French Onion Soup

French Onion SoupBeing heavily pregnant & almost ready to pop – I have been advised by many people to stock up my freezer. So this is me making a start! But this intensely delicious French Onion Soup has a unique KitchenMason twist…

Traditionally made with beef stock, I opt for chicken stock as I personally think it gives a more rounded & delicate flavour. Why don’t you be the judge and give it a go yourself?

Here is what you will need to make 6 Servings. (Approx 2 litres.)

For the Soup

  • 50g Butter
  • 750g Onions (approx 850-900g before peeling & slicing)
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves
  • 45g Plain Flour
  • 187ml Bottle of White Wine
  • 2 litres Chicken Stock (Good Quality)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper

To Serve (Optional)

  • Slices of Stale Baguette
  • Cheddar Cheese, grated

Essential Equipment

  • Large lidded pot

Firstly, prep your veg. I honestly couldn’t be bothered to stand and slice all those onions – the solution? Get out your food processor with the slicing disc attachment & use that. It saves masses of time and effort.

So peel & finely slice all those onions and finely chop the garlic.

Take your large pot & place over a medium heat.

Add in the butter. When melted, tip in all the onions and give it a stir.

French Onion SoupContinue to cook for approx 25-35 minutes whilst stirring occasionally. You want to get a nice golden brown colour – try not to be impatient and give in early. Also, don’t worry too much if it catches on the bottom of the pan, it’s all adding caramelisation & flavour!

French Onion SoupOnce the onions are done, add in the garlic & flour and stir continuously for about 2 minutes.

French Onion SoupAdd in the white wine and stir for about a minute until most of it has been absorbed.

French Onion Soup-4Gradually add in the stock then bring it all to the boil.

Add in the bay leaves, thyme sprigs & a generous helping of salt & pepper. Stir it all up, pop the lid on and simmer for about 25 minutes.

French Onion SoupWhen the timer has beeped – remove the lid and fish out the bay leaves & thyme sprigs.

French Onion SoupIf saving for later, allow to cool completely before dividing into bags/tubs and freezing.

If you want to serve straight away – preheat your grill.

Slice up an old, stale baguette and grate some cheese. Divide the soup between oven proof bowls, place 1-2 slices of baguette in each bowl and cover with grated cheese.

Place under the grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

French Onion SoupI absolutely adore this soup! There’s just something so much more special about the flavour when you use chicken stock instead of beef. I often find with the traditional recipe, there’s a rich ‘twang’ that I don’t enjoy but with this version? It’s just heavenly! And let’s be honest – everything is better with melted cheese 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

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Tomato Soup with a Hint of Basil

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilNow, it may seem a little early for a soup recipe but in actual fact, it’s the perfect time of year to get started! With all the beautiful late summer veg in the gardens, it’s exactly the right time to start stocking your freezer ready for Autumn & Winter.

My lovely Gran is a very keen gardener. Every year she surprises me with how much she gets out of her garden! Recently, she’s had a lot of tomatoes ripening very quickly that she needs to get eaten. I thought I would help her out and turn all those beauties into a delicious soup for the both of us to enjoy.

Here is what you will need to make approx 6 portions.

  • 1kg – 1.25kg Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery Stick
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Tomato Purée
  • Generous pinch of Sugar
  • 2 Bay Leaves, each torn in half
  • 3 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1.2 litres Vegetable Stock *
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Basil

*I used 4 x Knorr Vegetable Stock Pots dissolved in 1.2 litres of boiling water.

Essential Equipment

  • Large pot with a Lid
  • Stick Blender or Food Processor

First thing’s first, you need to prepare your veg.

I removed the skins from my tomatoes. It’s totally optional but actually quite simple to do.

Simply fill a jug or bowl with boiling water and submerge your tomatoes for 30 secs or so. You should actually start to see some of the skins splitting.

Then, using a spoon – remove the tomatoes from the water and simply peel the skins straight off.

Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupBeing very careful, as they will be a little slippy, quarter the tomatoes and remove any hard bits of core.

Tomato SoupNow, peel & chop the onion, carrot & celery stick so they are all approx the same size.

Place the large pot over a low heat & add in the olive oil.

When you can feel the pan getting hot, add in the onion, carrot & celery. Give it a mix then cook over the low heat for about 10 mins until just starting to colour and soften.

Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupAdd in the tomato purée, the sugar, bay leaves & the dried basil. Give it all a good mix to ensure it’s all blended well.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilTip in the tomatoes and mix it all together.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilPop the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 10 mins. Once or twice, give the pan a little shake to keep it all well mixed.

 

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilNext up, add in the vegetable stock and give it a really good stir.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilThen pop that lid back on and simmer over the low heat for 25 mins. Give the pan a good shake a couple of times during cooking.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilGive it a nice mix then find and remove the bay leaves.

Pull all the leaves from the bunch of basil and add them into the pot.

Then, whether it’s using a stick blender or a food processor, get blitzing until it’s all nice and smooth.

WARNING do take care if the soup is still very hot and never over fill your food processor as it has a tendency to explode!

I’ve recently obtained the new Stellar Cookware Stick Blender and  it’s absolutely fabulous!

Stellar Stick Blender

It breaks down into 2 parts for easy washing and storage and has a very comfortable & ergonomic grip. It’s also incredibly versatile with it’s settings – having a dial at the top to adjust the power and a turbo button when you need a little extra oomph.

Stellar Stick Blender

And it made mincemeat of this soup! Definitely a lot easier than making a huge mess trying to pour it all into a food processor. My days of that are now well and truly over!

Tomato Soup with a Hint of Basil - Stellar Stick Blender

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilLast thing to do is give the soup another stir and have a taste. Add more salt & pepper if you think it needs it.

Then either, eat it now or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Alternatively you could allow to cool completely then pour into ‘pour and store’ bags and place in the freezer ready for those colder nights.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilThere’s just something about tomato soup. It’s always been my favourite, ever since I was a little girl. I have tried to be more adventurous and try different soup flavours but I always come back to tomato! A definite winner in my book.

What would be lovely is if you served this with a little cream swirled through to add a bit of richness. And a good chunk of crusty bread with lashings of butter smeared all over it! Aaaahh, I can foresee nights by the fire with a bowl of this deliciousness in the near future. Autumn is coming… get your freezer prepared!

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies.

Miss KitchenMason

Honeyed Carrot Soup

Honeyed Carrot SoupAlthough spring is just around the corner, there’s still a definite chill in the air and I’m in need of some good old fashioned comfort food! This delicious home made soup has been a favourite of mine for a very long time. Yet for some completely bizarre reason, I’ve neglected to share it with you lovely lot! What a travesty! Today, I plan to rectify this mistake.

This recipe makes about 6 servings. (Approx 400ml each.) It also freezes very well so is worth while making a batch and saving some for those lazy days. Brucey bonus? It’s naturally gluten free!

(Recipe adapted from the BBC Good Food website.)

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 Small Leeks, roughly sliced
  • 800g Carrots, peeled & roughly sliced
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • Pinch Chilli Flakes
  • 2 Bay Leafs
  • 1.8 – 2 litres Good Quality Vegetable Stock
  • Soured Cream to serve

Firstly, melt the butter in a very large saucepan over a medium heat and add in the leeks.

Honeyed Carrot SoupSweat for approx 4-5 minutes until softened.

Honeyed Carrot SoupNow add in the carrots, honey, chilli flakes and bay leaves.

Honeyed Carrot SoupCook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes…

Honeyed Carrot SoupThen add in the vegetable stock. (I used 4 x Knorr stock pots dissolved in boiling water.)

NOTE: If you like your soup thicker, use 1.8 litres. If you like it a little runnier, use 2 litres.

