Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Italian Wedding Soup, Paul Gayler . . . and some great cookware

I was recently sent a beautiful cookbook . . . Great Homemade Soup's, a cook's collection, by Paul Gayler.  I am no stranger to Paul Gayler's cookery books.  I already own three of them, and love them so I was really pleased to have been given the offer of this one.  I knew I was in for a real treat and I was not disappointed.

In this gorgeously presented book Paul shares a comprehensive collection of over 100 of his most appetising soup recipes alongside recipes from guest chefs including Daniel Boulud, Antonio Carluccio, Chris and Jeff Galvin, Tom Kerridge, Atul Kochhar, Pierre Koffman and Susan Spicer.

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It brings you through the whole range of soupery, from basic equipment and stocks, broths and consommes, smooth and creamy soups, hearty soups, traditional soups, exotic concoctions and chilled soups.  There is something in this lovely book to suit any taste and budget, with clear and concise instructions and beautiful imagery.

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Each recipe has a full colour and mouth watering photograph to accompany it (photography by Lisa Linder.)

I found the first chapter which included a brief introduction to soups, their classification, the equipment needed, some information on garnishes, accompaniments and soup toppings before detailing in step-by-step Masterclasses how to make perfect homemade soup stocks, the fundamental base to every good soup to be very informative and my favourite chapter.   There was so much to learn about soup in there . . .  and I like to think that you are never too old to learn something new.

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Amongst the many soups on offer you will see such tasty delights as . . .
  • Cauliflower soup with brie toasties
  • Roasted pepper and aubergine soup
  • Carrot, pineapple and ginger soup
  • Jamaican pepper pot soup
  • Soupe a l'oignon gratinee

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Of course the proof of the pudding is always in the eating and I would never recommend a cookbook to you if I hadn't tried at least one of the recipes included.  It was really difficult to make up my mind with this book as everything looked so delicious, but I finally narrowed it down to one.

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I chose his recipe for Italian Wedding Soup.  Not only did it look beautiful, but I had everything in the house that I needed in order to make it.   I had never had Italian Wedding Soup before and I was keen to try something different.

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The instructions were concise and easy to follow.  Even though it was not something I had ever eaten, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.  None of the ingredients was outrageous or difficult to find.  In fact I already had all of them in the house, although I did substitute Cavolo Nero for the lettuce, because that is what I had and what I thought would look prettiest, and I think food should be pretty don't you?

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It went together beautifully . . . and the end result was a lovely soup.  Hearty enough to be a main meal once I added crusty bread on the side.  The Toddster who usually loves his soups creamy and thick, declared it to be one of the nicest soups he had ever eaten.  So in short . . . this was a real winner!

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*Italian Wedding Soup*
Makes 4 hearty or 6 smaller servings  
Hearty and delicious.  It's amazing what a few simple ingredients "married" so well together can do!

3 TBS extra virgin Olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 dlove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1.5 litres white chicken stock (1.3 quarts)
75g of orzo or tubettini pasta (2 1/2 oz)
300g of escarole lettuce, coarsely chopped (10 ounces)
2 TBS coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 egg, free range of course!
(I used large)
150g freshly grated Pecorino Romano (1 1/3 cups)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the meatballs:
200g of minced lean beef (7 ounces)
200g of minced lean pork (7 ounces)
the grated zest of 1/4 lemon
1 free range egg, large
100g freshly grated Pecarino Romano Cheese (1 scant cup)
1 TBS coarsely chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp dried oregano

First make the meatballs.  Combine all of the ingredients, mixing well with your hands, in a bowl.  Season to taste and then place in the fridge to chill for an hour.  Remove from the fridge at the end of that time and then using wet hands roll into 1 inch balls.

Heat a large frying pan with 2 TBS of the oil over medium low heat.  Add the meatballs and cook, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden all over.   Remove with a slotted spoon to some paper towels and set aside.

Using a clean pan, over medium heat, heat the remaining oil.  Add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes and reduce heat.  Cook, stirring until softened, for about 10 minutes.  Pour the stock over all, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Add the pasta and the escarole and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.  Add the meat balls to the broth and simmer for about 5 minutes longer.  Sir in the parsley.

Whisk together the egg and Pecorino Romano in a bowl.  Slowly pour this mixture into the soup, stirring continuously and always in the same direction with a wooden spoon as you pour..  Simmer for 30 seconds over the lowers heat to cook the eggs and thicken the soup slightly.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Divide between heated bowls and serve immediately!

