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Puchero, Spanish Bone Broth & Egg Drop Soup

Growing up, I used to hate eating puchero or bone broth soup. I found it dull and boring, except for its slightly more special version as “sopa de picadillo”, which is with bits of jamon serrano, diced hard-boiled eggs, rice and maybe a tomato.

Later when we would go on the yearly El Rocio pilgrimage, for some odd reason, I loved a hot cup of “caldo” (broth) especially in the early mornings before eating breakfast. It was always chilly out as we started our journey each day around dawn and there was usually no time to eat a proper breakfast before the entire hermandad (brotherhood) would get the horses, mules and carriages ready for the camino (road). Caldo is something we have around all day during El Rocio pilgrimage, drinking a cup or glass at any time. It actually “does a body good” and as the Spaniards say is a “reconstituyente”, providing strength and adding needed protein, gelatin, salts and warmth.

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Of course, back then I didn’t realise the goodness in each cup of puchero/caldo/bone broth as I do today. Now I not only appreciate it, but make it frequently to drink alone, use as the base for a soup or for the dough of Spanish croquetas. As soon as you eat a few spoonfuls, you start to feel the energy pumping into your body! 😉

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The recipe I’m sharing with you today is simple. And you can alter it depending on the bones you have available or want to use. I particularly like using jamon serrano bones or pork bones with chicken meat and bones. It makes for a clear broth that is very tasty. But you can substitute for beef, lamb or a combination of all. It’s up to you. I also added two knobs of kelp seaweed to add iodine to the soup. It’s important to get enough iodine in our diets to ensure proper thyroid function. As we are using more and more sea salt or Himalayan rock salt in Paleo cooking, we are not always getting enough iodine as when we used iodized table salt.

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Jamon serrano bones provide a special flavour; however, if you don’t have access to jamon serrano, you could try asking in a specialty shop if they’ll sell you the bones after the jamon is done. Or if you’re up to it, give a good jamon serrano a try, by buying the whole leg and eating it at home like Spaniards do!

A good brand to buy is 5J’s; it can be more expensive, but the quality has never disappointed us. It’s so deliciously balanced, almost sweet to the palate and melts in your mouth. Ahhh.. I think it’s time to buy another one again in Spain! 😉

Jamon Serrano can be made with the back legs (jamon) or front legs (paleta/paletilla) of white pigs or the Black Iberian pig, which is an endemic species from southern Spain and Portugal. The best jamon comes from the Black Iberian pigs, especially if it’s fed only acorns. I recommend giving this one a try!

The cooking times for puchero/bone broth can vary. I let mine simmer about 6 hours on the first day and then another 4 hours on the second day. You don’t need to do that; but if you do, you must keep adding water, as it evaporates, and adjust for salt. You can also make the broth in a few hours and use the same day. But the longer you simmer, the more intense flavour and the more nutrients you will get out of the bones and ingredients.

Buen Provecho.

Puchero, Spanish Bone Broth & Egg Drop Soup
Cuisine: Spanish
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 1-2 ham hock or large piece of jamon serrano bone with meat on it
  • 3 chicken breasts or 4-5 pieces of chicken on the bone, whichever you have
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in halves
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • juice of one lemon (optional)
  • 3-4 carrots, cut into large chunks (no need to peel unless you want to eat them later)
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 2 knobs kelp
  • sea salt, to taste
  • filtered water
  • For the egg drop soup:
  • 1 beaten egg per person
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, place all of the ingredients (except the egg) and add enough water to fill about 3/4 full.
  2. Place over medium heat and bring to a soft boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 hours, adding water as necessary.
  4. Also remember to skim the ugly fat that comes to the top every once in a while, for a clearer and nicer broth.
  5. You can freeze the broth in small containers to use at a later date or you can immediately drink it, use as a soup or base for another recipe.
  6. Here, I’ve eaten it as an egg drop soup with 1 minced, chicken breast, some carrot pieces and a beaten egg.
  7. For the egg drop:
  8. Bring some of the broth to a boil in a small saucepan.
  9. Beat the egg, and slow pour it into the boiling broth, while stirring with a fork to create the stringy appearance.