Honeyed Carrot SoupBring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Honeyed Carrot SoupVery important… Remove the bay leaves! Then all that is left to do is blitz it all up (in batches) in a food processor.

Once you’ve done that, return it all to the pan and give it a good stir. Have a taste and season with salt & pepper as needed.

Honeyed Carrot SoupAt this point you can heat it up again and serve with a big swirl of fresh sour cream. Or, like me, pour individual portions into Pour & Store Bags & freeze for a later date. Then when you do want it, simply take out the freezer the night before and allow to defrost in the fridge. If you are really pushed for time, tip the block of frozen soup into a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat. It will slowly melt and then heat up. But do keep an eye on it as the melted soup may start boiling before the block has completely melted, resulting in some spitting!

Honeyed Carrot SoupAnd there you go, a wonderful and healthy home made soup to warm your cockles! The blend of flavours is just lovely. First you get the sweetness from the carrots and honey, then a little kick from the chilli flakes… and the sour cream just brings it all together. Absolutely delightful! This has been and will remain one of my all time favourite soup flavours. Nothing in the world can replace that warm, comforting feeling you get from a good bowl of home made soup. Perfection!

I hope you enjoyed the post lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Mine & Dad’s “Posh Nosh” Dinner!

Every now and then, me and my Dad get together and plan a fancy 3 course dinner for us, the Mr & my Mum. (Our first ever attempt at this can be found on the My Food Story page.)

This time around we decided on the following menu.

Starter

Lettuce Soup with Home Made Bread

Main

Chicken with Wild Mushroom Risotto on a bed of Greens

Dessert

Vanilla & Dark Rum Panna Cotta with Mangoes & Lychees

To be completely honest, it would take you hours to read if I shared all the recipes with you! So below are the recipes for the starter and dessert. If you would like the recipe for the main course – treat yourself to the fabulous John Campbell’s book – Formulas for Flavour: How to Cook Restaurant Dishes at Home. Having attained Michelin Stars left right & centre throughout his career – believe me he knows what he is talking about! I can honestly say that I have never cooked anything in my kitchen more tasty than the recipes I have tried from his book. And I’m sure my Dad will agree!

STARTER

Anyway! Enough of my babbling – here is what you will need to make enough Lettuce Soup for 4 people. (Recipe is from Michel Roux Jr’s Cooking with The Master Chef.)

  • 100g Dark Outer Lettuce Leaves (I used little gem)
  • 1tbsp Butter
  • 300g Potatoes Peeled & Diced
  • 200g Ripe Tomatoes Quartered
  • 1.4 Litres of Boiling Water
  • Salt & Pepper

To Decorate:

  • 8 x thin strips of Lettuce leaves (2 per serving)
  • 1 x Ripe Tomato Seeds Removed & Diced
  • Crème Fraîche

My word of advice with this is don’t skip on the decoration! The crème fraîche really adds to the flavour, the lettuce adds a surprisingly lovely crunch and the tomatoes add a delicious sweetness. I think it would be a little bland without them.

First up, slice the very bottoms of the lettuce leaves off (the parts that tend to be a little brown near the root) and tear the rest into smallish pieces. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the leaves for a few minutes.

Sweating the LettuceAdd the diced potatoes & the quartered tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.

Making the Base for the SoupAdd in the boiling water, bring to the boil then gently simmer for about 20 minutes. Or until the potatoes are cooked.

Nearly There!Season to taste with salt & pepper then blend until smooth in a food processor or with a hand blender.

Pass through a fine sieve if you like. (I did as it gets rid of the tomato seeds)

Serve hot or cold and decorate each serving with 2 slices of little gem, a good dollop of crème fraîche and some diced tomatoes.

Lettuce SoupAs simple and boring as “Lettuce Soup” sounds, it’s actually quite delicious! It’s a very easy starter to make and very light too – so great if you have quite a heavy/rich main course like we did.

