Posts Tagged ‘soup’

29
Jun
2012

Colombian Sancocho

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I recently traveled to Colombia with my beautiful wife for the first time. It was a journey of discovery and adventure, great food, cheap rum, and quite a lot of time spent riding horses. In short, it was amazing.

I’ve been married for almost 2 years now, and with Marcela’s patient teaching, my Spanish is slowly getting better. But it’s safe to say that I was as out of my depth in Colombia as a cruise ship giving a drive by to a Mediterranean island (ie: run aground on a frequent basis).

Nonetheless I did my best to persevere and communicate with my mother in law, sister & brother in laws, and my niece as best I could. Which was entertaining for them if nothing else. But after a while the ¿Cómo amaneciste? and ¿Esta cansada? started to come as easily as “tengo hambre” (I’m hungry) and fragments of words and ideas slowly started to meld themselves into something that could vaguely be called communication.

I was introduced to many of the great things that make Colombians love their country. The food, the music, the dancing, the drinking, the family, the football, the landscapes and the zest for life that people have despite a vast majority of them being very poor.

If there is one dish that perhaps can sum up my experience in Colombia, it would have to be Sancocho. Sancocho is somewhere between a soup and a stew (depending on how you make it). But what is perhaps more important about Sancocho than what goes into it, is where you make it.

Sancocho’s home is the street. When Christmas time and holidays come around, Colombians take to the street with a bottle of aguardiente (the local spirit of choice), a blackened old pot, a bucket of water, and as many ingredients as they can get their hands on. A makeshift fire is lit on the sidewalk, and the pot lowered onto it, propped up by bricks, rocks, or whatever spare car parts can be found lying around. Then someone takes on the all important job of fanning the flames while the water starts to boil and the soup is built.

Into the soup goes pork (cerdo), chicken (pollo), oxtail (cola de res), potato (papas), green plantain (platano), cassava (yuca)
onions, garlic, mazorca (big corn that isn’t sweet), coriander (cilantro), and spices like cumin (comino), and paprika (pimenton).

Then the long slow process of the cooking begins. Each vegetable or meat being added at just the right time so that the end result is a deep rich stock (caldo), falling off the bone soft meat, and veges with just the right level of give. It should all hopefully coincide with the point where everyone is drunk enough from aguardiente and tired enough from dancing, and just before someone starts a fight over who gets to choose the next song blasted out into the street via the speakers that have been dragged outside. This is when the soul and body restoring qualities that only a great sancocho made on the street can provide are needed most.

I got to make sancocho twice in Colombia. Once on the street in San Antonio de Prado, Medellin, with my brother in law Hamilton (that’s him fanning the flames in the video), his friends, and all the family. And once just outside the small town of Andes, Antioquia in the heart of a coffee growing region, next to a river, after walking down a hill for a kilometre to get there. Some local kids managed to goad me into jumping off a bridge 3m above the river, and though I thought I was going to at one point, I didn’t die, and there’s nothing like escaping death to bring about a hunger. Sure as hell made the walk back up that hill more bearable anyway.

You can, of course, order this dish in many restaurants in Colombia (or make it yourself at home), but it will never be quite the same as this one.

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21
Jan
2009

Masterchef Australia : Salmorejo with WA Marron & baby herbs

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I came, I saw, I did not conquer.

The wiley among you would have guessed that my last post was in regards to Masterchef Australia auditions. Channel 10′s new big reality TV show for the year and the single train of though that has been occupying my mind for the past few weeks now.

I applied for the show before Christmas and then was pleasantly surprised to hear that I’d got an audition. The details for the audition were that we had to bring along one dish that would impress the judges. It should best be served cold, as there were no facilities to heat things up before they were tasted, and it should showcase your cooking ability and knowledge of flavours.

So being the resourceful food blogger that I am, I started scouring the internet and coming up with as many ideas as possible for a dish that would be seasonal, local, interesting but simple, and ultimately delicious.

With my trusty group of taste testers in tow I toured through the culinary landscapes. Starting off along the lines of a roast beetroot salad with goats curd, rocket, caramelised walnuts and orange, then went towards a roast pumpkin salad with blue cheese, toasted pine nuts and baby spinach, then ventured towards carpaccio of beef, tuna tataki, ceviche of king fish, gazpacho with morton bay bug tails. My taste buds then went a little sweet and I experimented with panna cotta, with frangelico and lime.

