Banc’s Sweet Corn and Basil Soup

Serves: 4

This is a truly sublime soup and one I have served plenty of times at the beginning of a dinner party.

It is from the famous Sydney restaurant, Banc.

I have served it both hot and cold and plenty of times, I have been asked for more. Indeed, I had a cook-off with a mate a few years back where we both did three courses each and this soup was a comprehensive point-scorer in my favour.

Prepare it beforehand and chill in the fridge.

And seriously blow them all away.

Ingredients

4 fresh corn cobs
200gm diced onions
50ml cream
50ml diced butter
1 small bunch fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. The stock: Peel and remove all the outer stalks from the cobs. Using a knife, remove all the corn kernels from the cobs and reserve. Cut the cobs in half.
  2. In a heavy-based pan, melt half the butter and add half of the diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes on a medium heat without allowing it to colour. Add the cobs and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes without browning.
  3. Add 1.5 litres of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the stock to infuse for a further 30 minutes before passing it through a fine sieve, discarding the cobs and onions
  4. The soup: In a heavy-based pan melt the remaining butter and add the remaining diced onion. Sweat the onion for 5 minutes on a medium heat without allowing to colour. Add the corn kernels and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Add the corn stock and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until the corn kernels are tender. Pour in the cream and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Add roughly chopped basil and season with salt and pepper. Leave the soup for at least an hour – ideally overnight in the fridge – to allow the flavours to infuse, before passing the soup through a fine sieve, pressing hard on the corn to extract as much flavour as possible. Season once more and serve hot or cold.

The French Laundry’s Creamy Lobster Broth

Serves: 4

The French Laundry is one of America’s best and most well-known restaurants.

Driving through the Napa Valley and having lunch at The French Laundry is most definitely on my bucket list.

Thoma Keller, the man behind The French Laundry has another restaurant in New York called Perse and Nat and I agree that it was the finest dining experience either of us had ever had. 11/10.

Thomas Keller is a genius.

We have had The French Laundry cookbook for a number of years though we had only ever cooked one thing in it: Yabba Dabba Doo, an incredible standing rib with Pommes Anna and a Bordelaise Sauce.

Now we have done two… this classic broth which is to die for.

Rather than live lobsters, I purchased tails and set aside the meat for another dish. I then supplemented the lesser lobster shell with the prawn shells from 24 prawns.

It was sublime I know this is something we will do again for our next dinner party.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 lobster bodies, cut into quarters
  • 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sear the lobster parts for a few minutes until they turn red.
  2. Add the tomatoes, carrots, tarragon and cover the lobster parts and vegetables with water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any impurities that float to the top.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
  4. Strain the stock, pushing as much liquid through as possible. Strain the liquid again through a fine strainer and pour the liquid into a clean pan.
  5. Return the strained liquid to the heat and reduce slowly until there is one cup of liquid left. Add the heavy cream and continue to simmer until there is 2 cups left.
  6. Strain once more and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Slowly reheat and serve.

Italian-style Zucchini and Parmesan Soup

Serves: 4

Wow this is a good soup!

Like, wow.

Neil Perry of course and reasonable quick to whip up, Nat and I cooked this for a Saturday lunch as part of a weekend of cooking and we were blown away.

We used a very good and aged parmesan and shaved it in; not the yellow stuff you get in the supermarket. Some warmed, crusty bread and wow.

We were warm and completely satisfied for the entire afternoon.

You must do this!

Ingredients

750gm green zucchini, cut into 1cm-thick pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch basil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1½ liters chicken stock
125ml pure cream
40gm unsalted butter
40gm parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based sauce pan over a medium heat and add the zucchini, garlic, basil and a good pinch of sea salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the zucchini starts to soften.
  2. Add the stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 8 minutes.
  3. Pour the soup into the blender and pulse until well pureed though still with a bit of texture; not completely smooth.
  4. Return to the saucepan and stir in the cream, butter and the parmesan.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and a good ground of fresh pepper.

Skinny Chicken Laksa

Serves: 2

I avoid Laksa at lunchtime. I avoid cooking it for dinner.

It tastes awesome, though it is notoriously fatty. I’m probably kidding myself given half the dinners I make, though Laksa has always been a red light for me.

This recipe by Jill Dupleix – which I have adjusted slightly – is, at least on face value, much healthier than the 400ml can of coconut cream variety I am used to, and tastes just awesome. The meat isn’t fried, the laksa paste isn’t fried off in oil.

(That means you can eat more I assume!)

