Six Sensational Seasonal Soup Recipes


Autumn has arrived here in Jersey and we have had some wonderful crisp, bright sunny days and cooler evenings. These are perfect for walking along the coastal paths and beautiful country lanes and building up an appetite. I love Autumn because there are some wonderful fruit and vegetables in season such as cooking apples for crumbles and pies. Savoy cabbages, the first Brussel sprouts and the first proper parsnips, which always seem sweeter after the first proper frost can be readily found in your green grocers. But the start of Autumn really heralds the arrival of pumpkins and squashes ready for Halloween. They are fantastic roasted with spices, pureed with lots of butter and make amazing soup one of my favourite Autumn dishes.

I love soups they are so varied, and such a tasty option and most recipes are quick and simple to make. If you are able to omit lots of cream and butter ( in my case that’s rather difficult ) soup can be extremely healthy. You can try substituting low fat crème fraiche for cream and olive oil for butter. I often find the best soups are made with what is easily available, a handful of vegetables, a tin of beans or some dried pulses and plenty of herbs. I always have celery, carrots and onions in the bottom of my fridge, a mix called mirepoix, which goes back to my earliest training. Mirepoix is a classic base for soups, stocks and sauces adding a depth of flavour.

Why not try some of these?

So to get your creative juices flowing here are some links to some of my favourite soups I have posted on the blog. There is my first ever recipe and still a firm favourite in lots of restaurants a rich, creamy seafood chowder with lots of Jersey mussels and smoked haddock for extra flavour. Another firm favourite with the customers in one of our busiest pubs is my take on classic French onion topped with delicious melted cheese, after all Jersey is only a few miles from the French coast. My version of possibly everyone’s favourite soup, roasted red pepper and tomato, is perfect for sipping out of a mug on a chilly Bonfire’s night. The great thing about soup is really doesn’t have to complicated just a few ingredients from your cupboard and your fridge like a tasty carrot and coriander.

A little History of Soup

Soup is not just great for lunch or supper it can be served as a starter for an elegant dinner party and I have the perfect recipe a cauliflower veloute, and you can find out all about how chef’s make and use veloutes in traditional kitchens. Finally if you like your soup with a bit more kick how about a Spanish recipe full of Chorizo sausage or the spicy Seafood Tom Yam. Whatever you like I hope you will find some inspiration and get cooking. Enjoy.

Here are some links to some of my delicious Soup Recipes.

Patatas Riojanas – Spanish Chorizo and Potato Soup

“Patatas Riojanas, is a very simple rustic soup or stew from La Rioja. La Rioja is a small region in the north of Spain, most famous for its high-quality wines, and it has some lovely indigenous dishes. No one is sure about the origins of Patatas Riojanas, but it would not have existed until at least the 19th century and the introduction of potatoes into Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.”

French Onion Soup

Classic French Onion Soup

My Classic French Onion Soup

“French Onion Soup probably had its origins in Roman cooking but became prominent amongst eighteenth-century French peasants, for which onions were one of the staple dietary components. The addition or use of stock to French Onion Soup came later, as did the cheese croute ( a kind of crispy cheese on toast ).”

 

Cauliflower Veloute

Creamy Cauliflower Veloute

Cauliflower Veloute with Cauliflower Pakora and Curry Oil

“If you want something a little more elegant this recipe is a sophisticated soup ideal for a dinner party and perhaps as the starter for your Christmas Dinner. This rich, silky smooth cauliflower soup is an ideal partner to the spicy flavours of the pakora’s and curry oil. A veloute is a traditional soup made with a stock thickened with a roux, this recipe also contains potato for extra body.”

 

 

Tom yum Soup

Spicy Seafood Tom yam Soup

Spicy Seafood Tam yam Soup

“I like spicy food, not hair-raising hot curries and the like, but I enjoy a nice kick and I love the layers of different flavours you can build. One of my favourite chilli-based dishes is Tom yam, a hot and sour Thai soup flavoured with fragrant spices and aromatics; a good chicken stock flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, which is now popular around the world.”

 

Classic Seafood Chowder

Classic Seafood Chowder with Smoked Haddock and Jersey Mussels

“As there is no single definitive recipe my chowder recipe is a purely personal and uses some of my favourite and best produce available to anyone cooking in Jersey alongside a couple of unorthodox ingredients. If you are not so fortunate as myself living with wonderful seafood almost washing up on my doorstep, quality natural smoked haddock, freshly cooked prawns and some plump tasty mussels from a reputable fishmonger will make an excellent chowder.”

