What’s Cooking – Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice

Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice

I love tomatoes, especially the home grow kind – fresh, sweet, full of aroma… There are so many dishes they can be used for and Fresh Tomato Soup is one of the meals I enjoy the most.

There is however a huge difference between home grown tomatoes and the ones you can buy in a supermarket. If you want to make a truly tasty tomato soup you simply can’t buy the cheap range ingredients. Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to suggest that value or so called salad tomatoes aren’t good for anything, but they aren’t for sure good enough for a tomato soup. In order to get the flavours you need to splash on a higher end of veggie section, or even better hunt your local farmer down (yes, I know this might not be so easy at this time of the year… My apologies, it took my ages to get around to actually writing this recipe down and the tomato season is over).

So, let’s start with the ingredients:

  • 500g of chicken – we used chicken thighs, which are actually perfect for the soup
  • 300g of smoked pork belly
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 large leek
  • ½ large celery; the root end (so called ugly part), not the nice stalks
  • 1kg of ripe, good quality tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • Good handful of chopped basil
  • 1tbs of pepper corns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100g of wild rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for frying

Method:

Wash and peel all root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, celery and leeks – place them into a large cooking pot, add chicken, pork belly and a pinch of salt, pepper corns and bay leaves then fill with water about 2-3cm lower than a rim of the pot.

2. Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice

Fire-up the cooker and let it cook for at least a couple of hours.

In a second pot start cooking your rice. The rice doesn’t have to be hot when your soup is served so it can be cooked well in advance. Make sure that your rice isn’t overcooked in fact it is better slightly undercooked. You really don’t want to have sticky rice in your soup. Oh, and don’t forget to add a bit of salt to your water.

Now would be a good time to start working on our tomatoes. Wash them well and place in a large bowl. Boil a kettle of water and pour hot water over your tomatoes and let stand for 30sec or so, this will allow you to remove the skins without any problems. Skin the tomatoes and chop into 1cm cubes.

3. Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice

Chop the onion and prepare a good handful of fresh basil.

Take a large frying pan; add a bit of olive oil and start with frying your onions. Fry them until soft but still light in colour (don’t let them change the colour). Add the tomatoes and basil and fry on a low heat for around 10 minutes.

4. Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice

Once done, pop all of the mixture into your soup. Let it all boil again and cook for further 30 minutes.

Now is a messy part. We have to remove all the meat from our soup and all other large chunks. You can use a sieve to do it or just use spoon with holes and fish out all the necessary ingredients.

Put the pork belly aside for the moment.

De-skin, peel and chop your chicken meat.

Cut all the root vegetables you want back in your soup into smaller chunks. (You can chop the veggies up at the start of the cook but I use big size veggies as sometimes I have to discard some of them like the celery in order for family members to actually try the soup, and I don’t want to lose any of the flavours by missing them out completely).

5. Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice

Pop your veggies and chicken back to the pot and use a food blender to turn your soup into a cream.

Add fresh ground pepper and stir well.

Chop your pork belly up into small bite sized cubes.

My Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild RiceFresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice.

Serve the soup in a bowl with the small pork belly chunks and a spoonful of the earlier cooked rice.

Enjoy!

my Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits and Wild Rice.Fresh Tomato Soup with Crispy Pork Bits, Basil  and Wild Rice

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What’s Cooking – Quick and Easy Cinnamon Biscuits

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Biscuits

From time to time we all get cravings, sometimes we can satisfy them, sometimes we can’t. One day last week sometime around 11pm I developed a huge craving to have some fresh baked cookies. We had guests over so it wasn’t exactly sleeping time yet so we decided to bake something. Obviously we knew that this had to be a quick and easy recipe as no one wanted to start a long preparation process at that time of the night. We settled on a batch of Quick and Easy Cinnamon Biscuits. As there were four people in the kitchen including a fellow foodie blogger Iwona from Smakowite Jadlo, we had a lovely warm biscuits in no time!

So if you ever get that feeling you must have a cookie now, I would highly recommend this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 160g flour
  • 120g soft butter
  • 3tbs icing sugar
  • 1.5tsps cinnamon

Method:

To start preheat your oven to 180C and using some baking parchment line two large baking trays.

In a large bowl mix all your dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon and sugar. Add soften, cubed cutter and combine until you have a nice smoo0th and even dough.

Now depending on the shape of your cookies you can either:

– Form small balls which you will shape into roundish biscuits with your hands.

or (my preferred way)

– Roll your mixture flat using a rolling pin and then just use a cookie cutter to achieve your desired shape.

Bake in your earlier preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Remove the biscuits and place on a wire cooling rack so they are allowed to cool.

Decorate if needed or desired.

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Biscuits.

They are perfect for storing, as long as you put them into an airtight container of course.

