Category / Soups & Salads

Soups & Salads

Tom Ka Kai Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

We are a family of foodies. Unashamed, our summer time holiday destination selection has began to change adding “fine cuisine” as a top criteria. Bathing or taste buds in a sumptious tasty experience is not something solely received for vacations. Every Christmas and birthday celebration has become an occasion for new delightful cookbooks to enter into our family collection with the hope, that not before too long, we will be discovering new amazing family favourite dishes.

This Christmas season cookbook gifts have opened our world to Asia. We have already tried Thai fish pancakes and Thai green curry falling deeper and deeper into the Thai cuisine – light, well balanced and full of flavour, but most of all so quick and easy to make.

This coconut milk chicken soup takes less than half and hour to make, yet it offers real celebration of healthty light meal full of warmth and tender, fragrant flavour.

Ingredients

  • 500 ml Coconut milk
  • 800 ml Water
  • 3 cm Fresh Galanga root (grated)
  • 2 Stalks Lemongrass
  • 4 Lemon leaves
  • 1 Chicken boullion cube
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1 Shallot
  • 300 g chicken filet
  • 150 g oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 red chilli

Method

1. In a deep cooking pot mix together the coconut milk and the water, letting them gently simmer over a medium heat.
2. Add the grated galanga, lemongrass stalks and the lemon leaves and leave them to boil for 10 minutes until the flavours are infused.
3. Take the lemongrass and the lemon leaves out.
4. Add the chicken bouillon, the palm sugar and the fish sauce.
5. Slice the shallot into thin cubes and add to the soup. Cut the chicken filet into small cubes and add to the soup. Boil for 5 minutes.
6. Cut the red chilli pepper into small pieces and add to the soup.
7. Cut the oyster mushrooms into thin slices and add to the soup. Let it boil for 5 more minutes.
8. Garnish the soup with a handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Soups & Salads

Spring Salad

Late spring and all the senses and rejoicing with the coming summer. We long for walks on the beach, summer night dancing parties, abandons of delicious fruits and salads. This simple late spring dish has all the hopes of the days to come. Beetroot and carrot, meet fresh salad leaves and herbs, kissed by fresh raspberries, melting goat cheese and contrasting walnuts all gently coming together with a Raspberry Dressing Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • handful of fresh raspberries
  • mixed salad (rocket, young spinach leaves, baby leaf lettuce)
  • Walnuts
  • Goat cheese
  • Carrots
  • Red beetroot
  • Fresh herbs (mint leaves, basil leaves, lemon balm leaves)

Method

1. Raspberry Dressing PreparationIn a blender, combine the 1 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1tbsp vinegar and 2tsp sugar. Blend until smooth and refrigerate until chilled.

2. Salad Decoration: Wash the salad mix leaves, dry and place in a serving dish. Peal a carrot and slice into thin stripes. Cut a read beetroot and slice it into thin stripes. Arrange both over the salad leaves. Sprinkle fresh herbs like basil, mint and lemon balm leaves to add some extra flavour. Slice soft goat cheese disks into halves and arrange on top of the salad. Add walnuts cut into small pieces. Scatter fresh ripe raspberries and top with the raspberry dressing.

Soups & Salads

White Asparagus Soup

Sunday morning walk in the woods, life cannot start any better on a fresh, blue sky spring sunny day. Only a short drive away from home, resides one of our favourite family locations for a tranquil walk in nature – the Lemmens music academy in Leuven. Parking the car in front of the building we would frequently hear classical music being played, but as tempting the performance might be we rarely stop to listen and instead hurry away, zig-zaging behind the building deep into the woods, seeking seclusion beneath the majestic century old trees.

The wood is always offering its abundance of life, wether it would be the first spring bird singing or the joyful squirrels jumping close to our side we partake gladly in its magic and take small tokens of gifts back home – a handful apples, chestnuts, flowers… This trip has not been any different. The fruit trees are not quite yet full of blossom but the aromatic sweet viollets have casted their delicate perfume all over the place. Taking a handful I know exactly how to enjoy them during our family lunch.

