Posts Tagged ‘onion’

Butter bean soup with smoked pancetta

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Butter bean soup with smoked bacon

I can never quite decide whether I like soup. If I’m ever in a restaurant and there is soup for starters on the menu, I never order it as I tend to think soup is rather boring. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some really nice soups and I have actually decided to do soup next week for an evening meal so I don’t know why I feel that way about it. It is generally a cheap quick and healthy meal, although I do tend to have a slab of bread with it, so it is ideal for a mid-week meal. Despite my indifference to soup I quite like this one.

I apologise for not giving quantities here as I never bothered to measure the ingredients and employed a slap-dash approach as usual.

Simply soak some butter beans overnight, then rinse and drain them and put into a saucepan with a couple of bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, an onion peeled and halved, pepper, a couple of garlic cloves and a potato and cover with water. Boil the beans until tender. Whilst the beans are cooking, cut pancetta into slices and fry until golden. Once the beans are cooked, remove the bay leaves and thyme and blend the rest of the ingredients (with the cooking water), seasoning with salt and a little more pepper if required. If the soup is too thick add a little water and if you want to be more indulgent add a drizzle of cream. Serve the soup in warm bowls topped with the bacon and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and eat with crusty bread.

Butternut squash and pine nut risotto

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Butternut squash and pine nut risotto

I really like risotto but you have to keep trying different recipes to make it more interesting. This is one I made up myself although it is by no means ground breaking. I love Gruyere cheese and I thought it would go well with the nutty squash and pine nuts. The basic risotto recipe is from Jamie’s Italy.

Serves 6


1.1 ltrs chicken stock

3 tblsp olive oil

knob of butter

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped

400g risotto rice

2 wineglasses dry white vermouth or white wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

70g butter

1 small butternut squash

1 tsp ground cumin

100g pine nuts

115g Gruyere finely grated

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Peel and chop the butternut squash into 1 inch size pieces. Toss them in a tbslp of olive oil, the cumin and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven until soft.

Heat the stock. Add the onion, garlic and celery into a frying pan with the olive oil and butter and gently cook for 15 minutes. Add the rice and turn up the heat and fry for a minute or so. Add the vermouth and stir until absorbed, then start adding the stock a ladle at a time, letting the rice absorb it after each addition. The heat should be turned down to medium so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked, which should take about 15 minutes.

Just before the rice is cooked dry fry the pine nuts until golden. Keep an eye on them as they colour very quickly once up to temperature. Remove the rice from the heat and add the squash, Gruyere, pine nuts and a knob of butter. Stir together, put a lid on and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

Spiced sweetcorn soup

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Spiced sweetcorn soup

This simple concoction was originally intended to be a plain sweetcorn soup, but the only bread I had in the house was naan bread and I thought adding a hint of spice might compliment the bread very well. The soup is cheap, easy to make and reasonably healthy so it probably ticks most peoples boxes.


  • Two 400g tins of sweetcorn, try and get good quality stuff that hasn’t had salt and sugar added. Leave a tblsp aside to decorate
  • Two large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch dice
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli pepper, deseeded if you like, and chopped
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 4 heaped tsps of cumin seeds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tblsp yoghurt to serve
  • a small sprig of parsley or coriander to garnish
  • naan bread


Heat a small pan on a medium to high heat and dry fry the cumin seeds until they release their aroma and slightly colour, (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn) then grind them with a pestle and mortar. Heat a small amount of oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat then add the onion and garlic. Fry for a few minutes until slightly softened then add the potatoes, chilli and ground cumin. Stir for a few minutes then add the chicken stock and simmer for about 15 minutes before adding the sweetcorn and cooking for a further 5 minutes. Check the potato and onion are soft ,then take off the heat and blend until smooth. It is quite a thick soup but if you find it too thick add a little water. Season the soup and then ladle into warm bowls, with a spoon of yoghurt, a small heap of sweetcorn and a sprig of parsley on top. Serve with warm naan bread.

Serves 4