Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own


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Sopa de Legumes Portuguesa – Portuguese Vegetable Soup

Hello foodie friends, I hope you’re all having a great 2015 start! With this post I’m not only celebrating the beginning of the new year but also my one year anniversary with “Around the Bowl”, I can’t believe a year and so many soups have gone by! It’s been a pleasure, and I’m tremendously eager to keep sharing many more!

Today’s recipe is brought straight from Portugal, as we received the New Year in Porto, an enchanting city in the Douro river estuary with very kind local people and amazing food! Old and modern collide in a very special way in Porto producing amazing results design and food wise. I was totally inspired by it all: its streets, its old buildings and churches with their blue tiles, the river and the good design shops, cafés and restaurants.

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I was positively overwhelmed by Porto’s good food and the fact that soup was served everywhere; definitely my kind of town! Pastries of all kind are also typical and delicious. The majority of food establishments are open all day long, serving pastries, tea & (great) coffee during the morning and afternoon and complete meals at lunch and dinner. Check out the following places that we loved and the photo galleries for recommendations!

  • Aurora Portuguese Restaurant: a very cozy restaurant with amazing service and great Portuguese dishes with a modern approach. Also ideal to try Douro wines and of course Porto wine! We loved it so much that came back more than once!
  • Casa Grande Chocolatier: in a great location this lovely coffee shop and tea room is an ideal place where to make a stop and try delicious chocolates, cakes and pastries. We also had a light lunch one day, consisting of soup and sandwiches, as good as the sweet treats!
  • Mercearia das Flores: beautiful grocery store and tasting place for local delicatessen, located in one of the most cute streets downtown.
  • Mitica Inspiraçao: probably the most amazing pastry shop I’ve ever been to, everything is very tempting and utterly delicious. Is not centrally located, but it was around the corner from our hotel, so we enjoyed our breakfast there every single day!

Aren’t you hungry now? Then is time for a wonderful vegetable soup, so let’s cook!

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Warsaw – the Delicious Tour

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I’m starting this post at the plane as we fly back from Warsaw where we spent some great holidays time!
The first thing that surprised us was how modern and nice the city centre landscape was; specially considering that only 70 years ago the city was completely destroyed during the Second World War and later rebuilt from its ashes in record time.

The best way to understand this part of its history and the following Soviet domination years is to visit the Uprising Museum: a very modern and visitor’s friendly museum (only 10 years old) that tells the history of the 1944’s Uprising carried out by the brave Polish resistance army and even braver and resourceful Warsaw’s citizens in an attempt to liberate Poland from the 5 years German occupation, that end up with thousands of victims and the massive destruction of the city. Everything is told in a very educationally way, including the moving survivors testimonies. 100% worth the visit!

The rebuilt Old Town and the shopping areas are also great! The parks distributed all around the city are massive, remarkably green and beautifully landscaped.

The second nice surprise came on the food front: the gastronomic offer is huge, varied and cosmopolitan: traditional Polish, traditional with a modern twist and ethnic cuisine from around the world is easy to find at a very good  quality and reasonably priced .

Something I particularly enjoyed was that it is the custom to have soup as a first course, all restaurants offer at least two or three soup options and normally a lunch formula consisting of soup+main course at a very convenient price. Soup is a staple dish in Polish cuisine, and of course I tried as many as I could, so expect some recipes as soon as the autumn arrives!

The first evening we had dinner at Kameralna restaurant, at city centre. We’d spotted it during the morning and weren’t disappointed at all with our choice. The menu offers traditional cuisine and we had Flaki zupy (tripe soup with garlic and marjoram); Zurek zupy (sour rye soup with white sausage and boiled egg) and Sznycel z burakami i kapusta (Schnitzel with beets and sauerkraut), the portions were very generous, great for sharing. The restaurant is very nicely decorated, big and has a beautiful terrace to enjoy at summer. Good service and most importantly nice food!

Our favourite discovery was Kitchen restaurant also at city centre. It has a modern, Mediterranean and eclectic menu with great choices for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Besides it has plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free choices. With an open kitchen, meals are freshly prepared and service is very friendly! We enjoyed a mildly spicy lamb casserole with hummus, Feta cheese and pomegranate and a lunch menu consisting of a potato cream soup and a meat and fresh summer vegetable spaghetti stir-fry. For dessert we had an excellent coconut panna cotta with mango coulis. As it was so good we came back for a full breaksfast: an Israeli formula with scrambled eggs (to die for), hummus, grilled aubergine and Halloumi cheese and a chorizo omelette, fresh squeezed orange juice and great lattes! Totally recommend it!