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This was an amazing collection of soups in just one place. The author has done a great job at collecting and sharing a wide array of soups from every part of the world that will warm you inside and out.  All-in-all this is a comprehensive cookbook with amazing images throughout that will leave your mouth watering.  I give this book 10+ and highly recommend it for anyone's cookery book collection.  It would make a fabulous gift for the foodie in your life, especially if you are wanting them to make you some tasty soups to indulge in!

Book: Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's Collection
Author: Paul Gaylor
Publisher:  Jacquie Small LLP, 74-77 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF
ISBN: 9781909342231
Publication Date: 17 October 2013
Cover: Hardback
RRP: £25 UK, $30 US

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Did you notice that beautiful cast iron casserole I was using to make my soup in???  I know isn't it gorgeous.  It is a part of the Pro Cook line of cast iron Casseroles. 

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I was recently sent the ProCook Turquoise Cast Iron Casserole20cm / 2.9L Round Casserole Dish to try out and I have to say I am loving it.  I already had a much higher priced "luxury" brand cast iron casserole dish and I was keen to compare the two.  I have to say in all honesty, I can't see a difference . . . except in the price.  Seriously.   I can't speak for it's value over long term use as I have only had each of these casseroles a short time, but so far they have both performed equally.

The Pro Cook traditional cast iron range is built to last a lifetime. Hand cast from molten iron giving incredible strength and durability, topped with smart, stainless steel knobs, cast iron handles and enameled inside and out with turquoise and cream for a stunning, self-basting finish and excellent heat retaining properties.

Suitable for hob and oven cooking and for all cookers including induction, this range is ideal for long, slow cooking so you can just pop it into the oven.

One of the drawbacks would be that they are not suitable for dishwasher use.  But even Le Creuset recommend that you only wash in the dishwasher with caution.  They come with a full 25 year guarantee. (Le Creuset offers a lifetime guarantee.) Right now you can purchase this same one on their page for £32 a reduction from the regular price of £64 on the high street.

The Pro Cook Oven to Table line of Cast Iron Cookware comes in a wide range of sizes and colours and I truly feel they are good value for money spent.   I could honestly see NO discernable difference in performance between the more expensive brand cast iron cookware and this reasonably priced brand.   I highly recommend.

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  1. What treats!

    It must have felt like Christmas Marie:)I know how you love cookbooks!

    The pot is BEAUTIFUL..
    We really enjoy Italian Wedding soup too..
    Thank you for sharing this version..

  2. A beautiful cook pot. I love the color.

    That soup sounds wonderful. Wow, you get the best things sent to you.

  3. I have to say that I've never tried an Italian wedding soup either, despite having been to several Italian weddings! Perhaps I'll just have to make it for myself!

  4. This recipe is quite exceptional girls, but I would expect no less from Paul Gayler. I love all his books.

    Elizabeth you have to try this recipe!

    I know I am so lucky to get the things I get sent! I pinch myself all the time!

  5. I used to make this soup with tiny chicken meatballs, each one only the size of my fingernail. I would freeze them (uncooked) on a tray, then simply drop them into the broth to cook. Gosh, I have fond memories of this soup.

    That book sounds wonderful, so I might ask santa if he could pop one in my stocking. And what a very pretty pot. I like cast iron cookware to make my slow cooked stews.

  6. Am I the only one who finds viewing recipes difficult here? I can't read the text over the patterned background, wouldn't it make more sense to have the text set into a solid color background? Doesn't blogspot allow posts to be set that way? Is there a problem for those who use firefox to view the page?

  7. I thought I'd show you what I see when I view the site just to be sure that I'm seeing it displayed as others do. I took a screen capture of the site at the top of the recipe for the Italian Wedding Soup, here's how my browser displays the page, is this how everyone else sees it?

  8. This soup sounds excellent! Nice pot too!

  9. Well, since I am a sucker for a good wedding...why wouldn't I love a soup called wedding soup? I'll give it a try, it looks quite simple and satisfying.

    As to the turquoise pot. I'll take twenty. I have LeCreuset, but style-wise, this gives them a run for their money.

    Always enjoy visiting you!


    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  10. MM it must be a setting on your computer. The blue patterned background is only on the far left and right, the centre "Aisle" where all the writing and photography is, is on a pure white background which is laid over the patterned one. I don't know what to tell you. I have done everything I can from my end, including changing the settings for those browsing via mobile devices. There must be something you need to do from your end. I truly wish I could do more, but there it is. Sorry about that!

  11. PS I also use the firefox browser. I have looked via others as well, ie chrome and internet explorer and it displays properly on those as well.

  12. Hi! Your Italian wedding soup has been nominated as one of the "Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipes on the Net". To vote for it, please visit (your recipe is positioned at #43).


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