Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Beetroot and cumin soup with spiced yoghurt

Home-made soup + home-made bread = lunchtime WIN

Okay, okay, so I know I did a post about soup only recently, but I eat a lot of soup, and this one was so delightful I just couldn't help but post about it.

Plus, this is a HFW recipe which means it is automatically 100% awesome.

You can never have enough soup, guys. Srsly.

Beetroot and cumin soup with spiced yoghurt
From River Cottage everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Serves 4-6

750g peeled beetroot
knob of butter
olive oil
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
800ml chicken stock
fresh parsley

For the spiced yoghurt:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
dash of olive oil

Gently cook the onion, garlic and cumin seeds with the butter and olive oil, for about 15 minutes. Add the beetroot, chopped into small chunks. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend, then season to taste.

Make the spiced yoghurt by toasting and grinding the spices and adding to the yoghurt and olive oil. Serve the soup sprinkled with chopped parsley and dribbled with the spiced yoghurt. Yummers.

Samphire, Whitstable, Kent.

A table with my name on it - what a lovely touch.

Samphire is a lovely little restaurant in the lovely little seaside town of Whitstable, down on the Kent coast. The food is a touch on the pricey side - and I did feel a little cheated when asked to pay in excess of £15 for a dish of pork belly, which although delicious is after all a fairly cheap cut - but overall I think it's worth it.

Everything we ate was good; some of it, outstanding. The service was excellent. In this respect I think Samphire has it just right. Service is friendly but not over-familiar. A server is there quickly should you require, but they don't hover around you as you're eating. 

Anyway, on to what we ate...

Potted ham hock with piccalilli and toast.

Yum. Just....yum.

This was awesome, just awesome. The best version of this dish I think I have ever tried. The home-made piccalilli blew my mind. 

Pork belly with sweet potato.

Salad leaves in gravy? Hmmm...

This was probably the low point of the night. It was okay, but overall the dish was far too sweet. The rocket with gravy thing was a bit weird too - perhaps this would have worked better with vegetables rather than salad.

Duck breast, cabbage with bacon, mashed potato and pumpkin marmalade.


This was very good. The cabbage contained bacon, but was liberally vinigared, so it still managed to cut through the richness of the duck. I wasn't too fussed about the pumpkin marmalade.

If you're in Whitstable I would recommend checking Samphire out.

4 High Street
01227 770 075

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Creamy courgette soup

Soup, glorious soup!

Man, I love soup. I really do. It's so wholesome and comforting and you get to dunk bread into it. It's also super-easy to make, a great way to use up that bit of carrot / celery / whatever lurking at the bottom of your veg drawer, and I have never met a soup that doesn't freeze well either.

People often complain that courgettes can be a bit -meh- in terms of flavour, but turned into this lovely little soup I think they are just perfect.

This soup uses a leftover rind of parmesan to add flavour. When you've grated all the good stuff you can off your hunk of parmesan DON'T THROW THE RIND AWAY! It's just perfect for pepping-up a italian style soup. I love being thrifty like this - gives me a smug glow for hours, honestly.

Creamy courgette soup

Serves 4 

4 large courgettes
2 sticks of celery
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small pot of single cream
chicken stock - homemade is obviously best, but if you don't have any I find the little stock jellies to be much better in terms of flavour than stock cubes.
a leftover rind of parmesan
a handful of parsley
a handful of basil
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Chop the onion, garlic and celery and sweat in a pan with a little salt, for about 10 minutes. Chop the courgettes and add to the pan for a further couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and the parmesan rind, and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind, add the herbs and blend. Add the cream and season to taste. Serve drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil. Add some bread and call it lunch.