Hero the Veg: Basic Single Vegetable Soups (Broccoli and Mushroom soups)

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At a very recent dinner at a friends house on a cold winter day, I was served soup as appetiser and it was simple and delicious. Off late most of my soups are the broths I make for dunking noodles into to make some sort of Ramen out of them. But just the joy of a plain mushroom soup reminded me how delicious and easy it is to make soup out of literally every vegetable and how it is also very easy to pack a punch of flavour into it.

So the next whole week I ate at least one vegetable soup every meal and may be for two meals to finally understand and write about how to make soups out of single vegetables. Just one vegetable as hero. And what little things can be added to each of them to really up the flavour and deliciousness of the soups.

We are talking 2 basic soups here: Broccoli and Mushroom (button)
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Broccoli Soup –
Ingredients: Makes 2 bowls

2 medium broccoli
1 tbsp ghee
1 sprig dill
750 ml water (and more if needed)
2-3 pinches pink salt
pepper to taste

1. Clean and chop the broccoli, stalks and stems and florets. if the broccoli is tender then chop them in the same size. Else chop the florets into larger pieces than the stalks. the stalks need to be pealed as the outer skin is tough and fibrous.
2. Add the ghee to the pan and add the broccoli. Stir and cook till tender.
3. Add the water and cook. Do not cover as that way you will loose the beautiful green colour.
4. Cook till the broccoli is almost mushy.
5. Use a hand blender to blend in the broccoli. Add a sprig of dil tied to a string and simmer till you achieve desired consistency. Once cooked remove the dill and add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls. When serving garnish with some fresh chopped dill. Serve with warm crusty bread with garlic and dill on top
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Tips and tricks
1. Broccoli cooks very quickly, so a little patience, cook on low flame and the colour is retained
2. Use a densely flavoured oil to first stir fry the broccoli before you add the water. Try a cold pressed sesame, coconut, extra virgin olive or mustard oil. Ghee it was for me.
3. Use smaller and more delicate broccoli’s, they are sweeter
4. Use the stem It adds body and depth of flavour. Just peal them.
5. Use a green herb to garnish. I used dill. They go well together.
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Mushroom Soup
Ingredients: Makes 2 bowls
400 gms button mushrooms
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 inch cube. butter
1 pinch. nutmeg
1/2 cup milk/ almond milk/ coconut milk
1-2 cloves garlic
500 ml mushroom stock/ vegetable stock/ water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the mushrooms into 1 inch pieces. clean them thoroughly after chopping just to ensure absolutely no grit is left on them.
2. Add the oil in a pan. Choose a big pan because mushrooms don’t cook too well if crowded in a pan. They tend to sweat too much too soon.
3. Once the oil is heated, add the butter and diced/chopped/ minced garlic and bay leaves. Stir on low flame and do not let the garlic brown. After a minute or so add the chopped mushrooms and stir.
4. Slowly the mushrooms will sweat a bit and cook through. Once cooked let it cool for some time.
5. Remove the bay leaves and add the nutmeg. Blend it in a liquidiser jar with water till smooth.
6. To get the most creamy texture, run the blended mushroom puree through a fine sieve.
7. Bring the mixture back to a boil after adding the milk and water. Season to taste. serve with a wedge of lime.

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Tips and tricks
1. Cook the mushrooms till they are perfectly tender.
2. Use a liquidiser for this soup. A hand held blender will not be the best
3. Garlic, bay leaf and nutmeg/ cinnamon and you are sorted. No need to scamper about for some thyme for this.
4. Just a dash of milk, no cream at all.
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Inspired Shroom 

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I was in Tallinn, this summer, meeting a friend, on a road trip in the Baltic. The Baltic in summer is full of fresh produce, with the markets wafting with the fragrance of ripe strawberries and farmers with cherry stained aprons offering the fruit in an array of yellowed to bright beautifully maroon sweetness.

One of the definite places to go visit in Tallinn is Telliskivi – art district, creative city. And boy it does not disappoint. Some of the street art had me staring for what could have been an eternity. And though till date I have not shared any picture on this blog other than that directly related to food, this time I feel compelled. It remains not just a gem in the Baltic, but also a great place for discovering art. With a bouquet of boutiques and stores offering knick knacks for everyone.IMG_3820

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From top;

A home furnishing store in Telliskivi loomelinnak

One of the many cafes and what beautiful blue sky

Is it a cat or a rat or a mouse with a grouse? Graffiti on the walls

Those eyes, they had me. Captivating. the best wall art I have ever seen

The Petunia dotted cafe balcony overlooking the parking

This whole old warehouse district is dotted with old carriage ways and station wagons done up to become cafes and old communist factory floors house lovely restaurants. One of the most popular one is F-Honne, known for its daily fresh bake of the regional brown bread, which is by the way on the house with unlimited balsamic and olive oil to dip, is a more or less perfect example of  industrial design done right. Here I had a spring mushroom soup, the flavour of which was surprisingly asian and close to Thai, fresh, simple button mushrooms, lemony, zingy and just the right tang to balance the coconut milk broth.

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The Interiors of F-Honne http://www.fhoone.ee

And I have here tried to recreate that same soup. Surprise, surprise, there is a cheats way of doing it added to the tip section, right before the post script. Do not miss it.
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Ingredients:

For the curry paste:
1 handful Thai basil
1 handful coriander leaves (with roots)
2-3 kaffir lime leaves and kaffir lime skin
2 inches lemon grass
1 green chilli
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion
For the soup:
500 gms button mushrooms (thoroughly washed and evenly diced)
400 ml light coconut milk
2 tbsp cooking oil ( I used ghee)
1 lemon
Salt to taste

  1. Blend all the ingredients of the curry paste in a blender, with a little water. Only one 1 table spoon per person is needed. So the rest can be easily popped in the fridge for later use.
  2. Add the ghee to the pan, and sauté the mushrooms on slow heat. As the mushrooms start to render the liquid add 2 table spoon (1 tbsp per 250 gms.  of mushrooms so that the flavour is not overpowering) of the curry paste and continue to sauté on low heat.
  3. This needs to cook for about 15 minutes. Please be careful not to turn the heat up. Once you see that the mushrooms are cooked and the curry paste that coats the mushrooms has lost colour, add the coconut milk and 400 ml water. Allow the broth to simmer for 15minutes or so on low heat.
  4. Cook till the broth reaches the consistency you desire and add the seasoning as per taste. Add the juice of one lemon, or as much as you like.
  5. Garnish with springs of mint, coriander leaves, thai basil, or basil flowers. 

Cheats Tip:
Skip the whole curry making step, and add 1 table spoon of thai green curry paste. Almost no one will notice.

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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Blood Line http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3520702/
Movie – The Blind Side. A great story for weekend watching if you have not already. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878804/
Listen
Lost on the River – When I get my Hands on You (I think this is 1/4 Mumford Sons in here ) -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcMvZeFSuXE
Water – Jack Garratt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFuhB8N2CLk
You and I – Wilco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USjuOWLyWIQ

Read
Blog – I need to lear a lot from here about social media management. In the mean time why don’t you try. https://www.agorapulse.com/blog
Book – Into the water by Paula Hawkins https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33151805-into-the-water
Poem:
Like all the rest of her poems, the poem does not have a title and is called by the first line of the poem.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

– Emily Dickinson