Archive for the ‘soup’ Category

Bento #131

Not as colourful today, but rather comfort food.
Tom Yum soup with prawns (I actually didn’t have the proper chili paste so it’s not as red as it should be), rice, some veggie wontons and a few sugar snap peas and a cherry tomato for decoration.

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I don’t know about you, but when I read “Spring Food Sensations” on Abby’s blog, my mind immediately sprang to rhubarb. Rhubarb is to me the ultimate spring messenger, and a delicacy to boot!
When I was little, I used to eat it in a preserve, or a sponge cake with rhubarb pieces on top (delicious!). But I never made anything with it myself – until now.
Since I wasn’t in the mood to try my hand at spongecake, the BF suggested Strawberry and rhubarb crumble pie. This pie can be made with or without a pie shell, but I prefer having something crunchy to whet my wererabbit teeth on.

Strawberry and rhubarb crumble pie

1 pie shell (or make a sweet pie pastry yourself from your favourite recipe; I used a sweet half-graham flour recipe that I like)
about 6 stalks of rhubarb
1-2 cups of strawberries (halve the big ones)
Sugar to taste
Flour (ca. 1/4 cup)
Crumble cover:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cp sugar
ca. 50g butter
grated almonds or cocos flakes (optional)

Peel the rhubarb and chop it into ca. 1cm wide pieces. Toss with the strawberries, sugar and flour – the amount of sugar depends on how much you want to offset the natural sourness of the rhubarb, the flour is to stop the liquid from going everywhere during baking. Fill into the pie crust.
Mix the crumble ingredients until they become small crumbs. Spread them over the fruit using your hands – it just doesn’t get even with a spoon.
Bake at 225 degrees Celsius for ca. 20 minutes.

Enjoy with vanilla icecream or vanilla sauce.

It was nice – in hindsight the pie crust should have been sweeter to contrast with the tang of the rhubarb better. I wonder how a marzipan crumble would work on top?!
Not too happy about the picture (curse artificial light!) but the rest was eaten before I could get my camera in the morning. So have a bonus picture of rhubarb chunks.

Speaking of spring – another of those spring messengers is my beloves asparagus!
While the pie was cooking, I prepared a super-easy asparagus soup for first course.

Super-easy asparagus soup
1 bunch of thin green asparagus
1/3 cup spring onions, shopped
125ml (1 packet) cooking cream
125+ ml (more depending on desired creaminess) water
1 organic vegetable bouillon cube
1 tsp. butter or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the asparagus quickly and cut off the tips to preserve for decoration. Chop the rest into chunks.
Heat the oil in a pot and sauté the spring onions. Add the asparagus chunks, cream, and dissolved bouillon cube and boil for about 20 minutes.
Puree everything with a hand mixer and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with the asparagus tips in the middle and croutons or fresh baguette.

Super easy and you’ll never want instant soup again once you have tasted the real thing!

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Why do so many people complain that when they’re home alone or cooking just for themselves, they never make anything good?
My mom never did that, and neither do I. After all, I count myself as the person who appreciates good food in the household (so does she), and why shouldn’t we make good food for just ourselves?

These days, when I’m home alone, I make things I don’t usually make. The BF can be somewhat picky about food (boiled carrots? Beans? Nah.) and sometimes I do crave the stuff, or want to try out a new recipe I’m not sure he will like. So instead of doing double cooking, I put those on days where I cook alone – if it’s too much, I can always freeze single portions for later!

There has been one dish that I’ve been particularly itching to make recently. My grandma sent me dried porcini mushrooms that a friend of hers has been picking in the forest – a little treasure! (Did you see how much those cost in the supermarket?) I’ve remembered that she used to make a potato and mushroom soup with them, and wanted to try my hand at tweaking the recipe somewhat more in favour of my tastes.

The result? Quite good, so far.

5 big potatoes (they should be of the “floury”, not fastcooking sort), peeled
1 onion, diced
1 handful of dried porcini mushrooms
1 handful of chopped leek
2 Tbsp. butter and/or olive oil
Vegetable or chicken stock (I use an organic bouillon cube)
Salt, pepper, spices (traditionally: cumin and marjoram. To fit my tastes: rosemary and thyme)
Optional: Cream or sourcream

Rehydrate the porcini in boiling water, keep the liquid. Grate or cube the potatoes. Heat some butter and/or olive oil in a pot and saute the onion and leek in it. Add the raw potatoes, stir a few times and add the mushrooms with the water used to rehydrate them. Add stock (how much depends on how thick you want the soup to be in the end). Cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.
Puree everything in a mixer, or leave some of the potatoes and mushrooms out for a bit more bite to the soup (that’s what I did, because I like to have something crunchy in my soup!).
Optional: Add cream or sourcream on top.
Serve and enjoy a nice quiet cup of soup for yourself :)

It’s easy and tasty, just the right stuff for the returning winter here. I also added a grated carrot to my soup, but I didn’t find it did anything great for the taste. In fact, it distracts a bit from the goodness that is leek, potatoes and porcini.

