At the risk of sounding repetitive these days, here is another Pacific dish from Me’a Kai. I have always loved watercress soup, it’s a very popular ingredient in the UK with an annual festival in the town of Alresford being held in its honour. Attracting food lovers from far and wide tempting them with a massive food market, cooking demonstrations by TV Chefs, a street cavalcade and even the World Watercress Eating Competition!
This soup is a Samoan version with the addition of coconut milk of course, Taro and ginger. The original recipe uses pork bones cooked in an Umu oven which gives them a smoky flavour. I have replaced this with bacon stripes as I don’t think hubby would be impressed if I start digging up the garden to create my own Umu oven no matter how much delicious food I produce.
I love the peppery flavour of watercress which contrasts well with the creamy coconut and the ginger gives it an extra kick. Great served hot or cold depending on your weather at this time of year.
- Large bunch watercress, woody stalks removed
- 4 slices of smoked bacon
- 3 cups of water
- Sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup of Taro or potato
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- Salt & pepper
- Chop the bacon into strips and place them in a large heavy bottom pan with a tablespoon of oil.
- Fry over a medium heat until the bacon has browned.
- Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add 3 cups of water to the pan and the Taro or Potato and simmer until soft.
- Add the watercress and place a lid on the pan and simmer for a few minutes until the watercress has wilted.
- Blend the soup with a blending stick, food processor or blender until smooth.
- Return soup to the pan and add the coconut milk, season with pepper and salt if needed and heat through.
The good thing about making New Years food resolutions in New Zealand is that they are easier to keep living in the southern hemisphere. I can’t even begin to imagine turning over a new (lettuce) leaf and eating salads and soup in a UK mid winter but here it has been so warm this year one craves fresh and light dishes.
I first tasted gazpacho in Spain when I was 17 and thought it was dreadful eating cold soup but that was before I developed a passion for food. Now it is probably one of my favourite, it is so fresh and light for those really hot days. I couldn’t resist adding my favourite goats cheese to it and a few walnuts for some crunch and of course some crusty bread for dipping!
This recipe is Really easy to make by whizzing everything together in a food processor, pushing it through a colander and chilling it down.
I have also been fiddling with my new photo software on my iPad……jury’s out on the new format I chose but it good to experiment.
2 cucumbers, sliced lengthways and de-seeded
1 green pepper/capsicum, halved & de-seeded
4 green tomatoes
2 spring onions
1 slice sour dough bread
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
3tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper for seasoning
goats cheese & walnuts optional for garnish
Soak the bead with the vinegar and olive oil.
Rough chop the pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic and spring onion and place in a food processor or blender.
Add the bread also to the food processor/blender and blend until smooth.
season with a little salt and pepper and the strain all the ingredients through a colander or course sift. You want texture to come through but to leave any bigger bits behind.
depending on how thick the soup is you can add some water or ice cubes if you want to chill it down quickly.
chill in fridge for several hours for the flavours to improve then serve with goats cheese and walnuts.
We had our first sunny, wind free day of spring today, which gave us time to get into the garden and see how the herbs have faired over the last two weeks of stormy weather. The weeds seemed to have flourished and thankfully most of the herbs were in good shape. As I started digging up the oodles of weeds and grass tufts I discovered some lovely young fennel that had re-seeded over winter and there was a decent clump of bulbs just shouting to be eaten. The temperatures aren’t too barmy yet so I thought a fennel soup would still be acceptable for supper on a cool and cloudless evening and thought I would pair it with some spring fresh asparagus.
- 3 medium bulbs fennel
- 20 spears asparagus (approx), sliced 1 inch thick battons
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 cups chicken stock & 1-2 cups water
- Handful parsley, chopped
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
- 100g Goats feta to finish, crumbled
- Spoon of butter
- Slice fennel bulbs in half and remove the core and discard (like you would a cabbage). Slice fennel bulb thinly.
- Place sliced fennel in a pan with the spoon of butter over a low heat and cook till fennel is opaque and soft, approx 8 mins.
- Add barley, stock and water and cook on a medium heat till barley is soft, approx 20 mins.
- Add chopped parsley, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Finally add the asparagus and cook for only another 2 minutes so asparagus stays firm with a crunch.
- Add the crumbled goats cheese to the soup and serve with crusty bread.
Goes well with a crisp fruity Malborough Sauvignon Blanc!
I suppose this is a Brits twist on French Onion soup, using mainly leeks with the token onion and loading up a crouton with a sharp Wendsleydale cheese. When I utter the word Wendsleydale it always makes me smile and as I can see my Pop doing a mimic of Wallace & Grommet, Pop loves all cheeses and always has some for supper . P has also become addicted to the English cheeses since our visits to the UK, anyone would think he was the Brit not me.
Leeks are in season in NZ at the moment so it is the right time to use them in as many dishes as possible hence the creation of the soup. I added sage to the soup and also sprinkled sage on the croutons because it felt right for a winter dish that was to have a British twist to it. I think sage is probably the first herb I remember from childhood, and it is in abundance during the autumn and winter months and I am please to say I have a large crop of it in my garden. Sage seems to withstand the windy, salty conditions we have here in Muriwai most of the year.
Ingredients – makes 4
- 1 large leek or 2 small
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- handful of fresh sage leaves
- 1 tblsp butter
- 3 cups beef stock
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 50g Wendsleydale cheese or any of your favourite cheeses
- French bread for croutons
- Grate the cheese.
- Slice 2 large slices of break from the French stick per person about 1 inch thick.
- Thinly slice the leeks & onion.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan and add the leeks, onions, garlic and most of the sage, keep a few leaves for the croutons.
- Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes until leeks are soft.
- Add beef stock and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
- Divide the soup between 4 bowls and place 2 slices of bread on top of each bowl of soup.
- Sprinkle the cheese and rest of the sage 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