I took into account a lot of the great ideas put forward by all you lovely contributors and then a week before the audition I had an almighty cook-athon. Raiding the markets for the freshest, most delicious looking produce I could, then spending all afternoon prepping up all the potential dishes.

I called the taste testers over for a final opinion on the direction to go in. It was a one of the last dishes however, that caught their attention. Kam had casually dropped the idea of salmorejo into the comments, and so while prepping up the gazpacho, I left some tomato aside to make that as well. It was an instant hit and my direction was set.

Salmorejo is basically a cold Spanish soup made with tomatoes, stale bread that’s soaked in water, garlic, olive oil, and sherry vinegar. The hardest part about the dish is pronouncing it properly (sal-mor-echo), the rest is dead simple.

Pinchey Baby Herbs

Salmorejo comes from Cordova in Spain, and there it’s generally served with boiled eggs and jamon. I decided to serve mine with some local marron. Thinking the sweetness and lightness would be a great addition to the flavours in the soup, and getting a great suggestion from Deb about using baby herbs to give the dish some lift, without overpowering the flavour of the marron, as the chiffonaded basil I was using to garnish could be a little too much.

Once the main ingredients were set I diligently set about perfecting it. Trying as many different types of tomatoes as I could get my hands on, eating copious amounts of herbs at my local garden centre, and sourcing the freshest marron I could find. Fortunately Dad came to the rescue on that one, letting me know about a marron farm just outside of Corrigin. He rang up and they went out to the dams and fished some out just for me, then he drove them up to Perth in a box for me, well and truly alive and kicking (and ready to sever any fingers inadvertently left too close to the pinchey end).

The ingredients were thus finalised, and the night before the audition I sat up til 1am making the final batch of salmorejo and cooking the marron, ready for the 7:30am (!!) start time. How exactly I made it to the audition on time and awake I have no idea. But everything came together pretty smoothly.

Of course the auditions didn’t start at 7:30am. We instead sat in line for a good couple of hours while the camera guys and producers got little grabs of people looking excited and panned up and down the ever growing queue of people unnecessarily standing outside the building in the growing heat.

New queue buddies Manda, Tash, John, and I chatted about what we were all doing there in the first place, talked food, reality tv, and mused that we’d probably have the worlds best picnic with all the great food in everyones collective eskies at the moment.

So finally we get inside, sign our lives over to Masterchef and head into a little room to be briefed on the process. I’m not entirely sure what I signed when I put my signature to the release form, so I won’t give away any inside secrets about the show (not that I know any), but suffice to say it should be great to watch.

After our initial briefing we were split up into groups, and headed into our first audition session. About 10 people per group all went into a smaller room with a group of producers and assembled their dishes on a table up the front. Then two at a time talked about who they were and why they made the dish they made, and tasted the other persons dish and gave a little feedback on it.

I have to say all the dishes looked excellent, and all the ones I tried after the session tasted great. There was a terrine of chicken, lobster, and scallop, some vietnamese rolls with marron, a japanese tofu custard, a smoked salmon stack, a nectarine and pomegranate salad with lamb, a mango pudding with layers of panna cotta and jelly, a flourless chocolate liqueur cake with a berry sauce, scotch eggs with home made chutney, a layered salmon tartare, and a number of other different and wonderful dishes.

My salmorejo was very well received by everyone who tried it though. I was really happy with how the flavours came together and it looked great on the plate. When I heard my name called out for the second interview I was super happy. Those who made it through gathered anxiously outside, and those who didn’t were bid a fond farewell. It was surprising the amount of camaraderie generated in such a small time…but I guess that’s what being part of a shared experience can do to you.

Then on to my second interview with some other producers. I took my second plate of the soup and marron in and placed it delicately on the table in front of them, only to have them mostly ignore it and get straight to the nitty gritty of why I deserved to be on the show. I did my best to justify just how keen I was and made sure to emphasise keywords like passion, dedication, commitment, and honesty… a motivation speaker would have been so proud of me.

