Pappa al pomodoro with burrata

IMG_4092

Although I utterly adore this simple Italian bread and tomato soup, I haven’t made it myself until recently. I saw no point cooking this with flavourless winter tomatoes, but now when the tomatoes (at least the forced ones) are in season again I just couldn’t wait any longer to make it.

IMG_4103

But I will admit it might work even better in the autumn when there are sunwarm tomatoes aplenty but the outside temperatures have dropped slightly. However, serving the pappa al pomodoro with a cold, creamy and mild burrata makes the dish a whole lot more summery. (I have the wonderful restaurant Zucca to thank for that idea.) And you don’t have to serve the soup piping hot either, it is nice when just warm too.

Pappa al pomodoro, serves 2-3 

2 medium tomatoes

4 small garlic cloves

1 bunch basil

3-5 tbsp of good quality olive oil

salt and black pepper

400 g tinned tomatoes (whole or chopped)

200 ml water

200 g stale white bread, sourdough or farmhouse style bread

To serve: burrata

Cube the tomatoes and chop half the garlic and add to an ovenproof tray. Also add a third of the basil and drizzle with olive oil. Season. Roast in 200C oven for 20 minutes. 

Chop the rest of the basil and garlic. Add to a saucepan and fry in olive oil for a minute or so. Add the tinned tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Break the bread into chunks and add to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes (oil, garlic and all) and mix well. Remove from heat, add olive oil and season to taste. Garnish with some more chopped basil and the burrata. 

Potato soup with lemon and truffle ricotta

IMG_3182

I am definitely a seasonal eater, both in terms of produce and in terms of what type of food I fancy. During spring and summer I can’t get enough of fresh salads, and in the winter it feels like no amount of hot soup can warm me up enough, so I eat it all the time.

This time, in between winter and spring, I crave lighter foods such as salads combined with warm hearty dishes to warm me up. But not too hearty. Instead I try and make those dishes seem lighter by adding lemon or just some fresh parsley. In this soup I used both and some ricotta and truffle oil, and yes, the soup really is like that warmer spring coat you start to wear when you just can’t stand the heavy winter coats anymore; it still keeps you warm but doesn’t feel that heavy.

IMG_3186

Potato soup with lemon and truffle ricotta, serves 4 as a starter or 2-3 as a maincourse

4 large potatoes, Maris Piper or King Edward

1/2 red onion

chicken or vegetable stock

50 ml milk

50 ml single cream

zest from 1/2 lemon

salt, black pepper

To serve:

100 g ricotta

truffle oil

chopped parsley

salt, black pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into equal sized pieces. Rinse the starch away. Slice or chop the onion roughly and fry without browning in some oil in a large pan. Add the potatoes and fry without browning for a minute or so. Pour in the stock so it just about cover the potatoes. Boil with the lid half on for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are very soft. Mix until you have a smooth puree. Add milk and cream and bring to the boil. Adjust the thickness with more milk or stock. Add the lemon zest, salt and pepper. 

Mix the ricotta with enough truffle oil for the flavour to really come through. Season. 

Pour the soup into bowls. Add a spoonful of ricotta, drizzle with a few drops of truffle oil and dust with some chopped parsley. 

Sweet potato and lemongrass soup

With the big freeze hitting London, all I want to eat it food that warms you through. This soup is definitely warming, filling and of course – tasty.

The slight ‘exotic’ combination of sweet potato and lemongrass really works and it is a nice alternative for a mid-week meal.

The vegetable puré itself is velvety and thick enough without the addition of dairy product, however I think a dollop of creme fraiche while serving adds another flavour, and it cuts through the lemongrass nicely.

(To make this vegan, use vegetable stock and omit the creme fraiche.)

Sweet potato and lemongrass soup, serves 2

2 sweet potatoes

1 lemongrass

1 tbsp olive oil

400 ml chicken or vegetable stock

salt, black pepper

To serve: a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of olive oil

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into even-sized pieces. Cut the lemongrass in half lengthways and then across so you have four pieces. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the lemongrass and sweet potato and stir for a few minutes to enhance the flavours. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Then cook with the lid halfway on for about 15 minuter or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the two thickest pieces of lemongrass then puré the everything into a thick soup consistency. Add more stock or hot water until it has the thickness you want. Bring to the boil again and season. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of a flavoursome oil. 

