Around the Bowl

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


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Arroz Amarillo con Pollo – Chicken Yellow Rice

As far as I can recall, because you know memory can be tricky sometimes, this is the very first actual recipe I cooked on my own, when I was around 10 years old. I say actual, because far before then I used to “cook” cube stock with soup noodles, as you can see I’ve been obsessed with soup from a very early age.

My grandma Ajó (from my father’s side) was the one who taught me this clearly paella-inspired recipe that was one of her star dishes, along with empanadas, that everybody loved. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to successfully reproduced her empanadas but luckily I came much closer to her arroz con pollo.

Both my grannies were the ones who introduced me to cooking, check out the first recipe in the grannies series here, which is also another legendary family dish from my other grandma, Dina. They were both great cooks, each one with their own signature style, but a common ground: they mastered a few good recipes, nothing fancy or exotic, that they repeated over the years with always the same steady and delicious result! I’ve always admired that, because my outcomes in the kitchen are much more variable. I guess it has to do with the global approach and large flow of information we have nowadays that make us keep trying different things all the time. I am happy to be able to enjoy both the traditional and the innovative approaches in my kitchen…

Arroz con pollo is a quite common dish in Argentina, where I come from, that has most probably been adapted from our Spanish heritage. The cooking principles are the same as the paella ones, with easily available local ingredients. The yellow colour comes from the saffron, which being such an expensive ingredient back in the day, was usually mixed with some sort food colouring, such as turmeric, but sold under the generic name of “saffron”.

Shall we cook now?

By the way, how do you like this year’s header, aren’t you craving soup now? yummy!

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Simplified Dak-kalguksu – Korean Chicken Noodle Soup

Hello my foodie friends! Here I am again with another Korean comforting soup. Who doesn’t like a good chicken noodle soup during the cold months? Ideal both for lunch and supper, and of course, it makes a great left over if you want to cook some extra to take to work or freeze.

Dak means chicken and kalguksu stands for knife-cut noodles. Making Dak-kalguksu from scratch is quite time-consuming and being this a simplified version I used bought fresh noodles. As part of this simpler approach, I also choose to incorporate the seasoning, which is  usually served separately, to the stock directly. However, I did make the stock, but for an even easier version you could use bought or pre-prepared chicken stock and chicken roast left overs. Generally the vegetables used to cook the stock are discarded afterwards, but I like to cut them and include them in the soup.

Let’s cook?

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Ten months, ten posts: Reader’s Top Ten Recipes

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Hello foodies of the world! Sorry for my absence the last few weeks. I’ve been pretty busy with no time for new recipes worth posting. Although I always cook, in busy days I tend to repeat old favourites or cook easy and quick things like omelettes and salads.

The truth is, I’ve never been good at extreme multitasking, I know, is shocking to acknowledge such a thing these days, but I’ve been like this since I can remember and I’ve made my peace with it. But, as I’m also a perfectionist, I rather do one thing at the time and do it right than to do everything just like that. To me, is like my father says: sometimes is not that I don’t have the physical time,  is that I have no “mental” time. Of course I keep challenging myself to find the balance, but I won’t fight my nature either.

I’ve thought of this post a while ago and since is less time-consuming than posting a new recipe is a good way for me to show up and say hi! I reckon that after 10 month blogging, it would be a good time to make a top ten of Around the Bowl’s reader’s favourites and give these recipes a second chance to be discovered and hopefully inspire someone new!

The top ten is based on the blog statistics for all ten months and the posts are rated upon visits and sharing figures. I hope you like the recipes if you haven’t tried them before or that they inspire you once again if you did! I’ll be back soon with new soup recipes to share!

Top Ten Recipes from Around the Bowl (so far)

  1. Soup à l’ognion gratinée – French Grilled Onion Soup

  2. Indian Minced Beef Curry

  3. Mercimek Çorba – Turkish Lentil Soup

  4. Thai Prawn and Lemongrass Soup – Ken Hom recipe

  5. Ciorba de Perisoare – Romanian Meatball Sour Soup

  6. Vegetarian Risottos – Aubergine and Mushroom + Spinach, Courgette and Mushroom

  7. Parihuela – Peruvian Seafood and Fish Soup 

  8. Dal Shorba (Indian Lentil Soup) with Summer Veggies

  9. Avgolemono Chicken Soup – A Greek Egg and Lemon Chicken Soup

  10. Thai Chicken and Aubergine Yellow Curry – The Basic Recipe


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Thai Chicken and Aubergine Yellow Curry – The Basic Recipe

It’s time for a good old Thai curry! I was just revising the Thai recipes I’ve already posted and was amazed to discovered that I haven’t posted a Thai curry yet! Specially considering that I cook one at least every two weeks if not once a week. Thai curries are so a part of our weekly menu that I guess I didn’t consider making  a post about them until today, when I realised that they are totally worth sharing; not only because their deliciousness but also because they can become  a staple of any household menu : they’re easy and quick to put together, and you can use virtually any protein and vegetable available to turn an ordinary week-day supper in a special one, even cooking it for guests. All you need is to always have coconut milk, a good quality curry paste and Jasmine or Basmati rice in your pantry and let your imagination do the rest of the work!

Of course, you can always make your own curry paste from scratch if you have a good Asian market nearby where to get the right ingredients. This would make the preparation a little more time-consuming, but you can make big quantities in advance to store. However, in terms of practicality, I find that there are really good bought curry pastes that use no artificial additives and preservatives.

Today’s recipe is the basic method I always use to cook Thai curries, feel free to change the curry paste (red, green), the vegetables and the protein source. They can be easily turned into a vegan dish by replacing the fish sauce with soy sauce and the meat with tofu.

