Sunday, November 8, 2009


We had this little pumpkin in the kitchen for a few weeks. Unfortunately, it was never carved into a terrifying jack-o-latern. It's ultimate destination turned out to be soup, and crunchy snacks.

In Spain, sunflower seeds are a popular snack amongst the young and old. They sell them at soccer games like we do beer at hockey games, kids have them at recess, and teenagers litter the streets with their shells. They become pro-sunflower seed peelers, and reach speeds that I never would have imagined were possible to eat the seed without getting any shell into your mouth. They also sell the less popular pumpkin seed to be eaten in the same way. So when I popped the seeds from our own pumpkin into the oven with some salt to be roasted to the perfect crunch, J was delighted at the result.

Onto the soup. We had some bacon in the fridge, it went into the pot until it was crunchy. I then took it out and it hung out on some paper towel while the process continued. In the bacon fat went an onion. Recipe called for a large onion, but the onion I used deserves no adjective less than GINORMOUS. It was nearly the size of the pumpkin. While that browned, I continued to peel and chop the pumpkin. Normally I bake a squash for a bit so that the skin just peels right off, this soup was done a whim so I peeled it raw with a knife, much more time consuming, though neater. Once the onion was brown, I added some stock (knorr, again, on a whim, no time to thaw out the frozen stuff), and then the pumpkin. All of this came to a boil, then simmering went on until the pumpkin was soft. I zapped this into a cream, added some cinnamon, salt, pepper, and chili sauce. You know that giant bottle of bright red chili sauce that they have in Asian restaurants? That kind. The bacon went in last and was served.

The result was yummy, the combination of cinnamon and chili was really nice, and the bacon, well, it was in it's glory. Among all that veg, it sung all the high notes whenever you got a piece!

In the picture (close up, second bowl, I need to practice this artsy side), a piece of sundried tomato and olive bread from Boko bakery is sitting pretty. This bread is amazing. If you have a chance to try it, you must!

The Peeler in the Mail

Someone over at the kitchen gadget brand Oxo is apparently a fan of my blog! It's not everyday that you open your mailbox to find a giant envelope from Phildelphia, containing a potato peeler. It's a great potato peeler, it's got a pretty long blade, and has a potato eye remover.
Ok, so maybe it wasn't a fan of my blog that sent me this. Being on the wedding planning train, I signed up for something while browsing the wonder that is the Williams-Sonoma website, and a kitchen gadget was part of the deal. Still exciting though! Oxo, I look forward to peeling many potatoes and carrots with this baby!

A garnish attempt - Curried Asparagus

Holy long time no soup! It hasn't actually been that long, just that life has gotten in the way of blog updates. No worries friends, I remembered to take photos of the few soups that have happened.

Curried asparagus. This happened because I realized that we had a bunch of asparagus that needed to be used asap. I'm so happy I did, as the result was delicious, not to mention that those beautiful little tips inspired me to attempt a garnish, something I don't usually do, which results in the pictures on my blog looking like bowls of baby food that I add different food colouring too.

I started off the recipe as usual, with some chopped onions at the bottom of the big pot. A fact about our kitchen: we have two pots, a big one, and a small one. Our kitchen isn't really big enough for a third. The recipe that I referenced called for the curry powder to be added to the onions, so in they went. Then I added some stock, beef stock from one of the stocking attempts, it worked out well. Then in went the chopped asparagus, and some potatoes. That was brought to a boil, and I added some tarragon, cardamom and pepper for good measure. Simmer, simmer simmer, then zap with the handy dandy blender.
The beauty of this soup was that it was really filling. J had recently undergone soup overload, it went something like this: "I'm tired of soup!". We had curry that night. But the next day at lunch, which is when he tried this soup, he called to comment on how delicious and filling it was. It had a really rich aroma. (first sentence ever written using 'aroma', thoughts?). For the phone call complement, and the aroma that had people popping up from their cubes with bright eyes looking for the source of the aroma, I'm going to give this soup 5 Oslos, the first!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Parsnip and Fennel

It's been a soup filled weekend! My mum called yesterday to see if we wanted to go over for a roast today, mmm roast! I decided to try out a soup to bring with us, parsnip and fennel, two ingredients I had never cooked before.

As I took out the 1 pound bag of parsnip from the fridge, J's reaction was, it's a white carrot (clearly I am not the only one unfamiliar with this veggie). He tried it, and declared it was a carrot. We put it to the true test of Oslo's palette. A fact about Oslo, he's tasted quite a few different foods, and carrots are at the top of his love list, unlike lettuce, which will be left to wilt on the kitchen floor if he has anything to do with it. We passed him a taste of parsnip, and it went more the lettuce route, clearly different from carrot.

