Winter time = soups…

Winter time vegie soup

Yep, we’re heading into the cooler months rather quickly now.  Combined with the dreaded flus and colds that regularly pop their heads up at this time of year, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a steaming bowl of homemade soup…  I’ve got my favourites, and I’m happy to dig into a bowl of canned soup too – its tasty, quick and convenient.  I love to dip into a bowl of tomato soup with cheesy toast on the side.

But to get back to the homemade soups – after all, that’s kinda what this blog is about!  I grew up on homemade Pea & Ham soup, Chicken soup and Dad’s famous Beef & Tomato Soup (a recipe I’ll share soon as I make a batch up)…

Tonight’s recipe is for a Vegetable Soup.  I’m not one much for exact quantities when it comes to most soups, casseroles and stews.  I’ll toss in approximate amounts that I used, but I’ve found this soup tastes pretty good as long as there are plenty of vegies in it – the changes in portions will just slightly alter the taste but it will taste bloody good anyway – I guarantee it!

Vegetable Soup with a bit of curry to spice it up!

1 onion

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

a couple of celery sticks

2 or 3 rashers of bacon (optional, I just love the taste bacon gives this soup)

1 tablespoon of curry paste (you can reduce the amount if you don’t like curry, or alternatively, use curry powder for a milder taste)

1/2 cup red lentils

3 or 4 medium sized potatoes

half a small pumpkin ( I use Jap pumpkin (aka Kent))

1 or 2 medium sized sweet potatoes

1 or 2 carrots

some spinach

Chicken stock, water, salt and pepper

Chop up all your vegies before you start – this makes it easier!  I always roast my pumpkin before adding it to the soup – it adds a lovely flavour.  You don’t have to roast it if you don’t want to.  You could also add some herbs here too – my garden is not healthy at the moment and dried herbs just don’t cut it!  I would usually add some lovely fresh parsley to this soup.

Heat a large saucepan or stockpot and add some olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, celery and bacon and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the curry paste and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute or so until fragrant.  Add the lentils and remaining vegies and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until well combined.  Add a cup of chicken (or vegetable) stock, season with salt and pepper, and enough water to just about cover the vegies.  You can always add more water later.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until vegies are soft and starting to fall apart.  This usually takes about 20-30 minutes depending on your stove.    Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before using a blender or food processor to whizz the soup into a nice smooth consistency.  I personally don’t mind a few slightly chunky bits in there to keep it interesting.  If the soup is too thick, add some more hot water and mix before blending.

With salt, remember it’s easier to add more salt than to try and fix a dish that’s too salty!  Don’t leave it out when cooking, but sprinkle, then taste.  I think it’s better to leave it just shy of just right while you’re cooking – you can always add a dash more when it’s served.



Spicy hoisin meatballs

I got this recipe out of a magazine – I think it was Super Food Ideas…  It’s a winner and I make it quite often.  I usually make up a big batch of meatballs and freeze them before cooking them.  All I need to do is pull out enough meatballs for a serving each and cook up the sauce to go with – saves me going through making up the meatballs each time…

I sometimes serve this with mashed potato instead of the noodles which works out pretty damn good!

Spicy hoisin meatballs

500g chicken or pork mince (beef works just as well)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 brown onion, grated

1/4 cup dried chilli flakes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 cm piece ginger, finely grated

hokkien noodles, to serve

Combine mince, egg, breadcrumbs, chilli, half the garlic and half the hoisin sauce in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix to combine.  Roll level spoonfuls of the mixture into balls.  Heat oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat.  Cook meatballs, turning, for 5-7 minutes until browned and cooked through.  Transfer to a plate and cover.  Add ginger and remaining garlic to the pan.  Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.  Add 1/2 cup cold water and remaining hoisin sauce.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 mins, until sauce thickens.  Return meatballs to pan and stir to coat.  Serve with noodles.

Pyjama chicken

I had some leftover parmigiana sauce that I needed to use up, so here’s the result….  It was amazingly simple and delicious!

Chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks
parmigiana sauce
Frozen peas

Cook the chicken in a frypan, add the sauce and peas, and simmer until cooked.

I served this over some steamed vegies, with grated cheese sprinkled on top.