Yogurt and Cucumber Soup with Mint

1 quart yogurt, drained for 25 minutes

1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk

2 garlic cloves

salt and freshly milled white pepper

2 cucumbers, peeled if waxed

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 tablespoons chopped mint

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

a few drops fresh lemon juice

4-6 mint sprigs for garnish

Combine the yogurt and buttermilk in a bowl. Pound the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon with a mortar until smooth. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, then grate them using the large holes of a grater. Stir the garlic, cucumber, herbs and oil into the yogurt. Taste for salt and season with pepper and lemon juice. Chill well and serve garnished with mint sprigs.

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Carrot and Red Pepper Soup (Deborah Madison)

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch slices

2 cups diced onion

1 pound carrots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons white rice

salt and freshly milled pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 tablespoons chopped dill

grated zest and juice of 1 orange

6 cups water or vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the pepper, onion, carrots, rice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat, covered, until the onion has softened completely about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add a grind of pepper, the parsley, dill, orange zest, juice and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until the rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. Cool briefly, then puree all but a cup or two of the soup and return it to the pot. Taste for salt, season with pepper, garnish and serve.


Lentil and Spinach Soup (Jamie Oliver)

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

2 medium onions

2 cloves of garlic

1 3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

olive oil

a thumb-sized piece of ginger root

1/2-1 fresh red chili to your taste

10 grape or cherry tomatoes

2 cups red lentils

7 cups spinach

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup natural yogurt

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice and garlic. Put the broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid ajar until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden. Meanwhile peel and finely slice the ginger. Seed and slice the chili. Remove the stalks from the grape or cherry tomatoes and slice the tomatoes in half. Add the boiling broth to the pan with the lentils, ginger, chili and tomatoes. Give the soup a good stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, or until the lentils are cooked. Add the spinach and continue to cook for 30 seconds.

Season well with salt and pepper. You can serve the soup as is; or, using and immersion blender or liquidizer, pulse until smooth. Divide between your serving bowls. Delicious topped with a dollop of natural yogurt.


Tomato Soup (Jamie Oliver)

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

2 medium onions

2 cloves garlic

1 3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

olive oil

2-14 oz cans of plum tomatoes

6 large ripe tomatoes

small bunch of fresh basil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice the garlic. Put the broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all of your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid ajar, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is slightly golden. Add the boiling broth to the pan with your canned and fresh whole tomatoes, including the green stalks that may still be attached to some of them. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile pick your basil leaves.

Remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the basil leaves. Using an immersion blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth. Season again before dividing between your serving bowls.


Pea and Mint Soup (Jamie Oliver)

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

2 medium onions

2 cloves garlic

1 3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

olive oil

5 1/2 cups frozen peas

small bunch of fresh mint

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional: 3/4 cooked ham

 

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice the garlic. Put the broth in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients to the pan and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 minutes with the lid ajar, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape and the onion is slightly golden. Add the boiling broth to the vegetables. Add your peas. Give the soup a quick stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pick your mint leaves.

When the peas have softened, remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the mint leaves. Using an immersion blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth. If using ham, chop it up and stir in. Heat through before dividing between your serving bowls. Really nice served with a toasted slice of ciabatta, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.


Early Autumn Minestrone (Jamie Oliver)

7. oz cannellini or borlotti bean, fresh or dried and soaked overnight

1 bay leaf

1 tomato, squashed

1 small potato, peeled

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

olive oil

4 slices smoked pancetta, chopped

2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped

1/2 head of fennel, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stems separated

2-14 oz cans of good quality plum tomatoes

2 small zucchini, quartered and sliced

a glass of red wine

1/2 lb swiss chard or spinach, washed and roughly sliced (including stalks)

2 cups chicken, ham or vegetable stock

2 oz dried pasta

extra virgin olive oil

a block of parmesan cheese, to serve

Add your fresh or dried and soaked beans to a pan of water with the bay leaf, squashed tomato and potato. Cook until tender– they must be soft. Drain (reserving half a glass of the cooking water) and discard the bay leaf, tomato and potato. Now season with salt, pepper and a splash of oil.

While the beans are cooking, make your soffrito. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped pancetta, onions, carrots, fennel, garlic, and the finely sliced basil stems. Sweat very slowly on low heat, with the lid just ajar, for around 15-20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and red wine and simmer for 15 minutes.

Now add the chard or spinach, stock and beans. Put the dried pasta into a plastic bag, squeeze all of the air out and tie the end up. Bash gently with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Snip the end off the bag and empty the contents into the soup. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked.

If you think the soup is looking too thick, add a little more stock or some of the reserved cooking water to thin it down a bit. Then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the torn up basil leaves and with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top. Put a block of parmesan and a grater on the table for everyone to help themselves.


San Francisco Cioppino

2 TBSP olive oil

1 large onion – chopped

1 medium green pepper – chopped

1 garlic clove – minced

1 28oz can tomatoes

½ cup white table wine

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 TBSP salt

¼ tsp basil

1-1/2 pounds dungeness crab

1-1/2 pounds clams (little neck – about two dozen)

1-1/2 pounds striped bass fillets, cut into serving size pieces

1 pound shelled deveined shrimp

About 45 minutes before serving; in hot oil, cook onion, pepper and garlic till tender (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and their liquid, wine, parsley, salt and basil; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Increase heat to med-high, add crab and clams, cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fillet pieces and shrimp and cook 5 more minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and shrimp is pink.

(Note: Double first nine ingredients for extra sauce – good with french bread.)