Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

This is a super easy soup that full of freshness and packs a real flavour punch. I was first introduced to this at Leiths with Lucy. The same place that introduced us to the best ever crumble recipe.

This is the kind of soup that is enjoyable all year round and is very versatile. For fully loaded green goodness leave out the fish or go with the unsmoked variety if it isn’t your thing.  Or if it really really is, up the ante by adding crispy pancetta as a garnish at the end (just make sure you keep an eye on the saltiness by continuously tasting and adjusting the seasoning). I’ve also added some lemon juice and zest to keep it light and fresh. I urge you to give this a go, you won’t be disappointed if you’re after something healthy yet filling.

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Soup (adapted from Leiths) serves 4

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced as thin as possible (to cook quickly)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 litre stock (fish, chicken or vegetable – whichever you have on hand)
1 bag of spinach (approx 200-250g)
300-350g un-dyed, smoked haddock, skin removed (any smoked or unsmoked fish fit for poaching will do – ask your fishmonger if you’re not certain, but do make sure you get fresh and un-dyed)
grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of half a lemon (unwaxed)

1. Put the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and add the potatoes and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes making sure the potatoes and garlic don’t brown or catch.

Potatoes cooking

2. Add the stock, bring to the boil. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked (5 minutes or so). **Keep in mind that if you are using smoked fish, go easy on the salt, you can always add more if needed once the fish has been added**


3. Add the spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spinach has just wilted. Remove from the heat and give it a good stir.

Wilted Spinach

4. Add the soup to a blender in batches and pulse to liquidise. **You need to be very careful when you’re doing this as the soup (and steam) is hot. So tightly cover the lid with a tea towel so that your hands don’t get splattered and scorched**

5. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat slowly over a low heat.  At this point, taste and add some water if the soup is too thick or salty for your liking.

Spinach Soup

6. Gently add the fillets of fish and leave them to poach without stirring for 3-4 minutes. Once the fish has cooked (just turned opaque throughout) gently break up the fillets into large chunks.

Smoked Haddock

8.  Add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper or a squeeze more lemon.

9. Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of lemon zest over each bowl. Tuck in feeling incredibly healthy and virtuous! x


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Hello! I’m sorry I’ve been absent for so long but starting my new job has required my full attention over the past month. Boy I’d forgotten how draining the first few weeks in a new job can be. Not in a bad way, thank goodness, just in a ‘wow, my brain is full and starting to ache’ kind of way.

So I’ve been very neglectful of my writing, which I hope to improve on now that things are starting to fall into place. I have another confession to make (may as well off-load everything now and start with a clean slate!). I know I promised you lots of wonderful spicy delights from my trip to the sub-continent, but whilst I have been using a lot more spices in our everyday meals, I’m yet to try one of the delicious curry recipes that I collected while I was there. Funnily enough, we’ve been craving other tastes since returning, but when the time comes to revisit India, I will of course share with you all.

What has been making regular appearances at the Casa Kilburn dining table, then? Well I know it sounds slightly boring, but I’ve been relying on the humble soup in its various guises. Yearning for hearty and warming flavours as the cold continues to drag and the need for speed when I walk in the door at 7.30pm shattered from work has contributed to this and I’ve been saved on more than a few occasions with my very easy and quick chicken miso noodle soup. I’m not sure where I picked this recipe up a number of years ago, but it’s worth having up your sleeve when you are after something healthy, filling and full of flavour. It’s also versatile, you can substitute the vegetables for pretty much whatever you have to hand, replace the chicken with pork or tofu and if you don’t have miso paste in your cupboard, replace with the same amount of chicken stock. Easy. Enjoy!

Chicken Miso Noodle Soup (serves 4 or two with leftovers for lunch the next day!)

Chicken Miso Noodle Soup

– 1.5 litres miso or chicken stock (I use brown rice miso paste and the ratio is generally 1 teaspoon per 250ml water)
– 2 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 large or 2 small shallots (peeled & thinly sliced)
– 1 small piece of ginger (cut into thin strips)
– 1 large or 4 baby fennel bulbs (thinly sliced)
– 1 dried or fresh kaffir lime leaves (don’t worry if you don’t have these on hand)
– good handful of shiitake mushrooms (dusted gently & sliced thinly)
– 100g dried rice noodles or 200g fresh rice noodles
– salt and pepper
– handful of coriander (roughly shredded or chopped)

1. Place 1 litre of the miso stock into a pot with the chicken breasts and simmer gently for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the stock.

2. Add the oil to a large pan and over a medium heat, fry the shallots, ginger, kaffir lime leaf and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes stirring often to keep from catching.

