Hart and Soul cup soups

Product review: Hart and Soul cup soups

I wrote a product review for the nutrition site Foodwatch, ran by dietitian extraordinaire Catherine Saxelby. As all my reviews, this is a product I discovered while looking for a convenient, yet not overly processed source of nourishment. At the time, I was doing placement in Orange and I wasn’t able to cook every day. These soups turned out to be a perfect addition to my weekday lunches, particularly because it was freezing cold.

To read the full review, click here.

Recipe: Fennel & apple soup with ham

This is a quick weekday recipe that combines two of my favourite things in winter: soup and fennel. Add one of my favourite things regardless of the season (i.e. pork, in the form of ham) and you have a rounded meal for 4.

Fennel & apple soup with ham
Yield: 4 servings

Fennel, apple & ham soup

Ingredients

  • 2 large (or 4 small) fennel bulbs
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 apple
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or fat of choice
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary salt (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary + 1/2 teaspoon salt)
  • 380g good quality ham, preferably not sliced

Directions

  1. Slice fennel, onion and apple.
  2. Heat ghee in a pot, throw in the fennel, onion and apple and cook until soft and slightly caramelised, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Add broth and rosemary salt (or rosemary and salt).
  4. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a regular blender in batches. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Dice ham and serve on top of soup.

Recipe: Smoked pork, mushroom, ginger & cabbage soup

This recipe is more a guide than an actual recipe. Yes, this is an excuse to be inaccurate with the quantities. The results will be great, give or take reasonable amounts of any ingredient. You can also use pre-made broth if you can find a good one.

Smoked pork, mushroom, ginger & cabbage soup
Yield: 6-8 servings

Smoked pork soup

Ingredients

Broth

  • about 1 kg smoked pork (bacon) bones
  • enough water to cover the bones

Soup

  • about 3 litres smoked pork broth
  • about 300 grams mixed mushrooms (I used oyster, shiitake and black)
  • 5-cm piece ginger
  • 1/4 savoy cabbage
  • about 2 tbsp tamari

To serve, optional

  • boiled eggs *

Directions

Broth

  1. Place bones in slow cooker, cover with water and cook in low 12-24 hours. Enjoy the smell in the process.
  2. Drain the broth. If your bones are meaty enough, separate the meat and keep for serving in the soup.

Soup

  1. Slice ginger, mushrooms and cabbage.
  2. Bring broth to a boil, add ginger, cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add cabbage, cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, add tamari and adjust seasoning.

To serve

  1. Serve with boiled eggs and/or reserved meat.

* I opted for soft-boiled eggs and was too impatient to wait for them to cool down before peeling, hence the terrible presentation in the photo.

Review: The Tokyo Noodle Bar Zu Zu Zu (Newtown)

What made me stop here, among all the cheap and cheerful Asian eateries on King Street was the promise of gluten-free (and vegan) ramen. Sounded too good to be true.

The Tokyo Noodle Bar Zu Zu Zu

Blackboard

Yes, ramen was gluten-free (they use mountain yam noodles and bean sprouts instead of the regular noodles) but the broth lacked substance and intensity.

Gluten-free pork ramen

Gluten-free pork ramen ($14.80)

Gluten-free chicken ramen

Gluten-free chicken ramen ($14.80)

Friendly service was the highlight of our visit. Perhaps regular ramen is better than the GF version.

Green tea

Green tea ($2.80)

The Tokyo Noodle Bar Zu Zu Zu
191 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8021 2977
On Facebook

Recipe: Zucchini and roasted garlic soup

For those who know Mafalda (or some Spanish) here is the perfect strip for this post. Soup in summer. Enough said.

Zucchini and roasted garlic soup
Yield: 6-8 servings

Zucchini & roasted garlic soup

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic head, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 leek (white part only)
  • 6 medium zucchini
  • 6 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 teaspoons rosemary salt (or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary + 1 teaspoon salt)

Directions

  1. Wrap garlic head in foil and roast at 175°C for about 2 hours. You can do this ahead and keep wrapped in the fridge.
  2. Chop the leek. Peel and chop the zucchinis.
  3. Heat ghee in a pot at medium-high temperature, add leek and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add zucchini, cook stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add broth, crank the heat up and cover until it starts boiling.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for at least 15 minutes.
  7. Squeeze the garlic in the soup, add rosemary salt (or rosemary and salt).
  8. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a regular blender in batches. Adjust seasoning.