The sweet violettes are among the edible flowers and are often garnishing sophisticated meals. Today, they are gracing our table as finishing touch on a delicious German white asparagus soup. Smooth, buttery and creamy, this soup’s delicate flavour could be a start of a special family meal and is often associated with traditional Easter Sunday lunch in Belgium.

Ingredients

  • 1 bundle fresh white asparagus
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1 chicken bullion cube (Knorr)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sweet edible violletes
  • Radish sprouts

Method

1. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Meanwhile, trim about 12” from the ends of the asparagus. Lay spears on a work surface, then peel thin skin from each with a sharp swivel-blade vegetable peeler, starting 1 12” from the top and running the length of the spear. (Spears are brittle and can snap when peeled in midair.) Reserve peels. Gather spears into 2 bundles and tie loosely with kitchen string.

2. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Add the reserved peels, sugar, 2 generous pinches of salt, 3 tbsp. of the butter, and 1 tsp of the vinegar. Return to a simmer, then add asparagus and cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 8-30 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. Remove asparagus from pot and drain on paper towels, then set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and reduce stock by one-third, about 30 minutes. Strain stock and keep hot over low heat.

3. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Do not allow flour to brown (it will color soup). Whisk in hot asparagus stock 1 cup at a time and continue whisking until smooth. Simmer soup, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add cream and continue simmering for 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and chicken bullion cube if you like.

4. Untie asparagus bundles, then cut spears into 1” lengths and add to soup. Simmer for 1 minute more. Adjust seasonings. Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with sweet edible viollets and radish sprouts, if you like.

Soups & Salads

Grilled Halloumi Cheese Salad

Its early June. The days are pregnant with the heavy promise of summer, but the first bright-eyed, sun-kissed, warm-embracing day has not arrived yet. My soul is waiting. Waiting… to finally step out of the door without being greeted by the fresh morning chill, but by a happy blue sky instead. Waiting… for the touch of the invisible fingers of the wind in my long curly hair to finally whisper of the honey-kehlibar shade of the warm African desert rather then the aqua marine icebergs of the North sea. Waiting… for a field of flowers to cascade its scent over me, blinding my eyes with colour. Waiting… to pick up a ripe apricot from a tree and to taste heaven in its aroma.

Calling the summer to finally come, I am preparing a dinner of warm salad with grilled sweet paprika and cheery tomatoes, melting grilled halloumi cheese and fresh cucumber, mint and basil. Every bite is a sweet perfection and a long lasting promise that the days of sunny barbecues and chilled Chardonnay, surrounded by the smiling faces of family and friends, are indeed coming near.

 

Ingredients

(Serves 2 people)
  • 1 Spanish red paprika
  • 1 cucumber
  • 250g halloumi cheese
  • 6 red cherry tomatoes
  • a handfull of pine nuts
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • fresh mint and basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

 

Method

1. Heat a grated grilling pan pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

2. Cut the halloumi cheese in four thin slices. Grill on both sides the halloumi cheese and take out of the pan.

3. Cut the red paprika on thick slides (4 or 6 depending on the size of the paprika). Place the paprika in the pan and season with salt and black pepper. Grill on both sides the paprika and take out of the pan.

4. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place in the grilling pan and season with salt and black pepper. Grill for less then a minute and take out of the pan.

5. Peal the cucumber and cut it in thin circles.

6. Roast a handful of pine nuts.

7. Place the salad on a serving plate, by arranging the drilled paprika, the cucumber, the grilled halloumi cheese, the grilled tomatoes, drizzling with olive oil and scattering roasted pine nuts and fresh mint and basil leaves on top.

 

Soups & Salads

Tomato Soup with Meat Balls

Every family has its comfort food. This type of food that you are happy to sample at home when the days are cold, when despite good effort at work something is always not quite alright or when simply people are acting strangely when all you give and expect is kindness. Days, when you feel a little forlorn or you are fighting a persisting cold.

Days, when you need an understanding, comforting hug from a loved one and something tasty and delicious, to warm you deep inside, to warm you to the bones.

