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Posts from the ‘Soup’ Category

Ham Hock, Cannellini Beans and a few Autumnal Photos

DSC_0006 (3)It’s getting colder and wetter here in New Zealand as we stumble towards autumn. I say stumble because at this time of year we can still swing between glorious warm days or wet and blustery days, particularly on our wild West Coast. But that’s no reason to be sad, we have hearty winter fare to look forward to, roasts, stews and dishes with dumplings! Not only that I get to wear my new boots that have been in a box for several months waiting for colder days. I have a thing for UK shoes still even after 13 years here and buy online out of season, the benefits are two fold. Something different to what is selling on the high street and picking up the out of season sales price.

Enough shoe talk and onto the ham hock and cannellini bean stew. I used a pressure cooker to make this dish being short on time and just a tad impatient so if you don’t have one you will probably have to cook the ham at least an hour and a half or until it falls off the bone. Recipe below the pics from a misty Muriwai morning.

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Ingredients – serves 4

1 small smoked ham hock (uncooked)

1 onion, peeled, halved & thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed,

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 tins cannellini beans

small bunch parsley, finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon


Place the onion in the pan/pressure cooker with olive oil over a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are soft.

Add the tinned tomatoes, garlic and ham hock.

Cook in pressure cooker per manufactures instructions for 35 minutes.

Once cooked pull the ham off the bone and remove the bone from the pan.

Add the cannellini beans, chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Season with black pepper, it won’t need salt as the ham hock should be salty enough.

Serve with crusty bread

The Asparagus Table – La Vignarola – Italian Spring Soup, Wholemeal Asparagus Tart and Egg Asparagus Soldiers

Some of the simplest things in life are best, how often have you heard that remark?  The long awaited asparagus season is here in New Zealand and keeping it simple with asparagus certainly highlights the veg at it’s best. My favourite way to eat asparagus is just lightly steamed served with eggs ‘anyway’ and lashings of butter,  try a fun quirky way of serving the spears with your soft boiled egg using them as ‘dunking soldiers’. As I was eating the asparagus and boiled eggs my mind had already wandered onto truffle oil drizzled into the shell…watch out shopping bill, truffle oil may well be in the next basket.

The Italian spring soup La Vignarola is perfect for show casing not only asparagus but also lovely spring vegetables of podded peas and broad beans. If you can’t find them freshly podded and don’t have them sprouting away in your garden, snap frozen are pretty convenient and taste great too. A simple tart of asparagus with sour cream and mustard is easy for anyone to whip up, I made a wholemeal pastry but you can always buy pre bought if you are short on time or don’t have ‘pastry fingers’.

La Vignarola – Spring Soup


4 spring onions, sliced

2 bunches asparagus

200g frozen peas, defrosted

200g broad beans, podded (you can use frozen)

200g jar marinated artichoke hearts

3 cloves garlic

2 cups vegetable stock

Large handful each of parsley & mint, finely chopped

Zest and juice 1 small lemon

100g shaved Pecorino to serve

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper


Cut the woody ends off the asparagus spears and discard, then cut spears into three.

Place a little olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the spring onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the asparagus, podded broad beans and stock to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the peas, artichokes juice and zest of the lemon to the saucepan and season with salt & pepper.

You can add some of the artichoke marinade to the soup also if you wish, tasting as you do.

Add the parsley and mint.

Bring the soup to the boil then remove from the heat and serve immediately, you want the veg to be crisp and green.

Serve the soup with shaved pecorino and crust bread

Asparagus Tart – serves 6

Ingredients – pastry
110g butter

180g wholemeal flour
1 egg

2 Tbsp iced water

pinch of salt

Method – Pastry

Place flour, butter and salt in the bowl and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and water and knead together briefly to form a dough.

Rest the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Roll pastry out to fit tart tin and press into place, trim edges off pastry.

Ingredients – Tart Filling

1 bunch spring asparagus

250g sour cream

2 large free range eggs

2 heaped tsp whole grain mustard

salt & pepper to season

ground black pepper

Method – Tart Filling

Pre-heat oven at 180C & grease & flour a 20cm loose bottom tart tin.

Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut spear in half.

Whisk together the sour cream, eggs and mustard and season with a little salt & pepper.

Pour mixture into the pastry base.

Lay the asparagus half spears on top of the mixture in pastry case, alternating tip and base as in picture.

Grind some black pepper over the top of asparagus.

Bake in oven on a lower shelf (to crisp pastry base) for 35-40 minutes until tart is set and golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing tart from mould.
Serve warm of chilled

Easy Peasy Garden Pea & Herb Soup


As the title says, it’s a very easy and quick soup to make, perfect for mid week when you get home from the office later than expected and don’t have the energy to cook up some elaborate culinary delight. It’s fresh, light and delicious even if it isn’t elaborate, perfect with a fresh crispy baguette you’ve picked up on the way home and if you don’t have a fresh loaf handy you could always make croutons with a few old slices!

This soup takes about 15 minutes to make and that includes picking the herbs from the garden!