Tasty Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

“This is a really easy, comforting recipe that freezes exceeding well so could be made in advance, it is a fantastic thick, full of sweet, smoky flavours and great served in a mug as you stand to watch the fireworks. Passed through a sieve it can be dressed up as a lovely lunchtime treat or simple supper dish. So, for the perfect fifth of November feast make sure you have some crisp-skinned jacket potatoes freshly baked in the oven, a plate full of toffee apples for the children and a big, big pan of this delicious soup.”


Xin nian kuai le – Happy Chinese New Year – Slow braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions

Chinese New Year Wish

There are up to two weeks of celebrations for the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. This year is the year of the Dog. In China and the Chinese diaspora there are visits to family, fireworks, and feasts and so I thought appropriate over the next ten days to post some more of my favourite Chinese dishes. I am also building up a database of some of the ingredients and base recipes which you can find on here. If you want to know more about one of my favourite styles of Chinese cuisine you can read my post on Cantonese food.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with the following Recipes;-

Crab and Sweetcorn Soup

Spicy Sesame Chicken Wings

Shanghai-style Red Braised Pork Belly

Cantonese Pork

King Prawn Chow Mein

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

General Tso’s Chicken

Char sui – Cantonese BBQ Pork

Perfectly fluffy Boiled Rice

Egg Fried Rice

In China lamb or mutton is eaten mostly in the north and north west and is especially favoured by the Muslim and Mongol populations but it is available everywhere. The most popular street food in China are Xinjiang lamb skewers with fiery and fragrant with chilli and Szechuan peppercorns, which you can find in every major city throughout China. Chinese recipes mostly call for mutton or substitute goat rather than lamb mainly because traditionally lamb was scarce, and the cooking times would be longer.  This is rather a generous recipe best eaten with friends, serve with some perfectly fluffy boiled rice. Now may I wish you all prosperity for this Year of the Dog and Enjoy – Gong xi fa cai

Slow cooked Lamb and Ginger

Braised Lamb and Ginger

 

Slow Braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions

1.5 kg to 2 kg boned Shoulder of Lamb

10 Banana Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large bunches of Spring Onions, washed, trimmed and cut in 3 centimetre pieces

500 gr Sliced Button Mushrooms

1.5 ltr good quality Lamb or Veal Stock

100 gr Rock Sugar ( you can substitute Demerara )

1 large 6 centimetre piece of Ginger, peeled and very finely sliced

6 cloves Garlic, peeled and finely crushed

6 tablespoons Dark Soy sauce

4 tablespoons Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

2 tablespoons Sesame Paste

1 tablespoon Tomato Puree

6 Star Anise pods

4 Cloves

2 large pieces of Cassia Bark

Cut the lamb shoulder into large five centimetre dice. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the lamb by plunging it into the boiling water for five minutes. Strain out the meat and discard the water. Heat a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the pieces of lamb and stir-fry them until they are brown.

Add the shallots, spring onions, mushrooms and ginger to the wok and cook for five more minutes before placing into a large casserole or heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring up to the boil and carefully skim off any fat from the surface, then turn the heat down as low as possible. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for around one and a half hours or until the lamb is cooked and tender, skimming occasionally to remove any more fat. When cooked remove the star anise, cloves and cassia bark and serve in bowls with steamed rice.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Matching wine with Chinese food used to be considered impossible but more modern sommeliers are making innovative pairings try your lamb with a fruity, Chilean Pinot Noir or off-dry Rosé and why not try a refreshing Continental wheat beer with citrus and coriander seeds as your beer choice.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Sesame Seeds    Flour

There may be gluten in your Soy Sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Red Lantern


Braised Lamb Shank

Perfect Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks

Spring is not so far away from the Channel Islands, honestly, Jersey Royal potatoes are growing under vast fields of plastic sheeting and soon the Narcissus will be blooming and we can start to look forward to fresh Lamb. Not so long ago frozen New Zealand lamb was a much cheaper option than home reared produce but now you can source delicious Welsh and Dorset Lamb at really keen prices. In the Channel Islands, the sort after lamb is from Sark, eating a rich diet of coastal grasses and sea herbs which helps flavour the meat. One of my favourite cuts of lamb, it used to be one of the cheaper cuts too, alas not now, are lamb shanks, simple to cook well, and more versatile than you think.

Braised Lamb Shank

Slow-cooked Lamb Shank

Lamb shanks are best cooked, up to a couple days in advance and then slowly reheated, I have successfully slow cooked them with lots of coriander, cumin and garlic then reheated them the next day smothered in spiced yoghurt over the dying embers of a charcoal barbecue. The rich charred succulent meat was mouth-watering, tender and flavoursome. I have braised lamb shanks in red wine flavoured with liquorish and fennel for a rich, sweet, slightly anise flavoured sauce. Today’s recipe is perhaps the most satisfying, a one-pot casserole with lots of red wine and vegetables, ideal after a good long walk on the cliff tops in Jersey.