Thai curries entered my life almost ten years ago, when I was living in Australia for some months (such a good and dear memory to me!) and my Aussie housemate and good friend used to cook them regularly for supper. I had never tried a Thai curry before at that time, and it was “love at first bite” Besides, Thai restaurants and take away in Australia are sooo good that I also enjoyed  a lot of South-East Asian food when eating out.

Back at home, I made sure to find the ingredients to keep cooking them, a little bit harder to find in Spain, but possible if you look eagerly. In Australia you can find everything in a regular supermarket. The UK is a good place to stock up if you have the chance and of course, it is possible to buy online as well!

Let’s cook now, I hope you like it as much as I do!

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Nyonya Kari Ayam (Chicken Curry) and some good reading

A new curry recipe! Today I’m sharing a Chinese/Malaysian fusion chicken curry from Nyonya cuisine. Doing my research for the recipe; I became really intrigued by Nyonya cultural background and found some wonderful reading about it that I would like to briefly share with you in order to fully understand and appreciate this curry we are making today (*).

I’ve always thought that a country’s cuisine is a very holistic approach to discover its history, culture and idiosyncrasies; cooking something exotic (to us) is such a wonderful way of travelling without leaving your home, analogous to reading one of those great books that transport you to a different place. I can get so inspired by world’s cuisines that I get to experience a little obsession with the subject, searching, reading and going into expeditions to find ingredients and cook!

(*)The Peranakan or the Baba Nyonya community (also known as the Straits Chinese), evolved in the fifteenth century when the Chinese arrived in Malacca and intermarriage with local women took place. The Peranakan culture is a unique blend of two cultures – Malay and Chinese – intermixed into a fascinating synthesis with elements of Javanese, Batak, Thai and British cultures. Today, they are found throughout Malaysia and Singapore with strongholds in Malacca, Singapore and Penang.

The word Peranakan is derived from the Malay word ‘anak’ which means ‘child’. The term refers to the local-born as well as the offspring of foreigner-native union. Baba is the term for the male and Nyonya for the female.

Peranakan food is a wonderful combination of Malay and Chinese cuisine with influences from Indonesia, Thailand, India, Holland, Portugal and England. Nyonya food is clearly unique and Malaysian/Singaporean in identity. Using ingredients such as galangal, serai, chillies, tumeric, ginger, tau cheow, tamarind, lime juice, belachan, buah keras, gula Melaka; spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and leaves such as daun kesum, daun kaduk, daun cekok, daun limau perut and pandan.

(*)Extracted from: Lee, Su Kim, 2008. The Peranakan Culture: Resurgence or Dissapearance? SARI, Vol. 26, 161-170

I hope that after knowing a little more about this wonderful culture you feel like tasting it with the following unique curry recipe. Trust me, the flavour will surprise you, is neither Indian nor Thai, is just Nyonya, and it’s delicious!

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Tom Yum Gai – Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup

Hello foodies of the world! It’s been busy around here but there’s always time to squeeze a good Thai home-made food in. I often cook wonderful Thai curries with coconut milk, but I wanted to try something different that needed to be very easy and quick to put together as well. That’s why Tom Yum came to my mind, it is an aromatic hot and sour soup made with a lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal/ginger, lime juice, fish sauce and chilli base.  There are different variations depending on the protein component: fish, prawn, mixed seafood, pork or chicken (Gai/Kai); which is the one I’m sharing today.

If you cook Thai regularly, you probably already have all the basic ingredients in your kitchen and just have to add any protein source and vegetables of your choice. You can also turn it into a vegetarian dish by adding tofu and into a vegan one by trading the fish sauce for soy sauce.  Tom Yum makes an excellent week day healthy and complete dinner.

Let’s cook!

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Chicken and Artichokes Paella

At last, a Spanish recipe! It was about time I publish one; a while ago a dear friend of mine that took a look at the blog told me precisely that, not a single Spanish recipe! I know, I know, Spanish cuisine is sooo good that is unbelievable that it took me this long, but here we are and with nothing less than a paella!

Paella refers both the dish and the pan where it is cooked (the same case as tagine). Since paella is usually prepared for family and friends gatherings, the pan is very shallow but big in diameter and it has two handles. As an example, a great seafood paella a good friend of mine invited me in Gandía (Valencia) during one of my first years in Spain.

The dish is original from Valencia, although is cooked all across the country and beyond, I think is one of the most international Spanish dishes. The most popular one is probably the seafood paella, however, some purists claim that the real one is the chicken and rabbit paella, with vegetables from the legendary Valencia vegetable patches (l’horta Valenciana).

The thing is that there are as many variants and recipes of paella as region and families in Spain. Each one has its own way of preparing it, little secrets, tricks and rituals around it.

Before getting into the recipe I like to share some important tricks I’ve collected from all my Spanish friends:

  1. Always have a very good quality stock ready (an excellent fish stock for the seafood paella is mandatory) and keep extra stock warm in case you need to add more during the cooking
  2. The rice used for paella is a round, short-grain and high-starch variety called “bomba”  if you can’t find it, Arborio makes a good substitute.
  3. Once you have added the rice and the stock to the pan, the rice should no longer be stirred or mixed throughout the rest of the cooking process.
  4. Because of the latter, the heat has to get uniformly to the full pan base, otherwise the rice in the centre will be overcooked by the time the rice on the sides is done. Use a pan that matches exactly one of your stove burners.
  5. The rice stuck at the bottom of the pan is called “socarrat” and it is supposed to be this way, many people (including myself) like to scratch it and eat it at the end of the meal!

 

Today I’m sharing a very unorthodox chicken and artichokes paella that turned out delicious! As I don’t have a paella, I used a regular frying pan. Take into account that paella is more about the method of cooking the rice than about the ingredients themselves. Once you have mastered it, you can be as creative as you want!

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