Tag Archives: soup

Spiced roasted butternut pumpkin soup – two ways

I love soups. And it makes so much sense to make a giant pot of soup, have it as leftovers, or even freeze those that are suitable.

My problem is that I don’t always seem to want soup from the freezer, and often end up throwing it away. It’s very un-frugal of me and the waste upsets me.

Over the weekend I found a beautiful butternut squash – at $2 instead of the $10+ that I spend across the road for the same thing. Of course I just had to buy it.

I decided that I would do two types of soup with it, to try to give some variety, and hope to tickle my tastebuds enough to want to eat it again. And again.

The first way was to push a ladleful of it through a fine sieve, yielding the most silkily smooth soup that reminds me of the amouse-bouches that you sometimes get in fine restaurants. It’s such a treat and I don’t know why but the same soup seems to taste sweeter somehow ?

The second way was to keep it rustic (the sieving also takes time and any time saving is a good thing, right ?). This leftover I’ve frozen, but when I reheat it, I’ll add a dollop of cream and a glug of good olive oil to make it taste like the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever had.

Roasting the pumpkin intensifies the sugars and flavour and the spices just add an extra dimension to the soup.

Ingredients makes four bowls of soup

  1. 1 large onion, diced
  2. 1 medium sized butternut pumpkin
  3. salt and pepper
  4. ground tumeric
  5. ground cumin
  6. chicken stock
  7. thick cream
  8. good olive oil to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 220CC/430F
  2. Remove skin and seeds from pumpkin and cut into chunks
  3. Coat with olive oil (doesn’t need to be the good stuff) and season with salt and pepper
  4. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes
  5. Sautee onion in some olive oil on low heat until translucent – about 5 minutes
  6. Add the tumeric and cumin and fry off the “rawness” of the spices for another 5 minutes
  7. Add the roasted pumpkin and add enough chicken stock to cover the pumpkin
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes
  9. Blend with an immersion blender until desired consistency (I like to keep it relatively smooth but still with some bits of pumpkin)
  10. Option 1: Take a ladleful and push through a fine sieve and serve with just a few drops of good olive oil
  11. Option 2: Serve hot, with a big dollop of cream, and a good glug of the good olive oil

 

 

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Smoked Bacon Soup with Kale and Quinoea

I’m so happy – I found kale ! After reading all your posts about how delicious it is, and how wonderfully nutritious it is, and the amazing recipes you share (eg kale chips which are being made as I type this), I FINALLY FOUND KALE. We went to Pasar Bella yesterday and bought an entire trunkfull of delicious meats, cheese and vegetables.

Today for lunch I made a vibrant, bursting-full-of-goodness soup, with a smoked bacon stock – making it bursting-full-of-flavour soup.

Again soups like this can be entirely adjusted depending on what vegetables you have handy in the fridge – I used yellow and purple carrots and the leaves of purple and green kale. The quinoea gives the soup an added protein boost.

Ingredients serves 6 for lunch or as a starter at dinner

  1. 400g smoked bacon bones
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 3 stalks celery, sliced
  4. 2 medium carrots, diced
  5. 1-2 bay leaves
  6. large handful kale leaves, stalks removed, thickly sliced
  7. 1/4 cup raw quinoea

Method

  1. Brown the bacon bones on medium-high heat in a large, heavy-based saucepan
  2. Remove from pan reduce heat to medium and soften the onions for 5 minutes
  3. Add the celery and carrots and soften, an additional 5 minutes
  4. Add the bacon back to the pan, add the bay leaves
  5. Add water so that everything is just covered, and simmer on low for 2 hours
  6. Remove the bay leaves
  7. Add the quinoea and continue to simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Add the kale leaves and simmer for a final 5 minutes
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Cauliflower Soup

Warming and simple, I whipped this soup up in less than 15 minutes. Don’t be fooled though, into thinking simple isn’t delicious. Blending the soup gives it a wonderfully thick and creamy consistency.

