Celeriac and apple soup

I like celeriac but I find it incredibly annoying to write about. And it’s not really poor celeriac’s fault. It’s because, try as I might, celeriac is one of those words that I just *can’t* spell.

I’m no spelling bee champion, but I’m a fairly good speller. Despite that, EVERY SINGLE TIME I type celeriac, it comes out as celeraic.

I’m starting to think it’s a conspiracy. I’m spelling it right and everyone else is spelling it wrong. (It’s the only explanation.)


Soup Sunday: Beef and black bean chili

Beef & black bean chili

So this is technically not a soup – it’s a stew – but I figured that soup and stew are so similar that it could still count for Soup Sunday.

I was actually looking to buy puy lentils when I came across dried black beans. They don’t seem to be very common here (I could be wrong but it was the first time I’d seen them) so I left the lentils behind and picked up a bag of black beans instead. I knew immediately what I wanted to make with them – chili!

Now apparently chili purists have a saying – “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans.” So my chili is in no way authentic, but it was super tasty! The beans are so hearty and rich that it would be a shame to leave them out.

Beef & black bean chili

Beef and black bean chili

Makes a massive pot

500g dried black beans, soaked overnight
900g beef shin
6 tablespoons flour
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper (use less if you don’t like things too spicy!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons chilli powder
Olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery sticks, diced
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
800g canned tomatoes
Salt + pepper + sugar if necessary
Juice of a lemon/lime

Drain and rinse the black beans. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Toss the meat in the flour mixture to cover. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the meat in batches until brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In a large pot, heat another splash of oil on medium heat, and add the onions. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook for five minutes. Add the garlic and any left over flour mixture and cook for another minute.

Cut the beef into 2cm chunks and add to the vegetable mixture. Add the drained black beans, the canned tomatoes (crush them if you’re using whole ones), and enough water to cover.

Let it come up to the boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Cook until beans are soft, stirring occasionally, this will probably take an hour or two (I did it in my magic pot so I don’t know exactly how long).

When the beans are soft, season to taste with salt and pepper (and a teaspoon or so of sugar if necessary). Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon/lime juice.

Serve with sour cream and japalenos. I like to have a bit of crunchy salad with mine so I topped it with shredded cabbage and lettuce.

French onion soup

Welcome to the Super Duper Long Weekend Edition of Soup Sunday! Since we had a long weekend, I decided to do a soup that was a bit more special than my “dump stuff in a pot” usuals.

I started by making beef stock the day before, roasting bones and vegetables before letting them simmer together for hours. In hindsight, I should’ve doubled the amount of bones (I had just over a kilo) for a more meaty flavour.

French onion soup

Sunday was spent knee deep in onions. I ended up peeling, slicing and cooking 3 kilos of onions. Yes, 3 fricken kilos. (Actually, Bro helped me peel some of the onions. Peeling onions is a pain in the arse!) I had to drag out my biggest pot to start softening all the onions – a pot that mum and dad brought us when they were last over. I don’t know what other parents buy for their children, but my parents give us pots (on a previous visit we received the magic pot).

I followed
a recipe on the Gourmet Traveller website (although I made 1 & 1/2 times the quantity). After the onions had spent the first twenty minutes in the pot with the lid on, the heat was turned down low and I let them cook for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

French onion soup

After the long cooking, the onions had collapsed into a much smaller pile, and were soft, sweet and golden. I added the stock and herbs and let it simmer for another 30-40 minutes and it was finally ready! It had only taken all afternoon.

My patience was rewarded though, it was a pretty good soup. My only complaint was that I had let it simmer down too much and I thought the soup was too thick. And I’m not sure I would make it again, it really does take a long time!

Apple Sponge Pudding

We had invited Benisa over to partake in Soup Sunday, and naturally I had to serve them dessert. I opted for apple sponge pudding.

Apple Sponge Pudding

Instead of doing one big pudding, I baked it in individual ramekins. When I portioned out the pudding batter amongst the ramekins, I realised that I didn’t have enough so ended up doubling the amount of batter. Looking back, I would skip the mixed spice in the batter, and just use cinnamon. And if I’m being picky, the sponge turned out a bit firm – I may have overbaked it.

Nevertheless, if you ignore my nitpicking, it was another successful edition of Soup Sunday. The only question now is, what’s coming up this week…?


French onion soup from Gourmet Traveller

Apple sponge pudding from

Curried pumpkin and kumara soup + onion focaccia

Pumpkin & kumara soup + onion focaccia

Gosh, I’m running a bit late with the Soup Sunday post – it’s almost Sunday again! (And I have a super duper long weekend edition planned. Oh my!). The soup for this Sunday helped me use up bits and pieces – one of the reasons I love making soup! I had a few kumara (sweet potatoes), half a pumpkin, a couple of carrots and a leek. Not much by themselves, but all together they were a pot of orange goodness.