3. Add the fennel and continue frying for another 2 minutes.

4. Add the 500mls leftover miso or stock and bring everything up to simmer. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

5. While the vegetables and stock is simmering, shred the chicken and put aside. Strain the liquid the chicken had cooked in through a fine sieve and add to the vegetables.

6. Add the chicken and noodles to the vegetables as well and season with salt and pepper.

7. Simmer gently for a further 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add the coriander (optional!) and ladle into bowls.

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Curly kale is right in season at the moment and I wanted to make something with it which was a bit more inspiring than  just a substitute for a side of cabbage or the base of a green salad. So last night I made a soup starring this seasonal gem. Sophie Grigson’s Portuguese Caldo Verde to be precise. This traditional Portuguese soup is really tasty. Hearty and meaty from the chorizo, it got the thumbs up from my number one taste tester at Casa Kilburn (a humble soup getting a rave review from a typical red meat loving Kiwi bloke is no mean feat by the way!)

I’ve adapted Sophie’s recipe slightly by frying the chorizo first in its own oil which I think enhances the flavour, saving the oil from the pan to drizzle over the soup at the end which really lifts the flavour and adding a can of drained cannellini beans to bulk it up.

Portuguese Caldo Verde adapted from a recipe by Sophie Grigson

Ingredients (serves 4 generously):
– 450g potatoes
– 2 cloves garlic
– half an onion
– 225g curly kale
– 110g chorizo sausage
– 1 can cannellini beans (any beans, lentils or even rice will work equally as well)
– sea salt
– cracked black pepper

1. Peel and slice the potatoes, slice the garlic and chop the onion finely. Put all three vegetables into a large saucepan and cover generously with water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Then simmer gently with the lid on until the potatoes are tender.

2. Sophie says to mash the veges and liquid at this point but I found it easier to pour the liquid into a blender and blend to a smooth puree. Add extra water if needed to thin slightly if necessary.

3. Pour the soup back into the saucepan, taste and season really well with more salt and lots of black pepper. Bring back up to the boil.

4. While the soup is cooking, wash the kale, remove any tough stalks and chop up or shred thinly. Set aside.

5. Slice the chorizo and fry over a medium heat. You don’t need to add any oil to the pan as the chorizo contains enough of its own. Fry until slightly crispy. Remove and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Save the chorizo oil from the pan.

6. Once the soup starts to boil, stir in the kale and chorizo, add the drained cannellini beans and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Taste again and adjust the seasoning if needed.

8. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle with the reserved chorizo oil. Serve with fresh crusty bread.


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So I’m trying to find something positive about the fact that our fabulous British summer is fast coming to an end. Honestly though, I do look forward to the changes a new season brings. I remember visiting my sister who lives on the Gold Coast of Australia for the first time and after the fifth day in a row of endless blue skies and searing heat, I did (dare I say it!) find myself wishing for just one little cloud to make an appearance. I like changes in the weather, otherwise things become a bit monotonous.

Now I’m probably going to regret starting with the soup making this early on, but with all the ripe and abundant pumpkin and squash on offer is clear that they should to be taken advantage of. So here is a very simple butternut squash soup I made a couple of nights ago. It’s hearty, thick and chunky – just how I like it, although feels surprisingly light to eat.

Ingredients for 2 (generous with enough for seconds!):
– olive oil
– 1 clove garlic
– 1 leek
– 2 medium-sized potatoes
– 1 medium-sized butternut squash
– 1 litre chicken stock
– sea salt and cracked black pepper
– parsley

What to do:
1. Crush the garlic, chop the leeks and peel and dice the potato and butternut squash into small, similar sized pieces (smaller the quicker they’ll cook). Set aside.

2. Get your stock ready as per packet instructions if using a stock cube. I used fresh chicken stock that I’d made a couple of weeks ago and had defrosted during the day. The difference homemade stock makes to the depth and flavour is huge!

3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and add the garlic and leek. Gently cook for a couple of minutes. Keep stirring so they don’t catch or brown.

4. Add the potato and squash and cook for a further couple of minutes.

5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, cover and gently simmer for half an hour or until the vegetables have completely softened.

6. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Now at this point it’s completely up to you how you like the consistency of your soup. I love thick and chunky, so I gently pulsed mine in my blender, taking care not to over blend. However, you may prefer to skip this step and leave the soup as is.

7. So all there is left to do, is pour into bowls, add a little extra cracked black pepper, some parsley to garnish and serve with fresh crusty bread. Yum!

Oh, also, some nice additions at the end – a drizzle of olive oil or even a small dollop of cream or sour cream. I’ve also had Nigella seeds in pumpkin soup before and they added a really nice, slightly oniony flavour. So wish I’d remember this wee gem last night! Oh well plenty more soups to come…

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