The whole 1lb bag of parsnip, peeled and chopped, went into the pot with 2 tablespoons of butter, on low heat with the cover on to "sweat" for 45 minutes. Once it was nice and golden brown and soft, I added the next litre and a bit of stock (defrosted from the freezer) and removed from heat to puree. Back on the heat it went while I added a half cup of 18% cream and a half cup of sherry. The sherry adds a third new ingredient to my cooking experiences today. While that was heating up nicely, about a cup of finely chopped fennel was put into a frying pan on medium-high heat with a table spoon of butter. Once it was a golden colour, it was stirred into the creamy puree that smelled divine. Voila! Parsnip and fennel soup.

My mum called to see if we were ready, so we headed downstairs, loaded with the pot of hot soup, the dog, his chuck-it, among other things, to enjoy what was a delicious lunch!

There was a bone in the roast, so you can guess what is on our stove at the moment...

You say tomato, I say tomato

I'm going to be honest here, seeing as I've already shared the unexpected result of yesterday's soup with a few people. My intent was a roasted red pepper and pear soup, but it came out tomato. That's ok though, it was a delicious tomato!

We have had a couple different versions of roasted red pepper soup over the last month that we've really enjoyed, so I decided to give it a shot. We headed into the market after kettlebells yesterday morning. There are still loads of vendors, but unless you're looking for pumpkins, squash, cauliflower or brussel sprouts, you have to keep your eyes peeled for anything else. Brussel sprouts gave us a delightful surprise though, being one of those veggies that you've likely picked up in the frozen food aisle most of your life, you never thought about how it actually grows. Well, it's like this (thank you wiki):

Interesting eh?

We left the market sans brussel sprouts, but with some red peppers, tomatoes and ground cherries. This first ingredient was intended to help me make a successful and decadent roasted red pepper soup.

Here's how it became a tomato soup:

Into a dish I tossed 3 chopped red peppers, a chopped onion and 3 cloves of chopped garlic. This was drizzled with olive oil and put into the oven at 325 for about 25 minutes. When it smelled delicious, I took it out, and added it to the pot where I had a litre and a half of the stock that I made last week. I then added a can of Hunt's tomato and sweet onion, and a quarter of a tomato that was left over from making sandwiches. At this point I did consider that that was an awful lot of tomato, but decided not to add any more red pepper, for reasons beyond me. That pot full of goodness simmered for 10 minutes or so, then I removed from heat to puree with my trusty hand blender.

Back onto the heat it went, medium, and I tasted where we were so far. It was sharp. It needed something. I added nutmeg. Nutmeg really did the trick! Then some pepper. No salt, it didn't need any and I learned later that J had added salt to the stock before he put it in the freezer! I tossed in a peeled and chopped pear, then let it simmer at low heat until J woke up from his name.

Overall, this was a yummy soup, familiar to those days of childhood when you came in from playing outside in the snow and your mum made this for you for lunch, with a side of a grilled cheese sandwich or a pile of those premium plus crackers. Yum!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

From the freezer

This week wasn't very soup filled. The stock was made and put into the freezer. We made about 5 litres, Oslo was delighted as we diligently picked out any turkey pieces that were left in the pot after straining and added them to his food. Turkey is definitely one of his favourite foods.

Upon putting the stock in the freezer, we remembered that we had a butternut squash and carrot soup left over in there, so we took it out to enjoy. This is from about a month ago, it was a pureed butternut squash (squash, onions, garlic) with sliced carrots added (not pureed). It was pretty tasty.

As I write this, the first soup to be made with the first attempt at stock is in progress. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Thanksgiving weekend!! It was J's first Thanksgiving in Canada. We were fortunate enough to have 2 dinners! At a family friends house yesterday, and then at my mum's today. We're so full.

My mum sent us home with the turkey carcass so that I could make stock. It's the first time I've made stock. It's still on the stove, simmering. I didn't follow a recipe, but it smells delicious, so maybe the finger crossing has helped. Here's what went in the pot:

The turkey carcass, it still had a bit of meat, and there was a bit of stuffing, including cranberries. MmmMmm cranberries.

