer until the carrot is cooked. Cool, puree and add the juice. Season. Chill in the fridge.

Serve cold.

Linda Peek has been attending to her food blog for seven years and it’s well worth a visit. She’s eaten her way around the world and tells this hilarious story of finding herself in Canberra:

In 1975 I married Matthew, an Australian diplomat, resigned from the Foreign Office and moved to Australia.  We arrived in Canberra on a cold, blustery morning in early June in a Fokker Friendship.  As I walked up to the prefabricated building which served as an airport lounge in those days I couldn’t believe I was in a capital city.  From a culinary point of view Canberra was nothing to write home about either.  I will never forget one of our first meals in a restaurant where we both ordered steak.  “Wouldn’t you like to know how we’d like them cooked?” Matthew enquired.  “You can tell me if you like” replied the bored waitress, “but it won’t make any difference”.  And she was right.  Fortunately Canberra has come a long way since then.

Indeed it has.

Carrot soup

I’m not going to give this the hard sell. Frankly, the only reason I eat cooked carrots at all is so that I can tick the ‘adult’ box on the internet. Don’t try that at home, children under the age of fifty.

But let’s say you are trying for a more orange coloured skin and you’re sick of all the ways you’ve been eating too much carrot. You could try this.

Ingredients for 4 serves or so as a meal

  • 6 carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 potato peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • one inch cube fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • one clove garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • butter or, even better ghee if you have it to hand
  • 1 tblesp cumin seeds
  • 2 teasp ground dhanna jeera mix* coriander-cumin mix, 60% coriander 40% cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • tabasco
  • water

plain yoghurt for serving
toast for serving and table butter

*theoretically, mixing these and leaving to sit changes the taste compared with simply grinding and mixing on the day. I have some sitting in the cupboard, so in it went.

Method

  • In a pot fry the onions in the butter, gently, until softened somewhat.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and keep stirring for a minute or so. DON’T burn!
  • Add dry spices and be on high alert for signs of burning activity.
  • Add the diced vegetables, mix, add perhaps a litre of water. Bring to boil and simmer until vegetables are soft.
  • Take off the heat and puree.
  • Back on the heat season with the salt and pepper and tabasco.
  • Add water to make it the preferred thickness. I like these soups to be thinner than most people. I don’t want them to be sludge.

Needless to say, you could change this many ways. For a start, if you love carrot more than I do you might leave out the potato. Fresh chili instead of tabasco, though I thought that the tabasco added a little depth. I was wondering about adding a dash of soy or worcestershire, but didn’t. Maybe with the leftovers. A lot of Indian spices would have done. Mustard seeds at the end? Perhaps with fried onions? Fresh coriander and lemon. Coconut milk?

Having tried it with and without yoghurt, we voted for the latter. Expectation: that the leftovers are bound to be better when they are wheeled out for lunch tomorrow.

Verdict? Definitely worth a guernsey in the ‘how are we going to cook the damn things today?’ list.

chickpea and vegetable soup

Nothing special here, just what was in the cupboard.

  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • carrot, peeled and chopped
  • potato, peeled and chopped
  • garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ghee or oil for cooking (I used grapeseed oil this time)
  • tin of chickpeas, hulled
  • ground cumin, coriander and chilli
  • water or stock
  • plain yoghurt, lemon and freshly ground pepper at the table

Obviously you can vary this at will or convenience. I used two medium carrots, maybe half a kg of potatoes, one onion. The key question may be how sweet you want it – and what colour.

On medium heat sauté the onion until it is softening, add the other vegetables and fry stirring for maybe 5 minutes. Turn heat down and add the garlic – no burning the garlic – and the ground spices. When the spices are thoroughly mixed in, add the water or stock along with the chickpeas. It doesn’t take long to take the skins off, you can do it while the vegetables are frying. It makes a big difference to digestibility, which is a literal pain for some people.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes covered. After the mixture has cooled a little you can puree it. It won’t be best on day one.

Serve alone, with toast or maybe a Middle East bread and with the accompaniments listed in the ingredients.

Pasta and chickpeas

It’s the basis of many a variant in Italy and I’ve decided to add it to our staples like this:

Ingredients

  • 1 tin chickpeas drained, rinsed, peeled
  • 1-2 tblesp tomato paste
  • some shallots finely chopped
  • fresh garlic finely chopped
  • small pasta shapes
  • anchovies mashed
  • salt and pepper
  • ghee
  • water/stock

Optional additions as you please….

  • parsley
  • chives
  • spring onion
  • spinach
  • lemon
  • bacon
  • parmesan grated for serving

I started out frying shallots and garlic in ghee, adding chickpeas and then the water or stock if you prefer and lastly the tomato paste. Let all this simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. This can sit in the fridge once it’s cool.

When you come to preparing the meal, boil the pasta but keep it underdone, drain, put back in the pot and add however much of the chickpea mixture you want as well as the mashed anchovies which will melt through. While this is reheating and the pasta is finishing its cooking chop herbs or other last minute accompaniments. Add and stir through. Serve.

For two people the first time I did this I added a small bunch of parsley, half a bunch of chives, the white of a spring onion and before serving sprinkled snipped spring onion greens on top. The second time I made the addition finely chopped spinach.

The possibilities are endless, one could add an Indian element by sprinkling garam masala on top. Fresh chillies would work well too.

It can be as soupy or stewy as you please. Part pureeing the chickpeas is an idea I have not explored yet but will obviously enhance a move from the one to the other.

This is cheap, healthy and tastes great. It is also quick and flexible – in Italy carrots and celery may be added, but I wanted something that wasn’t an echo of minestrone. You could also make in large quantity and freeze the first part of the recipe, the stock/chickpea/tomato paste combo.

 

Roden’s spinach and chickpea soup revisited

When I went to make this much loved recipe, I discovered that I had a couple of issues. Firstly, the only vinegar I had was so woosy that one could scarcely tell it was vinegar at all. It was a Coriole sweet aged red wine vinegar, to be precise. Secondly, I had no stock, either chicken or vegetable, so water had to do.

I thought I had free rein at this point to vary it as I pleased, and instead of cumin and paprika, I added ras el hahout.

Worked a treat!

Carrot soup

The very best thing about leaving home when I was a teenager was not having to eat cooked carrot anymore. I truly hated the overcooked stuff whether boiled or roasted. Ugggh. Sweet mush.

But you grow up, don’t you? And although I still grumble about it, I do cook it one way or another. Not to hardsell the following.

Roasted carrot soup, after trawling the internet for opinions

Ingredients

about 750g carrots, peeled, cut into chunks and roasted at 180C with butter dotted here and there. It’s ready when it is starting to caramelise – or to taste.

2 onions chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

2 sticks of celery chopped

ghee or olive oil (or your preferred something or other for frying)

generous amount of ginger – at least a tablespoon chopped

chicken stock

a tin of coconut milk (optional)

Snipped spring onion greens and finely chopped chilli on top when serving

Method

Fry the onions on medium heat, add the other uncooked vegetables, keep frying, add the carrot towards the end of that process. Add the water/stock. Simmer until you feel like it is all cooked enough. Puree.

Add coconut milk or more water to desired thickness.

This is enough for a soup course for at least six people.