Category Archives: soup

carrot soup – with a twist

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Yesterday, when I did the grocery shopping, I bought a little bottle of star anise. (I love aniseed. When I was little, aniseed balls were one of my favourite sweets; they used to be 8 for a penny at Mr Montgomery’s dairy. The fact that NZ has had decimal currency since 1967 tells you that I was little a loooong time ago ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I bought it, because I wanted to see if I could recreate the lovely soup we had for dinner at Scotts Epicurean, the previous week. And I had a go for today’s lunch.

First, I melted 25 g of butter in a large saucepan, before adding a finely-sliced brown onion & a minced clove of garlic & setting them to cook gently. On top went 2 medium potatoes, cut into small dice (I don’t usually bother peeling spuds if they’re going into soup; I just give them a good scrub). Once the onion was becoming translucent I added 6 peeled carrots, sliced about 5 mm thick, 2 star anise, and 1 L of chicken stock. Then I covered the pan & left everything to simmer very gently while I took the dog for a walk.

When we got back I put some scuffins in the oven, then pureed the soup with my trusty stick blender & served it – once the scuffins were cooked, with a spoonful of sour cream in each bowl. (It’s on Scotts’ brunch menu with creme fraiche, but I didn’t have any.)

Success! The husband said, this tastes just like what we had at Scotts the other night ๐Ÿ˜€

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parmesan-&-basil bread, with soup (pumpkin, of course!)

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Yesterday we had family coming to lunch. I had to go in to work for the morning (yes, I know it was Anzac Day, but we were running a practical exam for the NZ team hopefuls for the upcoming Biology Olympiad in Switzerland), so I got the soup ready the day before & put the bread in the bread maker. (The husbandย can cook, he just avoids it where possible ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I’m sure there are heaps of recipes already out there for pumpkin soup! This is what I put together on Saturday night: first, roast your pumpkin. Actually it was pumpkins in this case – 4 of them, halved, seeds scooped out, & into the oven at 180 C until tender. While they cooked I melted 50 g butter in one of my big pans, along with a goodly slosh of olive oil, & added 2 thinly-sliced brown onions to soften & go transparent. There was garlic in the soup too, but as we’re getting rid of the little heads from summer’s harvest before getting stuck into the big stuff, I sliced the tops off 8 of them & wrapped them in foil (with a splash of oil) before putting them in the oven with the pumpkins. Once they were cooked, all I had to do was squeeze the lovely rich pulp into the soup pan. At which point I also added 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, & just a soupcon of ground chili, & stirred it all together.

The pumpkins took around 30 minutes to cook, after which (wearing oven gloves, cos they were HOT) I scooped the flesh into the pot, followed by 1 L vegetable stock & 4 medium potatoes, cut into very small dice. I should have added them with the onions but I forgot; anyway, it all worked out ๐Ÿ˜€ I left them to simmer gently, with the occasional stir, for 20-30 minutes & then used my stick blender to puree everything together. The result was a very thick puree indeed, so I thinned it a little with water and 1/2 c cream (because it was in the fridge), then put the lid back on & left it for the morning – with strict instructions to the husband to stir carefully while reheating, because otherwise it was highly likely to catch & burn at the bottom.

And before I biked in to work in the morning, I put the bread in the bread maker. This is a riff on an Alison Holst recipe from a few years back, enriched with butter & an egg. And it’s just as easily made by hand, in which case you’d make a ‘sponge’ of the yeast with a little of the measured flour & water, before working in everything else.

Into the pan of the bread maker, I measured 4 tsp active yeast (here in NZ it’s the kind in the red-topped jar), followed by 4 c flour – yesterday I used 100% white flour but 1 wholemeal:3 white is nice too, 2 Tblsp white sugar, 1 tsp salt, 50 g butter cut into small pieces, 1/2 c coarsely grated parmesan cheese, & 1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil. This was followed by an egg and enough water to make up a total liquid volume of 1&1/2 cups. On my machine that gives an XL loaf. I set the crust to ‘light’ & set the timer so that the loaf would be ready around lunchtime, pressed ‘on’, & headed off to work, happy in the knowledge that there would be lunch when I got back.

And there was.