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Posts from the ‘Soups & Stews’ Category

More tomato soup photos

Tomato soup

Tomato soup

Tomato soup

This soup was so tasty last time I decided to try it again but with the addition of cream this time instead of sour cream. Still just as tasty and the cream did make it much richer. This is certainly a meal in itself as it was very filling.



Tomato soup

Tomato soup

There are so many different varieties of soups that the list is almost endless but in my opinion you still have to go some way to beat the good old traditional tomato soup. It’s simple to make and yet full of goodness and always warms you up ready to face another cold day here in Moscow – ok it’s not quite got to that level just yet but you have to be prepared you know.


1 finely chopped white onion

3 finely chopped clove of garlic

4 inch piece of celery finely chopped

1 medium carrot peeled and finely chopped

5 medium tomatoes cored and quartered

1 tbsp tomato paste

Pinch finely chopped fresh basil

Pinch of salt, pepper and sugar

1 cup of chicken stock

1 heaped tbsp sour cream

Parsley leaf for decoration

Firstly I finely chopped one white onion and set to one side in a bowl. Then I finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic and put in the bowl with the onion. Then I took a 4 inch piece of celery and finely chopped and added to the bowl. Lastly I then chopped one medium carrot and placed this into the bowl.

I then heated two tablespoons of oil in a deep saucepan and once very hot I put all the vegetables in and fried for about ten minutes or until soft and beginning to lighten in colour. Once the vegetables were soft I stirred in one tablespoon of tomato paste ensuring all the vegetables are covered. Then I took out of the fridge five medium size tomatoes and cored them and cut into quarters and added to the saucepan with a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. I simmered this for approx ten minutes until the tomatoes started to go mushy. Then I poured in one cup of chicken stock, a few chopped basil leaves and turned the heat up to bring it to a boil for three minutes and then put it to simmer for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened completely.

I then set this to one side to cool for fifteen minutes and then blended to make nice and smooth. If you have a hand blender you can keep it in the saucepan but I had to transfer mine to a blender in stages. Once I had blended all of the tomato soup I put it through a fine sieve to take out all the skins and seeds of the tomatoes. You can always skin and de-seed the tomatoes to begin with but I find this quicker and easier and it’s always best to put the final mixture through a sieve anyway. Once I had sieved the soup I placed it back in the saucepan and onto the heat to heat through and added a knob of butter right at the end once it’s come to a boil. At this stage you could always stir in a little cream but all I had was some sour cream so I stirred in a good heaped tablespoon of sour cream just before serving. I then poured into a bowl and garnished with a leaf of parsley and served with some black bread.


Warm and hearty beef stew


With the onset of winter coming early here in Moscow my thoughts turned to hearty warming meals such as stew, soups and casseroles. Beef stew with dumplings is a meal I always remember as a kid – fighting over who will have the most dumplings. There’s something about a stew that always makes you feel warm and cosy and happy to be indoors whilst it’s cold outside. It’s a dish that is always better cooked slowly during the day and the longer you cook it the more tender the meat and the more flavoursome the gravy becomes.

For the meat I used medium thick beef steaks and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes and covered them in seasoned flour and put in a plastic bag with excess flour, sealed and then put in the fridge overnight. When it comes to stock I used to always use the stock cubes that you just add water too but you can’t beat homemade stock as you can make it to your own exact taste. Lets be honest do we really know what’s in a stock cube? Is it really healthy? Make it yourself and you know what is going in your stew. When I cubed the meat I reserved a small hand sized piece to use in the stock and put it in a saucepan with 2 bay leaves, 1 red onion quartered with skin on, 1 green onion quartered with skin on, 4 cloves of garlic crushed but with the skin left on, 1tsp salt, 1tsp pepper, 1tsp dried thyme, 1tsp dried rosemary, 2 bay leaves, 1tbsp dark soy sauce and 750ml water. The I then brought it back to the boil then simmer for 40 minutes. I Poured it  into a container with a lid and allowed to cool and store in the fridge until needed.

The next morning I started preparing the vegetables for the stew. I chopped 2 green onions, 12 large mushrooms, 2 large carrots, 4 cloves garlic and peeled and chopped 8 potatoes into inch cubes the same as the meat. I heated some oil in a large deep stainless steel saucepan and browned the cubes of meat and removed when done into a small bowl to use later. I then heated some more oil in the same pan making sure to scrape the bottom getting all the meaty goodness off the bottom and then added the onion and garlic and fried until soft. Then I added the meat back to the pan with the stock I made the night before, 500ml of red wine (I just used a cheap bottle of Russian red wine which tasted surprisingly good), 1 tsp dried thyme, 1tsp dried rosemary, 3 bay leaves, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1tbsp dark soy, salt and pepper and bring to a boil for a few minutes and then simmer on a very low heat with the lid on stirring occasionally. After approx 1 hour add the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and stir in and replace the lid and let simmer once again. You can leave this bubbling away gently for a long time as the longer it cooks the better flavours you get and the meat becomes extremely tender. If necessary to thicken slightly which I had to do you can leave the lid off for a while to cook off some of the liquid and/or mix a little flour and cold water and add to the stew. There are many other ways of thickening and maybe you have your own way so stick to what you’re familiar with. I’ve heard of someone using potato flakes to thicken stews and also some people use lentils. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.

The best thing to serve with this dish in my opinion is a chunk of crusty bread to soak up the tasty gravy as nothing else is really needed because it’s a meal in itself.