Ingredients – serves 2 large, 4 small
500g frozen garden peas
Large handful of fresh parsley, coriander & mint
2 cups water
Salt & pepper
Feta cheese to serve

Place the frozen garden peas, water and herbs in a pan over a low heat.
Bring just to a simmer.
Turn the heat off and blend the soup to a purée with a whizz stick, food processor or blender.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve in bowls with feta cheese crumbled on top.

Courgette Kasundi Soup


Sometimes the most satisfying dishes are the ones you throw together quickly with ingredients left over in the fridge. Last weekend after catering a four course wedding breakfast I found myself with a big bag of courgettes left over. I have no idea why I had over estimated on courgettes when I was only using them in a roast vegetable stack for the vegan option on the wedding menu but with a work trip to Sydney the next day and a hubby that won’t eat veg if I don’t cook them I wanted to use them up. A quick courgette soup was the answer and as I was getting the veg out of the fridge my eyes landed on a jar of Kasundi I had bought the week before while at the farmers market in Doubtless Bay, those flavours would give it some zing. If you don’t have a jar of Kasundi here is a recipe if you want to make it. I’m certainly going to when I have more time, it’s great for additional flavours to a dish or using as a chutney or dip.

8 courgettes/zucchini, grated or julienned in a food processor
2 tbsp Kasundi
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 cups veg stock
2 cups water
4 spring onions, finely sliced
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional

In a large pan over a medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the sliced spring onions and garlic.
Cook for two minutes and then add the Kasundi, courgettes, stock and water.
Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like a bit more chili kick.
How simple is that?
Serve with a nice crusty loaf.

This is where I bought my beautiful pot from, The Stone Store in Keri Keri which is the oldest stone building in NZ.


Thai Spiced Pumpkin Soup & a new Gadget


I don’t recall ever eating pumpkin until I met a Kiwi, it wasn’t a veg we used in the UK back in the days and I tended to think of it as animal fodder. I was quite surprised to have it served up roasted for dinner but soon came to love it in many dishes although never became a big fan of the Kiwi icon pumpkin soup. So why would I post about it? It was a Tuesday evening, not much in the fridge apart from a solitary butternut pumpkin, so soup it would have to be. Thankfully I had made a Thai curry paste the previous week and the pantry always has coconut milk so I thought I could jazz it up into something tasty. It was that delicious with all the spices, fresh coriander and a velvety coconut cream I think I will even make it again!

So what is the new gadget? I finally succumbed to buying camera lighting after frustrating winter months only able to photograph at weekends and hope it would be sunny on those days. It’s take a bit of fiddling but I’m starting to get the hang of it.

1 butternut pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded & chopped
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2tbsp Thai curry paste
1tbsp oil
Salt to season

Add the oil and paste to a large pan over a medium heat and fry for 1 minute.
Add the coconut, stock and pumpkin and simmer until the pumpkin is very soft.
Blend the soup to a smooth consistency and season to taste.
Chop the fresh coriander and garnish the soup once served.

Roasted Garlic & Broad Bean Soup & a Facelift


Perhaps you all got a bit excited about the facelift part of the title and I am probably at the age where you start looking at yourself in the mirror and pulling the wrinkles back wondering whether gravity is getting stronger these days. So I have treated myself to a facelift, one less painful and cheaper in the form of a Blog site update that I have been promising myself for a year now. There’s till some work I need to do on it but I’m happy with the results so far, thanks to hubby’s patience trawling through all the templates with me.

Another soup recipe I know but I just can’t help myself in the winter, they are so warming and relatively quick to make from just about anything in the pantry. This is a simple soup made of broad beans, stock, milk, lemon zest and roasted garlic, nothing more apart from the garnish of paprika and olive oil. If you don’t have broad beans you can also use haricot beans.

600g tinned broad beans
20 cloves of roasted garlic
2 cups vegetable stock
1-2 cups milk
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper to season
Sweet Paprika & a good quality olive oil for serving

Place the broad beans, roasted garlic and vegetable stock in a large pan over medium heat.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend the soup to a puree then add the milk and lemon zest.
Add the milk to thin down to your preferred texture and heat through.
Season with salt & pepper.
Serve with paprika and olive oil drizzles on top.

French Onion Soup – Oldie but Goodie


Everyone has their own way of making French Onion Soup and perhaps some aren’t classic French at all, like the one I make sometimes with leeks instead of onions. Onion soup is something we eat often at home, there are always onions, bread and cheese in our house if nothing else. This is the version we had this week but next week it could be tweaked a different way, maybe a splash of wine or cognac if I can sneak it out of the cellar. Use the cheese and bread of your taste, we use sour dough more often than French bread as it doesn’t saturate as quickly as the airy French style loaves we have here. Anyway, however you make it I’m sure you will enjoy it and this one is a good base and then tweak away!

Ingredients – makes 4

  • 6 brown onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tblsp butter
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt & cracked black pepper to taste
  • 50g Gruyere Cheese
  • French bread or sour dough for croutons


  • Grate the cheese.
  • Slice 2 large slices of bread from the French stick per person about 1 inch thick. Or maybe only on if it in the neck of the bowls you are using.
  • Thinly slice the onions
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan and add the onions, garlic and the thyme leaves.
  • Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until onions are soft and golden.
  • Add beef stock and Dijon and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
  • Season with salt and cracked pepper.
  • Divide the soup between 4 bowls and place 2 slices of bread on top of each bowl of soup.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the croutons and soup.
  • Place bowls on a baking tray and place under a grill.
  • Grill the cheese until it starts to bubble and melt.

