Around the Bowl

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


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Dal Shorba (Indian Lentil Soup) with Summer Veggies

Every now and then I find myself craving for a specific type of food and I always think it is my body speaking to me, telling me I’m in need of some kind of nutrient. Apparently, there’s no scientific support for this theory, since our cravings are totally tied to our eating patterns that are in turn more related to psychological mechanisms and cultural baggage than to actual physiological needs. In spite of it all, although I’m a science believer, I usually follow my impulses when it comes to food cravings. Particularly a couple of weeks ago, when I was strongly fancying lentils, and couldn’t think of a single bad thing about lentils nutritionally speaking.

I had had a dal dish pending in my “to try” list for ever so I went for a refreshing vegetarian one and totally loved it. *In case you’re wondering, dal means lentils, but for Indians the term is generic to lentils, dried beans, chickpeas, split peas both skinned and unskinned and split peas flours. Dal is an everyday source of protein for most Indians and it can be as soupy or as thick as desired. (*Source: Madhur Jaffrey. 2010. “Curry Easy” Ebury Press. pp. 178-179.)

Would you like to give it a try? It’s a great one pot complete meal!

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Moroccan Bruschetta with Basil and Goat Cheese

I know, I know Bruschetta is Italian, so why Moroccan Bruschetta? Well because I made this one with Moroccan bread. Moroccan bread is a flat circular loaf of white bread, with a golden crust on the outside and a yellowish fluffy interior, it is delicious, I love it! I think part of its secret lies in the semolina on its composition making its flavour quite unique. There’s a local shop near my house that sells it fresh every day, so I usually keep a loaf on my fridge for many uses: breakfasts, meals, it even serves as a base for pizza (opened into two halves)!

A couple of weekends ago, we were on lazy mode and haven’t planned anything for lunch, so we simply took two slices of this wonderful bread and decided to turn them into fabulous Bruschettas, with a little help from the basil plants I grow on my balcony, that I’m today sharing with you!

It is simple, quick, delicious and frugal. Ideal for a summer (vegetarian) lunch or a great appetiser all year round! Leave the cheese out of the equation and you’ll have a perfect vegan snack!

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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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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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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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Bulgur and Rucola Vegetable Soup

Last Monday was my 36th birthday and a dear friend gave a wonderful gift: A Soup recipe Book, that I loved and put to good use right away. The Book is a Spanish edition of Soups, from Carole Clements (Parragon Books Ltd). Its recipes are great, easy to make and very well explained. To begin I chose a bulgur wheat (aka bulgar) soup packed with vegetables that turn out so delicious that definitely passed to our recipe “permanent collection”

I absolutely love bulgur wheat and I normally use it to make kibbeh, using a recipe from Chef in Disguise, a fabulous Middle-Eastern cuisine blog you probably already know. I found kibbeh to be such a great alternative to plain hamburgers that is a usual dish in our kitchen. I’ve also tried a delicious spinach and bulgur soup from Sitno Seckano, another great food blog. But that was as far as I went with bulgur and knowing there are so many other options out there I wanted to further explore them. Besides, bulgur is a delicious way to incorporate whole grains to our diet.

The other protagonist to this recipe is rucola (aka rocket or arugula), one of my favourites green leaves. At home we eat it raw in salads, with pasta or like in today’s dish in a soup!

I think this is a very versatile recipe and you can vary the vegetables on it according to the season and I also reckon it would be very good with quinoa instead of bulgur for a different version. Besides, I like to keep it meatless at some meals and this one is a great complete satisfying dish.

Here’s the recipe, slightly adapted to my cooking stile. I hope you try it and like it at much as we did!

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A Courgette Cream with a Middle-Eastern Twist

This is a simple but delicious recipe for one of those evenings where you don’t know what to cook and you don’t have much time to do it either but you don’t want to sacrifice taste or quality. It makes a great weeknight option; besides, you can easily switch courgettes (zucchini) by aubergines, carrots or pumpkin depending on what you have at hand or feel like.

