Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creamy Butternut Squash Fish Soup

I wanted to make a simple clean tasting fish soup. The motivation was my desire to have a fish soup and J's refusal to contemplate eating such. Basically the idea here is to make a vaguely oriental soup based on butternut squash and then add the fishy element afterwards.


  1. One cubed butternut squash;
  2. 1 large chopped shallot;
  3. 250 ml tin of coco nut milk;
  4. 3 stems of lemongrass;
  5. 1/2 tbls of fennel seeds
  6. 5 kefir lime leaves;
  7. 500 ml vegetable or fish stock (or just water);

For added fishiness:

  1. Thai fish sauce to taste;
  2. 250 gr prawn;
  3. 250 gr monkfish cut into large bite sized chunks.

Soften shallot in a little bit of vegetable oil in a soup pot at medium heat. Add spices and let them roast for about a minute. Add butternut squash and stock and let simmer until the squash is completely soft about 15 min. Remove the lemongrass and whizz the soup up in a food processor or using one of these very clever magic wand things.

Bring soup back up to simmer and slowly add the coco nut milk. Do not add the full tin as that may make the soup too rich (not all butternut squashes are the same size after all) add until you like the consistency and taste of the soup. Let the soup simmer until the milk is fully settled into the soup. At this point what you have is beautiful vegetable soup which I would have happily had as such after adding salt.

The point however was a fish soup. At this point start adding fish sauce one tablespoon at a time. It is important to give the soup a couple of minutes of simmering before adding more fish sauce as it is very potent and salty and you really won't know if you have added enough until it has had time to settle. Continue until the soup is slightly fishy but not salty to the taste.

Add fish, bring back to simmer until fish is ready. Serve with a few leaves of coriander and a line of best EVOO.

(a variation on this theme would be to replace the lime leaves with coriander root)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spanish Meat Balls

Spanish Meat balls (Albondigas)

  1. 250 g each minced beef and pork (Spanish would use lamb but I can't);
  2. 1 large shallot very finely chopped;
  3. 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped;
  4. Big handful very finely chopped flat leave parsley;
  5. 1 egg;
  6. 1 tbsp olive oil
  7. 200 ml red vine (a couple of tbsp dry sherry won't hurt);
  8. 250 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  9. 1 tbs pimento picante (Spanish spicy paprika)
  10. pinch of sugar
  11. salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the mince in a bowl with the shallot, garlic, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well then shape the mixture into 12 small, firm meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the meatballs for 5 minutes, turning frequently until evenly browned. Add the tomatoes, wine, pimento and sugar, with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil cover with a tight lid and transfer to 150 degrees owen for 45 - 60 min.