English Pea Chilled Coconut Cream Soup with Lemongrass & Mint – A Singapore Gal Dinner Party

It’s been a while since I made a soup for anyone.

For the last month I was visiting Singapore and had full intentions of cooking there, but the food options eating out were quite tempting and buying food at the grocery stores seemed a bit of a challenge and more expensive than eating out.

But finally on my last evening…I decided to do a special Singapore gal dinner. I was dog/house sitting for a super nice gal named Jennifer (and her husband Neil – but I never had a chance to meet him in person). Jennifer and I had one night overlap to visit and catch up and she invited her long lost friend from high school in Capetown, her name was Flora.

Jennifer on the left and Flora on the right….good times cooking for these gals!

Above is my morning walk everyday while in SIngapore with the adorable Benson boy…he was such a treat to look after!

Great food, wine and laughs was in store for the evening! It was a great pleasure to meet Flora and see her and Jennifer catch up over many years. We did have a few laughs reminiscing the 80’s as well since we were close to the same age. Good times.

For the menu we started with this soup and then I served up grilled caesar salad with fresh anchovies, mushroom risotto with truffle salt (that I never leave home without) and avocado chocolate mouse that doesn’t go to your hips.

The Verdict of English Pea Chilled Coconut Cream Soup with Lemongrass & Mint:

The reason why I decided on a pea soup is that the last pea soup I made and blogged about was so good and I saw this recipe, which had coconut milk and lemongrass. It just seemed relevant as I was in Southeast Asia. Lemongrass will be nice and fresh! I like this soup as much and a tad more than the other pea soup I made, because I LOVE the freshness of lemongrass!

Would I change anything about the recipe in the future? Nope, nothing, but I would double the recipe just so that I would have left-overs the next day! Also, I’m thinking this would be a super fantastic tasting puree (with less stock, of course) to serve under some beautiful grilled BC halibut!

English Pea Chilled Coconut Cream Soup with Lemongrass & Mint Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ⅓ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 – 1/2 tablespoon lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 cup / 8 oz. English peas, fresh
  • 1 cup / 8 oz. English peas, frozen
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • Lemon zest, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

English Pea Chilled Coconut Cream Soup with Lemongrass & Mint Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in pot.
  2. Add onion and garlic to pot and sauté.
  3. Add fresh peas and sauté for few minutes.
  4. Reserve a small amount of peas, onion and garlic for garnish (about 2 tablespoons) on a plate
  5. Add in frozen peas to pot and sauté for 2 more minutes.
  6. Soak cubes in 2 cups of boiling water to dissolve
  7. Add in a cup of veggie stock and bring to boil
  8. Lower heat, add in lemongrass and coconut milk simmer for 10 minutes
  9. Add salt to your liking.
  10. In a blender, add the soup and the chopped mint. Blend until nice and smooth.
  11. Chill soup for at least an hour in fridge.
  12. To serve, pour 4 oz. cold soup into a bowl or pretty bowl
  13. Top each serving with reserved peas/onion/garlic with some lemon zest and a swirl of coconut cream

The following recipe inspired me to make this soup: http://www.hallwines.com/english-peas-fava-bean-recipe

What I Changed From The Original Recipe:

  • Served the soup cold and not hot.
  • Didn’t use fava beans, just used peas (half fresh and half frozen).
  • Used coconut cream instead of coconut milk and more of it.
  • Used about 1-1/2 tablespoon of finely chopped lemon grass (not sure what the original recipe meant by small stalk (that can be relative)
  • Used yellow onion instead of shallots.
  • Did not use any flour, I think the soup was thick enough. I really prefer not adding gluten to a nice soup.
  • Used about 2 cups of veggie stock, it sounds like the original recipe may have been very thick unless they forgot to mention adding water.
  • Added garlic clove
Here’s a pic of our chocolate Avacado Mousse… a great dessert to make!
Get a similar recipe here (I didn’t use the chocolate chunks and I substiutted almond milk for coconut cream, and I made cashew brittle for the garnish with a swirl of coconut cream):
Soup Mistress Rating for English Pea Chilled Coconut Cream Soup with Lemongrass & Mint:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.80/5) 

Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup

Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup

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Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup

It is a wonderful time of year when you see fresh peas! Yesterday was my second time back in a week at the supermarket to get myself a big bag of peas, but this time it is to make a Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup!

