Category Archives: Soups

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Cheese Bread

Now I know this isn’t exactly the most suitable recipe for any New Year dieters out there, but my excuse is I haven’t started mine yet. I’m still working my way from the excesses of choccies, biscuits, mince pies, christmas cakes, salami and cheese that are still lurking each and every which way I look. How could one possibly start any sort of diet and waste such bounty?. So today I decided to help myself along a little and throw all the cheese scrag ends into an oh so easy and oh soooooo naughty Cheese & Onion Loaf. Though I should hasten to add I still have a quarter of a Stilton and an equal amount of a mighty fine aged local Brebis (Sheeps Cheese). So I’m still a long LONG way of the D word. Thankfully. So my apologies now to any dieters out there, and I would seriously advice you not to make this, as just the one, ridiculously calorific, slice will not possibly be enough. You’ve been warned.

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Finally it seems I have my baking mojo back. After endless freezer-filling pre-christmas baking sessions it’s been the last thing on my mind the last couple of weeks. But today’s a Wednesday and that’s a baking day in our house. The kids aren’t at school and I always try to bake something or other with them each week. Today it was just Jacques and I, as Big Sis was out with Mr F collecting wood. So we made a gloriously quick and simple yeastless and kneadless throw-it-all together Cheese & Onion Bread, that was all made in the time it took to put together a simple Pumpkin Soup. This cheese fest bread is the perfect accompaniment to hearty up a lunch time soup and particularly wonderful served piping hot out of the oven whilst the cheeses are still oozy. And you can literally use any cheese, or combination of cheeses, you happen to have in. I really did use up all our scrag ends, throwing in chunks of goats cheese, Manchego and Comte.

Leftover Cheese Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Makes one large loaf

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

a large red onion, finely sliced

450g of plain flour

a level tablespoon of baking powder

a teaspoon of English mustard powder

a large pinch of salt

a large pinch of black pepper

75g of butter, melted

375ml of milk

250g of leftover cheeses, roughly cut into chunks

Special Equipment: a large loaf tin lined with baking parchment

Preheat your oven to 200ºC.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Gently saute for 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile sieve together the flour, baking powder and mustard powder and stir in the salt and pepper, ensuring everything is thoroughly combined.

Melt the butter and stir into the milk, then stir them both into the dry mixture. Finally mix in the cheesy chunks and onions and dollop into a large lined loaf tin.

Place in your oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on the top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm with soup. Perfect. Perfectly naughty anyway.

If you like this, you might also like to try these other super-easy to bake with kids recipes:  Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins or Cheesy Biscuits

Cheese & Onion Loaf

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Parsnip and Pear Soup

Parsnip & Pear Soup

There’s been a frenzy of activity in the Chez Foti kitchen this last week, brought on by my sudden and slightly panicked realisation we will be ten for christmas. Which obviously is very wonderful but I’ve got my work cut out! And after a few trials this is the soup I’ve decided to kick off christmas day lunch with, using our lovely parsnips and the last of the pears from the garden. It’s quite a light, yet creamy, soup flavoured with plenty of nutmeg and white pepper, and will be served with Parsnip Crisps (time permitting on the day!) and Mini Pear, Stilton & Shallot Tarts (blog coming soon!).

Parsnips

We’ve opted out of turkey for the main event this year and I’ve purchased a rather large piece of  imported British Beef instead (thanks to the lovely people at the Singing Frog Farm). The Roast Beef will be served with Yorkshire Puds, Chipolatas, Duck Fat Roasted Spuds, Roast Parsnips, Sprouts with Chestnuts, Roasted Pumpkin with Lardons and Lemon Butter Carrots. With lashings of Red Wine Gravy and Horseradish Sauce of course. As for the pud they’ll be my Great Granny’s Christmas Pudding, that my mum’s very kindly made this year and will be bringing over by special delivery. And for the christmas pud haters a Chocolate & Chestnut Bouche Noel (or Yule Log to you and me, but sounds a tad more sophisticated in French, made, photographed and now frozen and also coming to you in a blog very soon!). Oh I’m hungry just thinking about it. 10 days to go,  yikes!  Here’s a sneeky peek of the log:

My Chocolate & Chestnut Buche Noel, coming in a blog very soon!