Ingredients – serves 4

  1. 1 onion, diced
  2. 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  3. 3-4 cups chicken stock

Method

  1. Sweat onions in a little olive oil over medium heat in a heavy based saucepan
  2. Add the cauliflower and enough stock to just cover the cauliflower
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the cauliflower is just tender
  4. Blend thoroughly
  5. Season to taste with salt
  6. Serve hot with a good drizzle of good olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper

Chicken and sweet corn soup

I was four years old when my family migrated to Australia, and back in those days the Sydney Asian food scene was nothing like it is today. Think generic Chinese – lemon chicken, honey prawns, beef in black bean sauce – all of them distant relatives of anything remotely authentic in any part of Asia.

We are now enjoying the  distinctly different Asian cuisines, not only by country, but even by regions within each. How different is the spicy food of Szechuan to the more commonly known Cantonese dishes of Hong Kong ? The difference in the more sugary Thai food vs the light herby freshness of Vietnamese ?

But, I digress.

While I was growing up, one of the treats my parents would indulge me with whenever we went out for dinner, would be a bowl of chicken and sweet corn soup. I’d roasted a chicken on the weekend and had leftover breast meat, which I thought I’d use to make my favourite “tacky” Chinese soup.

There’s nothing authentic about this soup, but the combination of salty and sweet, and the thick, comforting texture takes me back to simpler days when I was just a kid having my dinner treat in a restaurant with my family.

Ingredients enough to make 6 rice bowls of soup

  1. leftover chicken meat – about 1 single breast worth
  2. 1L chicken stock
  3. 1 tin creamed corn
  4. 1 tbl cornstarch
  5. 1 egg
  6. white pepper

Method

  1. Dice the chicken meat and add to a pot withthe chicken stock and bring to boil
  2. Add the creamed corn
  3. Mix the cornstarch with some water and slowly stir into the soup
  4. Bring to the boil, lightly beat the egg and slowly pour from a height so that you get ribbons of egg through the soup
  5. Serve hot with white pepper

More of Le Chasseur

Crispy pork knuckle

Le Chasseur did it again – with chef and owner Andy Lim cooking up a stellar spread of delicious MSG-free food.  The menu is so extensive we recently went again just so that we could try some of the other dishes.  The only thing that we ordered again was the curry chicken which was again a firm favourite on the table.

Pork and watercress soup

The showstoppers were the soups – we ordered pork and watercress soup, where there was a generous amount of bright green watercress in the soup, rather than the brown, overcooked stalks you can get in other establishments – as well as the pork knuckle.  Be warned, it’s big !  Served with a vinegar and shallot dipping sauce to cut through the richness of the meat, it was cooked so that the outside is crispy yet the inside stays tender and moist.

The other dish I loved was the barbecued squid, cooked so that it was tender and not at all rubbery, the edges charcoaly crispy and sweet.  Next time I have to try their barbecued prawns, one of their specialities.

A definite blink and you’ll miss it hole-in-wall, if you’re planning on going when it’s busy, I’d recommend you book.  And make sure you get all your order in at once – the service there is awful and any requests after you’ve put your order in are pretty much just ignored.  With some planning, though, you’re guaranteed to walk out with a full tummy and a big smile on your face.

Le Chassuer
31 New Bridge Road (opposite the Central Shopping Mall at Clarke Quay)
Tel: 6337 7677
Open 11am – 11pm daily


Ng Ah Sio bak kut teh

Ng Ah Sio Signature bak kut teh with you tiao and liver and kidney soup

Ng Ah Sio serves traditional Teochew bak kut teh. Literally translated, this means pork rib tea.  The reality is a bowl of pork ribs simmered for hours to make a complex and delicious soup full of flavour and spices and herbs, predominantly garlic and pepper, served with hot tea.

The other type of bak kut teh is the Hokkien variety (there are various stories of which variation is the original between Teochew and Hokkien) which uses dark soya sauce as well as the addition of other spices like star anise and cloves to the stock to produce a sweeter, almost medicinal herbal stock.