There is a substantial amount of meat on a large shank enough for the largest of appetites and I would say ample for two average dinners with the addition of a selection of vegetables. While the price of all lamb has risen quite substantially there can still be bargains to be had in the freezer section of your local supermarket and frozen lamb shanks are a great product to use as you are really going to drive flavour into the meat with your intensely flavoured cooking liquor and slow-cooking.

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Vegetables

Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Vegetables

Braised Lamb Shanks  with Vegetables                        serves 4 large appetites

For the shanks

4 Lamb Shanks

1 medium Onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed in a little salt

A bottle of good quality Red Wine like a Cabernet or Merlot

A pint of homemade Beef or Veal stock

4 tablespoons of good Olive Oil

2 tablespoons of Plain Flour

1 tablespoon of Tomato Purée

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

 

For the Bouquet garni

2 large sticks of Celery, washed and cut in half

A generous sprig of fresh Rosemary

A few sprigs of Thyme

A small handful of Parsley

3 fresh Bay leaves

Butchers string

 

For the Vegetables

12 smallish Waxy Potatoes, washed and peeled

6 medium Carrots, washed and peeled and cut into chunks

12 small Shallots, peeled

12 Baby Button or small Chestnut Mushrooms, wiped with damp kitchen towel

8 Baby Turnips, washed and trimmed

 

Pre-heat your oven to 200 C / fan 380 F / Gas Mark 6. Heat the olive oil in a large, solid bottomed frying pan, a big cast iron one with a thick base is ideal and add the lamb shanks. Over a medium heat brown the shanks for around ten minutes, turning regularly with a pair of tongues, for an even colour. Searing the meat will give the shanks a lovely appealing colour at the end of the finished dish. Remove the lamb shanks and add the onion. Cook for around ten minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to caramelise, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Turn down the heat a little as we do not want the next ingredients to stick to the pan and burn. Stir in the flour and tomato purée, cook for two or three more minutes stirring all the time, to cook out the flour mix then add the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a large wooden spoon to release any sticky meat pieces and mix until the wine is combined with the flour and tomato paste.

Place the lamb shanks into a deep sided casserole and season very well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with the wine mixture and the stock and add your bouquet garni. To make your bouquet garni fill the two sides of the celery stalk with the herbs push together and tie up with butcher’s string. ( Ask your butcher for a few meters or better still if he will sell you a ball ). Leave a few extra inches of string to secure the bouquet garni to the casserole handle. Bring the dish to a simmer, cover with a lid or tightly with foil and place in the oven. Cook for one hour and in the meantime you can wash, peel and chop your vegetables. Using a pair of oven gloves carefully remove the shanks from the oven. Loosen and remove the foil, allowing the steam to safely escape. Sprinkle with the prepared vegetables and reseal with the foil. Replace in the oven and cook for another hour until the lamb is cooked and wonderfully tender. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and place on a heatproof surface.

Carefully pour out the cooking liquid into a medium-sized pan and bring up to a vigorous boil. Keep the lamb and vegetables covered with the foil, in a warm oven, alongside some large deep sided serving bowls. Reduce the cooking liquid by around a third until thick and glossy, straining off any excess fat with a small ladle. You can serve immediately in the deep sided bowls garnished with a sprig of rosemary and an extra jug of sauce, or if you want you can quickly cool and reheat the next day.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Flour

Please see the Allergens Page


Coq-au-vin

The very fact that you may have searched for, or indeed stumbled upon this post by accident, is an indication of the number of food blogs and recipe sites available on the net. However, it does not reach out as far as I can see as to have an explanation as to the origins of Coq au vin, that rich, satisfying, classic French peasant dish that is today’s dish. It is generally accepted that it has a long history as a rustic, rural, recipe, however, it only first appears in cookery literature in the late eighteen hundreds. The two most popular stories about the creation of the dish involve Napoleon and Julius Caesar, of the two, as a long-term Asterix fan I like the Caesar story.

Coq au Vin.jpg

After the conquest of Gaul, now part of modern-day France, the story goes that the natives presented the victor with an old gamey, rooster. The rooster is a tough proposition – excuse the pun and requires long, slow cooking. The rooster was cooked by Caesar’s chef simmered in wine ( a method of cooking extremely popular with the Romans, whatever else did they do for us ? ) and the end result was said to be very successful. Traditionally then, the rooster or any tough old bird benefits from first marinating in wine* then gently braising and the addition of the carcass adds a richness to the finished sauce.

A little Whine !