Recipe: Triple mushroom soup

Three things happened: my naturopath suggested getting more mushrooms (particularly shiitakes) in my diet, I read this article entitled “Smart Fuel: Mushrooms” at Mark’s Daily Apple, and I found dried chanterelles and porcini powder at Dr Earth. As a result, this soup was born.

Mushrooms

Triple mushroom soup
Yield: 6 servings

Triple mushroom soup

Ingredients

  • 30 g dried chanterelles (or other dried mushrooms)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 400 g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 5 cups bone broth (I used beef but any kind will do)
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt (or regular sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon porcini powder
  • salt and pepper
  • butter, to serve

Directions

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until fully rehydrated. Drain and keep the soaking water.
  2. Heat ghee in a pot and sautée the fresh and rehydrated mushrooms, garlic and onion powder for 10 minutes.
  3. Add wine, reserved soaking water (be careful as there may be dirt at the bottom of the container), set heat to max and let reduce for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add broth, tarragon, thyme and celery salt, heat through and process with a stick or regular blender.
  5. Add a teaspoon of porcini powder, adjust seasoning and serve with butter.

Recipe: Sancochado

Today is Peruvian Independence Day! Time to celebrate with a Peruvian recipe! Soups in Peru are a big deal. There are restaurants specialised in particular kinds of soups, and some of them are known for their hangover curing properties. Today is Peruvian Independence Day and I celebrate with a soup recipe.

While most of the soups have a pretty standard recipe and are fairly simple to make, there are no rules when it comes to sancochado. The simplest versions are cooked on weekdays in ordinary households (my aunties cooked a killer one every single Friday of my life), and the most elaborate are prepared with dozens of ingredients served buffet-style in some upmarket restaurants. My version is doable on a weekday, while including 3 kinds of meat to keep things interesting.

Sancochado
Yield: 8 servings

Sancochado

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces beef osso buco
  • 600 g pork belly
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 500 g cassava
  • 4 medium potatoes (I used Nicola), peeled and halved
  • 4 chorizos
  • 2 cups pumpkin, diced
  • 1/2 green cabbage, sliced
  • salt and pepper

Pseudo huancaína sauce:

  • 4 Peruvian yellow chillies in brine (or fresh yellow chillies, seeded and coarsely chopped)
  • 1/4 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 tablespoons goat’s milk curd
  • 100 g goat’s feta cheese

Salsa criolla:

  • 1 red onion
  • 4 – 5 limes
  • 2 small hot chilies (optional)
  • coriander leaves

Directions

  1. Brine the osso buco in water and about 2 tablespoons of sea salt for at least 2 hours. Do the same with the pork belly.
  2. Rinse the meats and place in a big pot. Add leek, carrots, celery and enough water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat until the meats are tender (1.5-2 hours).
  3. While the meats are cooking, boil the cassava for 30 minutes or until soft.
  4. Also halve and pan-fry the chorizos. When done, keep warm.
  5. When the meats are ready, remove from the pot and keep warm.
  6. Add potatoes to the pot and 2-3 teaspoons of salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add pumpkin and cabbage, cook for about 10 minutes more, until the pumpkin is tender. Check seasoning.
  8. Plate the solids and pour the broth in a cup. Serve with pseudo huancaína sauce and salsa criolla on the side.

Pseudo huancaína sauce:

  1. Melt the ghee in a small pan over low heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, cook for about 10 minutes until soft. If using fresh chillies, throw it in the pan, too. Let cool down.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Salsa criolla:

  1. Finely slice the onion.
  2. Optional but recommended: soak onion in cold water for a few hours, then drain in a strainer.
  3. Add lime juice, finely chopped chilies (if using) and finely chopped coriander leaves. Chill in the fridge until serving.

Review: Mero Mero (Kent St, Sydney CBD)

This post will be short but not sweet. I was really excited when I saw there was a new salad place very close to my office. Even more excited when I saw long queues of hungry workers every day at lunchtime.

This place has a similar concept to Salad Works and Sumo Salad offering a variety of signature salads but also the ability to build your own.

They also have sandwiches and a few soups available, including a Peruvian spicy chicken soup that sparked my curiosity.

But it was way too hot for soup and it was a protein fasting day, so I went the salad route. I chose a bed of spinach plus roasted capsicum, roasted pumpkin, grilled eggplant, mushrooms, olives and 2 servings of avocado (extra 50 cents each), with olive oil and lemon juice as dressing. Sebastian ordered a Thai beef salad. Both salads were bland and underwhelming. I also had an okay long black ($3).

