Tops and Sides for Soups – Make a meal from a bowl of soup

Life is often frenetic and we want food that is comforting, uncomplicated and familiar. We want it suited for the season, our lifestyle and the rhythm of our home. Soup always fits the bill perfectly, whether it is big, bold and earthy, or chilli hot, or delicate and subtle.

Soup was once the pre-dinner course that was meant to add nutrition and quell the hunger. Soup was usually an inexpensive dish, and  it took the pressure off of the more expensive main course to satisfy hunger after a day’s hard work. It was often made with left over vegetables or from the abundance of a seasonal harvest.

In fact, then and now, soup can be a meal in itself if we add toppings and small side dishes to compliment the soup. The only thing that is needed with these combinations is some well buttered crusty bread.

Think laterally when considering toppings – twirls of cooked pasta, chopped tomatoes tossed with olive oil, turmeric roasted chickpeas, confit tomatoes, toasted pieces of left over bread torn into pieces. Reinforce or contrast  your soup’s taste, texture and temperature. Here are my suggestions for turning a bowl of soup into a delectable meal.

Similar dishes include 30 Soups for Early Winter, 30 Soups for Mid Autumn, and 30 Soups for Early Spring.

Browse all of our Soup recipes, or explore our Mid Winter dishes.

Continue reading “Tops and Sides for Soups – Make a meal from a bowl of soup”

Juice It! | Home Made Carrot Based Juices

Through Spring, Summer and Autumn we regularly make juices as part of our morning routine. These are some of our carrot juices. Carrots pair well with other fruit and vegetables like apples and beetroot. Try our delicious combos listed below.

We also have our Strawberry and Blueberry Juices, Unusual Home Made Juices, and Apple Juice recipes for you.

Browse all of our Juices here, or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Juice It! | Home Made Carrot Based Juices”

When Life Gives you Vegetables, Make Soup – 5 Quick Home Made Soups

We need to have some quick soups in our repertoire  for those nights we get home from a long work day, or the fridge is full and it needs to be cleared out. I am all for home cooking, love it in fact, cooking without the pressure of producing cafe-quality or restaurant-quality food. Solid, nutritious, flavoursome food.

The first soup is one to make on the weekend before doing the shopping for the following week. It is a clean-out-the-fridge recipe that will take under 2 hours to peel, chop and cook vegetables into a delicious soup. Make a large batch and freeze what you don’t need immediately.

Try these 5 kitchen and lifestyle friendly soup recipes. Similar dishes include 30 Soups for Early Winter, 30 Soups for Mid Autumn, and 30 Soups for Early Spring.

Browse all of our Soup recipes, or explore our Mid Winter dishes.

Continue reading “When Life Gives you Vegetables, Make Soup – 5 Quick Home Made Soups”

Three Ways to Caramelise Figs

The beauty of caramelised figs is that they can be used in any sweet or savoury application. Serve just with icecream and scattered with toasted slivered almonds, for example. Or pair them with a Wintery rich dark pudding. Serve with yoghurt and drizzle with honey.  Ricotta and marscapone, or a double cream, also make perfect accompaniments. Use them in a pavlova, or make a caramelised fig tart. Caramelise some oranges too and serve on top of a beautiful custard or autumnal trifle. Pair with some sweet French Toast. Bake them in a cake. Top your Tiramisu with them.

For savoury uses, serve in salads, accompany with blue cheese, goat’s cheese, creme fraiche, burrata or feta. Caramelise them with a little balsamic vinegar and use in sandwiches on dark rye bread with goat’s cheese and greens (I like radish greens straight from the garden). Make a salad with roasted sweet potato. Pair them in salads with pistachios, slivered almonds or hazelnuts. Make an almond butter dressing for a salad with rocket, watercress or baby spinach. Use them on bruschetta. They pair well with baked feta.

Here are 3 different ways to caramelise figs.

Similar recipes include Baked Figs with Thyme, Boozy Fits and Roasted Sweet Potato with Figs.

Browse all of our Fig recipes, or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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How to Make Perfect Cream Soups Every Time

Creamed or pureed soups are usually  vegetable soups, often with fancy names like Creme de (name of vegetable) or Veloute de (name of vegetable).  At home we just call them Cream of This or That Vegetable. Tonight we made Cream of Zucchini Soup.

Diane Holuigue taught me to cook. She had a column in the Weekend Australian and my daughter and I waited for it all week. We would try to guess which dish or ingredient she would wax lyrical about this week, and what we might learn from her column. Being French, she had the best way of describing the whys and wherefores of cooking, the steps involved, how to get the best results in your home kitchen and so forth.

I credit her with teaching me how to cook. How to make killer salads. How to make a cracking casserole (back in the days before I became vegetarian), and definitely how to make a great cream soup. I have many of her columns, scanned and stored digitally now, and they are still an absolute delight to read. Today I am sharing her thoughts on making cream soups – 9 steps to the perfect cream soup.

