Tag Archives: soup


I’ve been busy and life has gotten in the way of blogging. Oh dear.

A quick note from today: another kind of ooops. That recipe for butternut squash and chorizo soup? Yeah. The one where the guests lick their bowls clean? Yup. That’s the one.

I was wondering what would happen if you used, well, y’know, a whole chorizo.





Just a simple Friday night supper with The Major and Him What Knows in attendance. Since The Major might have been delayed, mains was a large pot of minestrone, biding its time on the hob, whilst we waited and devoured olives and schinkenspeck. The latter is as tasty as Parma ham, and about half the price.

I sweated 150g pancetta until crunchy and rendered; about fifteen minutes. Added 400g diced aromatics (onions and carrots), a knob of butter, salt and pepper, and then continued to sweat until the veg were soft and starting to caramelise. Another half hour – I wasn’t timing as I was doing the washing up. One 450g tin of chopped tomatoes, an equal amount of water, and a 450g tin of cannellini beans were added, the whole lot brought to the boil and then reduced to a simmer. A teaspoon of dried oregano and a bay leaf dropped in.

Secret ingredient time! Right now, you can get baby white cabbages in the shops, only slightly larger than your fist, which are full of flavour, and none of the unpleasant side effects of their larger brethren. I took one of these, only around 400g, peeled off the outer couple of leaves, and then sliced into segments, with a bit of stalk attached to each to hold the leaves together. Soup topped up with a bit of hot water from the kettle as it was getting gluggy, and the cabbage dropped gently on top. Another hour’s simmering, and a handful of cooked macaroni tossed in before serving with plenty of bread and grana.

Butternut Squash and Chorizo Soup

Another easy soup for the mid-week zombie march. You will need:

  • one butternut squash (or a very small pumpkin)
  • about a handful (50g) of chopped up chorizo (a reasonably spicy one, preferably – you could use pancetta but I don’t think that would deliver the same amount of excitement)
  • about a litre of stock (chicken, vegetable, or just reach for the Marigold powdered boullion)

Cut the squash down the middle, scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon, and slice a channel down the middle, with channels across as well. Butternut squash are treacherous, so be careful when you do this.

Pack the chorizo into the hollows, and grind over a spot of salt and pepper. Put them in a shallow baking dish, and into the oven at 180ºC for an hour. (The pancetta will ooze fat, so don’t use a baking sheet unless you want hot pig fat on the floor of your oven.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, get the stock into a saucepan, and hot. I had a block of stock in the freezer (no idea whether it was animal, vegetable or mineral) so popped it in the pan to defrost. (End result: vegetable, if a little on the bland side.)

When you retrieve the squash from the oven, the channels will have opened out and the chorizo fat soaked into the flesh. In addition, the flesh on the surface will have started to caramelise. Yum.

Let the squash cool a bit. Using a pair of barbecue tongs to hold them, use a metal spoon to scrape out the soft flesh and chorizo, and add it to the saucepan of hot stock. Stroke the flesh gently with the spoon and it should come off the skin easily. The biggest challenge of this operation is not to simply eat the hot squash then and there. (It does make a terrific side dish.)

The soup will then need to be simmered for another fifteen minutes or so, but another half hour if the flesh was a little fibrous, i.e. hadn’t cooked all the way through in the oven.

I use the hand blender (purée wand in US English) to smooth out any last pockets of resistance. You could just have a go with a potato masher and leave it chunky.

Salt and pepper to taste. Maybe a teensy pinch of paprika if you’ve used pancetta.

Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

Yeah, yeah, tins and packets, but an ideal mid week supper for the braindead. It’s about an hour of elapsed time, but only five minutes’ actual work.

The herbs and spices in this one should be subtle.