I did take photos (even if the soup isn’t very photogenic, just good), but I can’t find the connector cable for my camera among all the moving boxes. Meh. That also means I’ll have a bento backlog to post soon… and I promptly forgot my bentobox at home! What a great start in the week…

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With a title like this, what do you think the main ingredients of this bento are? *grins*

The small container contains wholewheat pasta spirals with pumpkin seed pesto (from a dry mix) and some crushed pumpkin meat. Parmesan and thai basil as decoration.
The thermos contains lovely pumpkin cream soup decorated with a splash of cream, a splash of pumpkin seed oil and another sprig of thai basil.

This pumpkin cream soup is the Austrian style recipe as opposed to the asian-inspired one I have made previously, but it’s just as delicious!
I used up the rest of the pumpkin that hadn’t made it into the pie and risotto yet, about a pound or so.

Chop 1-2 red onions and sauté in a deep pot with some butter and olive oil. Add the coarsely chopped pumpkin meat and stir.
After a few minutes, add vegetable broth (I use an organic bouillon cube), a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. I also added some nutmeg and put in a glass of some dry white wine that I had in the fridge. Cover and steam the pumpkin until it is soft, adding more water if necessary (and depending on the thickness you want the end result to have).
When the pumpkin is soft and cooked, puree everything finely in a mixer. Add cream (or if you want it vegan, coconut cream) to it to smoothen the texture and taste.
Serve hot with some cream (or whipped cream or sourcream) and pumpkin seed oil on top.

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Pumpkin soup with bell-shaped pasta and vegetable “croutons” in the thermos container; mixed fruit in silicone muffin cups (for easier removal because I’ll use the container as soup bowl) in the bowl container.

Part 1 of my bento includes pumpkin soup that I had frozen last time I made soup and rewarmed for dinner. It’s poured over bell-shaped pasta and veggie croutons, and decorated with some pasta, thai basil and bicolored bellpepper.

Veggie “croutons”. Mmm, I should make Gazpacho some day…

Part 2 has me buying some unknown fruit in a frenzy of curiosity and immediately rueing it – I should have listened to great teacher Baloo!

Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw!

Why oh why didn’t I listen to Baloo, I exclaimed as I set forth with a sterilized needle and tweezers to remove thousands of tiny, invisible pricks from my palms after cutting unknown fruit – which I should have been careful of since the packet did say cactus pear!
Seriously, the thorns on that one feel like the fiberwool you use for isolation – tiny, glassy fibers that are absolutely invisible, break if you try to pull them out and bury into your skin perfectly anyway. And trying to wash them off makes it worse…! :(
The fruit itself is fun though – the flesh tastes like a mixture of banana and orange, maybe with some apple in it. It has a lot of small, hard seeds in it which make me wonder how to properly eat it though – they get in the way! Pulp it through a sieve? Spit cores like when eating a watermelon? I have 5 more! Heeelp!

Luckily all the other fruit gave less resistance – banana slices with chocolate sauce, grapes, and physalis are all friendly, well-known fruit. (but beware, I hear there are feral banana trees out there in the jungle that would eat you as soon as look at you!)

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I can’t help it, I made my favourite soup again. I just can’t pass by a butternut squash in the supermarket and not buy it…

Butternut squash coconut cream soup, condiments (cherry tomatoes, wholewheat toast croutons, grated carrots and leek, bell peppers, thai basil leaves).

Recipe reposted from Epicurean.com :
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups soup stock
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped lemongrass (can substitute lemon zest)
1/2 cup bottled fish sauce (I substituted soy sauce, to taste)
juice of 1/2 lime
sugar to taste (start with 1 tablespoon)

Heat oil in saucepan; add onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add stock, squash and pepper; simmer until squash is cooked, 10-15 minutes. Add coconut milk, lemongrass, fish sauce, and sugar. Simmer (do not boil) 10-12 minutes. Puree and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add lime juice and adjust to taste with sugar.
Four servings.

I wanted to make a rice lid from leftover sushi rice for the soup but I didn’t manage – I guess you can’t do that with soup. Instead, now I have a breakfast box with sushi-flavored onigiri, a babybel cheese and some cute little kompeitou as a snack!

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Half of this is still uneaten because the lady at the blood donor station I was scheduled at today took one look at me and told me to get a “proper breakfast and lunch while you’re at it”. Oh well, it was just leftover soup anyway.

Thermos mug: Tomato and cream soup with rice, onion and yellow squash, a dash of yoghurt, parmesan and basil on top
Side dish: Three slices of grilled mini-chevre on toast, cucumber and tomato salad, olives.
Side container: Grapes to keep my blood sugar up, fishie with vinaigrette for the salad.


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