Comfort food like this for us is a simple tomato soup with meat balls and fresh parsley. So easy to make, understated but ever constant in its delicious homey flavour and a promising touch for a brighter day and a happier tomorrow.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 can of tomatoes (250g)
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 big potato
  • 1 red paprika
  • Ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 Vegetable stock cube
  • 50g butter
  • 500ml water
  • 300g minced meat
  • Fresh parsley leaves

 

Method

1. Heat the butter in a deep soup pot. Chop the onion into thick slices and sweat it in the heated butter until softened and slightly golden on the edges.

2. Cut the potato, carrots and red paprika into small pieces and add them together with the can of tomatoes and the water into the pot. Mix well and leave to simmer for at least half an hour.

3. Once all the vegetables have softened, blend them together forming a smooth, thick liquid.

4. Season the soup with a vegetable stock cube, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

5. Roll the meat into small size balls and drop them in the soup to cook for at least 15 minutes.

6. Serve garnished with fresh parsley leaves.

 

Soups & Salads

Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

Late August. Sunny terrace and a glass of chilled Chardonnay. The sky is beautifully bright and smiling but a gentle breeze reminds me of the changing season. Autumn is coming. Gloriously golden brown and gathering me home, in the warm, seated in my red arm-chair next to window, with a floral cup of tea and a book close at hand. Autumn will be time for soups and roasted vegetables, but not yet, not yet… I look into the sun drinking its Vitamin D and enjoying the moment, getting ready for saying good-bye to the summer and what a better way of doing that then celebrating with a this light and sumptuously delicious buffalo mozzarella salad.

 

Ingredients

  • 120g Buffalo Mozzarella (tennis ball size)
  • Red & green curl lettuce leaves
  • 2-3 cheery tomattoes
  • 2-3 round slices of cucumber
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 200 ml frying oil
  • Handful of pine nuts (roasted)
  • 2 tbsp of aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 200g finely-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 70g semolina flour
  • 70g plain flour

 

Method

1. For the Parmesan Crisps: Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Line a backing trey with baking parchment. Mix together the finely-grated Parmesan Cheese and the semolina and the flour. Spread evenly onto the backing tray and bake for 5-10 min until golden brown. Take out of the oven and let them cool completely.

2. For the Fried Buffalo Mozzarella: Heat the frying oil in a heavy saucepan. Beat the egg. Spread the dried bread crumbs into a soup plate. Spread the plain flour into another soup plate. Open the mozzarella package and get rid of the extra liquid. Roll the buffalo mozzarella ball first into the flour, making sure that it is well covered by all sides, then dip it into the beaten egg liquid, rolling it gently on all sides and lastly roll the ball into the plate with the dried bread crumbs. Fry for 2-3 minute on each side until the whole ball is golden brown. Take out of the frying pan and set aside to cool.

3. For the salad: Arrange in a free style the lettuce salad leaves, the cucumber slices and the cherry tomatoes on a flat salad dish. Cut the fried buffalo mozzarella in half and arrange on the salad plate. Cut the parmesan crisps into triangles and place two of them next to the fried mozzarella. Sprinkle over roasted pine nuts and generously drizzle over with a good quality aged balsamic vinegar.

 

Soups & Salads

Mediterranean Salad

Summer holidays in my grandmother’s house. Sunshine and light, butterflies and flowers, fresh sweet strawberries and endless fun.

My cousin and I were playing in the garden. My grandmother has just put buckets of water in the heat of the sun to get warm for our afternoon swimming pool play. I do not remember how the idea came along, but suddenly we had decided to make lunch for ourselves. Two years older than me, at seven my long, golden haired cousin with beautiful blue eyes full of mischeif, was the centre of my world. I still remember watching with fascination her leading the way to the open area kitchen, washing the vegetables and instructing me gently how a salad was being made. “She could already cook…!” was my only taught. After chopping the vegetables, she made the sunflower oil and vinegar dressing, first tasting then adding the salt. Satisfied, we sat in the shade, balancing the plate on our feet and using two forks we dipped bread into the salad dressing already rich in flavour absorbing all the juices of the the fresh garden picked ripe tomatoes and we ate.

Thirty years later and I still remember the taste.

Thirty years later and I close my eyes and still see the sun-shade veranda and the vibrant salad colours of reds and greens.