MAIN COURSE

A little bit about the main course before we move onto the dessert. There are so many components to this dish but each one adds a beautiful delicate flavour that just couldn’t be replaced! It is chicken with spinach/lemon butter smeared under the skin then stuffed with garlic, lemon & thyme. Teamed up with a risotto comprising of wine, mixed wild mushrooms, parmesan and chives. All this is laid on a bed of asparagus spears, cabbage & confit onions and topped with a leek cream & a truffle dressing.

Chicken with Wild Mushroom RisottoGranted – me and my Dad are a bit pants at restaurant presentation but to be honest, it tasted so good that neither of us really cared haha! If you ever want a go at cooking restaurant style dishes at home then I strongly recommend getting the book mentioned above. I have never been disappointed with a recipe I’ve made from it and with what you learn from each process/component – I find myself applying to lots of other things I make in my kitchen!

DESSERT

This is a dessert I have been wanting to try for quite some time. Panna Cotta is a dessert that is reasonably small, light and lovely after a rich main course. I spied this recipe on the Michel Roux Jr iPhone App and thought with the fresh fruits it sounded delightfully refreshing! It’s also a naturally gluten free recipe, bonus! So here is what you will need to serve 4 people.

  • 1.5 Leaves of Gelatine
  • 300ml Double Cream
  • 1 Vanilla Pod
  • 50g Castor Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Dark Rum
  • 1 Ripe Mango
  • 12 Lychees (Preferably fresh)
  • 2 tbsp Cane Syrup
  • 1 Lime (Zest of half/Juice of 1)
  • 6 Basil Leaves
  • 6 Mint Leaves

Equipment

  • 4 x Ramekins/Moulds or Glasses approx 5cm diameter x 4cm tall

Soften the gelatine leaves in iced cold water then gently squeeze out the excess water.

Quickly bring the cream, vanilla pod (split with the seeds scraped) and castor sugar to the boil – make sure to stir so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

Immediately remove from the heat and stir in both the gelatine and the rum.

Leave to one side to cool – stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. When cold (but not set) pour equal portions into each glass then place in the fridge to set for about 6 hours.

For the fruit – peel and stone the mango and lychees then cut into cubes. Place them in a bowl along with the cane syrup, zest of half a lime & the juice of 1 lime.

When you are ready to serve – put the moulds in hot water for bout 5 seconds then carefully run a knife around to release them.

Thinly slice the basil & mint.

Lastly, Surround the panna cotta in the fruits and scatter with the basil and mint. If you like, drizzle some of the fruit juices over the top.

Vanilla & Rum Panna Cotta with Mangoes & LycheesI’ll be honest there were several things that worried me about this recipe. Firstly- the rum. I’m not a fan of boozy puds but actually – it was a very subtle undertone that worked really well with the zesty fruits! Pleasantly surprised. Secondly, whether the panna cotta would actually set. I have seen it happen on numerous cooking competition programmes where it has not set properly and just looks like a blob of mess on the plate! The proportions of liquid to gelatine seemed to work just right with this recipe though so I was chuffed about that! And Thirdly – the idea of putting basil on a pudding. This terrified me more than anything else to be honest. My mind just couldn’t grasp the idea of using what is usually a savoury herb with a sweet dessert. Biggest surprise on the whole thing!! You could actually smell that it was going to be good when you were slicing the basil together with the mint. I don’t know why or how it works but it just… does! All in all I was incredibly surprised how much I enjoyed this dessert – as did my Dad and guests. Win!

I always throughly enjoy cooking with my Dad so a big shout out to him! Couldn’t have done it without you : )

BUT – I do need to say a HUGE thank you to my Mum and the Mr who nominated themselves to wash all the pots and clear the mess that me and my Dad created! (And I don’t mind telling you that it was bad… I mean really bad!)

Anyway my lovelies, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and I wish you all the very best for the New Year!

Miss KitchenMason