I remember the Hokkien style from my childhood but have to admit it’s been a long time since I’ve tasted it – perhaps it’s time that I attempt to cook it 🙂

Kung Fu tea

But I digress – bak kut teh is traditionally a breakfast meal, although there are often people enjoying this dish as supper around Singapore at the 24 hour bak kut teh restaurants.  Ng Ah Sio opens at 6am and closes at 2pm, and I had the luxury of being able to take my dad there for breakfast this morning.

The shop is located in a quiet part of Rangoon Road and it was lovely to be able to sit down, relax and enjoy the food and just catch up with my dad in the relative cool of the morning.  By the time we left at 10.30 the place was full and I assume it will only get busier towards lunch time.

The menu is limited – they only do a few dishes…very very well.  We ordered the prime rib soup (which comes with soup top-ups if you ask for it), a liver and kidney soup, which comes in a more subdued and sweeter stock than the pork rib stock and you tiao – Chinese donuts.

It’s one of those dishes which is really difficult to describe other than if you like pork and pepper and garlic, it’s a must-try.  The tea is a must, to help neutralise the fat in the soup and cleanse the palatte.  It’s served out of old ceramic teapots with a large kettle of boiling water next to the table for you to refill, and drink out of traditional teeny tiny tea cups.  Enough to hold one sip of the strong tannic tea.

A million bowls have been served since 1988 in their current location – they’ve got to be doing something right.  Their site seems to be down but there’s a cached version of the history which is below if you’re interested in the history and evolution of this famous eating house.

Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House
208 Rangoon Road
tel: +65 6291 4537
Opening hours: Tue–Sun: 6am – 2pm
(Closed on Mon)

History
As one of the pioneers of this now famous dish, Mr Ng Siak Hai’s (nickname: Ng Ah Sio’s) father – Mr Ng Mui Song, began plying the pork-based, peppery herbal soup cooked in a distinct Teochew style in the 1050s at the current River Valley and Hill Street vicinity.  These early servings of the bak kut teh was accompanied by Chinese donuts (you tiao) and a strong brew of Chinese tea and there was no chilli and soya sauce dips.  One of the common beliefs of the origins of bak kut teh is rooted in the early days of the Republic’s founding where large numbers of young men migrated from China to work as coolies at the godowns by the historic Singapore River.  As their jobs involved much physical hardship and their meagre salaries could ill-afford the luxury of meat then, they used the bones of pork to brew their soups as a form of nourishment.

It is said that the Teochew labourers came up with the original version of the bak kut teh and their legendary stamina and strength after taking it soon led to other groups of Chinese coolies making the same with variations in the types of herbs added.

On 1 December, 1977, with an initial crew of seven workers, Mr Ng Siak took over from his father at his retirement and began serving the crowds at new World Amusement Park (current Kitchener Road) with an improved recipe that further enhanced the aroma of pepper in the soup, which is more robust than the original, while retaining many of the hall-mark use of fresh pork ribs, garlic and a secret blend of herbs.  He named his shop Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House.  It is this unique robust flabour that many have come to associate Ng Ah Sio with, and his team of workers soon increased to 18 to cope with the surging numbers of people looking to fulfill their craving for this invogorating version of Singapore’s heritage dish.

Since moving to Rangoon Road on 15 March 1988, over a million bowls of this classic heritage dish have been served.  Ng Ah Sio as a brand has since become synonymous with the dish.  It remains a firm favourite with both locals and foreigners and this is the place many would come to savour a truly original bowl of bak kut teh, served with chilli, soya sauce and many other accompanments for the ultimate enjoyment of this dish.


All this good food leads to a good detox

Once or twice a year I find myself feeling sluggish, and that, to me, is my body telling me it’s time to give my liver a break and detox.  I have been doing a once or twice a year detox now for about ten years, and for me, it seems to “reset” my digestive system.  When I started I went truly hard core for two weeks, and I have to admit, it was the toughest two weeks where all I could think about was “bad” food.  I realise now after years of tweaking with new recipes and ideas, that everyone needs to plan their own detox programme according to their own lives – you need to factor in that ideally some of the detox recipes will end up working their way into your normal eating habits.

