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Winter soups

3 Apr

Last week the weather was warm – summer was definitely on the way. This week the temperature has dropped and Scotland has had significant snow fall! With weather like this, soup is the food to eat!

I like making soup, it’s pretty easy to do, you can make huge batches and freeze it giving a quick meal when you’re in a hurry and it’s quite filling while also being low in calories.

I’ve made Carrot and French Onion soups many times before but this time I tried out the slow cooker. I peeled carrots (about 2kg) and then sliced them in the food processor. They went in the slow cooker with some stock for about 8 hours. At the end of this I just wizzed them up with a stick blender and the soup was pretty good. I also added coriander at the end for more flavour and chopped in an orange for a bit of interest!

To make the onion soup I peeled 2kg of onions (lots of tears) and then put them in the slow cooker with a dollop of margarine and some salt and pepper. They stayed in their on the low setting for about 10 hours; at the end of this they were amazingly caramelized and tasted fantastic. I then added stock and cooked for a further 8 hours. I think this is one of the best soups I’ve made and I’ll definitely do it again.

At the same time as making these, I wanted to use up some other veg so I roasted a tray of tomatoes to make tomato soup and about a dozen parsnips to make roast parsnip soup. Add cumin seeds to this to give a really nice flavour.

Slow cooker meals

20 Feb

I bought a slow cooker a few years ago (actually, my “friend” put it in the trolley for me while we were out shopping – I wasn’t really sure I needed it!) and it’s turned out to be one of my most useful pieces of kitchen equipment. It cost less than £15 so it’s also by far the best value.

It works well for cheaper cuts of meat – pretty much anything sold for stewing works and you can adapt recipes that are designed for a slow oven.

My most recent meal was made with a pack of meat sold as stewing lamb but lamb neck would have worked well. I wanted to do something a bit like a lamb tagine; I’m not sure that’s what I got but it was pretty tasty!

I cut half a dozen small onions in half and laid them on the bottom of the pot (don’t chop stuff finely; the slow cooking means you end up with slush if you’re not careful!) I then added some meat, a small bunch of coriander (this was chopped finely – it works best when it does disappear into the liquid) some dried figs (about 250g) a good handful of olives and a can of chick peas and a little water (I half filled the chick pea can)

The lid goes on, I put the slow cooker on its low setting and went to work. 10 hours later I came home to the most marvellous smell! I knew the lamb, figs and chick peas would work but I wasn’t so sure about the olives. When I make it again, I think I’ll only use the olives as a garnish before serving – they rather dominate the taste (I like olives a lot but they’re just a bit too strong compared to the figs)