Spicy Paleo Meatball Soup

It’s not exactly cold in London right now, but it’s also not warm. I guess one could call this a traditional English summer, where we have a warm day or two here or there amongst many other that are less than acceptable.

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However, I’m very excited, as tomorrow we are headed to the races at Royal Ascot for the second time since we’ve moved to the UK! Going to Ascot was very high on my list when we knew we were being sent to London. And we are hoping for sunny skies and warm temperatures…

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But today, the menacing clouds were calling out for soup. I saw this great recipe on Swiss Paleo and the thought of putting meatballs and cabbage in a soup somehow appealed to me. So, I just had to make it! I did adapt it a bit though giving it a Mexican flare with some spiciness and cilantro.

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For my usual recipe for meatballs, try this one, which I borrowed from my mother’s repertoire.

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Meatball Soup
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican Paleo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • For the meatballs:
  • 750g ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • For the soup:
  • 3-4 tablespoons of lard
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 leeks, sliced (I used 3 because they were small)
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 can (400g) tomatoes
  • 1/2 head small red cabbage, chopped
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • coarse sea salt (I used 2 teaspoons)
  • lime juice (optional)
  • extra cilantro, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. For the meatballs:
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl with your hands.
  3. Form small balls, about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. I made 28 balls.
  4. Set aside.
  5. For the soup:
  6. In a soup pot, place the lard, leeks, carrots and celery. Heat over low heat until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook about 1 minute.
  8. Add the water and cabbage.
  9. Cook for 10 minutes.
  10. Add the meatballs, placing them carefully into the sauce. Cover.
  11. Allow them to cook about 10 minutes, before stirring.
  12. Cook for a total of 35-40 minutes. Add the additional cup of water, if necessary.
  13. Cook the last 10 minutes uncovered.
  14. Garnish with cilantro and a drizzle of lime juice, if desired.

Rhubarb Soup

Rhubarb is currently in season, and we’ve bought it a few times in a row now. I love experimenting with fruits and vegetables, as they become available seasonally where I live. In Germany, during the Spring, the hot ticket item is white asparagus. One can find it everywhere and on every menu. But this year, as we are in London, our options vary…

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I’ve already shared with you a few ideas for using rhubarb: Chicken aux Herbes de Provence with Savoury Rhubarb, Rhubarb-Orange Frangipane Tart, and Rhubarb Chipotle Goat’s Cheese Paleo Pizza.

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And now, I bring to you a soup, that can be served warm or chilled, as a first course or an “amuse-bouche”. Rhubarb pairs well with a sweet fruit to contrast with its natural tart flavour. I think that’s why there are so many strawberry-rhubarb combinations. For my recent recipes, I’ve added orange and orange juice to make the rhubarb less tangy and add some sweetness. But apples and pears are also a good option. And so are grapes.

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For these amuse-bouche, I roasted some grapes in the oven and used them as a garnish, as well as a complement to the rhubarb.

I hope you enjoy!

Rhubarb Soup
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-12
Makes about 4 cups.
Ingredients
  • 800g rhubarb stalks (about 8-10 stalks), rinsed and cut into large pieces
  • 2 medium red onions, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 beetroots, precooked (if you purchase them raw, simply roast in the oven or steam in water until tender)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeesed orange juice
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • grapes, oven roasted for garnish and contrast
Instructions
  1. In a pot, over medium heat, poach the onions and garlic in the olive oil, until tender.
  2. Add the rhubarb and the water.
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is cooked.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Once cool, place into an electric blender or with an immersion blender, and puree with the beetroots.
  6. Return to the pot.
  7. Add the orange juice and season to taste.
  8. For the oven-roasted grapes: Place in an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 5-8 minutes at 180C (350F). Be careful not to burn. Once the grapes get warm, the sugar starts to come out and they burn quickly. Allow to cool, before using.
  9. To serve: spoon some rhubarb soup into your serving dishes and garnish with the grapes and some freshly ground pepper.
  10. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
  11. NOTE: This is a great soup to make a day or two in advance, and by doing do, the flavours also blend more.

