Soups

Detox Soup
 
I always seem to crave a Vietnamese Pho on a hangover and if I haven't got the energy to go out for it, I make this simple version at home. The clear broth is very cleansing and the chillies feel like they are ridding the body of toxins. 

 

What you need:

 

2 pints of chicken stock (homemade preferably, else use a cube/bouillon/powder) 

200g of uncooked noodles or 2 noodle nests.

200g of vegetables (some or all of the following: beansprouts, sugar snap peas, snowpeas, mange tout, finely sliced red/green peppers, carrots)

Handful of any/all of these fresh herbs: coriander, mint, basil, garlic, chilli, ginger, lemongrass - the more the merrier.

1 lime

200g precooked meat/fish (leftover roast chicken/pork/beef, grilled steak/salmon/tiger prawns, barbecue meat) to place on top if desired.

 

Method

 

Pour your stock into a saucepan with half of the fresh herbs and the uncooked noodles. Bring to the boil and cook for however long the noodle packet tells you to. Once the noodles are cooked, add the vegetables to the boiling stock, take off the heat immediately and pour into a serving bowl. Place the pre-cooked meat/fish on top, if desired, along with the rest of the herbs. Squeeze fresh lime. Eat/drink immediately. Very cleansing. Especially good on a Sunday night or any other hangover day.

 

Serves 2

Sweet Potato, Red Lentil & Rosemary Soup (Gluten-Free)
 
Here is a family, wintery soup full of protein from the lentils, fragrance from the rosemary and contains one of the most nutritious vegetables on earth, the sweet potato. High in vitamin C, with a lower GI verus ordinary potatoes, they are also packed full of beta carotene which converts into vitamin A in the body.  To retain as much of this nutrition as possible, you should steam them and eat the skin. Indeed my friend likes to eat hers in its jacket with homemade coconut yoghurt on top - beat that!  Sadly my recipe may kill off most of the nutrition, but it does taste good - does that count?!   These sweet potatoes came from Green Little Frog, an organic farm in Thailand, who deliver to your door in HK on Wednesday, 36 hours after having been picked. The soup is a rare all rounder as it got the vote from the (very fussy) husband and the (marginally more grateful) kids.

 

What you need:

 

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

Knob of butter or glug of olive oil

2.5 pints of chicken stock (homemade preferably, else use a 2.5 cubes Knorr stock cubes or similar) 

750g sweet potatoes

1 cup of red lentils (we used Crazy Jack organic brand)

1 tablespoon of fresh finely chopped rosemary

50g Red Leicester or cheddar cheese

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of garlic powder

 

 

 

Method:

 

Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into 3 inch cubes, drizzle with olive oil and seasoning, and place in a shallow roasting dish. Bake at 190c for around 45 mins or until soft. 

While the potatoes roast, boil 1 cup of lentils with 2 cups of water (or according to the instructions on the packet) until soft.

While the potatos and lentils are cooking, finely chop your onion and fry it until soft (but not brown) in a knob of butter or olive oil. Finely chop the garlic then add that, stirring for a few minutes then turn off the heat until the lentils and potatoes are ready.
Once the add potatoes and lentils are cooked, add them to the onion & garlic mixture along with the stock and fresh rosemary then stir. Put it all in the blender until smooth. Return to the pan and add the grated cheese, cayenne, garlic powder and seasoning to taste.  Stir until the cheese melts then serve with a little bread (already quite carb-intensive from the sweet potatoes so go easy...)

 

Serves 6 adults

 

 

 

French Onion Soup
 
Warm up and stay dry inside with a bowl of steaming hot French onion soup, made with homemade oxtail stock, laced with cognac and topped with melted gruyere on baguette toasts. Your soup is only as as good as the stock you make, so take the time out to brew a rich broth using inexpensive oxtail available in most HK supermarkets. 

 

What you need:

 

7 medium onions

2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

500g oxtail (Brazilian oxtail available in most Parknshops, pictured below)

1 carrot

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon Cognac (or half a glass dry white wine)

Beef oxo/Bovril/Knorr stock

150g gruyere cheese

Baguette

Salt & pepper

 

Method:

 

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place your oxtail in a casserole pot with 1 onion chopped in half and 1 carrot broken in half.  Put the lid on and roast at 200C for 40 mins.

While the oxtail roasts, slice garlic into slivers and your onions into thin rings. Heat up the oil and cook the garlic and onion very slowly for 30-40 minutes. Keep the heat low, occasionally putting the lid on to sweat them, and half way through this time, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. By the time the oxtail is ready, they should be soft, slimy and caramelised.  Place them to one side.

