Archive | December, 2011

Stocks: Vegetable Stock & White Chicken Stock

27 Dec

Stocks: Vegetable Stock & White Chicken Stock

Approx. 2L

I have a confession to make: when it comes to stocks I’m happy to use stock cubes, pots, pouches or powder. It saves a lot of time and before you know it you have your vegetable, chicken or beef stock ready to use. However, as I am writing about soups, 52 recipes in 52 weeks, it is time to start making my own stock, fresh from scratch.  Stocks are a base for soups but are also used for sauces, stews, pastas and risotto.  Fortunately, one of my dear friends Esther from Sugar and Salt is a true chef and was happy to demonstrate how to make a delicious stock step-by-step.

Vegetable Stock


2L cold water

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks roughly chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

½ leek rinsed and roughly chopped

½ fennel roughly chopped

½ tsp white peppercorns

½ tsp fennel seeds

3 fresh parsley stems

2 twigs chervil

2 twigs  dill

2 twigs tarragon 


Pour 2L of cold water into the stockpot. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, leek, fennel, white peppercorns and fennel seeds and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the stock cool down for a few minutes. Transfer the stock to a bowl or container and add the parsley, chervil, dill and tarragon. Chill overnight and strain the next day. Your stock is ready to use. You can keep the stock in your fridge for a week and in the freezer for up to 3 months.  If you freeze it you can use an ice tray and once the stock is frozen transfer the cubes to a plastic bag or pour small quantities in Ziploc plastic bags so you will have ‘sheets’ of frozen stock which will defrost quickly as well.

White Chicken Stock


3L cold water

1½ kg chicken wings

1½ onion, peeled and quartered

1½ celery stalks roughly chopped

½ leek roughly chopped

2 dried bay leaves

4 twigs fresh thyme

10 twigs fresh parsley stalks


Place all ingredients into a large pan/stockpot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities that rise to the surface. Continue to simmer gently for one and a half hour and keep skimming if necessary. Then pass the stock through a fine sieve and allow to cool for about half an hour, then refrigerate. You can keep the stock in your fridge for about 3 days and in the freezer up to 3 months.

My Favorite Minestrone Soup

20 Dec

Minestrone Soup

Serves 6-8 people

Now winter has arrived nothing beats a great minestrone which I love to serve as a meal in a bowl instead of a soup. It is so healthy, has a great flavor and is wonderful for the whole family to enjoy or even better the whole family and friends 🙂 I like the minestrone soup as it is, quite thick, but if you prefer it a bit more ‘soupy’ than you could add some more stock.


5 tbsp. of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 red onions, finely chopped

3 sticks of celery, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely diced

1 courgette/zucchini, finely diced

150gr  runner beans, finely diced

1 can/400g of butter beans

2 cans/800gr of chopped tomatoes

90gr of fresh basil: stalks finely chopped and leaves chopped

250gr fresh spinach & ricotta tortellini

1 piece of parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp.  salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1L vegetable stock


For this soup it is best to use a wide but not very deep pan. A casserole type would be ideal. Heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, red onions and celery and gently fry without coloring for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Then add the carrots, runner beans and basil stalks. Cover the ingredients and stir occasionally for about 15 minutes, again gently fry without coloring. Add the cans of chopped tomatoes and courgette/zucchini and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Pour in you vegetable stock, butter beans and tortellini and bring to boil. Once boiling reduce the heat, season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes  or until the tortellini are tender.

Serve the minestrone in big bowls with chopped basil,  shaved Parmesan cheese and some ciabatta bread on the side.

Bon Appetite 😉

PS. Graham’s tip: add the rind of the Parmesan cheese into the soup whilst cooking, it adds a super flavor.

Beetroot Soup with Crème de Cassis

16 Dec

Serves 6 people

This wonderful French recipe has been sent to me by Esther who runs a gorgeous Chambres et Tables d’Hôtes named Mas d’Oléandre in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region.

This soup is so amazingly rich in flavor and due to its color it looks very festive.  A true eye catcher especially when served on white dinnerware/china or in a transparent glass.