  • 400g chopped up onions, celery, carrots, whatever (a 400g bag of the pre-prepped stuff from Waitrose is ideal)
  • 400g tinned toms (plus equal amount hot water)
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained
  • 50g diced or thinly sliced chorizo (or loads more if you fancy)
  • a clove or two
  • a pinch of
    • dried oregano
    • ground cumin
    • paprika

Gently fry the chorizo to render the fat. Expect this to take about ten minutes.

Add the soffritto, and a pinch of salt. Continue to fry, until soft, stirring from time to time. Again, another ten minutes.

Add the toms, an equal amount of hot water, the chickpeas and the herbs/spices. If you’ve got a bottle of wine on the go, then add a splash.

Adjust seasoning, and simmer for about half an hour. The starch from the chickpeas will thicken it, so you may need more water.

Tomato and Whisky Soup

I have half a kilo of things, sold as tomatoes, but more suitable for use on an artillery range. They’re hard and they’re flavourless. Here’s what to do with them: it’s an austere, but highly effective recipe, even better when you’ve got some nice tomatoes.

Wash the tomatoes, but don’t bother skinning them, and pack them into a saucepan so they form a single layer. You may need to experiment with the size of saucepan and the orientation of the toms in order to achieve this. It also needs to be a pan with a tight fitting lid as we don’t really want to reduce the mixture.

Add 60mL whisky (no need for the single malt!) per 500g tomatoes, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, and a bay leaf. Put on a low, low heat; just enough to keep them gently bubbling. After an hour they will have partially collapsed.

All you need do is fish out the bay leaf, and then push everything through a coarse sieve, until nothing but the seeds and skins remain, which you can discard. And that’s it. No stock, no veg, no herbs, no nothin’, just loads of tomato flavour. (You could add some more pepper and stir in some crème fraîche if you really wanted, but taste it in its raw form first.)

It’s a strongly flavoured soup, and I’d hazard a guess that 500g toms produces enough soup for two servings as a first course.

Not quite sure where this one came from. I think I had the procedure desribed to me by Him What Knows.

Leek and Potato Soup

Again, but this time with the leftover potato and celeriac mash.

Peel, slice and fry two slim leeks: equivalent to, but containing more flavour than one giant leek. Fry the leek in butter with a splash of oil to stop in burning. You want a heat low enough so that it takes about 15 minutes for them to get lightly browned and sticky.

Add about a litre of stock, making sure you incorporate any gooey bits on the bottom of the pan from the leeks.

Then, about 500g of leftover mash, and bring it up to the boil.

Salt and pepper, and if in doubt, a bay leaf or two won’t hurt.

Let it simmer for a bit, so the starch in the spuds is unleashed and can thicken the soup. (A quick attack with the hand blender if, like me, you haven’t chopped the leeks finely enough or there are lumps in the mash. One need never fear making soup mid week with one of these in the cupboard.)

Once that’s all done, and the heat is off, you could crumble a small amount of Stilton or Gorgonzola into the soup, stirring until it has melted. Or just serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Then sit back and enjoy the comforting starchy goodness of it all.

Leek and (Sweet) Potato Soup

I tend to think of my freezer as a savings account. When times are good, you deposit your loot, and when times are bad, or it’s simply A Monday, you make a withdrawal.

Lurking in the back is some frozen sweet potato mash. I’m a big fan of freezing leftover mash, as it can be used for all sorts of things later. There is a trick, though. If you put your mash in the freezer in a block, it will take about six weeks (or a blowtorch) to thaw it. Better than that, push it into square sandwich bags, and once the bag is sealed (or almost) squish the contents, ’til you end up with a flattish slab of the stuff. If the flattish slab happens to accidentally be the size and shape of the top of the dish in which you habitually make Shepherds’ Pie, then I won’t tell anyone.

So, one leek, peeled and finely chopped, and fried in olive oil for about 20 minutes; long enough to colour. The mash and some water goes on top and gets stirred. The starch in the mash will thicken the mix almost immediately, so have a freshly boiled kettle on hand, and keep adding water and stirring, until the desired consistency is reached. Simmer for about 20 minutes and you’re ready to go.