Put the contents of the oxtail pot into 4 pints of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, simmer gently for 3-4 hours with the lid on to make a rich stock. Strain the stock at the end and keep the liquid. Pour it into a bowl and allow to cool. Then put it in the fridge for a few hours until a layer of fat hardens on top and you can chip it off with spoon and throw it away.

Combine your stock and onions in large casserole dish or a very large saucepan and add your brandy. Bring to the boil for 1 minute so the cognac evaporates a little. Season well.

This is now the moment of reckoning. Taste your soup. It is only as good as the stock you have made. If it feels a little tasteless, add 1 beef stock cube (Oxo/Knorr) or a tablespoon of Bovril or both. And keep adding more stock until it's sufficiently tasty. I added one beef Oxo cube and a tablespoon of Bovril.

When the soup is ready, slice your baguette on the diagonal to get as big as slices as possible, then toast lightly. Then add grated gruyere cheese to the toast and place on top of the soup. Don't worry if a bit falls in - that is is the idea! Then place under a very hot grill and let it melt for a few moments. Serve!

 

Serves 2-3 adults

Gazpacho
 

As the heat rises, we have no choice but to bare a little more flesh, so with that in mind, I made a light Gazpacho for lunch. Find the recipe here, which was adapted from the UK Masterchef cookbook

 

 

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Smoky Blackbean Soup with Shredded Ham Hock, Bacon, Coriander and Cream

 

Tonight was another mission for the man claws, ideal for shredding a ham hock into this filling soup. Think more chunky stew than smooth soup... We simmered a ham hock (available from the Golden Pig brand in most supermarkets, known as pig knuckle) for 3 hours then shredded it into a bowl of blackbean and chilli soup, adding crunchy bacon lardons on top, freshly chopped coriander, a swig of tabasco and a swirl of double cream. Dip tortilla chips in and enjoy! Admittedly my husband was dubious when I told him of my intentions with this soup, but he concluded that it was possibly one of the best soups he has ever had, and trust me, his complements are not handed out freely...

 

What you need:

 

1 ham hock (pig knuckle)

Enough beef stock to cover the above. Use one cube + water.

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon thyme

1 pack of bacon

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

3 fresh chilli

Swig of Tabasco

100 ml double cream

Handful freshly chopped coriander

Tortilla chips

 

Method:

 

Place your ham hock into large casserole pan and cover with beef stock plus 1 bay leaf and the thyme. Simmer for 3 hours. Read more the benefits of ham broth here.

 

Towards the end of the 3 hours, dice the bacon and fry until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place to one side. Reserve the bacon fat to soften your onion, garlic and chilli. This takes 5-10 minutes. Remove these also from the oil once cooked and throw the oil away.

 

Strain the the water (discarding the herbs) that you used to boil the ham, separating the fat of the top.The easiest way to do this is to allow it to cool, then refrigerate (or freeze for even faster!) it and chip the fat off the top. If you can't wait for that, use 8 pieces of kitchen roll, one after the other, to absorb the fat off the top. Add half the can of beans to the stock, discarding its water. Place the other half of the can in the blender and puree it. Then add this to the pan with the rest, for texture, and to thicken the stock. Add the onion, garlic and chilli mixture plus a swig of Tabasco. Stir well to combine over a medium heat. Now you have your soup...

 

Shred your ham hock with your man claws.

 

Place the soup into a serving bowl and place shredded ham hock on top followed by crispy bacon lardons, freshly chopped coriander and a swirl of double cream. Serve with tortilla chips.

Serves 4 as an appetizer

 

Chestnut, Choi & Bacon Soup

 

This is possibly one of my favourite seasonal soups (gluten-free) which takes under 10 minutes to make assuming you have chicken stock and peeled chestnuts on hand. It's an Asian adaptation of the chestnut, kale and bacon soup from the River Cottage cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (my secret crush). Chestnuts are available in the wet markets or you can pay 10 times the price for vacuum packed ones in the supermarkets. That said, the price differential is lower than the cost of a manicure which frankly is what you will need after peeling a bag of chestnuts....

 

Read the recipe here:

 

Ham Hock Bone Broth with Mint & Peas

 

A few weeks ago, when I got home from hospital with my newborn, I realised there would not be much time for cooking so made a culinary investment I figured would yield... I bought a delicious 5kg roast ham from the HK Cricket Club.

 

Read the recipe here: