Baby Corn Coriander Soup |

Baby corn coriander soup is different from other soups. The color of the soup is green with the combination of yellow baby corns. It is a healthy soup and a good appetizer. The crunchy baby corns you get while having the soup give a fine taste to the soup.

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 3 baby corns
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 4 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Spring onions for garnish

Method

Grind green chillies and coriander to a fine paste.

Heat butter in a pan and fry chopped garlic for few seconds. Then add the paste and fry for sometime till the raw smell goes. Add chopped baby corn and fry for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Mix corn flour with some water to make it thin (cornstarch). Add the cornstarch gradually while stirring continuously. Now the soup becomes thick. Add salt and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Spring Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto |

This soup is a blend of basil and vegetables, healthy and delicious. Basil (Tulsi) is an aromatic herb mostly used in Italian cuisine. There is no better soup than this one, packed with nutrients to treat yourself on a rainy evening.

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the pesto

  • 25 g basil
  • 1 garlic flake, crushed
  • 25 g pistachio nuts
  • 25 g Parmesan-style cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt

For the soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and chopped
  • 100 g green beans, cut into short lengths
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 ½ liter hot vegetable stock
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 400 g cannelloni beans, soaked, cooked and drained
  • 35 g vermicelli

Method

To prepare the pesto, put the basil, garlic, nuts, Parmesan, olive oil and half a teaspoon salt in a food processor, and blitz until smooth.

Heat the oil, then fry the leek until softened.

Add the green beans and zucchini. Then pour in the stock and season to taste. Cover and simmer for five minutes.

Stir the tomatoes, cannelloni beans and vermicelli into the soup pan. Simmer for five minutes more until the vegetables are just tender.

Stir in half the pesto.

Ladle into bowls and serve with the rest of the pesto spooned on top.

On taste and travel, and lemony fish soup…

Traveling is wonderful. You eat, you see, you smell, you connect, you explore and discover. Time goes by in a blink. And you are back home. Remembering.

So of course, once home, you can talk about the trip, remember the quirky things that happened. You can look at photo albums. Listen to a CD you brought back. But of all the senses, I find the one that has the most intimate and interlaced relationship with memory, is taste (and its close companion, smell). What brings me really back there for a moment, is a bite. A flavor. Marcel Proust in his genius expressed this infinitely more eloquently in this excerpt from Remembrance of Things Past: Swann’s Way.

And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine […] My aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it […] But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

I just love this idea of smell and taste as souls. Phantoms that stay with us, but comforting, joyful phantoms… tucked in our suitcases, whose mission is to make our experiences in distant lands indelible.

One of the great joys of traveling for us is most definitely trying the local cuisine and ingredients. And bringing home those recipes, to be able to reminisce on our wondrous adventures through our taste buds.

This works also for places we haven’t been to. When friends come back from travels, sure I enjoy looking at the pictures and hearing the stories, but I really feel like I’m sharing their experience if they cook a dish from a recipe they brought back. Travel recipes are the new slideshows! (I know, that is a really old reference, no one uses slides anymore, but you get the idea…) And that’s also a sure way to make me want to go to that place. We had this experience with a friend recently: I made an authentic Greek salad (with capers brought back from Greece), and told her to take a bite of feta, tomato, cucumber and caper, and to just imagine the salt in the air, the sun ever so bright, the blue sea and sky in contrast with the white buildings… I think she was with us in Greece there, for just a few wonderful shared moments.

So in this spirit, I am happy to share this wonderful recipe also from Greece. As I have said before, I am a big proponent of introducing children to fish very young (read: during pregnancy and while nursing). It is an extremely healthy food (preferably choosing it wild caught, fresh and of small size for low or null mercury levels), being a very lean protein, full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B2, calcium and phosphorus, and minerals such as zinc, potassium, iron, iodine, magnesium, all crucial nutrients for brain development.

That being said, it is really important to make fish taste good. I myself, disliked most fish as a young child, mostly because I found it bland and the fish bones didn’t help matters either. I found this fish soup simply delicious. It has a lot of vegetables, and the lemony flavor marries itself so well with the fish. Of course, it does.  I know a lot of young babies / children enjoy acidic or lemony flavors, so this is perfect for them. (Pablo has certainly been known to suck on a lemon, make a face, and go back at it again!)