And trust me, if you use any of the above vegetables there’s no need to add cream or potatoes to make this soup creamy, you’ll be surprised by its texture! The trick is to use a lot of the solid ingredient and just enough stock to cover it on the pot.

I started to make this kind of creams mainly to rescue the occasional overstock of fresh veggies (I absolutely refuse to throw food away!) that once in a while happens in my fridge and they rapidly became a favourite in our table.

This is a short post for it is a quick recipe! Would you like to try it?

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Soup à l’ognion gratinée – French Grilled Onion Soup

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After overindulging ourselves a little bit with a tapas night, the morning after Mr. Soup Taster and I went for a bike ride in spite of a miserable weather… On the way back home we found ourselves craving for something light yet comforting and warming: Onion Soup! we said in unison. This was a regular soup in our menu long before I started this blog and we began having insane amounts of soup every week.

A classic soup recipe and I dare say a world’s favourite during winter months. As the tomato soup, I brought this idea home from my trip to Belgium. Onion soups have been historically a humble meal all around Europe, since onion are cheap, easy to cultivate and to preserve, but its origin (specially of the grilled version)  is attributed to France.

There are easy variations to this soup: It is easily adaptable to vegetarian and vegan options and to a lighter plain soup without the grilled bread and cheese on the top and it is delicious all the same! Although it takes some time to prepare it,  it is very easy. Today I’m sharing the full recipe, so you can adjust it to your taste and needs.

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Super Quick Wonton Soup

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A quick Sunday post: The Chinese Year of the Horse has just began, and what a better way to celebrate the Lunar New Year than a Chinese dish? By the way,  I am a horse (1978) on the Chinese Zodiac, so this should be my year!

Besides, I was just thinking, what to do on a lazy winter Sunday evening when you have already had a great roast for lunch and then some delicious tea & cake in the afternoon? Some take away? no need: I came up with a delicious wonton soup extra easy to prepare! This morning I’ve been to my local Asian grocery store and bought some frozen dumplings that I used in order to make this version so quick and easy, let’s go with it!

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Mercimek Çorba – Turkish Lentil Soup

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One year ago, my sweetheart and I have been to Istanbul and we immediately fell in love with the city! It was a place I had desired to visit for a long time, since I read “The Museum of Innocence” from the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orham Pamuk, and I was not a bit disappointed when the dream came true, on the contrary, it was even better than I expected! I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of its buildings, particularly by the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the hectic activity in its streets and in the Grand Bazar and the funky and grunge districts like Beyoglu and Kadiköy respectively.  By the way, The Museum of Innocence, does exists and is worth the visit if you have read the book, besides is located at the very charming bohemian district of Çukurcuma, full of antique shops.

Well, let’s get to the point now, the food was amazing too! Once you’ve tried a REAL kebab there, you’ll never feel the same about your local ones. Or baklava! I thought I didn’t like it until I had one piece in Istanbul. And it turned out that soup was a typical dish served everywhere, locals have it for breakfast or at any other time during the day. The most common ones were chicken and lentil soup, served with lemon wedges to season and lots of bread.

We ate very well almost everywhere, but a bit outside the most touristy areas, we found this pearl: Ciğerci Salih Usta restaurant (no website available, so I give you the address: İskender Paşa Mah. Şekerci Sok. No:6 ; Aksaray, Istanbul) that specialises in şiş (meat brochette) cooked in an in sight barbecue. They don’t serve any alcohol, but the ayran (a kind of buttermilk) was a great beverage option. The lentil soup was also delicious, in fact I enjoyed it that much, that a picture of it is the image I chose for my blog header.

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Ayran

When we came back, I immediately did my research for the Turkish lentil soup recipe, which resulted very simple but utterly delicious. This time I added some cabbage to the usual recipe, and really liked the result. My granny’s best friend was from Syria and taught her a lentil stew with cabbage that she kept on cooking for the rest of her life, so to me, lentils and cabbage are matching and dear flavours. Here we go with it!

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