For an authentic local experience don’t miss “Deja Vu dawniej Retro” in the bohemian Praga district; here we tried the typical pierogi (Polish dumplings), they were home-made and freshly prepared. It has an enchanted atmosphere decorated with vintage furniture. Apparently they only speak Polish but they were very polite and we managed to order! They also serve the lunch formula.

There is a wide selection of tea and coffee bars to choose from that serve excellent teas, coffees, lemonades, shakes, wine, cakes, ice-creams, sandwiches, breakfasts, soups… with a very trendy decor, which I really appreciate. Our favourite one was Shabby Chic in the Old Town: friendly service and excellent drink and food in a romantic unwinding environment. I totally recommend the cakes! We discovered it the first afternoon and liked it so much that came back throughout our stay in Warsaw. Another lovely café is Café Lorentz, next to the Narodowem Museum with a very chic chill out terrace!

When it comes to fast food, apart from the typical Kebabs (had a Turkish one and it was good!), and all the famous fast-food chains, we soon discovered, to our joy, that there are a lot of  Vietnamese Pho restaurants with a varied menu of pho and other Vietnamese dishes. They’re self-service and informal, don’t expect a fancy decoration but be ready to a good tasty Pho! We visited and totally loved these two restauarnts: Tòan Pho (we had beef pho and wonton soup, both excellent!) and Bonjour Vietnam, here we tried Bun Cha, a delicious crab soup! I guess pho success in Warsaw might be because of the Polish and Vietnamese shared love of soup. I reckon that Pho restaurants are the best option for a cheap but comforting, utterly delicious and healthier fast food; I wish I had some nearby! By the way, if you enjoy pho, here’s my humble approach to it.

It caught my attention that a local healthy snack are the sunflower seeds, but unlike the processed ones I’m used to, curiously you can buy the whole flower and eat the seeds out of it directly, isn’t it wonderful?

Finally, Warsaw was the right place to increase my mugs and bowls collection, since they produce beautiful ceramics and we even found a wonderful kettle we couldn’t resist to buy, specially considering that ours had just broken a few weeks before!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour and that it might be useful should you visit this amazing city!


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Piperrada/Piperade – A Basque Country Pepper Stir Fry

I recently discovered today’s recipe in the short trip we took to the Basque Country with my parents while they were here on holidays. We visited some locations both in the Spanish and the French sides and Piperrada (or Piperade in French) is cooked all over. It is basically a pepper and tomatoes stir fry, from the family of Spanish Pisto, Catalan Samfaina and French Ratatouille but with peppers as the base vegetable.

In spite of how wonderful and delicious Mediterranean cuisine is, is fair to point out that some of the best food of Spain is produced and created in the Basque Country within the less known but also fabulous Atlantic Diet. In fact, along with Catalonia, Basque Country concentrates the majority of chefs and restaurants holding Michelin stars. But there’s no need to visit a Michelin star restaurant to eat delicious food, it is served everywhere, and we indeed enjoy it!

Once in the French side, we re-visited a little restaurant in Bayonne in which we had eaten really well the first time: Auberge du Petite Bayonne; everything was certainly as good as we recall. If you happen to go, just remember to make a reservation because it is usually crowded, since not only the food, but the prices are very attractive and the staff is very friendly!

I took some pictures of the menu we had consisting of: Squid cassolette and Piperade (today’s recipe) with eggs and Bayonne ham (designation of origin, totally worth trying) as an entrée; lamb txilindrón (tomato and pepper sauce typical from Basque Country) and duck tournedos with mushroom sauce (yummy!) as a main dish. Finally, we had the marquise au chocolat as a dessert that was to die for! There is also a picture of how great an ordinary breakfast can be in a French cafeteria (that is, of course, if you enjoy croissants and bread with salted butter!).

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Piperrada

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • a dash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finally chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 red pepper cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper cut into strips
  • 1 tin of whole tomatoes + their juice, cubed (of course you can use fresh peeled tomatoes!)
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs (skip these for a vegan option)

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté over medium heat the onion and the garlic until translucent.
  2. Add the peppers and stir fry for some minutes
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and simmer till the peppers have soften and the juice reduced.
  4. Break the eggs into the pan and stir until they have curdled.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!