Cream of Mushroom Soup (No Dairy, No Coconut)

This was one of my Spanish grandmother’s favourite soups. In fact, back then, we both used to love heating up a can of Campbell’s soup! Imagine that…

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This is not your typical “cream” soup, as I added no dairy and no coconut milk. I wanted something made just of the vegetables and the broth, and I have to say, it’s delicious!

 

Herbs de Provence, brought to us directly from Provence by our friend.

Herbs de Provence, brought to us directly from Provence by our friend.

A couple of notes: one, I made my broth with the bones of our jamon serrano leg. That adds a special flavour. If you cannot get jamon serrano bones, regular beef broth is a good substitute. And second, I like this soup rather thick, as you can see in the photographs. However, feel free to “water” it down a bit with more broth, if you prefer it less “creamy”.

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Paleo Cream of Mushroom (No Dairy, No Coconut)
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 500g mushrooms (I used brown mushrooms), reserve two mushrooms for garnish
  • 1 large leek, clean and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, with leaves, clean, deveined and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence (rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil and savory)
  • 3 1/2 cups bone broth (how I made mine: I used a large piece of the jamon serrano we cut up with two red onions, quartered, in plenty of water. I cooked it on low heat for about two hours, taking the foam off occasionally, when it built up)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, over low heat, add the olive oil, butter, leeks, celery and garlic. Sweat the vegetables for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms, which have been previously cleaned and quartered.
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add 3 cups of broth and the sea salt.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes, still over low heat.
  6. In the meantime, prepare the garnish (below).
  7. Add the herbs de provence and set aside.
  8. When slightly cool, with a hand blender (I used a mini-pimer) or an electric blender, pure the mixture and return to the pot.
  9. Add the additional 1/2 cup of broth and reheat slightly to serve.
  10. For the garnish: Dice the two reserved mushrooms, mince 2 cloves of garlic, and place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle some olive oil and roast at 180C for about 10 minutes.
  11. To Serve: place the cream of mushroom in the bowls and pour a tablespoon of the garnish overtop.

 

Watercress Soup

This is one of my favourite soups from childhood, along with the Caldo Verde and Sopa Juliana, from my mother’s ark of recipes. For my versions of Caldo Verde, click here and here. And I promise to get the Sopa Juliana recipe from my mother soon, so I can share that with you too.

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In the meantime, there’s this “delicacy”… nom nom!

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*For those of you avoiding the white potato completely on your Paleo lifestyle, it can be omitted. However, the flavour of the soup is not quite the same without it.

Watercress Soup
Recipe Type: Paleo
Cuisine: Portugese-Galician
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 small to medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 medium white potatoes*, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 140g of fresh watercress, washed
  • coarse sea salt, and fresh pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare all the vegetables.
  2. In a large pot, place the potatoes and cauliflower.
  3. Pour enough cold water over them to cover and about a couple of fingers more.
  4. Over medium heat, cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Add the watercress and cook about 10 minutes longer.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
  7. You can use a food processor or a hand “mini pimer” to pure; however, I have found that the traditional pureer/food mill (called pasapure in Spanish) works best (pictured).
  8. Return to medium heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat until warm enough to serve.
  9. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

 

Paleo Caldo Verde

I grew up on Caldo Verde, which my mother learned to make in Portugal. The version we had at home is very similar to the first one I posted on the blog some time ago. But yesterday, I was feeling like I needed something different and yet wanted to enjoy more kale, which I always have on hand. I also had on hand some delicious and succulent Spanish cooking chorizo…so it was perfect timing to make Caldo Verde, but in a more traditional manner.

