Kimchi jigae noodle stew

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Jigae may be something that is brand new in your culinary vocabulary or, indeed, you may be well versed with it; regardless it is certainly a meal that you need to become more familiar with as it is simple, fast and a definite winter warmer. Jigae, to all intents and purposes, is a Korean stew that uses kimchi as the base along with pork and/ or tofu typically. To make even heartier I have added some instant ramen noodles but feel free to leave this out if you prefer.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
3 slices of pork belly
1 tbsp rice wine
Pinch of white sugar
200g kimchi
200g firm tofu- patted dry and cut into bite sized pieces
Shiitake mushrooms- cleaned and sliced
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp gochugaru
1 tbsp. gochujang
1 tbsp dark soy
Baby pak choi- shredded
Spring onions- sliced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
200g instant ramen noodles

1.Start a little ahead of time in order to prepare the pork. Simple cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and marinade in the rice wine; season well with pepper and set aside for half an hour.

2. When the pork’s time is up, choose a heavy based, large pan that will be big enough to fit everything in. Add a glug of unflavoured oil and heat to medium; add the pork belly bites and cook until turning golden and starting to caramelise.

3. Add the kimchi and tofu into the pan with the pork and carefully combine; continue to cook for a couple of minutes along with the mushrooms. Up next goes all the remaining ingredients other than the spring onion and pak choi. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes; taste and adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more gochujang, soy and/ or sesame oil. For the last two minutes of cooking, sprinkle in the onion and pak choi and add the instant ramen noodles; it’s ready when the onion and pak choi is tender. Serve immediately.

Kimchi jigae noodle stew- a new dish to add to your repertoire and perfect after festive excess!

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Curried root vegetable soup with parsnip crisps

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When the days are short and the nights are long there is only one thing for it- soup! A big pot of soup simmering away is the perfect answer to the dilemma of what to take to work for lunch in the week but is also great for a dinner if you want to make meals ahead for the coming week. This curried root vegetable soup is a classic which makes the most of seasonal vegetables whilst warming it with a little spice which complements the sweetness and earthiness of the roots. When prepping the vegetables try and make sure the chunks of carrot and parsnip are the same size but keep the swede a little smaller as it takes longer to cook. To keep things quick you can use a premade curry powder blend or make your own with a balance of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and chilli so you can make it to suit your tastes.

No soup is complete without a topping and this is no exception! Parsnip crisps are ideal for this and can be made by peeling an extra parsnip and ribboning using a peeler. Toss with oil and season. Place on a baking tray and bake at 160c/ 140 fan until crisp and golden.

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Ingredients- serves 6
Glug of vegetable oil
1 large onion- peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves- peeled and chopped
4 carrots- peeled and chopped
2 parsnips- peeled and chopped
1 swede- peeled and chopped
1 litre of hot vegetable stock
300ml milk
2 tbsp curry powder or to taste
Salt and pepper to season

  1. Start by heating a glug of oil in a large pan that will be big enough to fit the soup in. Gently cook the onion for a few minutes before adding the garlic and continuing to cook until both and softened.
  2. Add in the root vegetables and stir to combine with the onion. Cover the pan and allow to sweat for 10-15 minutes. Next up goes the hot stock and simmer for a few more minutes.
  3. Use a stick blender and blitz the vegetables until thick and creamy. Add in the milk, curry powder and season well to taste. Blend a little more if you like to you achieve a consistency you like; you can also add more stock or milk if you need. Serve in warmed soup bowls with crusty fresh bread and top with parsnip crisps.

Curried root vegetable soup- the perfect antidote to blustery autumn days!

Smoky Mexican red bean soup with crispy chorizo

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There is no better way to warm yourself up on a chilly day than a big bowl of soup. This uses a spice combination that lends itself to a smoky, gently spiced finish that will satisfy everyone. Of course you can ramp up the heat by adding extra cayenne pepper or chilli if you want a full on kick! I have used a mix of cascabel and chipotle morita chillies which add heat as well as smokiness and nuttiness. You could also add a roasted red pepper for an added dimension. If you want to keep the soup vegetarian then simply omit the chorizo and serve with a drizzle of sour cream and a hunk of crusty bread on the side or a few tortilla chips to dunk or crush up on top like croutons. Some freshly chopped coriander also goes well here.

