Minestrone recipe

minestrone

We both thought that this recipe was delicious and that we’d cook it again. We used kale which came straight from our garden. Some minestrone recipes contain potato and pasta, but this one contains neither. It’s a winter version so it contains vegetables you’d harvest from your garden at this time of year. It’s quite a chunky dense soup so you may like to add more stock or water at the end to give you the right consistency. I liked it chunky and dense.

Winter minestrone soup recipe

Adapted from River Cafe’s winter minestrone soup recipe. 

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 storks of celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 head of garlic cloves, peeled
250g kale, chard or cavolo nero, coarsely chopped
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
400g can peeled cherry tomatoes, drained of most of their juices
425g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
500ml homemade chicken or vegetable stock
sprig of thyme or sage, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and slowly fry the carrots, onion and celery until soft and dark. This will take approximately 20 minutes.
  2. Then add the garlic and the parsley. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes or until reduced. 
  3. Add half of the kale leaves (or chard or cavolo nero), beans and the boiling stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining kale leaves (or chard or cavolo nero) and blanch briefly so they remain green and crisp.
  5. Stir in the thyme or sage and serve hot with Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2.

Best recipe: French onion soup

french onion soup

I got a little worried at the first reading of the Onion soup Les Halles recipe, as I don’t own either ovenproof soup crocks, nor a propane torch. The recipe I’ve chosen comes Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. I’ve never tried authentic French onion soup in a restaurant, mainly because I love to have snails or frog’s legs as a starter, so I’m not sure how to judge a good onion soup.

My first challenge was researching to find out what a bouquet garni is made up of.  For this dish, I decided to use celery, basil leaf and thyme. My second challenge was converting the recipe to metric and halving the amount. I used the very handy The Cookbook People’s Kitchen Conversion Cheat Sheet.

My eyes started to get teary cutting the first onion, so I precariously tried to chop it at arms length. I was worried I’d cut myself because I could hardly see through the tears. Fortunately, I washed the board and knife, wiped away my tears on my t-shirt sleeve, and then other next three onions were tearless. I have heard the rumour that a blunt knife makes cutting onions harder.

There is some debate about how long it takes to caramalise the onions* – most recipes have 30 minutes, and some suggest at least an hour. Felicity Cloak’s recipe suggests “This will probably take between 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your nerve.”

Flour is often added to thicken the soup, but I didn’t add it. Emmenthal works as well as Gruyere on the toast. Some people prefer to serve the cheesy toast on the side. Apparently the soup improves the day after cooking, but I didn’t notice any difference.

French onion soup is ideal as a winter dish. You could easily make a vegetarian version by changing the stock, and I’m sure this dish has many restorative powers.

French onion soup recipe

Adapted from Onion soup Les Halles recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

For the broth:

100g butter
4 brown onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps port wine
2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
4 cups of homemade chicken stock or beef stock (or vegetable)
100 g bacon, cut into cubes
bouquet garni

For the croutons and cheese:

8 baguette croutons
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese 

 For the broth: 

  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until it has melted and begins to brown. Add the onions and cook over medium heat. Keep an eye on the onions so they don’t burn and stir occasionally, until they are soft and browned (for at least 30 minutes)*.
  2. Increase the heat to medium high and add the port wine and the vinegar. Don’t forget to stir in all that brown goodness from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. Add the chicken, beef or vegetable stock.
  3. Add the bacon and the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the bouquet garni before serving.

For the croutons and cheese:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place croutons on a baking tray.
  2. Toast croutons on one side in the an oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the croutons from the oven and turn them over, and sprinkle on the grated cheese.
  4. Return the croutons to the oven, and toast until the cheese has melted.

Add the croutons to the soup and serve immediately.

Serves 4 people.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

100 recipes: Sirloin steak

Best recipe
Sirloin steak with Cafe de Paris sauce – Gustoso

About

Jill Dupleix recommends Damien Pignolet’s recipe for grilled sirlion Cafe de Paris sauce from his French cookbook. It is one of the most popular dishes at Bistro Moncur. You can prepare the Cafe de Paris butter up to a week in advance (or it can be stored in the freezer).

The authentic version of the sauce has 25 ingredients and best made in bulk.

Variations

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100 recipes: Mussels

Best recipe
Moules marinière with cream, garlic and parsley – Rick Stein

About

French: Moules marinières

Moules marinières is mussels cooked with white wine and herbs. It is traditionally from Brittany, France. A few years ago, a survey found that the average French person’s favourite dish was moules marinières.

When purchasing fresh mussels look for ones with firmly shut shells, and pry them open (if needed) with a knife before you serve them.

Julia Child recommends serving mussels with French bread and a light, dry white wine.

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose seafood which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as Blue Mussels, and also a better choice are Green Mussels imported from New Zealand.

For choosing sustainable seafood:

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Variations

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100 recipes: Beef burger

Best recipe
Wagyu burger
– Justin North

About

A good hamburger should be made of quality ingredients.

The first secret of success is to build flavour and moistness into the mixture; the second is to handle it lightly when shaping so that it holds together without compacting.
– Margaret Fulton, Encyclopedia of food and cookery

Variations

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