What I have changed to make this Paleo is substituting the cauliflower for the typical potatoes. If you prefer to make with potatoes instead, use 2-3 large ones, and eliminate the cauliflower. Although from my reading and research, potatoes can still be considered both Paleo and Primal, it’s more about the quantities one consumes of them and how they affect our bodies. On my Facebook page, I’ve posted a few articles from Mark’s Daily Apple, which explain the pros and cons of eating this tuber. I’m not obsessive with how I eat, but try to keep everything as healthy as possible, that means learning about my ingredients and taking into consideration how things affect me, my metabolism and my taste buds! I recommend doing the same for yourself… 😉

PALEO CALDO VERDE

Ingredients, for 4

  • 250g of kale, cut julienne style (if you don’t have kale, watercress or the turnip greens will also work)
  • 1 medium cauliflower, cut into medium to small florets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Spanish cooking chorizo or pepperoni of choice
  • olive oil
  • water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Process

In a large pot, place 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil to heat over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the florets of cauliflower and toss around a couple of times. Add enough water to cover the cauliflower completely. Add a large piece of chorizo, about 6 inches long to the mixture. Allow to cook for about 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft.

Remove from heat and remove the chorizo from the pot.  With a hand mixer or mini pimer puree the cauliflower and the remaining ingredients. Place back on the stove, over medium heat, and add the sliced kale. Add more water to make the soup thin and watery (and make sure all of the kale is covered, as well). Cook for 15 minutes, until the kale is tender. Season to taste.

In the meantime, cut the cooked chorizo into 1mm slices. Serve the soup with pieces of chorizo and some extra pepper on top.

 

Beef & Butternut Squash Stew

Before leaving on our trip, I made sure our fridge was clean and mostly empty, except for a few vegetables that I knew would still be fresh when we returned. One of these vegetables is butternut squash, which I actually didn’t leave in the fridge and with which I cook a lot during the fall and winter months, as one can see in previous recipes.

Our vacation was a lot of fun and spent in the best company, my parents. 😉 Okay, I’m a bit biased, but we did have a great time. We enjoyed mostly warm and sunny weather in Florida and even had the opportunity to include some sports, beach and sightseeing. So, arriving on Monday to a chillier and very grey London was somewhat depressing. But one of the things that makes me happy is my kitchen and cooking… so I’m at it already.

Yesterday, I baked some “sourdough” grainfree bread, which is totally amazing (click here for the recipe) and made this stew for dinner.

BEEF & BUTTERNUT SQUASH STEW

Ingredients, for 4

  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 kilo stewing beef, cut into 5cm (1inch) chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of Chinese spinach (optional)
  • 2 celery stalks (branch, not full bunch), chopped
  • 1/2 large butternut squash (approx 600-700g), cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • sea salt and black ground pepper, to taste
  • 12-15 “canned” artichoke hearts (we buy ours in Spain, and they come in a glass jar, not a can), cut in halves
  • zest of one lemon

Process

In a large pot, add the olive oil, garlic and onions. Over medium heat, cook until the onion starts to become transparent, but not loose its colour. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add the white wine and cook for 3 minutes. Add water and remaining vegetables and spices. Simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the meat and squash are tender. (If you want a thicker sauce, add 3 cups of water instead.)

Remove from heat. Add the artichoke hearts and lemon zest and allow to sit 5-7 minutes before serving.

Chestnut and Parsnip Soup

My mother has osteoporosis and for some time now has been learning about alkalising her diet to avoid losing more calcium from her bones. I was so excited to hear that there was a completely natural way to do this, that I purchased the book she’s reading, The Acid Alkaline Food Guide by Dr. Susan E. Brown. Additionally, I’ve also been doing some research trying to understand which foods are processed as alkaline and which are processed as acid in our digestive systems.

It’s important to have a slightly alkaline pH balance in our bodies. A pH of 7.0 is neutral, whereas a pH below 7.0 is acidic and anything above 7.0 is alkaline. “An acidic pH can occur from an acidic forming diet, emotional stress, toxic overload, and/or immune reactions or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients.” (~rense.com)  The body will try to compensate for acidic pH levels by extracting alkaline minerals. Such is the case with calcium. If one’s diet is too acidic, the body will compensate by extracting calcium from bones, therefore causing osteoporosis.

According to rense.com, an acidic forming diet will: “decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease its ability to repair damaged cells, decrease its ability to detoxify heavy metals, make tumor cells thrive, and make it more susceptible to fatigue and illness. A blood pH of 6.9, which is only slightly acidic, can induce coma and death.”