Now there’s an easy way to make this, or a hard way. You can simply get fish fillets with no bones, simply ask your fishmonger to give you a few fish heads and tails (or to fillet whole fish for you, giving you the heads and tails separately).  Or, if you want to go the hard traditional way, you can get the whole fish and then, spend the time to pull the meat apart and go through it carefully to remove all bones. Being so busy these days, when I do this here at home, I will definitely go with the fillets option.

So if you do make this soup, as you take a sip, just imagine lunch in a shady courtyard, amidst fig and citrus trees, clothes on a line and grapevines, the smell of salt in the air, and there, floating, the prospect of an after-lunch nap before a swim in the Aegean sea… Welcome to Greece.

Lemony fish soup

Recipe from Sofia and my sister Marilena in Greece – Ευχαριστώ!

Serves 4

Age for babies: I would serve this starting 10-12 months, because of the egg and lemon.

2 medium carrots, sliced

1 large potato, quartered

2 small onions or large shallots, sliced

4 sprigs of celery leaves

1 large zucchini, sliced

Salt & pepper

½ cup olive oil

4 tbsp short grain rice

1 egg (room temperature)

Juice of 1 lemon (room temperature)

1 lb fish fillets (sole, black cod or mullet)

3 or 4 fish heads and tails (optional)

(or, for the brave and patient, 2 lbs of whole medium size
fish)

In a large pot with a steamer basket (if you don’t have
that, just use a large pot over which you can place a metal colander where you
will steam the fish), cook the carrots, potato, onions, celery leaves, zucchini
and olive oil in water (so there’s about 2 inches of water above the
vegetables). Bring to a boil and lower the heat.

Place the fish (fillets, heads and tails) in the steaming
basket, over the vegetable broth, cover and cook until the fish and vegetables
are cooked through and soft.

Remove the steamer basket with the fish. (If you chose to
use whole fish, now’s the time to go through the painstaking task of pulling
apart the fish meat and removing all the bones, going through the fish a few
times.) Discard the heads and tails, set the fillets aside.

Remove the celery leaves from the broth. Add the rice to the
vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and cook until rice is tender, about 20 mn.

Once the rice is cooked, add the cooked fish fillets (cut up with a fork)
to the soup.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the lemon juice
little by little, whisking constantly. Then add half a ladle of broth from the
pot, whisking until frothy. Add the lemon/egg mixture to the soup, and let
simmer on very low for another 5 minutes (this will thicken the soup).

Serve hot with some country bread.

Note: For a younger baby, you can mix this in the food processor
for a very smooth soup.

Warmth, inside and out, and watercress sorrel soup

Someone asked me recently what was the common denominator among my friends. What was the thing I sought out and was most attracted to in others? It surprised me how quickly the answer came to me: inner warmth. Life certainly has its shares of cold winter days, where one feels lonely, or inadequate, or hopeless, or lost, or irate. Sometimes there are Chernobyl days where you feel all of those things at the same time! (Read: meltdown). The warm, cashmere-soft, inner flame of friendship is what might get me through those winters. Even if life is too hard to reach out to those friends explicitly. Just knowing the very existence of those human beings. Knowing they’re in my life. Knowing they are my village. So warm, a moment of carefree laughter with them, even in my darkest hours. When I think of friendship, I imagine myself rubbing hands very close to a fireplace, comforted by the warmth in every part of my being.

Inner warmth. I can tell right away if I sense it in someone, but I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is. A bunch of things, I suppose. To be open-minded, generous, nurturing. To be mindful of others, attentive, interested, genuine. To be observant, engaged. To want to connect and share. Something like that.

I guess inner warmth, and all its components, is also what I want to bring to the world.  To my son. To my loved ones. To this blog.

Thinking back on my childhood, that sense of inner warmth and friendship is very much associated with meals. The “special” meals my mother would make. Or let me make. Whether it was for the two of us, or for a group of friends.

And one of my winter favorites, was the soupe verte, the green soup. Another example of how amazing simplicity can be. I have been obsessed with soup lately, perhaps needing to feed that inner warmth and keep that flame going. And on a winter night, with family and friends, whether they are there in person or in spirit, this is a soup to warm and nurture the body and soul.

Watercress & sorrel velouté (soup)

Serves about 6

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 45 min

Age for babies: I started this very young, 4-6 months. You can make a puree version, steaming two handful watercress, sorrel (optional) and 1 small potato, and mixing adding water or milk to obtain desired consistency.

2 bunches of watercress, washed thoroughly, stems on
1 handful / bunch of sorrel leaves, washed, stems on
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt & pepper
Dollop of crème fraiche* or yogurt (the liquidy euro-style kind, I really like Bellwether Farms sheep’s milk yogurt)

Place the potatoes in about 6 cups of cold water, with a pinch of salt.

When the water is boiling, throw in the watercress and sorrel (leaves and stems).

Let simmer 30-40 minutes.

Blend thoroughly with an immersion blender until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche or yogurt, if desired.

*About the crème fraîche: this is basically French sour cream, much less sour than American-style sour cream. Some stores sell it, but if you want to make it, it is very easy. Take 1 cup of heavy cream (preferably organic from grass-fed cows, raw, or pasteurized, but not ultra pasteurized) and leave it out until it’s room temperature. Add 2 tbsp of cultured buttermilk (that can come from the fridge), and stir with a spoon. Cover and leave in a semi-warm place (like the oven with the light on) from 12-24 hours. It will thicken a bit, you might see bubble from the cultures. It will not be as thick as sour cream, still very liquidy, but a bit thicker than the heavy cream. Put in the fridge a few hours, and it will get firmer. You can keep about a week in the fridge.

Variation: You can make this a watercress only soup, simply skip the sorrel.

Sunchoke velouté… a summer-worthy winter soup!

Yes, I know, we are in the heart of summer and even though I read everywhere about stone fruit recipes and ice creams and salads, I dare post a recipe for soup. I am compelled to do so for no other reason than the fact that I recently found some nice sunchokes at my local market. And sunchokes simply beg to be creamed into a scrumptious velouté (fancy word for creamy soup). I found this out when savoring (and then making at home) an unforgettable truffle sunchoke velouté on a truffle-centric trip to Dordogne a few Februaries ago.

I have a thing for roots (more on roots here)… and this one has a very unusual, delicate flavor, similar to that of an artichoke; and for good reason, it is also called Jerusalem Artichoke. In France, it is one of what they call the “légumes oubliés”, the forgotten vegetables… Who new rutabaga, parsnips and kohlrabi could be so poetic? They’re often winter root vegetables used a lot for watery soups during World War II. For this reason, my mother has a very unhappy association with a lot of those vegetables, one that takes her back to times of poverty and struggle. Perhaps this is the case for a lot of people of her generation, which may be why those vegetables became “forgotten”. It could also be because they do not lend themselves to mass production and distribution. They’re difficult to cultivate on a large scale, take longer to cook or prepare. So in our society of immediate gratification, those veggies were left behind. Today, more and more people want more variety in vegetables, new flavors, and the forgotten veggies are making a comeback!

I had never made sunchokes for Pablo before last week, he was very unfamiliar with the taste, and only took a couple of spoons of the soup. It’s a matter of trying again and again (remember, offer something at least 15 times before you rule that your child doesn’t like it!) The grown-ups loved it so much they were quite happy to eat what Pablo didn’t… It is amazing to me that this beast of a root can turn into such a beauty of a soup!

I may be spoiled in California with most vegetables being available local, organic and year around. Is it the case where you are? Does anyone else cook roots (except for beets) in summer? Would love to hear about your recipes!

Sunchoke velouté

Inspired from a recipe found on Elle à Table

Age: 6-8 months (be sure to have your child taste shallots with another known ingredients in case of any allergies.) Sunchoke can also be made as a simple puree (see recipe below), from 6 months on, just like artichoke. It does cause gas in some cases, so monitor your child to see if he digests it well.

Health benefits: Sunchokes are very high in fiber. They also contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron.

Serves 3-4

1 lb sunchokes
1 shallot
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp of whole milk yogurt (or sheep’s milk)
A drop of truffle oil (optional – for 12 months and older)

Peel the sunchokes. They are a pain to peel, but that’s about the most challenging part of this recipe! Cut them up in pieces.

Peel and dice the shallot (don’t cry, it’s ok!) Put the diced shallot in a dutch oven with the olive oil on low to medium heat, let it “sweat” without browning.

Add the sunchokes and add enough water to cover them. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the temperature and simmer for about 45 mn, until the sunchokes are soft (check them with a knife like you would a boiled potato).

Put the whole thing in a blender and mix. You can let cool and refrigerate for later, or serve right away.

When serving, reheat if needed and add the yogurt, and truffle oil if desired.

Related recipe:

Sunchoke puree (5-6 months): Peel, dice and steam the sunchokes for 15 mn, until soft. Mix with some milk to obtain desired consistency. (You can mix with some boiled potato for a milder taste).

PS: Just added “Vegetable” to the food sign list, check it out!