My Chocolate & Chestnut Buche Noel, coming in a blog very soon!

Being full of seasonal goodness I’m entering my Soup to Ren Behan of Fabulicious Food‘s Simple and in Season bloggie event, this month hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

Simple and In Season

Parsnip & Pear Soup

Parsnip and Pear Soup

Serves 8 to 10

2 tablespoons of olive oil

25g of butter

a very large onion, or 2 mediums, diced

a kilo of parsnips, scrubbed and peeled

220g of pears, peeled and cored

a level teaspoon of ground white pepper

a level teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

2 bay leaves

2 litres of good quality chicken or vegetable stock

5 heaped tablespoons of half fat creme fraiche

A little milk for thinning (optional)

Heat the oil and butter in a very large pan on a gentle heat. Add the onions and saute gently for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile prep the parsnips. As mine are organic and homegrown I tend to leave the skins on but it’s probably best to peel them otherwise. Cut into 2 to 3 cm chunks. Throw the parsnips into the pan. Allow to cook for a further 10 minutes, regularly giving the pan a good stir so nothing catches.

Stir in the pears, white pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves. Then pour over the stock. Bring to a simmer. Allow to bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes or until the parsnips are very soft. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Remove the bay leaves then blitz in a food processor or blender or with a stick blender until silky smooth. Stir in the creme fraiche until it’s perfectly incorporated. I like my soups around this thickness but you may wish to thin some more with a little extra milk.

Serve immediately!

Here’s some other Chez Foti seasonal soups:

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)

Parsnip & Pear Soup


Courgette Soup with Parsley & Parmesan

There’s certainly still plenty of courgettes and marrows to be getting through at Chez Foti and I’ve now turned to soup making to attempt a dent on the mountain. Without blowing my own trumpet, or courgette, this is the nicest courgette soup I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been making it with both courgettes and marrows or a mixture of the two, and all are equally as successful so just use whatever you have a surplus off. It’s a great recipe for gluts. And if you don’t have a glut, just go halves on the quantities and make a smaller amount.

It’s probably not entirely soup weather yet at Chez Foti, but there’s a definite Autumnal crispness in the air early mornings and evenings, which is pretty welcome after all the heat of July and August. And besides I’m trying to loose a stone by christmas (a ridiculously tall order me thinks but I’m going to give it a whirl anyways) so soups are most definitely on the menu for me these days. Barely a day’s gone by since returning from our jolidays last weekend that I haven’t been busily rustling up some sort of soup or other. And the kids always love them, whatever the weather. By including a fair whack of creme fraiche (albeit I do use a half fat version) and Parmesan (or Grana Padano it’s cheaper cousin) this admittedly is a considerably more indulgent soup than my usual, but is oh so good and worth it. Though if you’re serious about dropping calories it’s still very good without any dairy additions.

I’m entering my recipe to Karen at Lavendar and Lovage’s September Herbs on Saturday blog challenge. I’m feeling rather lucky after I won the August competition with my Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces recipes. My first ever bloggie win!.

Courgette Soup with Parsley & Parmesan

To make 8 servings:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 onions, diced

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 kilos of courgettes or marrows, diced

a litre of chicken or veggie stock

a heaped teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

25g of flat leaved parsley leaves and stalks, roughly chopped

2 heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche, half or full fat

75g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, finely grated

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stockpot on a medium heat. Throw in the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring at intervals. Add the garlic and cook for a moment or two more before tipping in the diced courgettes or marrows.  Cover and allow to sweat for a further 10 minutes, stirring every now and again.

Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes until all the veggies are perfectly tender and soft. Once cooked stir in the parsley and take off the heat.