Now remember there were four of us in the kitchen and we all wanted something just a little bit different, we just couldn’t seem to settle on just one flavour, biscuits by committee! As it is a democratic household we ended up baking four batches of biscuits in four different flavours 😉 So if cinnamon is not for you, you can try adding some grated almonds or chocolate or dry coconut (our coconut biscuits also had an orange food colouring, I am quite unsure what we were thinking at the time but I suspect that a degree of tiredness may have resulted in the wrong bowl receiving the colouring. Though witnesses were few and far between…)

Quick and Easy  Biscuits.Quick and Easy Biscuits

In the end for what amounted to less than an hour of fun and good humour in the kitchen, delayed somewhat by the deliberations over flavours, resulted in a huge box of awesome crunchy and super tasty biscuits. Possessing a wonderful snap when you bite into them and having a texture very similar to shortbread they are now a permanent feature on our “bestest recipe list”.

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Foods Of The World – Poland – Kotlety Mielone – Polish Meatballs

Kotlety Mielone - Polish Meatballs

This time I will share a Polish recipe as a part of my little series: Foods Of The World.

Kotlety Mielone a.k.a. Polish Meatballs are extremely popular in Poland and are really quick and easy to make. They are usually eaten as a part of the dinner and are served with boiled potatoes and some cold salad like sauerkraut or pickled/boiled beetroots. That said they are actually not limited to being a dinner meal only. They are perfect as sandwich filling or even as part of a salad.

These particular meatballs were made from pork meat but any type of minced meat would be perfect. If you use chicken or turkey they will have a much more gentle taste obviously.

Let’s start with the ingredients list:

  • 750g minced pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 onion
  • 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
  • Salt, pepper, garlic, sweet paprika to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • Fresh Spring onion (the green parts) – optional
  • 1tspb chilli flakes – optional

Method:

Peel and fine chop your onion. Fry it on a medium heat until just golden brown. Put aside to cool down.

In a large bowl place your minced meat, 1 egg, 1 handful of breadcrumbs, earlier fried onions and spice to taste.

Mix all the ingredients together until everything is well combined and you have an even looking mixture. Don’t be afraid to work it. This is nothing like the burgers where your meat shouldn’t be touched / poked / pressed too many times. Work it with your hands until the mixture becomes a bit sticky, when this happens you know you have mixed it well.

This recipe will make for 16 meatballs. I normally use half of the mixture to create 8 “standard” tasting meatballs and use the remaining half to make a spicier version by adding fresh chopped spring onions and chilli flakes for some additional heat.

Kotlety Mielone  Polish Meatballs Ready to be fried

Once your mixture is smooth (more or less) it is time to form our meatballs. Ideally you want them to be about the size of a small egg. But as they are going to be fried and not cooked in any sauce, it is best to flatten them with your palm to make a doughnut shape…. Once they are formed gently toss them around in the remaining breadcrumbs just to give them a final coating that will crisp up nicely when they are cooked.

Kotlety Mielone – Polish Meatballs Frying stage

Fry on a medium heat for about 15 minutes turning them over every few minutes. Make sure that your pan isn’t too hot and your meat balls do not brown too quickly. Time as always makes food taste divine.

Remove from the frying pan and serve.

Kotlety Mielone – Polish Meatballs Serving suggestion

They are great for freezing if you fancy making a bigger batch, but if you are planning on freezing them it is advisable to skip the onion part. They will last longer in the freezer without the onions.

Happy cooking and I hope you enjoyed this Polish recipe.

This is one extremely full dinner plate :-)
This is one extremely full dinner plate 🙂
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What’s Cooking – Layer Potato Bake with Sausage, Mushroom & Onion

Layer Potato Bake with Sausage, Mushroom & Onion

This is a recipe my Mum used to make from time to time, and now that I am all grown up I make it… from time to time; though not often enough according to Mark 🙂

My Layer Potato Bake includes sausages, mushrooms and onions but you can adapt it to suit your needs. If you don’t have or don’t like sausage stick some bacon in… Not a fan of bacon? Not a biggie, just skip the meat part entirely and make a veggie version.

In a minute I will give you just one of the possibilities but really the filling options are endless and it is really up to you what you will stick between the potato layers. Some of our other favourites used in variation of this recipe are: peppers, sweet corn, grilled chicken, tomatoes and basil (not all at once, let’s just make that clear)

Ingredients list to make my Sausage, Mushroom & Onion version of Layer Potato Bake:

  • 12 large potatoes
  • 3 Polish sausages (they were called Śląska)
  • 3 large onions
  • 150g mushrooms (any mushrooms but field ones are the best)
  • 150g spicy cheddar cheese
  • 100g grated mozzarella cheese
  • Salt, pepper, sweet paprika to taste
  • Splash of olive oil for frying

Method:

We have to start with the potatoes. Peel and part boil them whole but ensure you just part boil; they can’t be overcook as you will not be able to slice them. I normally cook them for 15 minutes counting from the moment the water started to boil in my pot. Of course don’t forget to add salt into your potatoes for enhanced flavour.

Once they are cooked, drain and put them aside to cool and turn your oven on to 180C.

Now, it is time to start working on the rest of the filling.

Chop sausages, onions and mushrooms and get ready to fry them a bit.