Two leeks, you can see how large I chopped them in the photo.
Two carrots, peeled and whole. This was J's contribution, he wants to eat them after.
Three stalks of celery, also chopped.
There are no spices, eek, I can always add them later, right?
Any experienced stockers (hehe!) out there, please give me your tips!

Friday, October 9, 2009

There was no soup made in our kitchen today, as J was making a delicious chicken madras.

I do think that tortelli soup will be coming up soon (he´s standing on his hind legs here, as I'm sitting on a chair)...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swiss chard

J is a big fan of swiss chard, a green-leafy vegetable. I had never eaten nor heard of this, and had to look up the translation fro Spanish when trying to find recipes (it's acelgas for all of you Spanish readers). I'd done empanadas and pastries with swiss chard, but never soup, it's still a fairly new ingredient to me.
It's really easy to cook with, here's what I ended up doing:
Browning half of a large onion, with two crushed cloves of garlic. When nice and brown, add the chopped swiss chard, I used a little more than half a bunch (the rest had been added to the famous tortilla from Sunday's post).
Add a can of beans, I used white kidney beans. I have to say I was nervous about this, I had never added beans to a soup before. Then add your stock, I used cubes, as usual, and about 2 litres of water. Then a lot of fresh ground pepper went into this puppy, as I turned up the heat and brought it to a boil. A few handfuls of whole wheat macaroni went in, and I cooked it until the macaroni was done.
The result? J was skeptical at the beginning, having never had soup with pasta, I think he's convinced though.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I made a cauliflower soup based on a recipe from the same book as yesterday. It was called a velouté. If you know what a velouté is, you`re one step ahead of where I was a few minutes ago. Of course I googled what a velouté is after I made this soup, which made me understand how important one of the ingredients that I left out is.

Wiki has told me that velouté is one of the `mother sauces`of french cuisine, consisting of stock (chicken, fish or vegetable), butter, flour and salt and pepper for seasoning. A velouté soup is a soup that`s been thickened with the same, plus eggs. The eggs are what I left out of my soup. Oops. In any case, it turned out pretty velvety, and tasty.

Here`s how my wanna-be velouté made it to the bowl:

- Roughly chop and steam a head of cauliflower

- Brown a medium sized onion with a tbsp of butter (the other day I learned that if you add salt to the onion, it won`t brown. The reason being that the salt sucks all of the moisture out of the onion, which it needs to brown. Don`t salt the browning onion!)

- Once the cauliflower is soft, drain, add the onion to the pot with a cup of stock (I used chicken today, thanks to J for running out and getting some, what would a soup blog be without stock!)

Blend these three things together with the handy dandy hand blender

- In a pan, melt 3 tbsps of butter. Add 3 tbsps of flour, and stir frequently until a nice golden brown. This takes about 15 minutes, keep stirring.

- Once the flour is golden, slowly add 3 cups of stock, while stirring. Add some seasoning (I just added lots and lots of pepper) and let simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Add the latter to the former, stir and serve. I didn`t do the egg part, so I`ll have to repeat this recipe at some point and let you know how that goes.
Pardon all of the backwards apostrophes, copying and pasting velouté has done something to my apostrophe-ing ability in this post

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Carrot and ginger

Today was day 1. A couple of friends, S & R, came over for dinner. While J made one of his famous tortillas, I took on soup number 1, Velvet Carrot-Ginger Soup, adapted from Soup for Every Body by Joanna Pruess.

It came out very velvety, with the perfect level of zing from the ginger. The bright orange colour made you excited to help your eye sight as it made it's way across your exhilarated taste buds.

Here's how this bowl made it to the table:

In a large pot, on medium-high heat:

1/4 cup butter
7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
3 tbsps white rice

Once the butter is melted, turn the heat on low and cover. Let the ingredients sweat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I enjoyed some corn chips with chipotle spinach dip and talked about diaper bags during this time.

When the carrots are soft, add about a litre of stock. Today I used beef cubes. Blend until velvety smooth, I used my handy-dandy hand blender, right in the pot.

Spoon away!

Day 1

It's my first day of blogging. It's going to be a long winter, the first winter that I'll be spending in the second coldest capital of the world, Ottawa, with my Spanish boyfriend and our dog, Oslo.

In one of our attempts to stay warm, and healthy, I'm going to make soup. Lots and lots of it. A few years ago my aunt and uncle gave me a cookbook, Soup for Every Body, and an apron for Christmas. This winter, I hope to become a soup guru, sharing my attempts with family and friends. I'll give each of my attempts an Oslo rating (thanks R!), 1 through 5.

Happy slurping!