Thoroughly whiz with a stick blender or in a liquidiser or processor; I personally prefer the former as there’s less washing up. Stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan or Grana Padano. Et voila. Final taste check and you’re done. There shouldn’t be any need to add further salt as there’s plenty in the stock. This makes a pretty thick soup (which I happen to prefer) but can be thinned down to your desired consistency with more stock, milk or water.

How about trying some of my other soupy recipes? Cream of Veggie Super Soup, Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons or Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)


Cream of Veggie Super Soup!

6 Months +, Weaning, Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Children and Adults

Okay I know it’s June and I really shouldn’t be soup making but it’s been more than a tad cold at Chez Foti lately. It’s certainly not been the gloriously sunshiny south of France I signed up for. Besides my kids’ll happily eat soup any day of the year. In truth I’ve made very few soups recently, my interest wained once the pumpkins finished. But this week the humble veggie soup has been revived and my kids just couldn’t get enough of it!.

Soups are a fab way to get your littlies to eat a copious amount of veggies, you can cunningly throw in all the ones they’re none too keen on and they’ll never know. I sneakily add a little tomato puree to disguise the green veggies. Works every time. Most kids seem particularly partial to tomatoey flavours, as they do to the addition of creamy creme fraiche. I tend to bulk out with carrots as we always have them in and particularly like a little zing of red pepper, but feel free to add absolutely any veggies you  have lurking. Everything’s substitutable.

I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon for veggie soups which is a particularly flavoursome base. If you’re making soup for babies either use plain water or get hold of some baby stock cubes (available in bigger Boots stores in the UK) which have no added salt.

If you want to make the soup a wee bit more substantial add a handful of cooked pasta shapes and/or top with grated cheese. I serve mine with wholemeal toast ‘dippers’. This recipe makes a pretty thick soup which is easier for little ones to eat, but older kids and grown ups might like to thin it down a little with more stock, water or milk.

Messy pics I know, but this was Jacques’ third bowl and he’d kind of done with eating by the time the camera came out!.

Enough for 8 to 10 little servings or 4 grown up ones:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

an onion, diced

4 carrots, thoroughly washed and sliced (no need to peel)

a medium potato, washed and diced (no need to peel)

½ a head or broccoli (stem inc), or a handful of green beans or any other green or other veg you have lurking, diced

a red pepper, diced

a litre of vegetable stock

1.5 tablespoons of tomato puree

2 tablespoons of creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and stir. Add the other veggies as you wash and dice them. There’s not too many timing rules here! Stir from time to time so nothing catches.

Once all the veggies have been added to the pan pour over the hot veggie stock and stir in the tomato puree.

Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat to low. Cover and allow to bubble away for 15 to 20 minutes until the veggies are all tender.

Take off the heat and blitz until very smooth in a blender or food processor or with a stick blender. Stir in the creme fraiche.

Here’s some other Chez Foti soupy recipes: Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, Butternut Squash & Chorizo with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup), Creamy Roasted Pumpkin


Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

I cut into the last of our pumpkins to make this soup. I never actually thought we’d get to the end of our almighty Autumn harvest but now we’re on the last one I’m more than a touch sad!. Though I’m very excited about growing plenty more of these wonderful orange monsters again this summer, despite spending most of the last one cursing them for the enormity of space they took up and vowing never to bother again! My opinions however quickly changed after our first homegrown pumpkiny dinner (I think it was indeed a roast pumpkin soup), far more delicious and sweet than I thought possible of the humble pumpkin. The ones you buy in the UK, particularly around Halloween time, can be so bland and devoid of any real flavour, and I assumed our orange monsters would be the same. So wrong! I think the hot Southern French sun worked it’s magical wonders on my patch, each and every one were delicioso.

Not only are pumpkins so incredibly easy and fun to grow, albeit taking up way too much room, they are wonderful and versatile to cook with providing they have a half decent sunkissed flavour that is. I’ve added diced pumpkin to virtually all my stews and casseroles throughout the autumn and winter, stir fries, pasta dishes, curries, and obviously soup a plenty. It’s also a great veg to accompany a roast dinner, cut into large chunks and roasted in the oven with a little chilli and/or bacon pieces and plenty of black pepper.  Porky flavours work really well with pumpkin and squash which is how I came to concoct this soup. Might sound a little weird but it’s oh so lovely!.

