Good Saturday morning to all!
Well, as I have said before and I’ll say again, Saturdays here in Trinidad and Tobago represent soups- in fact, maybe I’ll start calling Saturday ‘Soupaday’!
So, good ‘Soupaday’ morning to all!
Today I am posting about a soup I made and tested on Tuesday that I’m making again today. My husband and little one so enjoyed this simple, rustic, hearty chicken & vegetable soup that I’m compelled to re-test the recipe and share it. I am certain this one is going to warm up those colder nights or heat up those hot ones!
To start with, I used roasted vegetables- essentially all of the vegetables in my fridge at the time got pulled and used in this soup. There are a few that I would, only because of my own personal taste preferences, not roast. Mushrooms for one, I’ve never really enjoyed roasted and prefer them raw, sautéed or cooked some other way, aside from roasted.
Ground provisions are best for this recipe and chicken breasts prove to be not only the healthiest option, but also the tastiest. You can substitute chicken for pork or beef and for a vegetarian or vegan option just omit the chicken bouillon cubes (use garlic/onion/vegetable cubes) and leave out the milk at the end.
This recipe calls for homemade chicken stock (recipe follows) and roasted vegetables. You can use good store bought chicken stock or vegetable stock if you prefer. The best vegetables to use are those that intensify and sweeten upon roasting- ground provisions are best as well as left over roasted vegetables from the day before. Dumplings can also be added and a split pea base can be used as an alternative to my pumpkin soup base- but this is a nice, lower calorie option to the traditional local sancoche(sancoach).
1 large sweet potato, peeled
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
1 large red onion, peeled
1 lb pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat oven at 450F for 15 minutes before roasting vegetables. Peel potatoes, sweet potato, onion and carrot. Cut potato, sweet potato and pumpkin into large chunks roughly the same size. Cut carrots into half at cross-section and into large sticks about 1 inch thick. Place all cut vegetables into roasting pan/tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Toss to distribute. Roast at 400F for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft, but still slightly firm. Use all of the roasted pumpkin and toss into stock (recipe below). For the other roasted vegetables, divide into two- half will go into the stock and the other half will be cut into smaller chunks for the soup towards the end of cooking.
Homemade chicken stock
Now, I know that the best chefs and recipe books lend a lot of importance to stocks and I really do agree. I see the value of having a tasty, full bodied stock as a huge asset to any meal, soups included. I also know that there will be some out there who would scoff at the use of bouillon cubes in a stock, but in the end, for things like soup I just prefer to use them. Of course, ultimately it is your choice and you can definitely omit them.
1 whole chicken breast
3 stalks celery, washed and leaves included
1 large carrot, peeled and left whole
1 large yellow/white onion, peeled and left whole
6-8 cups water
1/2 cup scallions/chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Wash the chicken breast with water and lime/lemon if you desire. Season with salt and pepper. Place seasoned chicken and bouillon cubes in a stock pot with 6-8 cups of water (depending on how much soup you desire). Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a simmer. After about 20 minutes, add whole carrot, celery and onion. Leave to simmer for a further 20 minutes so that the aromatics can be infused. Remove chicken and let stock simmer for a further hour. You should get a clear, flavorful broth. Strain vegetables and reserve broth for soup.
Putting it all together
Add the 5-10 peeled cloves of roasted garlic to the broth along with the following optional ingredients.
1/2 cup whole/evaporated milk/ heavy cream
Parsley, finely chopped
1 can butter beans(drained and rinsed)
Chop or dice the chicken into bite size pieces. With the roasted vegetables reserve half for the soup broth and half as chunky vegetables for the soup. Use all of the pumpkin roasted. Place half the roasted vegetables in the broth, bring to a boil. When very soft use a hand blender to pulse the vegetables and combine it with the broth. The soup should be a smooth with the vegetables well infused about 25 minutes at a low heat. The remaining diced vegetables and diced chicken as well as 1/2 cup of evaporated/whole milk can be added into the soup about 15 minutes before serving.
Serving size ~ 4 persons
Suggestions ~ Serve hot with a touch of creme fraiche and toasted croutons. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and add a dash of chili flakes or pepper sauce for an extra bite.
Today is Saturday here in sunny Trinidad, the sunny blistering hot and the breezes cool. Saturdays are for soup. Traditionally, all across Trinidad and Tobago people are either making or buying soup, either way, we’re eating soup! Normally it’s sancoche (pr.sancoach)– split pea soup with ground provisions, some sort of meat and a variety of herbs and spices- today in our house it’s fennel pumpkin soup with ciabatta parmesan crostini!
I came up with the recipe while thinking about the fennel I had sitting in my fridge for the last week! I know, it’s terrible, but I never used fennel before and I think I felt just a tad bit intimidated? I bought the fennel at Gourmet Genie in San Fernando, check back soon to see a review.
Anyway, I broke off a small piece and tasted it raw and decided to use it in pumpkin soup. Now, I love pumpkin soup. I make it at least once a month if not twice. My mother taught me how to make pumpkin soup when I was around 19 years old and I’ve loved it and made it ever since. It’s simple yet satisfying and many ingredients can be added to it to make it more complex or filling.
This is a very easy, quick recipe- come on, Saturdays are for liming, nobody wants to stand around in a hot kitchen all day long cooking!
Fennel pumpkin soup
1 fennel bulb thinly sliced, reserve a few fronds for garnish
3 cloves garlic sliced thinly
1 sweet potato roughly cut into large pieces
1 lb fresh pumpkin roughly chopped into large pieces
10 cups boiled, hot water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 bunches of fresh parsley, finely chopped
7 chive stalks
2 chadon beni leaves, finely chopped
2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 Tsp saffron powder
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a large stock pot heat olive oil at high heat, add fennel and garlic until fennel is properly sweated. Then add sweet potato and pumpkin chunks. Cook these for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 10 cups of hot water, chives, 1/2 of chopped parsley, saffron powder and bouillon cubes. Bring all to a roaring boil. Simmer when all vegetables are soft and tender. Taste for seasoning adding salt and black pepper if desired. Add red pepper flakes. Pulse with electric hand blender or swizzle stick until all vegetables are soft and soup becomes smooth. Leave to simmer for and additional 15 minutes so that soup can acquire a full flavor. In the meantime you can prepare crostini. When the flavor is full enough, add in 2 cups of whole evaporated milk and stir. Off heat. Add chopped chadon beni(these are always best added at the end of dish preparation so that its flavor can be bolder).
Ciabatta parmesan crostini
Ciabatta bread cut into 1/2-1 inch thick slices (see photos)
Olive oil for drizzling
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper
Parmesan cheese, julienned.
Preheat oven at 450F. Place ciabatta slices on baking trap and assemble julienned parmesan and parsley on top. Drizzle good extra virgin olive oil,(I use a red pepper infused olive oil, but this isn’t necessary) salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 minutes until the ciabatta becomes toasted and crispy and the cheese melts.
Serve soup hot with crostini immersed or at the side.
Serving~ 4 persons
Suggestion ~ Top with heavy cream or grated parmesan for that extra flair or use low fat evaporated milk as a substitute for a healthier alternative. Try Caprese salad crostini or garlic croutons as an alternative. Enjoy with a crisp glass of Chardonay or white zinfandel.