Then, when I thought it was all over, I had another chat with yet another producer. This time the lovely Keily, who wanted to know all about where I came from and what I liked, and if I were a food, what food would I be. It was all quite comfortable and positive when I left it was with a fairly strong idea that I’d be getting a call back for the next round of auditions, where I’d have to prepare a dish and present it in front of the judges for real.

So when the call came through at 8pm that night saying sorry, you didn’t make it through, I will admit, I was a little disappointed. Ok, very disappointed. But what can you do really. It’s TV, they have a specific group of people they are looking for and I guess I didn’t fit into whatever that was. If my dish hadn’t of been so well liked I think I’d be more upset, but as it stands I did everything I wanted and said everything I felt I needed to in the auditions to represent who I am.

Pretty much anyone who knows me will know just how competitive I am, but at the same time I won’t get hung up on things I have no control over. Plus as much as I’d like to hate everyone else who did get through to round 2, everyone I met was really nice and I have nothing but good things to say about the whole audition process.

So to all the lovely people I met over the course of the day (Tash, Manda, John, Rob, Charles, Antoneo, Patrice, Pete) I wish you well and look forward to seeing just who does go through to be the first Australian Masterchef.

And now… how about the recipe for my dish.

Salmorejo with West Australian Marron and baby herbs

You will need

  • Roughly 500g of tomatoes – the reddest ripest you can find, I tried about 4 different types
    and eventually settled on baby roma tomatoes which were plump and red and super sweet
  • 200g stale bread – I used a loaf of sourdough that was left out for a few days, but really any kind of bread would be fine, just not multigrain.
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic – vary this depending on how strong you want the garlic to come through
  • 2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 100 ml of good olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season to taste

How I made mine

Depending on your tomatoes you may want to peel and core them before you start. I was using baby tomatoes and it wasn’t really an option, so I instead blended whole in a food processor and then strained them through a sieve to get rid of the skin and seeds. If you however, have a thing for peeling tomatoes (or you’re some kind of sadist) then you’ll get a great result that way too.

So blend the tomatoes with the garlic cloves, soak the bread in water til it’s soggy, and then squeeze the excess water out. What you’re basically making is a tomato emulsion, and the bread is here to stabilise and thicken it, and give it a nicer consistency.

While the food processor is still going, add the bread bit by bit until it’s all smoothly blended. It should be somewhat thick at this stage. Check the flavour and consistency and then add your sherry vinegar to taste, and gradually blend in the olive oil until you’ve got the consistency and flavour you like.

This soup is a real vehicle for the produce. So the better the tomatoes and olive oil you use, the better it’s going to taste. Once all of that is blended through, add salt and pepper and perhaps more sherry vinegar to taste, and more bread if you need to change the consistency.

Then either into the fridge for a while to chill it right down, or get a bit tricky a blend 3 or 4 ice cubes into the mixture for a quick cool down. I think it tastes better the colder it is, especially on baking hot Australian summer days.

The marron I simply cooked whole in salted water (after putting them into the freezer for 15 minutes to put them to sleep, and pushing a knive down through their heads between their eyes for a quick, tho still traumatic enough, death).

My final dish is then just arranging the soup on the bottom, a small mound of chopped and lightly seasoned marron into the middle of the dish, and a delicate topping of baby herbs on top. I ended up using baby basil, purple basil, asian parsley, and coriander. An elegant swirl of olive oil and the dish is ready to serve.

I recommend making a large bowl of it and watching Master Chef while bitching and moaning to your friends about what might have been :)

28
Jul
2008

To cure what ails: Hu Tieu Bo Kho

Hu Tieu Bo Kho

Soup is great to cure a lot of things. I’ve been having a lot of it lately. The Vietnamese are smart people… they recognise the power that a good soup can have, when extrapolated to it’s natural conclusion, the meal in a bowl.

For a while now I’ve been appreciating the comfort that a steaming bowl of ph? can deliver. The combination of thin slices of beef, mint, chilli, bean shoots, rice noodles… all mingling together in a well crafted stock, creating an experience that totals more than the sum of it’s parts.

Along the same lines then, I present to you “Hu Tieu Bo Kho”. Hu Tieu is a type of rice noodle, Bo means beef, and kho literally means braised, but more specifically refers to a style of thicker soup in which meats are cooked. So what you get when you put them all together is a lovely rich soup full of chunks of tender beef (brisket or chuck seem to be popular), with carrots, bean sprouts, and some of the other typical pho accompaniments. The soup is flavoured with star anise, lemongrass, and five spice, and seems to vary in consistency and intensity amongst my beloved top end of William Street ‘Little Vietnam’ area restaurants.

