Roasted Garlic Soup

Roasted Garlic Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 6 bulbs garlic
  • 1-2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 Tbsps butter
  • 1/2 shallot or 1/4 small onion, minced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and cubed
  • 4-5 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 Tbsps brandy
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, crushed into large pieces

Directions


Preheat oven to 350ºC/175ºF Set garlic bulbs in aluminum foil or dish with a cover, drizzle with the olive oil. Place in oven and cook for approximately 1 hour. Allow to cool until early handled. Remove cloves from skin. Melt butter in pot. Add shallots and cook until just softened. Add the potato and garlic, stirring. Add the broth, brandy, wine and tarragon. Bring the soup to a light simmer for 20 minutes. Either blend in pot with a handheld blender, or blend in regular blender in batches, until smooth. Return to pot, add the sour cream and parmesan, stirring in completely. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in bowls, sprinkle the hazelnuts on top and serve.

And now for the details…

Hiya folks. Sorry for the huge delay between posting. I’ve ended up with a relapse of my concussion, and as a result have been trying to limit my screen time to reduce my symptoms. Since I do need to stare at a screen all day for my job, the blogging has taken a bit of a backseat of late. BUT! I think things are starting to turn, so I am going to be spending a bit more time putting together posts. I’ve had plenty of time to cook, so I’ve got a lot of content in backlog! I just need to get the stuff I have written down into posts!

With that, let’s talk about today’s recipe. A roasted garlic soup. This luscious, velvety bowl of deliciousness is so comforting and luxurious-feeling with ultimately fairly inexpensive ingredients (minus the booze and nuts). It plates really nicely too, so you can impress your dinner guests by serving this as a beautiful (and delicious) appetizer. Y’know… when we’re able to have dinner guests again (*silent tears*).

To get this recipe started.. we need to roast the garlic. This part is super simple, just place the garlic in some tin foil (or a covered oven-proof dish if you’re not wanting to use foil), drizzle it with the olive oil, seal the package up, and place it in a 350ºF/175ºC oven. If you want to make it easier to access the garlic later, you can cut tops off to expose the very top of the cloves before drizzling with the olive oil, but I don’t really find it all that easier. Bake the garlic for approximately an hour.

When the garlic is cooked, remove from the oven, open the package up and let the garlic cool until cool enough to handle. Then, remove those delicious little nuggets of roasted cloves from the skin and set them aside.

Next, melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the shallot or onion, and stir until just softened. Add the potato, and stir until the potato is coated with the butter. Next, add the garlic, broth, brandy, wine and tarragon, stirring well. In the recipe I suggest adding a pinch of tarragon. For any cooking beginners, you may ask: how much is a pinch? Well, if you were to reach into your spice jar and pinch a small amount of the spice between your index finger and thumb? That’s about a pinch.

Bring the soup up to a light simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Next is how we get that nice, smooth texture. If you have one, you could use a hand blender to blend the soup right in the pot. I prefer to blend in a blender so the soup is soup-er smooth (yes I did that). If you have a smaller blender, you might have to do this in batches.

Once blended, return the soup to the pot, and add the sour cream and parmesan cheese until fully mixed. Can you use regular cream here? Absolutely. I just didn’t have any and going to get some just doesn’t seem like a necessary trip.

Finally, serve, topping with the hazelnut pieces, a drizzle of olive oil and some parmesan cheese, and serve.

Happy eating.

Instant Pot Tonkotsu Ramen

Instant Pot Ramen

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 pork trotters, split
  • 2 chicken backs
  • 2 leeks, whites only, cut into chunks
  • 2 shallots, cut into chunks
  • 3″ piece of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 baby king oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 600g pork belly, rolled and tied tightly
  • 4 eggs, soft boiled
  • 400g package fresh ramen noodles
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 4 baby bok choy, leaves separated
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 eggs, soft boiled
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsps mirin

Directions

Place pig trotters and chicken backs in pot of boiling water, reduce temperature to simmer. Simmer for a minimum of 10 minutes, skimming off foam as it cooks. Remove trotters and backs, set aside, discard liquid. Pick out any dark or bloody bits from trotters and backs. Place trotters, backs, leeks, shallots, ginger, mushrooms, and pot belly in instant pot. Close pot and cook on “soup/broth” setting for 2.5 hours. Place soy sauce, mirin and 4 Tbsps water in ziplock bag, place eggs in bag, and place in refrigerator, turn occasionally (can be done night before). After 2.5 hours, release pressure and open. Remove belly, wrap tightly in cling film wrap and place in refrigerator. Close back up, set for another 60 minutes. Once done, release pressure, then strain broth and throw out solids. In pot, boil water. Using a small mesh strainer, cook ramen in water until done, remove and strain, and place in bowls. Using same mesh strainer, cook bok choy leaves for 30-60 seconds, strain. Take pork belly from refrigerator, remove cling film and slice thinly. Arrange pork belly, bok choy, corn and green onions in bowl over ramen noodles. Ladle hot broth over other ingredients, top with halved eggs and serve.

And now for the details…

Ramen. Delicious, delicious ramen. Until about a decade ago, I had no idea what real ramen was or could be. Before that, my brain associated the word ramen with Mr. Noodles or Ichiban, and I had no idea that there was so much more that ramen had to offer than instant noodles.

Since then, I have sought out ramen wherever I may roam. My favourite that I have tried so far is from the chain Tenkaippin in Japan. We made return trips to the same restaurant in Kyoto, several years ago. The broth is super flavourful, thick and rich. I have dreams about it even still. This recipe… is not that soup unfortunately. But, it is a nice rich broth that is pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. Cooking for an extended period of time in the Instant Pot is allowing the collagen to release from trotters and chicken backs, providing a thick mouth feel.