Enough for a couple of servings each for a family of four:

1 kilo of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut squash, skin removed and cut into 2cm chunks

olive oil

salt & pepper

the merest pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

80g lardons or streaky bacon, diced

600ml of chicken stock plus a little more water to thin down

Rub a tablespoon of olive oil into the pumpkin chunks along with a little salt, a generous grinding of black pepper, and the chilli flakes, rubbing the oil onto all sides of the pumpkin. Place on a baking tray in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 220°C. The pumpkin is ready when it’s soft and starting to brown a little. Turn at least once during the cooking time.

Meanwhile heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until softened a little, now add the lardons or bacon. Continue to cook on a medium heat for a further 7-8 minutes  until the lardons or bacon are browning, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Once the pumpkin is roasted add it to the onions and bacon and cook for a further couple of minutes then add the stock. Bring to the boil and leave on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes of simmering remove the soup from the heat and whiz thoroughly, I usually use a stick blender to do this as it’s much less washing up than a processor or blender!. Taste the soup and add a generous grinding of black pepper to suit, it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and stock. Thin down with water to make to your desired thickness. We tend to eat our soups really thick as they’re easier for the wee ones to spoon.

Here’s some other Chez Foti soup recipes: Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup), Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

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Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

We’re still munching our through all our lovely homegrown squash and pumpkins and in an effort to add a little variety to our staple pumpkin or squash soups I’ve been experimenting with adding new flavours, and the addition of a little Chorizo is a definite favourite in the Foti household! The kids and Phil go crazy for it. Admittedly a pretty heavy soup, especially with the addition of homemade Chorizo flavoured croutons, so probably best kept for the depths of winter like we’re in now. A very comforting and filling ‘meal’ of a soup.

Living so close to Spain Chorizo is really cheap and easily available here, and so I tend to cook with it quite a bit these days. It is however also pretty easily available in UK supermarkets. It’s a great flavour and colour enhancer to meaty stews, casseroles and soups and I regularly add a little to salads, omelettes, pizzas and pies.

I’ve used Butternut Squash in this recipe, but you could substitute with any other flavoursome squash or pumpkin. I didn’t bother to peel my Butternut as the skin is perfectly edible when cooked…and as it’s to be whizzed up you can’t tell the difference. By roasting the squash first you intensify it’s sweetness which works wonderfully with the intense meatiness of the Chorizo.

Enough for 4 grown ups:

850g Butternut squash, cut into 2 cm dice

olive oil

salt & pepper

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

70g Chorizo, finely diced

600ml of chicken stock

For the croutons:

70g stale chunky white bread, cut into about 1.5 to 2cm cubes

olive oil

25g Chorizo finely diced

a pinch of Spanish sweet smoked Paprika (optional)

salt & pepper

Combine the squash with a tablespoon of olive oil, a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Place on a baking tray in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 220°C. The squash is ready when it’s soft and starting to brown a little.

Meanwhile heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until softened a little, now add the Chorizo. Continue to cook on a gentle heat for a few more minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Once the squash is roasted add it to the onions and Chorizo and cook for a further couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and leave on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering prepare the croutons. Add a good glug of olive oil to a frying pan and heat. Add a pinch of Spanish sweet smoked Paprika if you have any (it’s one of the main colourings and flavourings in Chorizo), the Chorizo pieces, a little salt and a good grinding of pepper. Heat until the Chorizo is starting to ‘bleed’ it’s lovely oil and colour. Now add the bread pieces to the hot oil. Cook on all sides until the cubes are coloured and crunchy, making sure they are regularly turned.

After ten minutes of simmering remove the soup from the heat and whiz thoroughly, I usually use a stick blender to do this as it’s much less washing up than a processor or blender!. Taste the soup and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper to suit, it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt.

Serve piping hots with a generous scattering of the fried Chorizo pieces and croutons.

Here’s Jacques enjoying his crispy croutons!:

If you like this, have you tried my Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe?


Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)

This was our Sunday lunch today!  We tend to have some sort of soup on Sundays for lunch (and Saturdays too for that matter!) followed by a proper ‘sunday lunch’ around 6ish.  Because the kids normally have a sleep at 12 for a couple of hours it’s too rushed trying to get lunch ready before then….nor do we have much of an appetite for a roast and pud at 11.30am! So today’s soup was this new-to-me gem of a recipe (although I’ve now made it three times in less than a week!), and the kids loved it too.

A big thank you to my friend Susie for emailing me it.  Susie and her partner Gary run a training retreat for cyclists and triathletes in the mountains of central Portugal (www.delucci.co.uk), and regularly cook up this fabulous soup for themselves and hungry guests, either as a filling starter or a light lunch or supper served up with a hunk of bread.

Very quick and easy to make, it’s filling, nutritious, warming and bursting with flavour.  You can use any greens in this recipe, I used savoy cabbage as it’s very much in season now (although admittedly I had to buy mine, as my Savoys are in very poor miniscule shape!) and it worked splendidly.  If you want to add less of the greens then do so to make a slightly thinner soup, add more to make it a heavier.

Enough for 4:

1 very large or 2 small onions, finely diced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

olive oil

150g chorizo, sliced and each slice cut into 6/8 small pieces

600g potatoes (about 4 large ones), peeled and diced into 1cm chunks

700ml of chicken stock

300ml of water

2 bay leaves

salt & pepper

400g savoy cabbage or other greens, very finely shredded

Saute the onions and garlic with a glug of olive oil in a very large saucepan.  Cook until soft and translucent.

Now add the chorizo pieces to the onion and continue to saute for a few more minutes. Add the diced potatoes and stir well.

Pour in the stock and water to the onions and potatoes along with plenty of black pepper (you can add salt if you wish but the Chorizo and stock both contain plenty).  Simmer until the potatoes are soft and cooked through. Mash the potatoes into the stock (by using a potato masher).

Add your finely shredded greens to the soup.  If you want a heavy soup add as much as the soup will take!  If you want it lighter add less than my suggested 400g.

Simmer until the greens are cooked.

Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with a large hunk of bread.


Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Apologies for yet another pumpkin recipe today, but to be truthful this is about the extent of the Chez Foti diet of the last few days as everyone except me has been sick with a nasty flu bug!  This simple gentle soup has been the only thing anyone’s actually had an appetite for….good job we have lots of pumpkins!

Aside from illness, we seem to be eating some sort of squash or pumpkin soup every day for lunch these days.  This particular soup is lovely and extremely simple to make.  If you want to jazz up the flavour a little roast the pumpkin with half a chopped up chilli or some chilli flakes.  I tend to make this in pretty big batches so I can store in the fridge for the next few days, or in the freezer for a later lazy day.

As per previous blogs, a word of warning on using pumpkins.  Quite often when you buy the very big pumpkins in the UK for Halloween they can be very tasteless for cooking with, no matter how much roasting and flavouring you add they’ll never be great.  If you do have a pumpkin to use try roasting a little of it before using, just to have a taste check.  You always substitute Butternut squash as a more reliable tasty alternative.

To make enough for at least 2 family lunchtimes:                                                        

1 kg of pumpkin, skin removed and cut into roughly 2cm chunks

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1 clove or garlic, finely sliced

500ml of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup)

2 heaped tbsp of creme fraiche

Begin by preheating the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark  .  Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and combine with about a tbsp of olive oil, a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper (and some chilli if using).  Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes (turning the pumpkin about half way through) until soft and just starting to colour a little.

Meanwhile heat another tbsp of oil in a large high sided saucepan and add the onion and garlic.  Cook for about 5 minutes until softened a little, stir regularly to avoid catching.  Then add the roasted pumpkin, stir and cook for a further minute or two.  Poor in the stock and bring to a gentle simmer.   Simmer for a further 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is very soft.

Take off the heat and add the creme fraiche.  Blend with a stick blender until smooth and creamy.


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