Into the pot went the sliced leek, a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, three diced kumara, the diced pumpkin half and two diced carrots. After they softened in a glug of oil for several minutes, I added enough water to just cover the vegetables. I let it simmer until soft, blended it up with the stick blender, and then seasoned with salt and pepper plus a smidge of curry powder (I love curry and pumpkin together).

The end result was pretty much pumpkin soup, but the kumara did add a touch more sweetness than usual.

Pumpkin & kumara soup + onion focaccia

I also made an onion focaccia that evening using a recipe from my baking bible, Australian Women’s Weekly “Bake”. The focaccia was great! I let my mixer do the kneading so all I really had to do was throw the ingredients in the bowl and slice the onions. I’ll definitely use this recipe again as a base and try some different variations.

Onion focaccia

From Australia Women’s Weekly “Bake”

2 & 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
2 teaspoons (7g) dried yeast
1/2 cup (20g) finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons coarsley chopped fresh sage
3 teaspoons sea salt flake
1 cup (250ml) warm water
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 small white onion (80g) sliced thinly

Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the yeast, cheese, sage and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Gradually stir in the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Knead for about 10 minutes until the oil is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough on an oiled tray and press into a 24cm circle. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let it stand in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Combine the onion, remaining salt and remaining oil in a bowl. After the dough has finished rising, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the top with the onion mixture.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Spicy bean soup (aka soupy nachos)

Brrr! The cool weather here is quickly turning into cold weather – and I am not happy! I miss summer already. I’m a summer person. I love the heat (yes, I don’t even mind the 40 degree scorchers), the long days, warm nights, eating outside, and the summer fruits and vegetables. But despite the fact that I miss summer, I must admit that there are some good things about autumn and winter. Food during the colder months is a tad more interesting – such as soups, stews and casseroles. And while I miss mangoes, berries, cherries and lychees (my favourite summer fruits), other fruits keep me happy during the dreary, grey months – granny smith apples, crunchy pears and persimmons.

Spicy bean soup

The other evening I felt like a spicy, warming meal and immediately thought that soup would be a good idea. I decided that I wanted a spicy bean soup, and quickly found a recipe on the internet that I adapted to our tastes.

The soup was exactly what I felt like eating and the house felt warm and cozy with a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove. The cumin seeds gave the soup an aromatic, nutty, peppery flavour, and my Bro remarked that with the crisped flat bread and sour cream on top, it was like eating soupy nachos!

Spicy bean soup

Spicy bean soup (aka soupy nachos)

Adapted from BBC – Food

Serves 4

Olive oil
2 sticks of celery
2 medium carrots
2 medium onions
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
750g can kidney beans, rinsed
800g can whole tomatoes
boiling water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 dried bay leaf
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt & pepper

To garnish:
2 pieces of Lebanese flat bread/pita bread
Sour cream
Spring onions

Roughly chop the onion, celery and carrots. Peel and chop the garlic.

Heat the oil over a low heat in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cumin seed.

Place the lid on the pot and sweat, covered, on a low heat, for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are juicy and tender.

Add the rinsed beans, canned tomatoes and enough water to cover the mixture. Stir in the tomato paste, and add the bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 30-60 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly spray the flat bread with olive oil and bake in the oven until toasted and crispy. Remove from the oven and break into small pieces.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a handful of crisp bread, sour cream, diced jalapenos, sour cream and spring onions.

Carrot & Lentil soup

Carrot and Lentil Soup

This soup was a failed attempt to make pumpkin soup. I started the soup off by sweating some onions and garlic, only to cut into my pumpkin and find that it was rotten! I had bought it a couple of weeks earlier and it had been sitting on my bench too long. Gak.

Damn! I had been looking forward to a big bowl of soup and had even bought some nice bread especially for it. Then I remembered a recipe I had seen in the Women’s Weekly Great Vegetarian Food cookbook that I had borrowed from the library. I had noted this recipe because I’m always looking for new ways to cook lentils (which I love).

On to Plan B: I salvaged my onions and garlic and turned them into this carrot and lentil soup instead. I didn’t have any celery or buttermilk so I left them out. Nor did I put in a full kilo of carrots. The next time I make it I’ll make sure I put in more than a kilo of carrots for a more intense carrot flavour as mine didn’t taste very carroty. So, one rotten pumpkin and almost a kilo of carrots later, I had this beautiful looking soup.

Carrot and Lentil Soup

Adapted from the Women’s Weekly Great Vegetarian Food cookbook.

1.125 litres (4 & 1/2 cups) vegetable stock
2 large brown onions (400g), chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6 large carrots (1 kg), chopped coarsely
2 trimmed sticks celery (150 g), chopped coarsely
2 cup (500 ml) water
1/2 cup (1oog) brown lentils
1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk

1: Heat 1/2 cup stock in large saucepan; cook onion, half of the garlic and cumin, stirring, until onion softens. Add carrot and celery; cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

2: Add remaining stock and the water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until carrot softens.

3: Blend or process soup, in batches, until smooth; return soup to pan. Add lentils; simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.

4: Stir buttermilk into hot soup and serve.