Let’s get started. We will start by “cleaning” the pig trotters and chicken backs. Bring a pot to a rolling boil and add the trotters and backs. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes, skimming off any gunky foam off the top. Once that’s done, dump the liquid. Using a fork, knife, or chopstick, we are going to pick at the trotters and back, removing any darkened bits or pieces that obviously have blood. We are doing this to clean out any bloody bits so we have a nice clear broth, rather than a skanky, cloudy, dark broth.

That icky looking foam is what you skim off and dispose of…

Once cleaned, place the trotters and backs in your instant pot. Stack in the leeks, shallots, ginger, and mushrooms. We are also going to roll the pork belly pieces and tie them tight with butchers twine, and place that in the pot with everything else.

Fill the pot with water up to the “MAX” line, and then close the pot, ensuring it is in the “Sealing” position and set for 2.5 hours on the “Soup/Broth” setting.

While the broth is cooking, we’ll set the eggs to marinating. We are making ajitsuke tamago, or seasoned eggs, to add to the ramen later. Mix the soy sauce, mirin, and 4 tablespoons of water in a ziplock bag, and then place your soft boiled eggs inside (need a refresher on how to soft boil an egg? Directions are included in this recipe). Close the ziplock up tight so as little air as possible is left inside, and then place in the fridge. Turn them around after an hour or two so they marinate evenly on all sides.

After 2.5 hours of cooking, release the pressure from the pot, and open ‘er up. Remove the pork belly, then close the pot back up, including resetting to “Sealing” position and set the pot back to “Soup/Broth” setting and cook again for 60 minutes. Wrap the pork belly tightly in cling wrap, and place in the refrigerator. The pork belly is more than cooked by now, and chilling the belly will allow us to cut it nice and thin to place in the bowl later.

Once the broth is done, strain it into a container, and discard any solids. I like using cheese cloth to help with the straining to get rid of any small, gritty bits.

Time to get everything ready. Boil water in a pot, and place the ramen noodles in a wire mesh strainer. Dip the strainer into the pot to cook the noodles, and when done, drain the noodles and place in the bottom of a large bowl.

Using the same strainer and boiling water, cook the bok choy until the leave just turn vibrant green. Place the boy choy, green onions, and corn into the bowl. Remove the pork belly from the fridge, and take out of the cling wrap. Slice the pork belly thinly and place in the ramen bowl.

Finish the soup off by taking the eggs out of the marinating liquid, cutting in half, and placing in the bowl. Ladle the still-hot broth over the soup contents, and serve immediately. Enjoy immediately!

Happy eating.

Tom Yum Kai Soup (Thai Chicken Spicy and Sour Soup)

Tom Yum Kai Soup

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into 5mm (1/4″) thick slices
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2.5cm (1″) piece of galangal or ginger, peeled and sliced into 5mm (1/4″) thick slices
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2cm (3/4″) pieces
  • 2 makrut lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsps fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsps sambal olek
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
  • 8 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges or 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 lime, cut in wedges

Directions

Place the stock and water in a heavy bottomed pot. Heat until it starts to simmer. Add ginger/galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sambal olek, and sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

And now for the details…

When I’m feeling under the weather, or feeling chilled and want something to stoke that internal fire to feel warmed up, this soup is immediately what I crave. It’s got the warm comfort of a chicken soup, with the spicy bite from the sambal olek and ginger, and a tart or sour note thanks to the lime juice, lemongrass and tomatoes.

I have a few ingredients in here that I have noted as optional, as they do add to the flavour of the soup, but are not critical. Especially the makrut lime leaves, which can often be a challenge to find in some western markets. While the additional of the lime leaves adds a certain floral note and emphasizes the citrus notes, it is not hypercritical if you have a hard time tracking them down.

Let’s get to cooking.

Before we go anywhere, get all the ingredients ready to go. Wash, slice, cut and mince everything and have it next to you at the stove, because the time between additions to the soup are relatively short, which is great because it means we get to eating that much faster!

A tip for the lemongrass: tap it up and down its length with the dull side of your knife. This will help to release some of the oils to make your soup that much more fragrant.

A tip for the chicken: if cutting it thinly is a challenge, try placing the piece of chicken breast in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. It will not freeze completely, but will chill up enough that it is easier to handle while you are cutting. Because we are cutting it so thin, this extra chill to the chicken will not result in any extended cook time.

We start everything off by adding the broth and water into a pot and setting them to medium-high heat on the stove. Heat until the liquid starts to simmer, then reduce to just above medium heat.

Next, add the lemongrass, ginger and lime leaves. Before adding the lime leaves, give them a light squish between your hands; this will help release the oils and allow them to impart more flavour.

Cover the pot and let this simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sambal olek and sugar (if you are using the sugar). And allow everything to simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Next, we add the chicken and mushrooms. Yes, I know that the dishwasher will likely sanitize the cutting board and I do not need to be so anal retentive about using multiple boards, but I am just too cautious when it comes to cross contamination.

Let the soup come back up to a simmer, and then cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

Our final addition are the tomatoes. Whether you use a large tomatoes and cut it into wedges, or simply slice up some baby tomatoes, it is really about preference and what you have on hand. Add the tomatoes and stir them in, then simmer everything for another 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the tomatoes have softened slightly.

Serve immediately with chopped cilantro and green onions and enjoy that heart-warming deliciousness!

Happy eating.