  • Lanhydrock Estate and Parsnip & Apple Soup


    When visiting Europe we love to roam the castles and manor houses of England and France, while in Cornwall this month we visited Lanhydrock Hall in Bodmin. I love that the National Trust calls it a country house which I am sure it was for many in Victorian times but for most of us it is a mansion beyond our wildest dreams. The most impressive for me were the vast kitchens, including pastry & bread kitchen, dairy, meat storage and prep room, vegetable prep room, roasting room and larder, my kind of house really.

    My parents have visited the house several times, my sister lives in Bodmin and on their last visit my Pop said he bought a great recipe book with all Victorian recipes in it. In particular he liked the parsnip and apple soup and said he would make it for us once we got back to Liverpool which he did. It was a very creamy fragrant soup which I knew I would want to eat again so I noted it down before we left, well actually photographed the page with my IPhone. So here it is, it’s the first thing I cooked once back in NZ this week, I hope you like it too.

    Below is a picture of my pop eating fish and chip in one of the many cute villages in Cornwall that we visited. There are also some pictures of Lanhydrock.

    600g parsnips, peeled and chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic
    600ml vegetable stock
    300ml apple juice
    300ml milk
    1 tsp curry paste or powder
    50g butter
    Handful fresh mint leaves
    Yoghurt to serve

    Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onions, parsnips and garlic and sauté for several minutes.
    Add the stock, apple juice and curry paste to the pan and simmer gently until the parsnip has become soft.
    Add the milk and mint then blend till smooth.
    Heat the soup but do not boil as the milk will split, then serve in bowls with a dollop of fresh yoghurt.




    Chestnut Potato Smokey Bacon Soup & a Photography Workshop


    Last week I organised a food photography workshop with Sean Shadbolt for a gang of food bloggers (Plum Kitchen, Toast, D’lish, Couscous & Consiousness, Nourish and myself. We are all keen to learn new skills and I think we all took a lot of new knowledge away from the four hour workshop. I discovered tools on my camera I never knew where there, what I was most excited about was learning about how to shoot in less light or under tungsten lighting. Since we are heading for winter in New Zealand This has always meant my photography has been limited to weekends only since I work a full time job and it is dark on leaving home and returning. This photo I took with the last vestiges of light at 5.30pm, it’s not quite where I want it and I still need lots of practice with my new knowledge but prior to the workshop I would have been able to produce a photo at all with so little light. Thanks Sean.

    • 4 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 100g roasted peeled chestnuts
    • 100g smokey bacon
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • Salt & Pepper to season
    • olive oil


    1. In a large pan pour a few tablespoons of olive oil and saute the bacon. remove from the pan and allow to cool
    2. Add a little more oil and onions.
    3. Once onions are opaque add the chestnuts and half the stock. Cook the chestnuts till they are soft enough to mash.
    4. Blend the chestnut mix to a smooth puree then add the potatoes and rest of stock.
    5. Simmer over a low heat until the potatoes begin to soften.
    6. Slice the bacon and sprinkle on top of soup.
    7. Season with salt & pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread.

    Tornado Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin & Couscous Soup

    It’s winter soup season again, but after the tornado ripped through our commercial district, Albany the other day it felt more like gin season to calm the nerves. It’s quite ironic, I was only talking to an American friend last weekend about tornado’s in The State and how they used to park up and watch them pass. I did watch the tornado in Albany, thinking how cool it was to see my first one, for several minutes anyway until we realised it was heading straight for our building and we all dived under our work desks for shelter. No one was hurt but our building did loose some external roofing and internal ceiling tiles, the kitchen ceiling came down but thankful our building has two kitchens so eating continues. Five cars in the car park were damaged but thankfully my three week old little green bomb was untouched.

    So here is my tornado soup, it’s spicy and comforting with a bit of a cayenne pepper kick to it, I suggest you start with a pinch and then add more if you like spicy food.


    • 1 butternut pumpkin
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 200ml tin chopped tomatoes
    • 6 cups vegetable stock
    • 1 cup couscous
    • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1tsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
    • 1tsp coriander seeds, freshly ground
    • large handful chopped coriander
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • pinch cayenne pepper
    • 1 tbsp harissa
    • vegetable oil


    1. Pour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil into a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and saute until opaque.
    2. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric and cook for a few more minutes.
    3. Turn heat to low and add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
    4. Add the vegetable stock and place a lid on the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes.
    5. In the meantime peel and de-seed the pumpkin. Grate the pumpkin or process through a food processor on grate/julienne mode.
    6. Add the harissa and fresh coriander to the stock and stir. Then add the pumpkin and bring the soup to the boil.
    7. Once soup has come to the boil, turn the heat off and add the couscous and stir. You don’t want the pumpkin to go soft but keep its form and slight crunch.
    8. Place lid back on pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
    9. Season to taste and serve
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