Thai beef salad ($12), custom-made salad ($9 + $1 for 2 servings of avocado)

Mero Mero (Kent St)
Tenancy 2, 222-240 Kent St
Sydney NSW 2000
meromero.com.au
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Recipe: Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito

Aguadito is a typical Peruvian soup. It means something like “soggy”, not a very appealing name, but it describes the dish perfectly: in essence it’s a watered-down version of arroz con pollo.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons there aren’t too many obese people in Perú is that we tend to eat more home-cooked meals. Parties are no exceptions, and it’s not uncommon that the brave people who stay until the next morning are rewarded with a bowl of aguadito. For the record, I’m lame and tend to bail fairly early from parties, so I’ve never enjoyed a bowl of “morning after” aguadito.

Aguadito is often made with chicken (pollo) or duck (pato). Other popular version has mussels (choros). My favourite is actually a combination of chicken and mussels, because that’s the way my granny used to make it when I was a kid. I’ve been avoiding any attempt to recreate it because I was afraid to fail, but I decided it was time to give it a crack. Even after substituting half of the ingredients (rice, yellow potatoes, corn, and peas) I reckon I nailed it.

Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito
Yield: 6 servings

Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo powder or any other chilli
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 kg chicken wings (or drumsticks/thighs)
  • 600 g frozen mussels
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 small chunk of pumpkin (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small swede or parsnip
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 handful green beans (about 150 g)
  • 1 capsicum
  • 300 g cassava
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Chop onion and garlic. Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Chop coriander and process with a blender/food processor/immersion blender with enough water to make a runny paste (2 – 4 tablespoons).
  2. Dry chicken wings with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in a big pot (if your pot isn’t big enough, use 2) and brown the wings. Reserve.
  3. Rinse mussels.
  4. Dial down the heat, add another tablespoon of fat and cook onion, garlic, chilli, tomatoes and coriander for 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Add wings, mussels and stock. Bring to a boil and cook at medium heat until the chicken is fully cooked (about 20 minutes).
  6. In the meantime, boil cassava until soft (about 20 minutes), drain and reserve.
  7. Chop the cauliflower florets with a knife. You want small pieces but not as small as the ones you get with a food processor.
  8. Dice pumpkin, parsnip and carrot. Chop green beans in small chunks (about 1 cm long). Slice capsicum.
  9. Add cauliflower, pumpkin, swedes or parsnips, carrots, green beans and capsicum to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, stir and let cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
  10. Add the cassava and serve.

Recipe: Paleo tonkotsu ramen

I had a lot of thick, gelatinous pork broth left over from the patita con maní I prepared a few weeks ago. What to do with it? Ramen of course!

I must admit I sometimes feel I’m missing out on something given the number of apparently great ramen restaurants in Sydney, but I just don’t want to put my health in risk with the noodles. I found a couple of solid recipes for the pork and the eggs and made my version of the most decadent and comforting soup I’ve had in years.

Please note that you’ll need to prepare the different elements of the soup in advance.

Paleo ramen
Pork adapted from this recipe, eggs adapted from this recipe
Yield: 6 servings

Paleo ramen

Ingredients

Chashu pork

  • 1 kilo boneless pork belly
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 6 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 2-inch knob ginger, roughly sliced
  • 1 eschallot, peeled and split in half

Ajitsuke tamago (eggs)

  • water
  • 6 eggs
  • cooking liquid from chashu pork

Ramen

Directions

Chashu pork

  1. Roll pork belly lengthwise with the skin facing out, tie with kitchen twine.
  2. Preheat oven to 140°C. Add all the ingredients (except the pork) to an oven-safe pot, bring to a boil and turn heat off.
  3. Add pork, cover with a lid slightly ajar. Transfer to oven and cook, turning pork occasionally, until very tender (3-4 hours). Alternatively, put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook in low for approximately 6 hours.
  4. Let cool down, strain liquid and reserve it, and refrigerate pork until ready to consume.

Ajitsuke tamago (eggs)

  1. Boil water in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Pierce fat end of each egg with a thumbtack to make a tiny hole. Reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer.
  3. Carefully lower eggs into water with a slotted spoon, cook for 6 minutes.
  4. Drain hot water and carefully peel eggs under cold running water.
  5. Transfer eggs to a bowl or container and cover with the liquid used for cooking the chashu pork. Marinate in the fridge for 4-12 hours.

Ramen

  1. Drain eggs and discard liquid.
  2. Slice pork belly, split eggs in half.
  3. Rinse shirataki noodles and let sit in hot water for 1 minute.
  4. Heat broth, add pork belly and eggs until warmed up.
  5. Add noodles and serve garnished with sliced green onions.