Mother’s wild garlic soup

My mother is massively into gardening and always has been, but her way of gardening has changed over the years. When I was little we had the best garden a child could ever had, because my mother grew just about anything, so you could just walk around the garden munching on fruit and berries all the time.

We had two types of cherries, two types of plums (the yellow ones were the best), strawberries, wild strawberries, serveral types of raspberries, currants, goose berries, black berries, tay berries and so on. Plus we grew lots of vegetables and I got my own vegetable patch to grow as well.

My grandmother’s garden was similar and I used to pick strawberries and eat sorrel that I picked myself while my grandmother was gardening. All this foraging as a child and my time as a scout has made me realise how much nice things nature has to offer, and at this time of year wild garlic is one of the best things you can find in the woods (or my mother’s garden).

Although mother still grows lots of edible things it is less now that I’m not there to munch away every day of the summer. Instead the garden is a lot more grown up in terms of style and incredibly pretty.

But back to the wild garlic. I have used it in mayonnaise before, which is divine and together with lightly cooked asparagus and parmesan it makes and incredible starter, but I decided to try my mother’s soup recipe with the wild garlic this time.

The ‘recipe’ is more of a sketch really as I was told no measurements, but use your own judgment and make the soup your way. Just don’t add too much stock to begin with, you can always add more later.

Mother’s wild garlic soup – a sketch

a large bunch wild garlic leaves

mild olive oil

vegetable or chicken stock

cream

maizena (corn starch) or other thickening agent

salt, white pepper

Fry the wild garlic leaves in the oil until it has wilted. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Blend the soup smooth with a stick blender, add cream and maizena and bring to the boil again. Cook until ut thickens. Season to taste.

Cream of corn soup topped with crispy chorizo, grated cheddar and spring onions

The soup season will soon give way for the salad season, but before it is completely over I would like to serve you this delicious soup.

It is a pretty straightforward cream of corn soup, but topped with lovely crispy chorizo, grated cheddar and salad onions. It is the ultimate soup topping for this particular soup and for some reason I picture a cowboy making this in his battered metal saucepan over an open fire. I don’t know why this image pops up but it might have to do with the slight texmex-vibe the combination gives off. To make this connection even more visible, try serving it with tortilla wedges fried crispy in butter. Delicious!

Cream of corn soup topped with crispy chorizo, grated cheddar and spring onions, serves 2

1 can (400 g) tinne sweet corn

200 ml water

1 tsp concentrated vegetable stock

75 ml cream

salt, white pepper

a dash of sherry vinegar

Topping:

1/4 chorizo, roughly chopped up

2 salad onions, chopped

2 tbsp grated cheddar

To serve:

1 wheat tortilla, cut into six triangles/wedges

1 tbsp butter for frying

Rinse the sweetcorn and drain. Place in a saucepan and add the water and stock. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Fry the tortilla pieces golden brown in the butter. Drain on kitchen towel. Fry the chorizo pieces in the same frying pan. Drain on separate kitchen towel.

Mix the corn with the water until smooth. Pour it back into the pan. Add the cream and vinegar. Bring to the boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into bowls and top with grated cheese, chorizo and spring onions. Serve with the fried bread.

Butternut squash soup with roasted garlic

One of the most popular cookbooks in Sweden in the autumn was Lotta Lundgren’s amazing Om jag var din hemmafru (translates: If I was your housewife). The design of the book is very spectacular for a cookbook with glossy sexy pictures, not just of food, and the texts are amazing as well as the recipes. It is no surprise that Lotta has a background in advertising.

I bought this book as soon as it was published but haven’t have time to properly read it until now. Love it though! And it was also about time I tried one of her recipes, this fabulous soup with roasted butternut squash, garlic and onions.

The only changes I made to the recipe was to exchange a regular onion for a red onion, and to use less stock as my butternut squash was rather small.

