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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Creamy tomato soup

Recently it hasn't been so much the sweet stuff that I've wanted as savoury, maybe it's the time of year meaning I'm surrounded by chocolate and I'm tired of looking at it??! Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?
Anyway, I've been after all sorts such as cous cous in many various forms, savoury scones (blog to follow) and lovely warming velvety soup! On the diet that I follow and I guess most diets that I'm aware of, soup is restricted. Largely due to the fact that most soup recipes use cream and cheese and other things that can quickly turn your 'healthy' snack or lunch into a hidden calorie fest!
Tomato is one of my favourite soups. I have made it in the past but always fall short of getting it just right for me, which would be creamy, smooth and full of flavour - without the guilt.
I had a quick hunt around on Google and found a recipe which uses milk and a somewhat unusual (I think) ingredient to make something pretty close to what I like.

Recipe:

500g Tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
15 fl oz milk (3/4 pint)
1 tbsp tomato purée
pinch baking soda
salt and black pepper to season

Method:

Place the tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves (whole) in a roasting dish and sprinkle with the herbs, a pinch of salt and black pepper. 
Spritz with low cal cooking spray, such as fry light or if you prefer drizzle over some olive oil.
Place in a pre heated oven at 160 degrees, 325 Fahrenheit, gas mark 3 and cook until the tomatoes have softened. 
When the tomatoes have softened, remove from the oven and allow to cool. This is important as blitzing hot food is a bit dangerous, trust me I've done it! 
Once cooled, blitz the tomatoes, garlic and tomato purée until completely smooth.
Once all of the mix is puréed begin adding the milk and baking soda (remember just a pinch!), a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. 



Ready for slow roasting


Quick blitz in here...


Heating some up for eating
Lovely, warming flavoursome home- made soup!

I have tried this with a stick blender and food processor in the past with limited success as the seeds and skin don't get puréed along with the rest of the tomato flesh. This time I used the jug blender that works with the Creations kitchen machine (see this post) and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it got the tomatoes. I was expecting to need to sieve the skin and seeds out and regret coming up with the idea of making soup in the first place!
The soup itself wasn't as red as it could have been, mostly due to the milk and partly because of the tomatoes I think. It still packs a good punch with flavour though. If you like you could sprinkle some Parmesan or chilli powder over the top before serving.
The baking soda is an unusual touch, the recipe I took inspiration from says it is an American trick to prevent the milk curdling? I don't know if there is truth in it but it didn't hurt the soup. Though do remember just a pinch, if you use too much your soup will be fizzy! 
As a possible fix if you do use too much you can neutralise baking soda with vinegar or lemon juice.

There really isn't much to making your own soup of any kind, and yet so many people are afraid of trying. So next time you're thinking of a quick healthy meal idea why not have a go at this?



Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Chocolate Blondie with blueberries

I was given a recipe for Chocolate Blondie with raspberries recently and decided to give it a try for our weekly meeting at work last Friday. I didn't have any raspberries though so decided to substitute them with some blueberries I had in the freezer. Not sure you could count them towards your five a day but they certainly add a nice twist to a classic recipe.

I kept the chocolate chunks quite big to give the cake a nice texture to match the blueberries when it was eaten, always nice to discover a big chunk of chocolate hiding in your chosen piece of cake!


Ingredients:


200g (7 oz) white chocolate, chopped
115g (4 oz) Stork packet, melted
2 medium eggs
115g (4 oz) caster sugar
125g (4 ½ oz) plain flour
115g (4 oz) fresh raspberries 


Method:


1.    Preheat oven to 190°C, 170°C fan, Gas 5.
2.    Add half the chocolate to the melted Stork and stir until melted.
3.    In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until creamy and slightly thickened.
4.    Sieve the flour and add to the eggs with the chocolate mixture. Fold in gently until smooth. Stir in half the remaining chocolate and half the fruit.
5.    Carefully pour into a 18cm (7 inch) square tin, lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper brushed with oil. Sprinkle remaining chocolate and fruit on top.
6.    Bake in a preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.
7.    Leave to cool before cutting into squares.


Fresh from the oven and cooling.



I probably could have made twice the amount I did as it didn't seem to last long across around 10 people! 

Cut up and all set for the taste test meeting!