You could content yourself with just checking the seasoning. Or…

  • you could whip up some chilli, garlic, cumin and turmeric first, fry it, and add the other ingredients (garnishing with coriander not a bad idea after this)
  • be subtle, and just add a bay leaf and grate a small amount of nutmeg over the top before simmering

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

The pumpkins you get in England tend to be oversized, fibrous, tasteless things, suitable for making Jack-o-Lanterns; but very little else. The more modestly sized butternut squash contains a lot more flavour. Your mileage may vary in other countries: I’ve had perfectly edible pumpkin just across the channel, as well as across the Atlantic, so it can’t be all that bad. I could make the soup simply by peeling, chopping up and simmering the squash, but I don’t think that brings out the flavour the way roasting does. (And besides, the flat is cold.)

  1. Get the oven going at 200C
  2. Cut up a butternut squash lengthways into wedges – you will need a sharp heavy knife, and the vegetable is a slippery treacherous one – so take care when doing this – my 600g pumpkin yields 11 wedges, but I could have just chopped it up into six pieces
  3. Put the wedges into a roasting tin, rub them in olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt – you could also add a grind of pepper and consider some tough woody herbs
  4. It’ll need about 40 – 60 minutes, so do the washing up or something – they’ll be done when they’ve gone dark, are singing to themselves and smelling rather good
  5. Chop an onion finely and fry with a little butter in a saucepan or pot big enough to hold the finished product, along with some of the following (tonight I’m adding options 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
    • a knob of ginger, grated
    • a couple of cloves of garlic
    • a dried bay leaf
    • four cloves
    • a vigorous grinding of black pepper
    • some sage leaves (if you must)
    • chilli flakes or paprika
    • half a teaspoon of Thai red curry paste (Mae Ploy brand is good)
    • half a teaspoon of curry powder
  6. Pour over a litre of stock and bring to a simmer (I’m using a frozen tupper of some veg stock I made a few weeks ago, which is why there’s an iceberg in the saucepan)
    …but melting quickly…
  7. Resuce the roasted squash from the oven and allow to cool enough for you to remove the seeds and skin, and then bung the flesh into the saucepan
  8. Simmer for a bit (if you’re doing the Thai thing, you could add a couple of Kaffir lime leaves)
  9. Use either a hand held blender, potato masher or spoon, to bring to the right consistency (if you’re blending, fish out any cloves, bay leaves etc first)
  10. Maybe some crème fraîche? (Yeah, I know, every second post mentions it, but I’ve got a pot on the go, alright?)

Goop on Toast

The remains of last night’s minestrone have sat in the pot overnight, and congealed; the beans and pasta soaking up any remaining liquid, and the whole lot looking very solid, and to be eaten with a knife and fork, rather than a spoon.

At this point I could spread it out in a baking dish, pop it a hot oven until it was crisp on top, and maybe add some more cheese.

However, the soggy pasta puts me in mind of childhood, so I just heat it up and put it on toast for lunch.


It’s almost cold, and actually wet today. Where once there was a veritable herd, there’s now only a single dispirited chugger by the station.

About 500mL of last night’s tomato goop has been popped into a saucepan with some dried basil and oregano, and half a tin of borlotti beans. It would have been nice to have used up the whole tin, neatly, but life’s not as neat and as convenient as that, so the remainder go into a tupper and into the fridge. Hopefully I can think of something useful to do with them, rather than discover them six months later.

It’d also be nice if you could just chuck the handful macaroni straight in, but it really needs to be cooked in a separate pan, before being added. By now the mixture’s heated up, so I turn the heat down to a low simmer. It’s looking a bit thick, so I add some boiling water to get it to the right consistency, and then switch the heat off before grating in some parmesan.

A kind of minestrone, I guess. (Or is it ribollita? Not sure. I think the real thing would need beans, cabbage and a ham bone.)

The remaining kilogram of tomato goop will have to go in the freezer.