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Category Archives: Soups

Cock-a-leekie (GF)

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We have been eating cock-a-leekie for the past few days, thanks to the huge pot of it I made over the weekend.  I was rummaging around in the freezer looking for beans, and discovered that Mother-in-Law had left half a chicken in there (as you do).  Cock-a-leekie makes a nice change from the standard chicken noodle fair, especially when I already have leeks and carrots in the fridge.  Besides, with a name like cock-a-leekie, it is nearly impossible to not enjoy this soup.   As with most soups, it tastes better the next day.

In a big stock pot, cover the equivalent of half a chicken, including bones, with two ish litres of water (about two quarts, give or take), throw in a few peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves, and bring slowly to a boil.  Let it boil for the better part of an hour, and chop up two big leeks and three or four carrots into nice chunks.  Once the stock has become strong enough, throw in the veggies and continue to boil.  You can also add in some salt now, or wait until the very end.  After about twenty minutes, drop in a cup or so of either buckwheat groats or brown rice, and cook until soft.  Remove the chicken pieces, shred the meat, and return it to the pot.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and eat!

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Celeriac soup

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Mmm, celeriac soup (not celiac = )) is yummy, and now that we’re in the Czech Republic, I’ve been seeing a lot of this vegetable.  The soup is easy to make, like any basic veggie cream soup, and doesn’t taste nearly as much like celery as you would think, and I say this as a person who does not particularly like celery….

Saute one sliced leek in vegetable oil or butter until soft, then add in three big handfuls of peeled and chopped celeriac.  This works out to be about one smallish leek and a celery root bulb about the size of a large orange.  You can also use the tough green bits of two leeks instead of a whole leek in this, but the soup will be much closer in color to celery.  Pour on about three cups of water, and boil until soft with a bit of bouillon or whatever you flavor your soups with.  Once all is soft, take it off the heat and blend it smooth, top up with about 1/2 cup of milk, and stir until blended.  Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley, and maybe some (GF) croutons if the mood strikes you.

Cauliflower soup from leftovers

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I made vyprazeny karfiol (kvetak, since we’re now in the Czech Republic) the other day, and I saved back the water I used to steam the cauliflower plus all the bits that were to small to fry, along with one or two wobbly florets.  We also had some leftover steamed potatoes from that meal, so the next day I made cauliflower soup.

Simply sauté a bit of onion in oil in the pot, then dump in the water, cauliflower, and potatoes.  Bash a clove or two of garlic, and then toss that into the pot as well.  Season with salt and pepper, simmer until the garlic is soft, then puree it all together.  Finally, add in a bit of milk to make it creamier and check the seasonings.  I topped it with chopped parsley, but you could also put in croûtons if you had them.

This was a hit, and I love the something from nothing aspect of it.  The soup made enough for two servings, so I got a light lunch out of it as well.

Hotdog goulash

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Yes, hot dog goulash.  It’s desperate times around here, let me tell you.  So, should you find yourself in the position of only having one pot to cook in and no cooking utensils beyond a knife and spoon, this recipe will serve you well.

Finely chop and onion and  a well-scrubbed carrot, then saute in whatever fat you have handy (I used bacon fat).  Finely chop whatever other veggies you might want to add in, like a paprika, along with a clove or two of garlic, and throw those into the pot.  Chop up enough hotdogs, at least one per person, and chuck those in, along with enough chopped potatoes to fill out the goulash.  Add in water and bouillon or veggie stock to cover, along with sweet paprika, salt and pepper (or just plain goulash seasoning).  Cook until slightly reduced and the potatoes have softened.

This went over surprisingly well, but it could be just because it was a hot meal…

Five dishes from a roast chicken

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Sometimes, for reasons that are still unclear even now, you end up with a spare roast chicken with stuffing.  (Gluten free stuffing at that, thank you Marks and Spencers!)  At any rate, I roasted off both birds together, with the intent of only eating the one for dinner, which left me with a roast, stuffed bird to do something with.  That week will forever be known as the week of roast chicken…

Starting with the whole bird,

Dinner #1 – of course it was just plain roasted chicken, thighs and legs, which fed four of us with rice, vegetables, and gravy

Dinner #2 – I shredded the two breasts into a salad with potatoes and green beans, and served it with spring lettuce and radishes.