Again the Internet has failed to provide me the name of, at a cursory glance, the first person to say that if you would not drink a wine then you should not cook with it. I remember watching TV and the late, great and sadly missed Keith Floyd elucidating, sometimes less than clearly, that this indeed is the case. He certainly was a fan of checking the quality of the vintage he was cooking with at the time. Your Coq au vin does not need to be made with a first growth claret but will benefit from a full-bodied robust red. While it could be Australian or from Chile I am at heart a traditionalist and believe that a Burgundy is best.

Many regions of France have variants of Coq au vin using the local wine, such as coq au vin jaune (Jura) and coq au pourpre (Beaujolais nouveau). In some variations of the dish white wine is used, Riesling wine is popularly used in the Alsace region, with the addition of Morels and cream. In addition to the wine and chicken, Coq au vin is flavoured with the inclusion of fat bacon or salt pork, onion, garlic, mushrooms and a bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley). The chicken is first marinated in wine, then seared in hot fat, this is essential to flavour and colour the finished dish. The meat, vegetables, and aromatics are then simmered in the wine marinade until the meat is cooked and tender.

* no jokes please

On a personal note, I find Coq au vin an ideal dish for the slow cooker. A good coq au vin improves immensely if you marinade the chicken overnight and improves further if you leave it when cooked, overnight, in the refrigerator. If you cannot get a piece of bacon try to use the thickest rashers you can find so the lardons will not break up during cooking. Celery is not a staple of many recipes for Coq au vin but I have stolen the idea from Nigel Slater and have included it below. If you want to peel baby onions you can but I find the result is in no way spoilt by using frozen baby onions. The dish is served in France with flat noodles or rice, it is equally appealing with steamed potatoes that you can crush in the gravy. Enjoy.

Coq au vin                    Serves 4

A large Chicken, jointed into 6 or 8 pieces, giblets and carcass saved

( ask your butcher if he can source a rooster and if he will cut it up for you )

For the stock

Saved Chicken giblets and carcass

1 onion, peeled and roughly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stick of celery, washed and roughly chopped

A bay leaf, a clove of garlic and a few peppercorns

For the Coq-au-vin

125 gr whole Pancetta or Unsmoked Bacon

2 medium Onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced

3 sticks of Celery, washed and finely diced

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

200 gr Button Mushrooms, washed and halved or quartered if required

75 gr frozen Baby Onions

A bottle of drinkable Red Wine, preferably Burgundy

2 tablespoons Plain Flour

75 gr Butter

4 tablespoons Cognac

A good handful of Curly Parsley, washed and picked and finely chopped ( keep the parsley stems )

A small bunch of Thyme

3 Bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Butchers string

For the marinade

This is pretty important as it helps give the chicken the deep colour you are looking for. Place the chicken pieces in a glass bowl and add half of the crushed garlic. Make a bouquet garni – take one stick of celery and cut in half, into one-half place 5 or 6 stems of thyme, the bay leaves, and the parsley stems. Sandwich the herbs with the remaining half of the celery stick and tie tightly together with string. Add to the chicken and cover with the wine. Seal bowl with cling film and place overnight in a refrigerator.

For the stock, place all of the ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for three hours at a gentle simmer, then set aside to cool. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and drain thoroughly. Reserve the marinade. Cut the pancetta into chunky lardons or short strips, they need to be thicker than a match but not quite as thick as your little finger. In a large thick-bottomed casserole melt one ounce of the butter over a moderate heat and gently sauté the lardons until crisp and light brown. Remove using a slotted spoon leaving the excess fat in the casserole dish.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the hot fat in the casserole, so that they fit snugly yet have room to colour. Sauté the chicken pieces and turn them over when the colour is a nice clover honey brown. It is this colouring of the skin, rather than what wine or herbs you might add later, that is crucial to the flavour of the dish. Remove the chicken and set aside with the bacon lardons. Do not clean the casserole dish as the fat and juices in the dish are important to the finished flavour of the coq au vin.

Add the onions and carrot to the pan and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the remaining garlic, stir and then return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and let everything cook for a minute or two more before pouring in the cognac and marinade including the boquet garni. Strain the stock and pour into the casserole until all the chicken is covered. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles in a gentle simmer. Cover partially with a lid.

Melt the remaining butter in a small heavy bottomed pan and saute the mushrooms. Let them cook until they are golden, then add them to the chicken with the baby onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Check the chicken after 40 minutes to see how tender it is. It should be soft but not falling off its bones. It will probably take about an hour, depending on the type of chicken you are using. Lift the chicken out onto a large plate and keep warm.

Turn the heat up under the sauce and simmer vigorously until it has reduced by about a fifth and become shiny and glossy. Divide the chicken into serving dishes and cover with sauce, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour  Celery  Milk

Please see the Allergens Page