The Verdict of Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup:

Since it is so hot outside, I fancied making a cold summertime soup. I have to admit, this soup was very tasty before I put it in the fridge to cool, but was unbelievably refreshing and yummy once it was chilled. You can have it either way and you won’t be disappointed.

When I researched on the web for pea soups, most recipes called for rich creams. I don’t think you need cream especially if you use a Vitamix as it makes any soup creamy with the killer smooth blending. I did though use a dollop of my homemade cashew cream. Also instead of pureeing all the soup, I made sure that I reserved a few spoonfuls of the fresh peas and leeks before blending and used them for a wonderful garnish.

This soup was probably the easiet and fastest soups to make outside of shelling the peas out of the pods.

There is no doubt that I will make this soup again a few times before the end of the summer if I keep on seeing those pretty little pods at the market!

Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups leek, chopped fine (white and light green parts)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 5 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 5 pounds pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • 2/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • Handful of hopped fresh chives

Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup Instructions:

Heat  butter over medium heat. Add onion and leeks and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add peas, reduce heat, and simmer gently about 5 minutes (less is you are using frozen peas). Reserve about 4 teaspoons of peas/leeks for your garnish.

Remove pot from heat. add mint, and remaining 1 cut broth to pot. Purée soup in a blender until smooth. Add some more water if soup is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Chill soup in fridge for at least an hour.  Ladle soup in bowls and top with reserved peas/leeks, chives, and dollop of cashew cream. Enjoy!

The following recipes inspired me to make this soup are here:

For our dinner, we paired this soup with some tofu walnut lettuce wraps with homemade hoisin sauce, some fine red wine and pear cashew cream phyllo pastry with blackberry coulis. A delightful party for the tastebuds and all pretty healthy!!

Soup Mistress Rating for Summertime Chilled Fresh Pea and Mint Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Thai Curry Soup With Silver Sillago Fish For Brave Hearts Only!

Just the other day I went back to a restaurant called Salaloy in Rawai Beach, Phuket, Thailand. On my previous visit, I noticed that they had some very interesting soups on their menu and I was up for an adventurous meal this time.

The soup that got my attention was the Curry Soup with Silver Sillago Fish and Vegetables (for 150 Baht or about $5 Canadian). I never tasted nor heard of Sillago fish and wanted to try something local and fresh. They first looked like sardines on the menu pics but they were a tad bigger than I expected.

Here’s what they look like fresh:

The waiter didn’t speak English very well and told me that the soup was VERY spicy and pointed for me to try something else on th menu, but I was up for the challenge and told him so with confidence!

I was hungry, and when the soup arrived, I was happy to see that it was very rustic looking and had a lot of substance. When I actually dug in with my spoon, I realized that the soup was jammed packed with about 6 whole fishes – with gills, tail, head and eyes! I’m not normally one for eating a whole fish, but I must admit the fish was pretty darn good. The fresh white meat slid off the spine very clean and was nice and flakey. Not sure if I can compare the fish to anything I have had in the past, but it was just nice and not to fishy nor dense.

I was very glad that I ordered rice with this soup. This soup was damn spicy and the rice cooled it down for every spoonful I had. Let’s just say that this soup was spicy enough to make a boy into a man or make a women grow hair on her chest if she was to have this soup all the time! I’m betting that the spiciness rating would be a 10 or even a 10+ easily in North American restaurants! Don’t get me wrong with the spiciness, I loved the soup and ate it all up. Just had a red face afterwards.

Beside the not so in your face curry spices that blended in the soup, it had hot red chiles and peppercorns. Look at the green fresh peppercorn galore that was swimming in my soup below! It was a jam-packed pool party for them! This is the first time ever I had fresh peppercorns like this in bunches. Wonder if I can buy them back home like this?