To make a good mediterranean salad these days, I start by choosing fresh ingredients from the market. For today’s salad I am using grilled red paprika, cucumber, feta and three varieties of cheery tomatoes: yellow, red and purple. The red tomatoes hint of freshness and acidity, the yellow are full of generous sweetness and the purple add a special depth of flavour. Mixed all together they are transformed into the most magical salad you will ever try.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4 people
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 grilled red paprikas
  • 500g red red tomatoes
  • 250g purple and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • sea salt
  • Handfull of chopped fresh parsley
  • 250g feta cheese

 

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 225C. Wash the paprikas and spread them evenly on a baking tray. Set them in the oven and bake them for 30 minutes, turning them around every 10 minutes so they can grill evenly on all sides. When ready, take them out of the oven and while still hot, place then in plastic bag for 10 minutes. In this way the skin of the paprikas will soften and will easy to peel. Take the paprikas out of the plastic bag, peel the skin and take a way the central seeds. Chop the paprika into small pieces and place in a salad bawl.

2. Chop the tomatoes and add them in the salad bawl.

3. Peel the cucumber and chop it into pieces. Add them to the remaining vegetables in the salad bawl.

4. Cut the feta cheese into cubes and add to the salad.

5. Chop a handful of fresh parsley and to the salad.

6. Drizzle over with sunflower salad oil and sea salt and mix well together all the ingredients.

7. Serve while still fresh. Fits perfectly with cold white wine and rakia (local Bulgarian brandy drink).

 

Soups & Salads

Celeriac Creamy Soup

It is autumn. The air smells of something different, something rustic and old, something deep and earthy. The wind has more power and chill in its grip and while the days are still warm, underneath their smile we know that the cold is coming. Autumn is my favourite season… Perhaps it is the orange sun-light at dawn, stretching itself like a blanket over the misty fields. Perhaps it is the yellow colour of the leaves, exploding in flaming glory. Perhaps it is the warm chocolate at home, sitting next to the heating and sinking deep and uncontrollably into a favourite book… I don’t know. Yet, every cell within my body rejoices in the colours and the smells and the richness of the gift of every day.

Autumn is our homey time for soup. Pumpkin soup, mushroom soup, courgette soup, carrot soup… The options a endless. Yet, it is a joy and delight to discover a new recipe, to be amazed and surprised by the smoothness, subtlty and richness of flavour like this celeriac, speck and thyme cream soup.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Small knob butter
  • 100g speck
  • 1 onion, copped into pieces
  • 1 Celeriac, cut into chunks
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Thyme stalks
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100ml Cream

 

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Place the speck inside and let it bake until golden brown. When ready, take the speck out of the pan.

2. Add the butter and let it melt in the same oil. Add the chopped onion together with the bay leaf and the thyme stalks. Let it soften for 10 minutes until the onion starts to turn golden.

3. Add the chopped celeriac and let stay mixed together with the onion for 2 min, then add the chicken stock and let it simmer for additional 10 minutes until the celeriac chunks have soften.

4. Take the bay leaf and the thyme stalks out.

5. Blend the soup, making it smooth and even. Add the cream and let it simmer for a few additional minutes.

6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Serve in bowls, sprinkling the speck and the thyme leaves on top of the soup and drizzling a few droplets of olive oil.

 

Soups & Salads

Carrot soup

“I have bought vegetables for you.” Says my dearest one and I imagine making a salad. I look into the kitchen and to my surprise all that I see is one leek and a few carrots. What can you cook with leeks, a tomato can, carrots and a potato? A carrot soup, of cause!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Leek
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Big potato
  • 1 Can of tomatoes (250g)
  • Ground pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 Vegetable stock cube
  • 500ml water
  • Cream
  • Thyme leaves

 

Method

1. Cut the leek into small circles. Melt the butter in a pot at a medium heat and add the leeks. Let them sweat for at least 5 minutes.

2. Cut the potato and the carrots into small pieces and add them together with the can of tomatoes and the water into the pot. Mix well and leave to simmer for at least half an hour.

3. Once all the vegetables have softened, blend them together forming a smooth, thick liquid.

4. Season the soup with a vegetable stock cube, salt, pepper and sugar.

5. Garnish with sprinkles of cream and fresh thyme leaves.