Dinner #3 – I mixed the forcemeat stuffing with an equal amount of cooked oatmeal, flavored it with sage, leek, and garlic, and formed it into patties.  I fried the patties and served them with an onion gravy, mashed potatoes, and a few veggie dishes.

Spread – I shredded the remaining meat off the bone and mixed it with some mayonnaise and other spices.   I served it in lettuce cups to make it slightly fancier, but really it was just meant as a sandwich filling for lunch and snacks.

Soup – Of course I made soup from what was left, and there was enough soup to last all five of us for two days.  It wasn’t a very meaty soup, but since we only eat soup as a starter before the main meal, it did the trick.

Garlic soup

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We’ve all been ill over the holidays, taken down by a mean cold.  Once the festivities were over, all any of us really wanted was a bowl of healing soup.  Since I didn’t have chicken, I made this garlic soup instead.

This soup, for all of its simplicity, is a labor of love, and it will test your cooking skills in every way possible.  I’ve tried to explain the steps as best I can, because the end result is worth it.  Also, Anthony Bourdain’s comment that “if you can’t be bothered working with fresh garlic, you don’t deserve to eat it” rings true here.  There is no substitute for fresh garlic in this recipe, period.

Here is the ratio of ingredients – for every half litre of water (approx. 2 cups), you will need 1 TBL of butter and half of a medium head of fresh garlic. 

Peel and press or finely chop the garlic.  You will need to make a paste of the garlic, which isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds.  Flatten the pile of chopped/pressed garlic, sprinkle it generously with salt (“generously” meaning a good teaspoon or two), and grab your chef knife.  With the sharp end pointed only slightly down and your fingers pressed against the flat side of the knife, start at the right side of the pile and push down and pull across the garlic pile with your knife towards the left.  Using short strokes, repeat this process for a minute or two.  The salt helps grind the garlic down under the pressure of the knife, so you should end up with a pile of liquid garlic.  Any lumps will immediately be visible in your soup.

Now that you have your paste, take your butter and melt it in  your soup pot over low heat.  You will need to go very low and slow with the butter and garlic, so keep it as low as your stove will let you.  Once the butter has melted, dump in your garlic paste and immediately start stirring.  Stir the garlic paste with your butter so that a film starts to form on the bottom of the pan.  Keep stirring, and scraping up the film as much as possible, until it starts to smell vaguely of caramelized nuts.  At this point, take your pot off of the heat.  If you do this whole process at too high a heat or for too long, the garlic will burn and the soup will be bitter. 

Once the garlic has started to smell nutty and slightly sweet, and you’ve taken it off the heat, you need to deglaze the pot with a hefty splash of water to cover the bottom.  Return to heat and scrape furiously, getting every last bit of film and garlic off of the bottom of the pan (this won’t take much effort).  Once it starts to simmer, add the rest of your water and a good dash of cracked pepper.  Simmer until slightly reduced, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

To make a creamy garlic soup, substitute half of your water with milk.  You can also add in a few tablespoons of cream at the end.  This soup goes well with buttered (GF) toast, especially if served to a congested person wrapped in a blanket.  A word of caution though, if the cook is congested, then be careful not to stray to far from the recommended amount of garlic.  If everyone in the house is congested, no one will know the difference, so feel free to add more = ).

Soup from roast leftovers

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I feel a bit silly posting this, since I know most of you probably will know this one by heart.  Still, since it’s the holidays, and we did have a roast in honor of Thanksgiving at the weekend, I’ll continue.

You can get quite a nice soup from the bones of a roasted chicken* and any leftovers you have from that dinner.  Simply take the carcass, plus any bones that were left on the plate and put them in the pressure cooker (or any other pot with a tight-fitting lid).  Then take any savoury veggies you had, like buttered leeks or onion gravy and chuck that in.  Chop up your leftover roast veggies and put them into the pot with some salt and pepper, then cover with water.  Pop the lid on, lock, and boil gently for about forty minutes.  If you are using a pressure cooker, there is no need to skim the pot.

Adjust seasonings (add salt, pepper, etc. if necessary).  Serve with leftover stuffing or dumplings.

*Pick the meat off to make a spread for sandwiches first.