Normally I would start with sausages. They are a bit fatty so I will have a nice amount of fat in my frying pan to fry the onions in. Just in case there isn’t enough add some olive oil. Fry your onions until lightly coloured, after 5 minutes add mushrooms. Just before the onions and mushrooms are ready add your spices – in my case I only use salt, fresh cracked pepper and sweet paprika.

Depending on the cheese you have, you might want to grate it or cut it into fine chunks. This time I used grated mozzarella (leftover after pizza night) and sliced spicy cheddar, which I cut into small cubes.

Now, it should be the perfect time to slice our potatoes. Ideally you want them about 0.5cm thick. Once all chopping is done, let’s build 🙂

Oh, you will need an oven proof dish with a lid. Add a little bit of olive oil, just to grease the bottom to avoid any potatoes sticking into it.

Layer Potato Bake with Sausage, Mushroom & Onion..

Step one: layer of potatoes.

Step two: layer of onion and mushroom mix.

Step three: layer of sausage.

Step four: layer of cheese

Repeat 🙂

You can add a little bit of cheeses on top of your potato layer as well if you want, I added some mozzarella at this point. You just keep filling until you run out of ingredients, but remember a potato layer needs to be second to last and then a pile of cheese on top to finish the dish.

Layer Potato Bake with Sausage, Mushroom & Onion...

Bake in the over covered for about 1hour. 45minutes into your bake remove the lid to allow the cheese to crisp on top.

Layer Potato Bake with Sausage, Mushroom & Onion.

Serve with salad… or not 😉

The bake can be a bit messy when you take it out of the oven. Everything is freshly cooked and it might not keep its form, but after few hours when everything is nice and cool, you will be able to cut a perfect piece and it should keep its shape… This way you can use it as a packed lunch for next day. Just pop into a microwave for few minutes and job jobbed… lunch is served.

Layer Potato Bake with Sausage, Mushroom and Onion

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Foods Of The World – Hungary – Chilled Sour Cherry Soup

Chilled sour cherry soup from ingenious cooking

*By Nori

Last week I promised Agata a traditional Hungarian summer dish, and here it comes.

I started blogging about food and nutrition when I found myself living on a restricted diet, so I tried to find a dish that is easily transferable to my present lifestyle without losing the original experience.

Sour cherry soup, served chilled in the summer heat is one of our most common dishes in Hungary. It’s very easy and quick to prepare, a real refreshing starter on a hot afternoon, and… every child loves it for its slight sweetness. It was one of my childhood favorites, and that is something to say as I was a very, very picky eater.

My husband and me both enjoy being in an international environment and meeting new people, so we had quite some CouchSurfers stay with us for a couple of days. Of course, I always tried to welcome them with a home-made, traditional Hungarian meal. At least, traditional for us: no, we didn’t always have goulash soup. Sour cherry soup was the simplest, yet the most controversial dish I’ve served for foreigners: it’s sweet, and still, we have it as a starter, not dessert and yes, we serve it chilled, not hot during the main meal of the day (lunch).

And, at last, I chose to share this very simple recipe with you because it’s very versatile: easily compatible with any diet, and there are lots of options to give it a twist. You can also make it all year around with fresh or canned cherries, as well. I’ll share some tips below the recipe!

Chilled sour cherry soup

Ingredients for approx. 8 servings:

  • 1 kg or 2 pounds of sour cherries, pitted (fresh or canned)
  • 1 piece of clove
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon (about 1×1 cm)
  • 2 tablespoons of xylitol, sugar, or other sweetener to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of corn or tapioca starch*
  • ½ cup of yogurt or plant (soya) based yogurt*

* Obviously, the traditional recipe does not use starches, but plain wheat flour and sour cream instead. The flour only plays a role in the texture of the soup, so this change makes no difference, while this way this dish becomes gluten free. I substituted the sour cream with yogurt because I’ve discovered during my travels that sour cream is not as common in other countries, but yogurt should be available for everyone. A plant based yogurt can turn this soup into a dairy free, vegan dish.

1. Just simply put the cherries in a big dish, pour in approx. 1.5 liter cold water, drop in the clove and cinnamon pieces, lemon juice, your sweetener of choice and start heating.

2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and the starch until smooth. Once the soup is really hot, almost boiling, take about a cup of the juice out f the pot and mix it well with the yogurt and starch.

3. Now pour the starchy mixture to the rest of the soup, boil it for only a couple of seconds and take the soup off the heat. (It’s important not to leave it boiling so the cherries stay crisp.)

4. Chill it in the refrigerator and serve.

Serving options:

You can add some more yogurt (or sour cream), whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream when serving and it still remains a starter – however, you can have some more for dessert, if you like…

My favorite twist on this recipe was when I had it in a restaurant served with mint flavored whipped cream: you can also make this at home by adding some mint extract to the cream before whipping it up.

I hope you enjoyed this very simple Hungarian recipe and try it this summer. Enjoy!

If you liked this post please visit my blog at www.ingeniouscooking.com and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Chilled Sour Cherry Soup fron Nori

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