I could eat this every day of the week… such is the simple joy it brings.

You can find this one here:

Vinh Hong Restaurant
2/399 William Street
Northbridge
Phone: (08) 9227 1899

13
Jul
2006

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

For me, soup is soul food…

There is nothing better than a big hearty bowl of piping hot soup, that fills your belly and warms you up from the inside out.
Add to that some crusty bread to dip with, and soak up every last little drip, and you’ve got yourself the perfect lazy meal.
I have fond memories of Sunday nights as a child in our family. Mum was more than likely over the idea cooking anything fancy after spending all day preparing the Sunday roast.

So soup was the meal of choice. Served most of the time, with tray after tray of fresh scones and cinnamon scrolls.

So after casually mentioning to Dee that she should perhaps brush the cobwebs off her oven and make some of it, I figured I’d better make a batch of my own.

So here goes:

Ingredients

  • Butternut Pumpkin (I used a big half, maybe half a kilo)
  • 2 Chillis (or less if you dont want it too spicey)
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds, salt, black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Tablespoon or so of fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • A good handful of fresh coriander

How I made mine
This is a really simple recipe… You basically want to roast all your veges together in the spice mix, and then blend it all up. So i chopped up the pumpkin, onion, chillis, peeled garlic, and threw them into a roasting pan. Then over that lots of lovely extra virgin olive oil, and the spice/seasoning mixture which has been roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle.

Into a hot oven for as long as it takes to get the pumpkin soft, and we’re good to go.

Ready to blend Still Ready to Blend
Then out of the oven, into a blender. I’ve been having trouble with my blender, so after getting everything in there I realised I’d have to take it all back out and use the food processor instead, which was just as good, although probably didn’t get it as fine as the blender should have… but hey…this is soup… chunky is good.

So throw in all the veges, the coriander, the ginger, and the coconut cream and blend away until you’ve got it to the consistency you want. I’d say somewhere in between thickened cream and a slow moving porridge would be great.

Post Blending... now processing

After the blending… you can either put it into a pot and heat it back up… and play with the consistency/flavours a bit more (which is what I did), or just pour it out into bowls and serve with some nice thick pieces of bread, and perhaps some sour cream / parsley / fresh coriander / chives / whatever the hell you want… to garnish.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

Now curl up on the couch, sup away at your hearty bowl of soup… and pray the weekend never ends.

25
Mar
2006

Matt’s Parnsip Bisque

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Eating In, Recipes

Just had the chance to make my own version of Collins parnsip bisque that I posted recently.

Collins original post is here

So here’s my version :)

Parnsip Bisque (soup for the homely types)

Ingredients

  • 3 large parnsips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 of a leek
  • 1 potato, peeled, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200 ml water
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • butter
  • Pine nuts
  • Fennel seeds
  • Maldon Sea Salt (or equivalent nice cooking salt)
  • Cracked Pepper
  • Tempted to use cream but resisted

Parnsip Bisque

Directions
Slice all the sliceable ingredients up (except perhaps the butter, unless you have a hot knife and want to put that saying to the test).

Melt the butter in a pan and sautee the garlic, onion, leek together until its soft. Add the parnsip and potato and slowly cook it, adding more butter if necessary until its starting to brown and is getting soft.

Add your water and chicken stock together in a pan and bring it to the boil. Now add your vegetables which should be browned but probably a little hard.

Simmer the vegetables in the stock until they are nice and soft, and then transfer into a blender, and blitz it all into oblivion.
You should now have a nice creamy bisque, which you can transfer back into the pot to season with cracked pepper and salt.

Then i put the pine nuts and fennel seeds into a fresh pan and dry roasted them til they were kinda crispy. Then ladel the bisque out into bowls and made a funky little mound of nuts/fennel seeds in the middle of the bowl, sprinkle over some more cracked pepper and serve with some toasted crusty bread (I had lebanese bread).

Working the macro for all its worth

Thanks to Collin for the recipe. It definitely turned out great.