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Ingredients- serves 6
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves- chopped
2 red or white onions- chopped
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 cascabel chillies- skin pricked
1-2 chipotle or chipotle morita chillies- skin pricked
400ml tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tins of kidney beans-drained and rinsed
900ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to season
Chorizo

1. Take a heavy based large saucepan and heat the oil over a medium heat. Soften the garlic and onion in the pan before adding all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes before squeezing in the tomato puree and adding the oregano which also need to be cooked out for a couple of minutes.

2. Pop in the tomatoes, beans and stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20- 25 minutes. I add the whole chilli at this stage to infuse. If you want a bit more heat you can chop the chilli into the soup. When ready, take the soup off the heat, season and allow to cool slightly. The soup now needs blending either in a large blender or using a hand blender if you prefer. Blitz and then taste again to check the seasoning. As the soup is finishing off, take chorizo and cut into small pieces. Dry fry in a frying pan until crisp. Serve the soup in warmed bowls and sprinkle the crispy chorizo on top.

Smoky and spicy bean soup- a perfect warmer with a taste of Mexico!

Butternut squash, sweet potato and parmesan soup

Autumn days mean curling up with a roaring fire, rain beating against the window and plenty of comforting food. It also brings the squash season and this means that butternut squash soup is hard to resist. This soup combines squash with sweet potato and parmesan which brings the sweetness into balance with the umami edge that parmesan brings. The rind of parmesan is a secret weapon in cooking so I always keep them in the freezer so they are on hand to use in soups, stews, risottos and pasta dishes. My added extra is a delicate hint of spice and a hit of roasted garlic. I have also used the squash seeds to create a crunchy topping that can be sprinkled over the soup to serve so don’t delay- get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
1 large butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2 bulbs of garlic
2 white onions- chopped
1.5 litres of hot vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
1-2 rinds of parmesan

For the seed topping
Sea salt
Chilli flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Use a sturdy knife to cut the butternut squash in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and set aside for later. Use a knife to score the flesh. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Place the squash on a baking tray and the sweet potatoes in another one before drizzling both with olive oil and sprinkling with salt. Roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until tender. The squash will start to caramelise at the edges and this adds to the flavour. Cut the tops of the garlic bulbs off and wrap in a foil parcel with some oil and roast until tender.

2. Meanwhile you can prepare the seeds. Simply wash them and pat them dry. Pop them on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, the sea salt and chilli flakes. Roast with the vegetables until the seeds are golden and crunchy. When they are ready, set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large pan that will be able to hold all of the soup. Heat a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the onions until softened but do not allow them to colour. When the vegetables are cooked add the sweet potato and roasted garlic to the pan whilst you scoop out the squash before adding the flesh to the pan too. I then used a potato mashed to slightly break the vegetables down to make blending even easier later. Add the hot stock to the pan. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool until you are able to blend it. Blend until you reach the consistency you like. Return the pan to the heat, drop in the parmesan rinds and simmer gently. Simmer for at least an hour if you can so the parmesan has time to infuse. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning according to taste. Serve in warmed soup bowls with plenty of fresh bread to dip.

Butternut squash, sweet potato and parmesan soup- the perfect antidote to a blustery autumn day!

 

 

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup

At this time of year minds turn to soup as warming, comforting lunch or dinner. Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup hits all the right notes on the flavour front to give a satisfying meal that you will definitely want more of! If you like a hit of chilli then you can also add this to add some warmth but the flavours of the soup are just as lovely without.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 large red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- chopped
1 large red pepper- cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato- peeled and cut into inch chunks
200g red lentils- washed and drained
600ml hot vegetable stock
30ml milk (optional)
Salt and pepper

1. Start off by making sure that all the vegetables are chopped and ready to go. Heat the knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic and red pepper and cook until the onion and pepper has softened.

2. Next up goes the potato chunks and stir to make sure they get a buttery coating. Cook until the potato is catching a little colour on the outside before adding the lentils and stock. Bring the stock to a boil before lowering to a simmer; cover the pan and simmer until the potato is softened and the lentils are tender. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending with a hand blender; you can make this as chunky or as smooth as you like. At this point you can add a little milk if you would like a creamier finish but it was delicious without too! Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup- autumn in a bowl!

Beef Khao Soi topped with crispy noodles

Beef khao soi brings a taste of Thailand to the comfort of your own home. It is a delicately spiced and fragrant curry noodle soup that is perfect for a chilly evening. I have added some mixed vegetables to this recipe to make it even heartier. It can be served with a range of meats and prawns but I have kept this recipe as simple as possible by using minute steak. This cut of beef is perfect as it cooks quickly whilst retaining its tenderness so give it a try!