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Parihuela – Peruvian Seafood and Fish Soup (and a Great Peruvian Restaurant in Madrid)

My first contact with Peruvian food was many years ago,as a teenager, in a multicultural festival held in my hometown and I have loved it since; its spiciness and perfume surprised and captivated me for ever. Years later I broaden my Peruvian food spectrum in some very good restaurants I found along my way; however, I have not cooked it at home very often. That was until last week, when we were visiting some good friends in Madrid and they invited us to a wonderful Peruvian restaurant we enjoyed so much that I later decided it was about time to try some Peruvian cuisine at home.

But first, let’s talk about this great restaurant in Madrid: is called Tampu Restaurante, not to be missed if you happen to live in or visit Madrid! The place has a great quiet atmosphere with soft lights, music and is nicely decorated. The staff is very kind, they recommended options and explained every dish they brought to the table. The menu is very varied including classic dishes from Peruvian cuisine, like  ceviche or ají and also some chef creations customizing Peruvian flavours and textures and mixing them with other cuisines with a fantastic result. Here’s what we had, everything was delicious, but the duck was definitely my favourite!

Back at home, I decided to start with a soup, of course: Parihuela, a very appreciated seafood and fish soup cooked in a fish broth perfumed with a variety of Peruvian chilli peppers (ajíes). My main concern was to get these sort of chillies, because as I read, trying to replace them with other chillies won’t work. Fortunately, the Arabic grocery store where I usually get some supplies (mainly spices) also has a Latin American section where I found everything I needed. I stocked up, as usual, with everything Peruvian I could find for this and future recipes. I bought:

  • Ají Amarillo paste: made of an orange chilli pepper (Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum), quite pungent. One of the most relevant ingredients to Peruvian cuisine since Inca times, used on a daily basis as a sauce or dish ingredient. Cultivated all around the country*
  • Ají Panca paste: made of a deep red chilli pepper (Capsicum chinense), very mild, also widely used in Peru in sauces and as a spice. Cultivated in the coast*
  • Ají Rocoto paste: made of a yellow or red chilli pepper (Capsicum pubescens), with high pungency. Is the key ingredient in the cevivhe, the Peruvian national dish. Grown in the Andes region, is typical from Arequipa cuisine*
  • Achiote paste: made of the seeds of a subtropical shrub (Bixa orellana) used as a flavour and colour additive in Latin American cuisine. Also known as anatto
  • Culantro paste: made of a herb native to South America. It belongs to the same botanical family (Apiaceae) as cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) but is a different species (Eryngium foetidum)

*Source: The Chile Pepper Institute Newsletter, Volume VI, Number 3, Fall 1997. http://www.nmsu.edu/-hotchile/index.htmIE-mail: hotchile@nmsu.edu

I think you should be able to find these ingredients in any Latin Store, or sometimes big supermarkets have international food sections with Latin products as well.

And now, let’s cook!

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A Gastronomic Tour Through the Pyrenees and a Gem in Lourdes

Last Easter Holidays (from Friday to Monday in Catalonia) we head off to Southern France, a favourite destination of ours when we have a short break; it’s reasonable close, we can go by car, every little town has its own charm and the food is delightful! This time we headed the west side and visited Tarbes and Lourdes in the Midi-Pyrénées region, Pau in Aquitaine and  the Pyrenees National Park. We started enjoying the beauty of the Pyrenees already in Aragón, on the Spanish side, everything was green and defrost water was running across the mountains to make the landscape even more pleasant.

On the gastronomic side of the journey, the first great thing about this destination, particularly during Easter, is that they are expert chocolate manufacturers! Every town city centre that we visited had more Pâtisseries than they would possible need regarding the town sizes and most of them have a tea room to enjoy their delicacies on site. So, loving good chocolate as we do, we indulge ourselves every afternoon of our visit. In Tarbes we had a lovely afternoon tea and cake at the Royalty salon de thé. In Pau, we re-found an amazing chocolate shop that we had previously discovered at Bayonne: L’Atelier du Chocolat  that sells a great variety of dark and milk chocolate in bulk. Finally, in Lourdes the lovely and non-touristy Barzu Salon de Thé (25 Pl. Marcadal, 65100 Lourdes).