The other wonderful ingredients floating in the soup that I can tell were: keffir lime leaves, mushrooms, baby corn, Thai green eggplant (which I really loved the most in the soup). The Thai eggplant was much different from Chinese eggplant and had a great firm yet juicy texture (not as mushy as purple eggplant).

Here’s what a Thai eggplant looks like up close:

I would consider ordering this soup again someday or try to make a similar one at home, but probably turn down the heat from a 10 to a 7.

Handy Dandy Note: I just learnt over the last few days, that most food prepared in Thailand restaurants are laced with MSG. I did have a tad of a bad reaction from the MSG from this soup afterwards (swollen ankles and fast heartbeat) and next time I will try to ask the kitchen not to add it if they can. I understand that not all restaurants here comply to your request though, either because the cook may be stubborn or wait staff not knowing what MSG is.

If you are ever in Thailand and want to order food with out MSG, this is how to say it: “Mai sai pong chuu rot”. You would pronounce it like so: “Mai (down) sai (up) pong (up) chuu (neutral) rot (high tone)”

Soup Mistress Rating For Thai Curry Soup with Silver Sillago Fish:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.75/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4/5) 

Three Lipstick Soups – Pretty Darn Thai-a-licious!

I’m currently visiting Thailand and one of the things I wanted to do was take some authentic cooking classes here. I  signed up for Pum’s Pigtails 5 hour Cooking Class which is in Patong, a 35 minute drive from Rawai Beach where I was staying.

I was welcomed by Pum and started my class with a nice Russian gal who has plans to open up a Thai Restaurant back in Russia. It was a great day learning about Thai Food, culture and cooking. We also had an informational tour at the fresh Banzaan Market and our guide (Pum’s second-hand fella in pic below), he was so fun and knowledgable. I learnt a lot from him about different fruits, herbs veggies and seafood.

For our full day of cooking class, myself and the Russian gal had to pick 5 dishes each to make that day. Of my five, I picked 3 soups (Pum calls them Green Lipstick, White Lipstick and Red Lipstick). The soups were the highlight of my day. I think I want to make them all together at one time in the future as a soup trio whenever I have some friends over. They look so pretty – just like makeup!

 

We had the opportunity to make green curry right from scratch (which was used in the Green Lipstick soup). It sure beats jarred green curry any day! Below is the final output after we mortar together green chilies, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, Thai shallot, salt, Thai sweet basil with vegetable oil. Looks so good and rustic doesn’t it?!

And making the green curry got me super excited to try when I am back home. The Green curry paste can also be used for many other dishes in Pums wonderful cookbook (Lazy Cuisine), you can get it here online. Here’s a video on how we mixed it all together – fun stuff!

Our school kitchen was very clean, modern and functional (pic below). It can accommodate up to 6 students at a time. We were fortunate to have it to ourselves, but most times it is a full class, I heard.

I do recommend taking her Pigtails cooking class or any others – Pum is very passionate and cute..even when she reprimanded me to “be patient” when I was jumping the gun on some areas.

 

Below are the three wonderful soups I made with my personal ratings for each. My favorite was the Green Lipstick, then the Red Lipstick and then the White Lipstick. All of them had great freshness and goes well with Jasmine rice on the side.  Pum showed us how easy and fast it is to make all three. The key is to have the ingredients and mise en place!

Important Note: The recipes below are a single serving. Also , if you don’t have a Chinese spoon, the measurement is approximately 1.5 tablespoons, so adjust accordingly.

Gaeng Kheo Wan Gai – Green Lipstick Soup
(Green Curry Soup)

Ingredients:
  • Chicken (sliced) 1 handful
  • Coconut Milk 100ml
  • Water 100ml
  • Vegetable Oil 1 Chinese spoon
  • Green Curry Paste 1 Chinese spoon
  • Fish Sauce 2 Chinese spoons
  • Sugar 1 Chinese spoon
  • Green Beans 1 handful
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves 2
Instructions for Gaeng Kheo Wan Gai – Green Lipstick Soup:
  1. At low heat in a pot, mix well the oil and green curry paste.
  2. Then add the chicken (or vegetables: Green beans, carrots, baby corn)
  3. Stir until all is half-cooked.
  4. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Stir well.
  5. Add the water and green beans. Bring to a boil and immediately pour into a bowl and garnish with kaffir lime leaves.

