Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

Winter heat blast – coconut milk and ginger soup

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Winter is the only season when I crave soups. And sweet-sour-spicy Asian soups are my favorite. Their tempting aroma and slowly building heat are warming to all the senses.

Before I went down with the flu I tried to fight its lurking shadow with a Thai inspired soup loaded with ginger, garlic and chili. It obviously didn’t do the job, as I’m writing this from my sick bed, but it postponed it enough for me to go out to see a movie. It’s actually a mix of Thai Tom Khaa Kai and Vietnamese Pho recipes with a Japanese guest appearance – udon noodles.

coconut milk and ginger soup

The base is coconut milk, chicken broth, fresh ginger, fish sauce and chili. The rest of the ingredients could vary. I added garlic this time for extra flu resistance and mushrooms, as I was out of shrimp and somebody devoured the leftover roast chicken breast. The noodles are not necessary, but we all love the thick, slippery udon and the way you can slurp them in good conscience.

The soup makes a light lunch or supper. If serving the soup to kids skip the fresh chili and let everybody add chili-garlic sauce individually. Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients – the soup itself is ready in few minutes.

Coconut milk and ginger soup

enough for six

  • 2 X 13.5 oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
  • 4 cups (1 l) homemade chicken stock, or the best store bought you can afford
  • 2 inch ( 4 cm) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into match sticks
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 Asian shallots, peeled and crushed (or small onion, quartered)
  • 1 lemon grass, though outer parts discarded, cut in to 4 inch (10 cm) pieces, smashed
  • 2-3 red chili, cut in half, seeded and finely sliced (optional if cooking for kids)
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4-5 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 X 13.5 oz can straw mushroom


  • 10 oz (300 gr) button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced not very thin,


  • ½ pound ( 250 gr) big cleaned and shelled shrimp (I use frozen),


  • 14 oz (400 g) chicken breasts, cut into slices
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes (optional, but adds nice color)
  • ½ pound noodles (optional) – whatever you have at home

For garnishing

  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • handful fresh cilantro (coriander), roughly chopped
  • handful fresh mint, roughly chopped

Heat a deep sauce pan or wok on medium high, add the first six ingredients and bring to a boil. Don’t worry if the milk splits – it’s normal. If using chicken, add it now together with the fish sauce and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes until cooked through. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 2-3 minutes – the shrimps cook really fast and the tomatoes shouldn’t lose their shape. Check for seasoning and adjust. The soup shouldn’t be too spicy, but rather a balance of sweet, sour and spicy. Add the spring onions and herbs. Serve over cooked noodles (if using) with extra lime slices, fish sauce and chili-garlic sauce to perk it up. Recommended even if you are not about to drop sick any time soon.

Tomato cinnamon soup for cold gray weather

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

This is a warming concoction very popular with my family – its color, smell and taste really work when you are depressed and chilled throughout. The homemade chicken stock gives it depth and the cinnamon and star anise add extra strength. When you have the stock frozen in containers in the freezer the soup itself is easy and fast to prepare.

Homemade stock

I make my own stock every time when I roast chicken. This is a trick I’ve learned at culinary school and it also goes very well with the green lifestyle I’m trying to follow. When cooking vegetables I collect the peels and stems, the hard green parts of leeks, the onion tops, and even apple cores. Everything keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The carcass of the roast chicken is frozen. When I’m out of stock I pull everything out and put the biggest pot I have on the stove. I melt 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil, add the collected vegetable peels and rest, a handful of parsley and dill stems (could be also basil, thyme, oregano – but no rosemary as it’s too strong), sautee them for few minutes – you can add quartered onion (don’t peel it), extra carrot – chopped big, parsnip and whatever comes handy or sitting in your fridge for too long. Add enough water up to the top, bay leaf, few whole black pepper corns, cover the pot, bring to boil and then lower the heat to very light simmer. Simmer from 2 to 4 hours – depends how much time you have. The smell is great. Let it cool completely and ladle into sealable plastic containers and freeze. Do this on a cold stay-at-home day and use it when making soups, stews.

The actual soup

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 clove (optional – use if you are up for stronger aroma and extra heat)
  • 1 stick cinnamon (or ¼ tsp powder)
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 28 oz (794 g) cans peeled tomatoes (Italian and organic if you can find)
  • 2-3 cups home made chicken stock
  • salt, pepper, sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional – but highly recommended)
  • handful chopped Italian basil (parsley)


Put a large pot on medium heat and melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sautee until the onion is translucent. Powder the coriander and fennel seeds – and the cloves if using – in a mortar (if you don’t have one – get it! I love mine. You can use a bottle – place the spices between two sheets of paper and roll the bottle on top), and add to the onion-garlic mix. Give it a good stir for 30 sec. Add the cinnamon and star anise – stir again. The aroma should be warming and quite exotic. Add ½ tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Now add the tomatoes (If they are whole you can use kitchen scissors to cut them in the can – not too small as the soup will be pureed latter). Add 1 tsp sugar as it will temper the sourness of the tomatoes. Sautee for another 5 min and add the defrosted chicken stock – 2 cups first and the rest if the soup is too thick. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to an intensive simmer (vigorous bubbles should appear, but not fully boiling), partly cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes. Taste for salt and add more as well black pepper if needed, add the vinegar (it brings up the flavor of the tomatoes just perfectly) and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn down the heat, let it cool for a while. Take out the cinnamon and star anise, add most of the basil (or parsley) and puree. You can leave it with some chunks or make it very smooth – your choice. Return to the pot, warm again and serve sprinkled with the rest of the basil and toasted hearty bread. I don’t add sour cream to this soup, but if you absolutely have to – go for it. The leftovers could be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen. You can make it even more filling by adding slices of fresh Italian sausage (for those on this side of the ocean) or biała kiełbasa (for those on the Europe shore) in the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Cauliflower and potato soup

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Perfect for cold winter weather, this soup takes care of your well-being and the lingering veggies in your pantry. You can puree it to a smooth cream, or leave a little chunks if you prefer to feel a bite in your soup.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil ( no need for extra virgin)
  • ½ medium white onion, peeled and chopped
  • fresh ginger, thumb size piece, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 large red Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
  • ½ medium to large cauliflower, washed, separated in to small florets, stems cut
  • ½ small parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds – crushed in mortar
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds – crushed in mortar
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp allspice, powder
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (optional) torn in half
  • juice of half lime (or lemon)
  • 4 cups homemade (or organic) chicken or turkey stock
  • water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns


In a medium pot melt the butter and olive oil (this will prevent the butter solids from burning), add the onion and ginger and simmer until the onion is translucent. Add all the chopped vegetables and sautee for 5 min. Add salt, pepper and the rest of the spices and sautee for another 10 min stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and enough water to cover the vegetables by about 1 inch. Add the lime (lemon) juice. Bring to boil, then turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 20 – 25 min or until tender. Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper and lime juice if desired. Puree the soup with mixer or in a blender and serve hot. If it’s too thick, add some hot water. For even more substance you can add sour cream or thick yogurt. Nan bread is an ideal accompaniment for this soup, but a crusty country bread is ok, too. Keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Carefully rewarm without boiling if you put cream or yogurt.

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