Restaurant-wise, we went to a Chinese one in Pau (Andong Meas, 7 Rue de Foix, 64000, Pau), that had a reasonable quality/price ratio but wasn’t particularly outstanding, however it’s dumpling soup was delicious!

When travelling we usually survive on frugal snacks most of the time, but we generally spot a few appealing restaurants where to have a proper and delicious full meal and discover some local specialty if possible, and we are often incredible lucky in our choices. However, this time, the last day of our journey we were visiting Lourdes that, in spite the beauty of its Castle, Gave de Pau river, Sanctuary and natural background, does not stand out for its gastronomic offer. The extremely touristy city centre has been taken with endless souvenir shops and brasseries that look like naive-tourists trap. And just when we were about to give in and content with a kebab we discovered this lovely restaurant with a great market menu: Alexandra. Unfortunately, kitchen was already closed for lunch, but we made a reservation and came back for dinner. It was totally worth it! Food was excellent, especially the foie gras and the confit du canard  (I love duck, and no one prepares it better than the French!) and so was the service, not to mention the very convenient price! They also recommended us a great local wine: protected designation of origin Madiran, a discovery to us. Here they are some mouth-watering  pictures of the complete menu:

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Finally, when it comes to breakfast, I like French croissants so much that I keep it simple: un grand café crème avec un croissant au beurre…

I hope this personal review might be useful if you ever visit the area!

Bon appétit!


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Korean Spicy Beef Soup

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It’s time for a Korean Soup! I’ve got my inspiration for this recipe from Aeri’s Kitchen. I used the common base ingredients in most of her soups and combined them with the ones in my fridge and was really happy with the outcome.

I think is pretty obvious just by taking a look at this blog that I have a taste for Asian food and Korean is not an exception, I love it too!  I’ve been to some random Korean restaurants (outside Korea, which I’ve never been to yet) that I would like to recommend in case you happen to visit or live in any of these cities: The Seoul House Korean Restaurant in Budapest, at the Buda side of the Danube (1011 Budapest Fő utca 8) serves great Korean food with a very attentive service in a very peculiar ambiance decorated with the 1988 Seoul Olympics theme and the Restaurant Coréen Kim in Strasbourg (5, place de l’Hôpital, Strasbourg, 67000) with an excellent varied menu.

Unfortunately I don’t have any Korean restaurant nearby, but luckily there are very generous bloggers out there to help me cook some nice Korean food when I fancy it. In this recipe I used the local veggies available since  I don’t have access to Korean vegetables and mushrooms, but if you do, switch them freely. Also, you can easily make it non-spicy if desired and change the kind of meat according to what you have at hand and even add some noodles.

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Avgolemono Chicken Soup – A Greek Egg and Lemon Chicken Soup

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Καλημέρα – Kaliméra! Greek cuisine has a world reputation of being delicious, hearty and the quintessential Mediterranean food. I have always loved it, although I have not mastered at home, but when I finally visited Greece I thoroughly understood why and that all of it was indeed true!

Athens, besides its historical richness, the imposing ruins and its cheerful ambiance also remains in my  top five best places to eat! Well, not only Athens: One day, while visiting the Aegina island, everything was so enjoyable that time passed by in a gorgeous lonely beach and so had the lunch hour, kitchens were already closing. So, Mr. Soup Taster and I started to wander around in the hope to find some gyro spot to grab a bite. Instead, lucky for us, a lovely lady (with a very trained eye for hungry customers) that was seated outside her big home terrace invited us in. As it turned out, it was her own restaurant, and although the kitchen was closed and she was resting outside, she offered to serve us anyway! We could immediately tell that the food was absolutely home-made and she could have been my grand mother would I had been Greek (well, and maybe some years younger, haha); what a delightful experience it was! We had a moussaka and some giant meatballs in tomato sauce that were to die for!

I’ve cooked moussaka before and in summer I usually prepare tzatziki, but that was as far as I went with Greek cooking until today, when I took a step further and prepared this delicious soup: a chicken and rice soup with Avgolemono, a lemon and egg sauce that provides a unique and exquisite texture. This was the first time I made it and it is already among my favourites! This is my quick and easy approach to it, let’s try it?

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