Soup Mistress Rating for Gaeng Kheo Wan Gai – Green Lipstick Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (5/5) 

Tom Kha Gai – White Lipstick Soup
(Coconut Milk Soup)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (sliced) 1 handful
  • Coconut Milk 100ml
  • Water 170ml
  • Galangal (sliced) 4-5 slices
  • Lemon Grass (cut as an inch) 1/2 stalk
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves 2
  • Thai Shallot (pressed gently) 1
  • Small Red Chilies (pressed gently)
  • Fish Sauce 2 Chinese spoons
  • Sugar 1 Chinese spoon
  • Lime Juice 2 Chinese spoons
Instructions for Tom Kha Gai – White Lipstick Soup:
  1. In a pot, add the coconut milk and bring to half boiling, the  add the chicken and stir until the meat is half-cooked.
  2. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Stir well.
  3. Add all the herbs and wait until it boils. Serve in a bowl
  4. (For vegetarians use green beans carrots and fresh baby corn – cut as an inch)

Soup Mistress Rating for Tom Kha Gai – White Lipstick Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4/5) 


Tom Yum Goong – Red Lipstick Soup
(A Thai Hot & Sour Prawn Soup)

Ingredients:

  • Prawns 1 handful
  • Water 270ml
  • Galangal (Sliced) 4-5 slices
  • Lemon Grass (cut as an inch) 1/2 stalk
  • Kaffir lime leaves 2
  • Thai Shallot (pressed gently) 1
  • Small Green Chilies (pressed gently) 2
  • Chili Paste 1 teaspoon
  • Chili Oil 3-4 drops
  • Fish Sauce 2 Chinese spoons
  • Sugar 1 Chinese spoon
  • Lime Juice 3 Chinese spoons
Instructions For Tom Yum Goong – Red Lipstick Soup:
  1. Add the water to a pot and bring to half boiling, then add the chili paste and mix well.
  2. Add the prawns or meat (or vegetables for vegetarians) and let boil until it is half-cooked. Then add the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Mix them well.
  3. Add all the herbs and wait until it boils. Serve in a bowl and garnish with chili oil.
  4. (For vegetarians use green beans, carrots, and fresh baby corn – cut as an inch).

Soup Mistress Rating for Tom Yum Goong – Red Lipstick Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Tom Kha Talay Soup, A Frugal Thai Seafood Beach Party!

Sa-wat-dee Kah!

It’s mid March and I’m on a trip of a lifetime visiting Thailand. I’m on a foodie month long crawl for Thai cuisine (while working and exercising here of course).  Seafood soups are definitely on my hit list!

First stop for soup: Lobster Restaurant at Nai Harn Beach.

For my first morning in the Rawai Beach Area, I decided take the hotels complementary shuttle to Nai Harn Beach, a short 10-15 minute drive along a windy road. When I arrived at the beach I was very surprised to see how many restaurants and outdoor seating there was. Each restaurant had various coolers of fresh fish displayed – it was wonderful to see. After sitting on the beach lounging for 2 hours, the heat was too much for me so I decided to do lunch there just before the shuttle was to pick me up at 1:30pm.

I decided upon the Lobster Restaurant and was seated by a very cheerful Thai lady (everyone seems to be so nice here in Thailand!) and the Tom Kha Soup caught my attention. I ordered it with a bottled water and paid 220 Baht (includes tip), that is approximately only $6.80 Canadian dollars.

The Verdict of Tom Kha Talay soup at the Lobster Restaurant?

Holy seafood batman! For $6.80 Canadian I got myself a party of seafood that any frugal person would die for. For this kind of soup in Vancouver, Canada, I’m sure I’d be paying $22 for it!

Prawns, mussels, squid and clams. Tons of all of them, like a jammed pack party with no sitting room! I counted and there was about 10 mussels and 5 prawns for example. All seemed very fresh and not overcooked nor rubbery what-so-ever!

Great presentation with the leaf under the bowl as well!