I quite love cream or pureed soups – they are always so vibrant in colour.

Similar recipes include Cream of Asparagus Soup, Another Cream of Asparagus Soup, and Cream of Tomato and Potato Soup.

Browse all of our Soup recipes, or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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A New Approach to Vegetarian Stocks – How to Make Really Flavoursome Vegetarian Stocks

My thinking about broths or stocks for soups has changed over the years. Once I regularly made vegetable stock from off-cuts and peelings, supplemented by chopped vegetables to get the right balance. I made loads of light Asian style broths and more layered all-in stocks for soups, risottos, and the like. There were miso based stocks, SE Asian coconut-curried stocks and Indian flavoured stocks. Keeping them in the freezer meant that they were always at hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use these regularly, but more often I use a different technique, and one that does not require additional work. I make the stocks in the dish I am cooking. More often than not this is soup but it can be any dish – risotto, braises, bean bakes, veggie casseroles, sauces, veggie stews, etc.

Continue reading “A New Approach to Vegetarian Stocks – How to Make Really Flavoursome Vegetarian Stocks”

Quick, Deeply Flavoured Stocks

My thinking about broths or stocks for soups has changed over the years. Once I regularly made vegetable stock from off-cuts and peelings, supplemented by chopped vegetables to get the right balance. I made loads of light Asian style broths and more layered all-in stocks for soups, risottos, and the like. There were miso based stocks, SE Asian coconut-curried stocks and Indian flavoured stocks. Keeping them in the freezer meant that they were always at hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use these regularly, but more often I use a different technique.

By the way, you can see all of our Soup Recipes here.

Continue reading “Quick, Deeply Flavoured Stocks”

Juice It! | Home Made Orange Based Juices

Through Spring, Summer and Autumn we regularly make and drink juices as part of our morning routine. We are lucky enough to have 2 orange trees which fruit at different times, so we have fresh oranges from late Autumn one year  through Winter, then Summer, to early Autumn the next year.  That is, unless we eat them so quickly there are none left on the tree. Oranges pair well with other fruit and vegetables like Summer stone fruits, apples, other citrus and beetroot. Try our delicious combos listed below.

We also have our Carrot Based Juices, Strawberry and Blueberry Juices, Unusual Home Made Juices, and Apple Juice recipes for you.

Browse all of our Juices here, or explore our Early Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Juice It! | Home Made Orange Based Juices”

Indian Essentials: How to make Chai and Tarak Chai

The word chai originated from the Hindustani word chai which was derived from the Chinese word for tea, known as cha. Chai just means tea in India. Outside of India it is often known as masala chai to indicate the inclusion of spices.

The making of Chai uses techniques that go against all of the rules of British-influenced methods of brewing tea. It is brewed in milk rather than seeped in water. The tea that goes into making chai is simmered for some time, rather than seeped for under a minute or two. It is sweetened as a matter of course. And of course, chai includes spices (although it can be made without spices). Chai tastes nothing like regular tea with milk.

There is a distinct method or ritual for making chai, and one that I will share with you today. Tarak chai (also spelt kadak, karak and tadak) is a strong tea, and describes the taste that you get when tea is simmered rather than seeped, and simmered for a number of minutes.

Chai can be infused in water (milk is added later), directly into simmering milk, or in a combination of milk and water. Each household makes chai slightly differently.

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Cashew “Cream”

We adore a thick puree of cashews and call it cashew cream – a thick puree flavoured with cardamom, blitzed until it is as smooth. It is similar to cashew yoghurt which is all the rage for vegans as a substitute for dairy yoghurt. My cream and their yoghurt are really thick unstrained versions of cashew milk. (The yoghurt is often cultured by adding probiotics and leaving it to ferment. I have not done this, but my version can be vegan if you avoid the optional dairy additions.)

I find that the best result is with a high speed blender like a Vitamix or similar. I experimented with my pretty powerful food processor too, but even after 5 mins of processing the result was still gritty. The blender made short work of it and the result is as smooth as a baby’s you know what!

The cream is very easy to make, and we use it with fruit, Asian desserts and in some of our rare desserts. Imagine it stirred through a rice pudding, for example. Drizzled over your muesli. Topping your eggless custard. Forming a base for poached or roasted fruits. Stirred through sago. Drizzling over payasam, or over some jam on Aussie Scones. On roasted figs.

If the cashews are soaked overnight it is quick to whip this up in the morning, and drizzle over muesli and fruits. Or make banana toast by spreading toast with the cashew cream and adding a layer of sliced or mashed banana.

Similar recipes include Bondi Bircher Muesli, and Overnight Oats for Amazing Breakfasts.

Browse our Yoghurt recipes, or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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