I have included my recipe for red curry paste which forms the base of the recipe but if you’re short on time you can use a ready made paste. The paste also keeps well in the fridge as long as it’s kept in a well sealed pot so you can make a bigger batch at a time.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Red curry paste

6 whole dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp galangal- chopped finely
1 tbsp lemonsgrass- chopped finely
1 tsp peppercorns
5 garlic cloves- finely grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely grated
2 shallots- finely chopped
1 lime- zest finely grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

For the rest of the khao soi
400ml coconut milk
500ml hot vegetable stock
2 minute steaks- cut into thin strips
3 spring onions- shredded
2 generous handfuls of mixed vegetables- such as a stir fry variety pack
3 nests of medium egg noodles- reserve one for the topping

1. Start off by making the curry paste by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat. As the spices start to release their fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a thick paste and you are good to go!

2. Heat a small amount of vegetable or groundnut oil in a wok and fry off the curry paste for a few minutes until it starts to release its flavours. Add the coconut milk and stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. I simmered it for around half an hour so it begins to reduce down and the flavours develop.

3. As the coconut milk is simmering, cook the noodle nests according to pack instructions. Set 2 nests worth of noodles aside for later and use one to make the crispy noodle topping. To do this, heat a good amount of oil in a deep pan over a medium/ high heat (remember to keep a careful eye on this!). Take some of the noodles at a time, trying not to overcrowd the pan, and fry until they crisp up and go a little golden. I used a slotted spoon to turn them over during cooking to get an even colour. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen towel.

4. When you are nearly ready to serve, add the mixed vegetables and spring onions into the wok to simmer for a couple of minutes before removing the wok from the heat and adding in the beef strips. I found that the delicate strips of beef cooked well in the residual heat but you could keep it on the hob on a very low heat if you prefer.

5. Divide the two noodle nests between two deep bowls. I used a slotted spoon to add on the beef and vegetable mix before using a ladle to spoon over the broth. Top with the crispy noodles and watch your fellow diners’ faces as you present this beautiful curry soup to them!

Beef khao soi with cispy noodles- fragrant, delicate and oh so moreish!

Roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup

Autumn is here and that means that soup season has started too! This roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup makes the best of fresh ingredients to bring out the flavours from each. When garlic and shallots are roasted they lose their pungency and develop a wonderful sweetness which keeps you wanting more. This recipe feeds four happily but it can easily be doubled to make a larger batch. The soup is best stored in a sealed container in the fridge and you will find that the flavours get better and better the day after you make it so try not to scoff it all in one go! It calls for leftover Parmesan (or similar) rind which sits in the soup whilst it’s simmering away and gives an extra umami hit. I always freeze leftover rinds for such occasions!

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 whole bulbs of garlic
6 shallots
Olive oil
Knob of butter
450g peeled potatoes- I used Maris Piper
Sea salt and pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs
900ml vegetable stock
Parmesan rind (optional but delicious so advised!)
40ml milk or double cream

1. Start by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180 fan ready for the garlic and shallot. Cut the tops of the bulbs and shallots to expose the flesh and then place cut side up on a sheet of foil. Drizzle with a good helping of olive oil and roast for around half an hour until tender. Remove from the oven, unwrap the foil parcels and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle squeeze out the flesh. Roughly chop the garlic and shallot ready for later and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add a knob of butter to a large saucepan which will be big enough to fit the stock later on and heat over a medium heat. Take your peeled potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Sautee the potato chunks along with as much thyme sprigs, sea salt and pepper as you fancy for 15 minutes until they start to soften slightly. I used smoked sea salt which added an extra layer of flavour but normal sea salt will be work too. Add in the garlic and shallot and stir well to combine before cooking for a further few minutes.

3. Make up the stock and then add to the potatoes along with the parmesan rind (if using). Bring to the boil and then drop down to a simmer; cover and cook until the potatoes are softened. Add in the milk and simmer for a few more minutes until it thickens slightly. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve in deep soup bowls with some freshly grated parmesan, thyme leaves or crisped pancetta on top if you like and watch everyone tuck in!

Roasted garlic, shallot, potato and thyme soup- the only soup to make your house smell this good!