The soup had a ton of lemon grass (the green part and also the pieces that looked like baby potato slices were suppose to be lemon grass per the waitress when I asked her). And noticeable ingredients were: Thai basil, whole cloves of garlic, lime juice, tiny whole onions and some spicy oil (perhaps drops of red chile). Normally when it is 94 degrees out I would not order soup nor lap it up, but this soup seemed very light for a coconut based soup – must have been in a seafood broth with coconut milk. I slurped it all up and it was very good.

I would order this soup again in a heart beat.

When I search for Tom Kha Talay soup recipes, it seems as though it should be healthy because the broth is in fact lighter with stock/and or water versus mostly coconut milk. Here’s a recipe that may be close to what I have (except it has mushrooms, scallops and crab): http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/recipes/cocsea.html

Soup Mistress Rating for Tom Kha Talay Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.25/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4.5/5) 

Northwest Salmon Soup, Starring Grammy Award Winning Kale!

Northwest Salmon Soup

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Northwest Salmon Soup

Saw this recipe in a magazine at the book store, can’t recall what magazine it was though. The sight of the salmon with the roe looked so delightful along with the use of kale in the soup. So I decided to give it a whirl and voila – what a delight!

The Verdict of Northwest Salmon Soup?

Even though I added lemon juice to the creme fresh, it seemed like not enough, next time I would add some lemon zest to the creme fraiche. The broth tasted better and better after a few minutes. The the kale and salmon played so well in the taste. I’m starting to like kale a ton more especially in broths – it gives a flavourful depth to any soup! I’m going to give the Kale the superstar Grammy ingredient for this recipe – it deserves it!

Northwest Salmon Soup Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen salmon
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 – 32 ounce vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1/4 creme fraiche
  •  1 tablespoon monkfish caviar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Northwest Salmon Soup Instructions:
  1. Pat dry salmon, cut in 1 inch pieces.
  2. In large pot (or dutch oven) heat butter over medium low heat until melted. Add onion and garlic, cook, covered 10 – 15 mins until tender, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high, cook onions, uncovered for few more minutes, stir in paprika and pepper.
  3. Stir in broth, kale, potatoes and carrots. bring to boiling reduce heat. Simmer covered, about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. In a separate pan add salmon to hot pan on med/high, cook until salmon fillet pieces flake easily when tested with fork.
  5. Ladle soup in bowls, add salmon pieces to each bowl.
  6. Top each serving with a kettle chip, sour cream, dill and caviar.

Recipe makes 4 yummy servings.

Original Soup Recipe: Jeepers, I cannot recall what magazine, if you do know, let me know and I will give the publisher full credit and a link!

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Added a large clove of garlic (minced)
  • Added 1/4 tablespoon lemon juice to the creme fraiche. Could have use even more! I wanted to add lemon zest, but where I was staying in Whistler did not have a utensil to do so.
  • I didn’t use salmon roe, I used two types of monkfish caviar (red and black)

Soup Mistress Rating for Northwest Salmon Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4.5/5) 

Taste: (4/5) 

Yam and Peanut Stew – A Ski Hill Cafe Inspiration

For the last two months, it has been quite a delight to be staying up at Whistler. When we were up on the ski hill, we’ve found ourselves eating most lunches up at the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain. The food service is pretty good compared to years ago and I think they really rock some of their soups!  One particular soup they dished up was a Spicy African Yam and Peanut soup and it inspired my boyfriend to make a similar soup for us one evening.

He found this wonderful recipe for Yam and Peanut Stew with Kale here.

The Verdict of Yam and Peanut Stew?

I LOVED this soup very much being a peanut lover myself! I craved this soup the next day and just had to have leftovers. The soup thickened up the next day, so I added a little more vegetable broth. This soup is definitely a tummy delight.  Don’t cut out the green onions though, they were the superstar garnish that made the soup just pop in my mouth with flavour! One thing to note, is the healthiest ingredient (kale) in the recipe was left out (forgot to purchase it at the grocery store)! Perhaps we will make it again in the future with the kale…Kale seems to give so many soups a ultra healthy and tasty boost!

