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NYE 2014 Soup

Posted in cod, dairy, leeks, parsnip, potato, shellfish, soup, stock, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2015 by oskila

It says soup, but the concoction in question has a few similarities to a stew, a casserole, a chowder, a bisque or a bouillabaisse. Anyway, it’s a soup I made for the NYE dinner main course at my mother in law’s. Since it turned out rather excellent I feel like sharing.

The most important ingredient of all is good stock. I had two pints of lobster stock that I forgot to blog when I made it, so we’ll deal with that first.

Lobster stock (serves: you right)

1. Have your mother or similar invite you for a lobster party.
2. Nab the shells.
3. Lug a bucket of lobster peel home.
4. Cut up some good stock vegetables such as onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, parsnips (fennel, celery and celeriac are good too) and give them a sizzle in a large pot.
5. Cram the lobster remains in. Be as violent as you need. (I used a potato masher). If the shells refuse to be properly seared, oven roasting them first is a good idea.
6. Top up with water, wine and perhaps a bit of sherry.
7. Simmer for as long as you like I’d say, skimming frequently and seasoning to taste.
8. Strain the solids. I ended up using a pillowcase.
9. Simmer down to a more manageable volume
10. Use soon or freeze in a suitable container, for example a milk jug.

Freezing it in a milk jug will likely mean you end up using all of it in one go rather than a little here and there, since you’d have to defrost it to get anything out (apart from the bit with all the salt in it sloshing around the bottom unless the freezer is very very cold.

Since I’m a bit of a cheapskate I didn’t want to use this luxurious stock on just any soup and was at risk of waiting for too long when the opportunity of New Year’s dinner came along just in the nick of time. Also, wanting to defrost the stock well in advance of NYE to see if it was OK I took it out a couple of days early and discovered that we accidentally had turned the freezer off some time around Christmas eve and the temp inside was hovering around zero. Without the stock we’d probably gone for another day or two without checking the freezer, spoiling everything in it.

Aaanyway – for this soup you’ll need:

1 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, cut to matchsticks
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
3 inches leek, julienned
1 kilo almond potatoes (or other mealy fingerling) cut to pieces or large dice

1 quart stock, for example lobster (see above)
1-2 glasses white wine
½-1 pint double cream
crème fraîche
water (optional)

400 grams fish fillet, diced
100 grams smoked mussels
peeled shrimp

In a pot suitable for soup-making, start by sizzling the tomato paste and onions, then add potatoes and garlic. I left the potato skin on since almond potatoes are very mushy when cooked and will be held together a bit better by the skin. The reason for the comparatively large amount of potatoes is that they absorb salt and the stock was very very salty. Add water as needed.

Deglace pot with a small amount of wine, then add the stock and wine to taste. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are nearly done, then add leeks, fish, mussels and cream to taste and cook until everything is nice.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few shrimp as garnish. Garlic bread or croutons are nice on the side.

The above recipe was cooked up for five adults as main course, but turned out to be enough for seconds for three and thirds for two and also leftovers for lunch for two a few days later, which should add up to 12 servings, but not the largest ones.


Addendum re Lentil Soup and Umami

Posted in cheese, condiments, lentils, soup, vegan, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2014 by oskila

Yesterday I hurried to get my first post in months done and forgot to include lots of things in the text. Rather than editing the post I decided to do a new one with some explanation and deeper analysis. Before writing the post on lentil soup I had planned to give suggestions about what else to add and elaborate on veggie umami stuff a bit more.

Lentils, even beluga lentils, aren’t that rich in umami stuff themselves, and may need a helping hand. Stock usually gets the task done, but people are often wary of MSG these days (mostly without reason, since it doesn’t cause migraine, ADD or cancer at all, at least not when used sensibly. Read up on ‘Chinese Food Syndrome’ for more fun facts).

My soup didn’t contain lots of tomato, but it’s high in glutamic acid, another umami agent. Especially sizzled tomato paste or ‘sun dried’ tomatoes are handy tools in this aspect. Even a dollop of ketchup in the right place can enhance many a bland dish.

Onions are another useful umami vegetable as long as you let them cook properly to give off maximum flavor. In the soup I used fried onions because it’s a rather odd thing to do, but also because they’re more thoroughly fried than one would ever bother to do at home and packed with flavor, both from natural umami compounds and from maillard reactions associated with frying. The batter also acts as thickening – it’s funny how things work out sometimes.

Mushrooms are also a classic umami ingredient, but the combination with lentils in soup felt a bit out of place.

Ssamjang, Korean chili paste with garlic and soy beans, has been a trusty companion in the kitchen for several years. The umami content is largely due to fermentation, one of the common methods for getting more umami.

Enough about umami. The other thing I forgot to write at the end of the last post was the suggestion of adding a splash of wine, either red or white, to deepen the flavors in general. Those of a less vegan persuasion can add for example grated cheese, a splash of cream or fish sauce, especially if you’ve made a large batch and are having it for lunch for the fifth day in a row…

I’ve had the images for the next post ready for publication since just after Christmas, but other things got in the way. Hopefully that post will be up soon.

Shrimp Soup and Pão de Queijo

Posted in brazilian, bread, cheese, leeks, potato, shellfish, soup, stock, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2013 by oskila

We were invited to a potluck dinner on Easter Monday and my mother had kindly donated a pound of shrimps, which, combined with the shellfish stock made last Easter provided a good base for a most excellent soup.

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Leeks and carrots to begin with, along with some potatoes to give a bit of body.

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The haphazardly shelled shrimp keeping the defrosting stock company.

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Stock, water, shrimp and seasoning added. Classic bisque recipes call for brandy and/or sherry, but I don’t keep those in the house. Nothing wrong with a bit of white wine though.

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Ten minutes of blending and a pint of cream later the soup is done, if a bit on the lumpy side. For a proper bisque the shrimp shells would have been along for the whole ride, but one doesn’t want to attempt a smooth creamy soup with shells and only a hand blender.

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This has to be the most horrible phone pic I’ve ever voluntarily put on the web. It’s a plate of soup accompanied by a pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) which we also made. The process mostly involves stirring tapioca starch into liquids and adding cheese, so I’m skipping that part. There are a lot of fine recipes online though, so try it! If you’re in a country where tapioca flour isn’t readily available in most supermarkets (such as Sweden) try the Asian grocery stores.

Broccoli Soup

Posted in broccoli, potato, soup, vegetarian with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2013 by oskila

Made soup, but forgot to take pictures until it was done and I photographed a showy plating just to have something for the blog. Here’s how it’s done.


Sweat onions, garlic, sliced carrot, diced potatoes and cut up broccoli in a suitable pot.

Add water, stock cube, white peppercorns and for example french herbs.

Simmer until everything’s soft.

Mix with the assistance of a handblender.

Add cream and a dash of vinegar. Adjust seasoning.

Toss in some broccoli bits and bring to a boil, then serve with whatever floats your boat.


Served in what looks like a very designed bowl but is actually a soap dish, with a sprinkle of black pepper and some feta-like cheese.

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