Butternut squash soup with roasted garlic, serves 4

1 butternut squash

1 regular onion (or a red onion)

4 garlic cloves

1 lemon, the zest and juice

400-600 ml chicken or vegetable stock

200 ml cream

salt, pepper

Place the squash, onion and garlic cloves whole with the peel on on a roasting tray. Place in 200C oven. Roast the garlic for 20 minutes and the rest for 50 minutes. Leave to cool a little. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Scrape out the flesh. Cut off the roots on the onion and squeeze out the whole thing. Peel the garlic. Grate the zest off the lemon and purée the squash, onion, zest and garlic. Heat up the stock in a saucepan and add the purée, then add the cream and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper and add a few drops of lemon juice.  Lotta suggests serving the soups with parmesan shavings or crispy bacon, I just added a dollop of creme fraiche.


A vegan New Year’s Eve menu

I like to be challenged in the kitchen, and that is why I thought it was a good idea to cook for my friend Jenny and her boyfriend James on NYE before heading to a party. Last time I invited James I cooked a whole lot of mezze dishes inspired from my trip to Syria and Ottolenghi’s book Plenty.

I wanted the NYE menu to be quite traditional, nice and vegan and because it was just for the three of us I kept it quite simple.

~ The New Year’s Eve menu 2011 ~

***

Crostini with bean spread

***

Jerusalem artichoke soup with coconut milk and fried chestnut mushrooms

Rustic baguette, olive oil and balsamico

***

Butternut squash risotto with spinach

Salad with romaine lettuce, romano peppers, avocado and pomegranate

***

Vanilla pannacotta with soy cream and passionfruit

***

We had champagne to start as well, and thanks to Waitrose I got a great bottle of bubbly half price. At the champagne tasting at Harrod’s I tried some champagnes from Duval-Leroy, but not thiis one; their regular Brut NV, but because I liked the others and it is a good quality champagne house I bought this bottle and it was really good.

Vega Jerusalem artichoke soup with coconut milk, serves 3 as a starter

1 shalot, finely chopped

1 tbsp oliv oil

500 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled

water

2 tsp concentrated vegetable stock

50 ml coconut milk

salt, white pepper

Topping: fried, sliced chestnut mushrooms

Fry the onion until soft in the oil. Add the artichokes to the pan and fry for a minute or so, Add hot water to cover and add salt. Bring to the boil and cook until very soft. Remove half the water, but keep it on the side, and puré the rest with the artichokes. Add the coconut milk and then adjust the thickness with the left over water. Add concentrated stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil again and serve.

Vegan butternut squash risotto with spinach, serves 4

1/2 butternut squash

1/2-1 onion

olive oil

100 ml dry white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

400 g aborio rice

2 handfuls fresh spinach

salt, white pepper

Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut it into chunks and place them in a roasting tray, add oil, salt and pepper and mix. Place in 200C for 35 minutes or until soft.

Fry the onions in olive oil in a casserole dish or large saucepan but don’t let it brown. Add the rice and stir for a minute or two. Add the wine and watch most of it evaporate. Then add a ladle of the hot stock and continue to stir while it cooks in. Add another ladle and repeat the procedure until all the stock is used up and the rice is soft. it usually takes 18-20 minutes depending on the type of rice. Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and add the butternut squash. Feel free to serve with parmesan if you’re not vegan.

Vegan vanilla pannacotta with soy cream and passionfruit, serves 3

400 ml soy cream

2-3 tbsp vanilla essence

50-75 ml jelly sugar, or the same amount of caser sugar + enough veggie set or agar flakes for the amount of liquid

3 passionfruits

I tried my way through when I cooked this, to get rid of the particular aftertaste soy products have, and I recommend you do the same.

Add the cream to a sauce pan and the smaller amount of sugar and vanilla and heat it up. Then add the sugar and vanilla little by little until you are satisfied with the taste. Add the jeling agent if not using jelly sugar. Bring to the boil and stir so the sugar melts. Pour into dessert coupes or ramekins and leave to cool. Place in the fridge for a minimum of four hours to set. 

Before serving, place the inside of the passionfruits in a bowl and place enough on each pannacotta to cover the top. Serve and enjoy.