Yes please…I want to have it again!

Yam and Peanut Stew Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 large yams, chopped into 1 inch
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 ripe vine tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can of homemade or store-bought diced tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • a dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 cups vegetable stock + extra as needed
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup green onion, tops only, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted peanuts, chopped

Yam and Peanut Stew Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot set on medium heat. Add the onion and begin sauteing till onion is getting translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger, and continue to saute for another 3 minutes, till garlic is fragrant. Add the yams, the red lentils, the tomatoes, the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and give it all a quick stir to combine.
  2. Add 4 cups vegetable stock and bring mixture to a boil. If there isn’t enough broth to cover everything but at least 1 inch, add another cup of stock. When soup boils, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes and lentils are very tender. If you need more broth as the mixture cooks, add it.
  3. Add almond butter and stir well. Using an immersion blender, blend soup till about half of it is pureed and the other half still has texture. The soup should appear creamy, but chunks of sweet potato should be visible.
  4. Season to taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve, topped with a tablespoon each of green onion and crushed peanuts

What He Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Oops – missed the 4 cups of kale by accident! Perhaps it will join the soup party next time!
  • Used organic almond butter instead of peanut butter…much healthier for you!

Soup Mistress Rating for Yam and Peanut Stew:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.5/5
Presentation: (4.25/5) 

Taste: (4.75/5) 

Winter Soup Olympics in Whistler A Gold Delight!

One more day till the end of our 2 month stay up at Whistler. It’s been a great journey with downhill and cross-country skiing, biking, and walking around trails in British Columbia’s winter wonderland. With all of the outdoor exercise came a few apres ski sessions, fresh track morning buffets, some mighty fine cooking sessions at home and visiting various restaurants in the main village and creekside.  For many meals I had soup, and there were a few to be mentioned and one a sure winner that was a gold delight!

The following are three notable soups and I ranked them as Gold, Silver and Bronze for overall taste and presentation:

Gold Soup Medal

The Gold Soup Medal goes to Alta Bistro’s with their Rootdown Farms Organic Carrot Soup ($10) with roasted chickpeas, fried celery, goat cheese & orange cream, black cumin seeds, fresh thyme, corn bread. What a playful looking soup and great presentation. The orange cream gave this soup a tiny burst of greatness. The fresh thyme was delightful and the bowl seemed to be a great choice for serving soup – it seemed to conduct heat for quite sometime after I was served it! Brilliant!

Silver Soup Medal

The Silver Soup Medal goes to Nita Lakes’ Lodge Aura Restaurant Mussel Chowder ($10) with honey mussels, diced house cured pancetta, Yukon gold potato, onion, ginger, lemongrass bisque. Wow! The service overall at this restaurant was very outstanding. The waitress brought the bowl of morsels to our table and poured in the broth – that was so classy and a nice experience indeed – love when restaurants do that with soups! The large pieces of potato were perfect and gave it a rustic feel. The lemongrass bisque was light but very tasty! And oh my, the honey mussels were good, I wish I had more though, but for $10 this soup really rocked!

Bronze Soup Medal

The Bronze Medal goes the Roundhouse up on Whistler Mountain with their Mushroom Soup. The roundhouse is a huge cafeteria style restaurant and probably serves a few thousand people for lunch between 11 – 2pm easily. We had this mushroom soup a few times in the last two months. I also heard a few other people mention that this soup is one of their favourites as well! The tiny chunks of mushrooms and onions we so very good (really made the soup) and kudos to a cafe style restaurant to use pea shoots as a garnish. If you are ever up there, go for the soup, salad and half sandwich – it’s the best deal in the house! I think it was $12.45 for the combo.

I can’t wait to come back and try more soups next season! Whistler is the premium place for Soup Olympics I am sure!

Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup or Vice Versa

Serve up[

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Serve with a few pieces of fried sage and a swirl of cashew cream.

After a few recent visits to Nuba restaurant in Vancover-  it has inspired my Scottish sous chef and I to create more cauliflower dishes lately. Nuba has a killer Cauliflower Najib’s special, if you ever make it there, do make sure you order it. My Scottish sous chef decided to make this yummy soup for us after a beautiful day of cross-country skiing in the Callaghan Valley, BC, Canada.