There are tons of detox programmes out there – the one I use follows these basic principles:
1) No meat – red or white
2) No processed food – white sugars, breads, cakes, biscuits etc
3) No alcohol
4) No caffeine
5) No dairy

What you can eat:
1) Any fruit, vegetable, legume etc (you know, the healthy stuff) – go for brightly coloured vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and avocados etc and you can’t really go wrong
2) Brown rice, whole grain breads, brown rice/corn/buckwheat/quinoa pastas, steel cut oats (if you can’t get these then try normal oats, just don’t ever eat the instant oats as they have been so processed that all the goodness of the oats is stripped away)
3) Raw nuts (the good fats in nuts can go rancid once they are cooked) like almonds and cashews and macadamias
4) Tofu and soy milk – look for non GMO products
5) small portions of fish if you want
6) Herbal teas – peppermint, dandelion, fennel
7) Start each day upon rising with a big mug of warm water with a good squeeze of lemon. This really helps to kickstart your metabolism.
8)You need to take two spoons of psyllium husk three times a day to really flush out your system and drink lots of water.  Try for 2L a day

Now ideally you’re meant to be on this programme for 2 weeks, but I have found that that is simply too long for someone who loves food so much – to the point where detoxing becomes a real chore and I’m likely to cheat, or quit and start hoovering steaks and cakes and guzzling bottles of wine.  I find that a week is enough to get to the point where you are just enjoying eating clean, healthy food, and you can feel a difference.  Stick to the basic principles as much as you can, my best advice is to plan plan plan – your social life, your grocery shopping, your meals.  At the end of the week, you should feel energised (not in need of a coffee to start the day), less bloated…overall, just healthier.  A plus is you might even feel some weight dropping off – basically it’s not the healthy food so much as you tend to simply consume less calories, but hey, can’t hurt.

I thought I’d share some ideas for meals below.  Good luck, try your best and just enjoy eating healthily for a week.

Homemade hummus:
1 can chickpeas (you can cook from the dried beans if you have the time – soak 100g overnight and simmer until tender)
100g sesame seeds – lightly dry toast them and finely grind in the food processor
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
Chuck them all in the food processor until smooth – you need to add enough lemon juice so that you can taste it but it doesn’t overpower the dip.  Serve with a sprinkling of paprika and chick peas and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Use as a dip with crudites as a snack, or use as a spread in sandwiches, on top of whole grain crackers with tomatoes and avocado or if you’re feeling very healthy, alfalfa sprouts.

Vegetable soup
Gently fry onions until soft
Add chopped carrots and celery and fry until coated
Add vegetable stock
Simmer 20 mins
Add a bay leaf  and harder vegetables (like beans) and simmer for 10 more mins
Add softer vegetables like chopped spinach, zuccini just before you take off the heat.
You can also add some quinoa for some texture and protein.

Some other great simple soup ideas:
Carrot and ginger
Pumpkin
Broccoli
Watercress (you can thicken with a potato if you want)
Potato and Leek

Wakame Salad
Soak dried wakame until soft, add to lettuce leaves, cucumber, tomato and silken tofu.
Make dressing with some tamari (or soya sauce if you can’t get tamari), sesame oil, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Other salad ideas:
Quinoa salad – cook quinoa and fluff, add chopped cucumber, red onion and red capsiscum.  Dress with mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts olive oil (basically a couscous salad)
Tuna nicoise salad (minus the egg) – add tuna on top of bed of lettuce and french beans, dress with olive oil and lemon juice

PASTA
You can get dried organic brown rice pastas from health food stores and make all sorts of vegetable sauces:
eggplant and tomato with basil
spinach
spaghetti aglio e olio
broccoli
pesto