So, it’s really important to maintain a diet, which is more alkaline than acidic. We still need to eat acidic foods and get the vitamins and minerals from them. However, we should be tipping the balance more in favour of alkaline foods to ensure our pH balance is healthier. There are a number of sites online listing which foods are acidic and which are alkaline. In some cases, some fruits, vegetables and nuts have contradictory classifications. One list I like to use is http://rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm. Livestrong also has some very good information available.

With all this new knowledge and my enthusiasm, I’m constantly looking for ways to include at least two alkaline foods in every meal… and today’s soup is an example of this.

Chestnuts are probably the most alkaline forming nut (along with almonds) that we can eat. Garlic, onions, parsnips, cumin,  and black pepper are also all alkaline forming. So, this soup is loaded with nutrients, minerals and will help you maintain your alkaline pH!

As I was preparing the vegetables, I realised just how aromatic parsnips are. I had forgotten, since I haven’t cooked with them in a while.  Their fragrance is pungent and slightly sweet (once peeled and boiled, they have a glycemic index of about 52, according to the University of Sydney’s Glycemic Index), and they definitely are a good match for the delicious chestnut, which is in season now.

This recipe is something I had lying around from my mother, so I have no idea of the source. But it’s one I love to make, since it’s easy and quick and an interesting combination of flavours.

CHESTNUT PARSNIP SOUP

Ingredients, for 4-6

  • 400g chestnuts, precooked, peeled and chopped (save a couple of chestnuts for garnish)
  • 200g parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 liter filtered water, plus 1/4 liter extra
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, grated

Process

In a pot, place about 1/4 cup of olive oil and the onion, garlic and parsnips. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped chestnuts and the spices. Saute an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes, covered.

With a hand blender (or regular blender), puree all of the ingredients. Add 1/4 liter water to thin out the soup. Mix well. Pour into serving bowls and garnish with some chopped chestnuts and serve with cheese crisps.

To make the cheese crisps: Grate some parmesan or old cheese. On a piece of parchment on a plate, make a circle (or desired shape) with the grated cheese. Microwave for 30-40 seconds. Allow to cool and it will peel off the parchment paper with ease. And although cheese is acidic forming, I wouldn’t skimp on the delightful combination of texture and flavour the crisps provide.

Delicious, healthy and nutritious! Enjoy!

Chicken Pumpkin Goulash

We have a saying in Spain that says “mas busca un necesitado, que un abogado”, which means the person in needs will search more and do more than the lawyer…that’s sort of what happened to me today. I had put out chicken breasts for dinner and was going to make them an entirely different way, when I found myself with half a squash leftover from my pumpkin cheesecake experiment (more on that one later) and I didn’t want that to go to waste.

So, I decided to make a goulash and add the pumpkin to the stew. I thought I was rather creative, until I did a Google search and found out this seems like a regular recipe. Nonetheless, I made this goulash my way and it is delicious (humility aside of course)!

CHICKEN PUMPKIN GOULASH

Ingredients, for 4:

  • 3 large chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium onions, chopped or julienne
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, julienne
  • 1 large aubergine, partially peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash meat or other pumpkin, pre-roasted
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon pimenton
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • water

Process:

In a large pot, over medium heat, place 1/4 cup of olive oil and the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Add the white wine and spices and stir. Add about 2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the aubergines and simmer another 10 minutes. Then add the pumpkin and cook 5 more minutes. Season to taste, and serve.

 

 

 

 

Roasted Pumpkin Soup & Dukkah Oil

Butternut squash are readily available in the store where we tend to purchase our groceries. So, I usually have one or two on hand in my kitchen. I love to make soup with pumpkin or squash, put them into a dessert, or even eat them by themselves roasted with some olive oil and sauteed garlic.

Today I was searching for a slightly different style of soup to make and came across this recipe from Nami Nami, which intrigued me because it’s made with almonds, a favourite of mine in baking. It has a unique texture due to the ground almonds and a very pleasant combination of flavours with the roasted almonds, cilantro and pomegranate accompaniment.