The Verdict of Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup?

This soup is tasty and very much filling – the parsnips dominate the cauliflower and we both liked the parsnips. I think the soup should have been called “Parsnip Cauliflower Soup” instead of “Cauliflower Parsnip Soup”.  No herb stood out that much either, but that being said, the herbs and spices worked well in this delightful bowl of liquid! I would make it again.

Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 shallots, cut in half
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • dash of sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray or two with tin foil.
  2. Lay cauliflower, parsnips, shallots, and garlic, out on foil, and drizzle with olive oil, thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast veggies for about 35-40 min, or until they’re soft and golden brown.
  4. Place veggies in a high speed blender (you may have to work in batches) and add broth and almond milk. Blend until soup is smooth and creamy, adding more liquid if you need to. We added about 2 more cups. Alternately, you can use an immersion blender.
  5. Transfer soup to a pot and re-season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6.  Serve with a few pieces of fried sage and a swirl of cashew cream.
Original Soup Recipe: http://www.choosingraw.com/roasted-cauliflower-and-parsnip-soup/

What My Scottish Sous Chef Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Used almond milk instead of rice, soy, or coconut milk
  • Used 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Added fried sage as garnish
  • Added a dollop of cashew cream
  • Used more vegetable broth – 5 to 6 cups. Was originally too thick.

Soup Mistress Rating for Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4/5) 

Cashew Cream of Leek, Zucchini and Parsley Soup

Serve up

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Serve onions on top for garnish with some finely chopped parsley.

I just picked up a great cook book in Vancouver (Mouthwatering Vegan, Over 130 Irresistible Recipes For Everyone). I read it from front cover to back cover like I have done so with all of my cookbooks and magazines. I love reading recipes to learn from common techniques and ratios of ingredients, especially so for soups!

I decided to make this super easy soup for a chilly rainy day. It fancied me because it had leeks – they are something that I want to use more in my cooking.

The Verdict of Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Soup?

This soup is very nice and healthy indeed. At first I found the soup quite bland when I tried it, but when we added garlic and then truffle salt at the end, bam – it was to die for! Also, the addition of caramelized onions as a garnish was a good idea…I went back for more onions when I got halfway through my bowl of soup! I wished that I caramelized more onions though – perhaps next time!

This soup freezes well and is very much so truffle salts best friend! I would make it again next time!

Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1/2 cashew cream (1/4 cup of cashews and 1/2 cup water)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Instructions Soup:
  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil.
  2. Saute leeks and garlic for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add zucchini and sauté for 4 more minutes.
  4. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat.
  5. Blend using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender (be very careful when blending hot liquids!), until soup is smooth.
  6. Return soup back into pot to reheat, add salt and pepper
  7. Soak 1/4 cup of cashews in water for 20 minutes, drain and blend in blender with 1/2 cup of water.
  8. Add cashew cream to soup, keep soup in pot on very low/simmer.
  9. Fry up onions until they are slightly caramelized.
  10. Add finely chopped parley to soup pot and stir (leave a little for garnish)
  11. Ladle soup in bowls.
  12. Serve onions on top for garnish with some finely chopped parsley.
  13. Sprinkle a small amount of truffle oil and/or truffle salt.
  14. Enjoy!
Original Soup Recipe: from a book I just purchased: Mouthwatering Vegan, Over 130 Irresistible Recipes For Everyone, by Miriam Sorrell.

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Used truffle oil and truffle salt after soup ladled in bowls
  • Used fried caramelized onions as garnish with parsley
  • Added 2 cloves of garlic
  • Adjusted leeks and zucchini to 3 and 2

Oh ya, I made a great accompaniment with the soup – Tomato Onion Phyllo Pie, here’s a recipe that was my inspiration: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/tomato-onion-phyllo-pizza. So delish and so easy!

Soup Mistress Rating for Zucchini Leek and Cashew Cream Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (4.75/5
Presentation: (4/5) 

Taste: (4/5)