500gr beetroots

150ml of (pouring) cream

1 tsp of lemon

1 tsp of Dijon mustard

1 tbsp of crème de cassis

30gr of butter

30gr of plain flour

500ml vegetable stock

fresh dill


Wash the beetroots in cold water, cut the stalks to 2.5cm and leave the root at the bottom. Beetroots tend to “bleed” and lose color if the skin is broken or removed before or during cooking, so it is best to cook them whole in their skins until tender. You can also choose to use cooked beetroots which will need additional cooking for approx. 20 min. Once the beetroots are cooled off, you can easily remove the skins. You may want to use rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands.

Mix the peeled beetroots with the lemon, mustard,  cream and crème de cassis. Then purée the ingredients with a hand blender or puree in batches in your blender.

We set the beetroot purée aside and take out a stockpot to make a roux. Melt the butter over very low heat and add the flour, begin stirring immediately. After 1 minute, start adding small portions of vegetable stock. Bring the mixture of roux and vegetable stock to a boil while stirring. Stir in the beetroot purée and heat the soup over low heat. Serve with some lovely fresh dill and enjoy.

Bon Appetite 😉

Jane’s Butternut Squash and Lime Soup

8 Dec "Ready to Roast"

"Ready to Roast"Jane’s Butternut Squash and Lime Soup

Serves 6 people

When I was visiting our dear piano teacher and neighbor, Jane, the other day, I found out that she can cook too! This gorgeous recipe is so tasty and in a way quite impressive yet easy to prepare, just the way we like it. Give it a go and tell me if you share my enthusiasm.


1 butternut squash  (0r 4 bags pre-cut)

2 limes finely grated, zest and juice

2 cloves of chopped garlic

1 white onion diced

2 tbsp of clear honey

¼  tsp.  of (fresh) thyme

½  tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp. salt

¼  tsp. black pepper

200ml half fat crème fraîche

750ml vegetable stock

2 sprigs fresh parsley

40gr flaked almonds


Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Peel and dice the butternut into 1 inch cubes. If you have difficulties with peeling and dicing the butternut squash than please, take a look at and you will never struggle again ;-)!

Peel and chop the onion and cloves of garlic and place into a large roasting tray together with the squash. Drizzle the olive oil and honey on top and finish off with sprinkling the thyme. Roast for about 25 minutes or until tender and slightly brown.

Once done, take out your roasting tray and pour in your stock. Leave for a minute and carefully transfer all the ingredients and stock to your stockpot leaving nothing behind.  Now, add the crème fraîche and the grated, zest and juice of the limes. Then purée the ingredients with a hand blender in the stockpot or puree in batches in your blender. Taste your soup and season with salt and pepper.

Before serving bake the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan until they are golden brown.  Serve  with a spoonful of crème fraîche and some flaked almonds.

Bon Appetite 😉

My Grandmother’s Chicken Soup

2 Dec

My Grandmother’s Chicken Soup

Serves 6 people

Now that the outside temperatures are starting to drop and more and more people are starting to get a cold or a flu, it is time for me to share my Grandmother’s Chicken Soup recipe with you. My darling Grandmother, Josephine, is 93 years old and alive and kicking. I can’t help but think the weekly doses of chicken soup has something to do with it 😉



4 big chicken legs (approx. 850 gr)

1.5 L of water

1 clove of garlic

1 white onion cut into four pieces

1 big carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 celery stalks with leaves, coarsely chopped

2 sprigs of parsley

1 sprig of thyme

1/2 tsp.  salt

1/4 tsp. white pepper

¼ tsp. of mild curry powder

75 gr fine egg noodles

2 or 3 chicken stock cubes


Put the chicken legs in your stockpot and add 1.5 L of water. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and curry powder.

Bring to a boil and, once boiling, reduce the heat.  Allow to simmer for approximately 2 hours or until the water is yellow and the meat is tender. The meat should almost be falling off the bones.

Turn off the heat and let the soup cool down. Drain the vegetables and chicken from the soup. Now it is time to refrigerate the stock preferable for one night. A layer of fat will rise and harden at the top of the stock. Now you can easily skim the fat of with a spoon.

If you don’t have the time to leave the soup for the night you could pour it into containers and leave them in the freezer for an hour to hasten this process.

Boil the soup again, once skimmed, and add the chicken stock cubes. Once the cubes have dissolved add the pieces of deboned chicken and fine egg noodles. Before serving you can garnish your soup with some chopped parsley leaves.

Bon Appetite 😉