 

ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP WITH DUKKAH OIL

Ingredients

For dukkah oil:

  • A handful of raw, blanched almonds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • additional olive oil

For the soup:

  • 1 large butternut squash, split in half
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 50g ground almonds (original recipe calls for 100g)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
  • pomegranate seeds
  • fresh cilantro leaves

Process

Preheat oven to 180C. Place the pumpkin halves, onions, garlic and sage leaves if you have them in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the squash is tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove the flesh from the squash skin (sometimes the skin will peel off easily from the flesh, which is less work than using a spoon to scoop out the flesh).

In the meantime, for the dukkah oil:

In a saucepan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the raw, blanched almonds and spices. Cook until the almonds are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Then place in a mortar and with the pestle ground until you have a coarse mixture. Add 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and blend. Set aside.

When the vegetables are cool, place them in a blender. Add the ground almonds and chicken stock and puree. Pour the pumpkin puree into a saucepan, bringing to a slow simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the soup is smooth and slightly thickened. Season to taste.

To serve, ladle the soup into the bowls. Spoon some dukkah oil on top, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

 

 

 

 

My Version of Caldo Verde

We have family in Portugal and because of their influence and the fact that my mother speaks perfect Portuguese, we grew up singing Portuguese children songs and saying some things that for my Spanish family and friends sounded rather silly, like “coco” instead of “caca” when referring to a piece of dirt or trash on the ground. We also grew up enjoying many foods and dishes that were not typical in Spain. One of these dishes is Caldo Verde, which is a soup made with potatoes and kale or watercress.

I bought a bunch of kale about a week ago, and I didn’t want the rest of what I had left to spoil. So, I decided that a gloomy day like today deserved a warm soup. I’ve altered my mother’s recipe by swapping the cauliflower for the potatoes and added leek and cumin to spice up the flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 500g kale
  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into four
  • 2 leeks, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • sea salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • fresh scallion for garnish (optional)

Process:

Rinse and cut up the kale, removing the stalks. Rinse the cauliflower and cut into large florets. Place all the ingredients, except the seasonings and olive oil into a pot with abundant water. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender. Drain, but not completely.

Puree with a hand blender or in a stand up blender. Add the olive oil, cumin, sea salt and pepper and blend well. If the soup is too thick, add more water. Pour back into pot to heat up. Serve garnished with scallion, if so desired.

This soup pairs well with a chilled Albarinho white wine from Galicia.

Exotic Kale Soup with Turmeric & Banana

We were in Germany last week, and while at one of the hotels, I picked up the Brigitte magazine. I’ve seen it before, skimmed through pages, and I think maybe even purchased one or two, during our 4 years in Germany. However, what surprised me this time was the selection of recipes with interesting combinations of ingredients.
The recipe below has been inspired by one of these recipes, but by no means looks or probably tastes like the original. I’ve made so many changes, I was afraid it wouldn’t taste nicely. But to my surprise, this soup came out delicious! And it’s such an exotic blend of flavours, it’s sure to be a hit at your home too!
Surprisingly Exotic Kale Soup with Turmeric & Banana
Ingredients, for 6
  • 500g carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 large onion, cut in fourths
  • 1 leek, cut into large pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 30g fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 300g kale, rinsed and chopped julienne style
  • 2 large bananas, cut into thin slices
  • juice of one or two lemons
  • 2,5 liters filtered water
  • 75g cashew butter
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste and for garnish
Process
Prepare all of the vegetables. In a large pot, place the water, turmeric, ginger, carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, leek, celery, and garlic. Add about a teaspoon of sea salt. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender.
Place the sliced bananas in a bowl with the lime juice. Set aside.
Remove from heat, and with a hand blender or in a standup blender, puree all of the vegetables and broth. You want a thin soup, so if necessary add more filtered water. Add the cashew butter and mix well.
Return to heat and add the chopped kale. Cook until the kale is tender. Add sea salt to taste.
When the soup is ready to be served, place in bowls with slices of banana. Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper over the soup and banana.
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