On my deathbed I’ll smash down pork crackling and proper Laksa, though until then…

Serves 4

150gm vermicelli noodles
2 c (500ml) chicken stock
2tbs laksa paste
2 chicken breasts cut into 3cm strips
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tsp caster sugar
250ml can reduced fat coconut milk (OK, original recipe was 100ml though can was 250ml)
200 gm green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 cup bean sprouts (add as much as you want)
2 cup coriander sprigs (again, add as much as you want)
2 cup mint leaves (ditto)
Fried Asian shallots to serve (half handful per serve)

Method

  1. Soak the noodled in warm water for 10 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, whisk in the laksa paste.
  3. Add the chicken, tomato, sugar and ½ teaspoon of sea salt and simmer for 10 minutes until chicken cooked through.
  4. Add the coconut milk and beans and simmer for 5 minutes until beans cooked through.
  5. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls and soon over the chicken and the laksa broth.
  6. Top with bean sprouts and scatter with coriander, mint and dried Asian shallots.

 

Cha Ca (Ling Fillets marinated with dill and tumeric)

Serves 6

According to Google translate, ‘kinh ngạc’ is amazing in Vietnamese and I do hope it is because this dish is a-mazing.

It’s got it all.

Healthy, hot, filling, so tasty.

Seriously, copy paste these ingredients and clear your schedule for tonight because this is going to make tonight – and every night you cook it – very special.

Mark Jensen of Red Lantern is a genius!

Ingredients

1kg ling fillets
8 spring onions (scallions)
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp hot curry power
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1/2 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bunch dill
125g rice vermicelli
1 cup fish stock
1 lemon
300g bean sprouts

Method

  1. Cut the fish into 4cm pieces, place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the white heads of the spring onions (reserving the stalks) and garlic in a mortar and pound to a paste.
  3. Add the paste, turmeric, curry powder, yoghurt, fish sauce, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the oil and a third of the dill, roughly chopped) to the fish and mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Cook the vermicelli in boiling water for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for a further 5 minutes. Strain, refresh under cold water a set aside. (This may contradict instructions on pack, though don’t worry!).
  5. Thinly, diagonally slice 4 or 5 of the green spring onion stalks.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add the remaining oil and fry the fillets for 30 seconds on one side.
  7. Turn the fillets over, add the fish stock and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  8. Remove the fish and squeeze over the juice from the lemon.
  9. Mix the bean sprouts, sliced spring onion, remaining dill and vermicelli together, place into bowls and spoon over the fish fillets and sauce.

Jamie Oliver’s Real Mushroom Soup

Serves: 6 – 8

It is true – I think – that at its most basic, mushroom soup is mushroom soup. It’s tasty enough, it is nice warm or cold, it’s filling and it’s healthy.

This spin on mushroom soup by Jamie Oliver not only adds a bit of zing to the whole thing, it is one of those cannot-be-ignored opportunities to use truffle oil!

And it’s still healthy which is why I must have two gallons of it frozen and ready for dethaw on any given night where I am too tired to cook.

You should consider the same!

(Slight adaptation of the recipe where I increased mushrooms from 600gm to 1kg.)

Ingredients

1 small handful dried porcini (I also used some shiitake)
Extra virgin olive oil
1kg mixed fresh wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
1 lemon
Truffle oil (optional)
Sliced loaf of bread, brushed with olive oil and grilled

 

Method

  1. Place the porcini in a small dish, cover with boiling water and leave aside.
  2. Heat a heavy saucepan medium-hot and as Jamie Oliver famously puts it, ‘add a good couple of lugs’ of the olive oil and add your mushrooms. Stir for a minute or so and then add the garlic, onion, thyme and season. Meanwhile, chop half your porcini, reserving the liquid.
  3. After a minute or so of cooking, add the chopped and whole porcini and the reserved liquid. Continue cooking on a medium heat for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has disappeared.
  4. Season again and add the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove half of the soup and whiz in a blender until smooth. Reintroduce to the remaining soup together with the parsley, mascarpone and a final seasoning as needed.
  6. To serve, a small drizzle of truffle oil, maybe a squeeze of lemon, chopped parsley, perhaps a few reserved and cooked slices of mushroom, a crack of pepper and some oiled and grilled sliced bread.

Spicy Braised Beef Soup with Hot Bean Paste

Spicy Braised Beef Soup with Hot Bean Paste

Serves 4

I found this recipe on the Rockpool website – I assume it is sourced from Spice Temple.

It is a wonderful and really fresh dish, though spend some time making sure you track down the right pastes. There are dozens and dozens and at the Chinese grocer I went to, they said they had little knowledge of the Korean pastes other than whether they were used in soups or not.

The reason I say to take care is that you want this soup’s spice level dialled to 11; it’s the reason this dish is so good.

Ingredients
700gm piece beef brisket, trimmed
1 star anise
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 cinnamon quill
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 spring onions, finely sliced into rounds
2 tbsp Korean fermented hot chilli bean paste (gochujang)
2 tbsp Chinese soybean paste (huang jing)
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
¼ cup light soy sauce
1 tbsp castor sugar
160gm fresh Shanghai noodles
3 Chinese cabbage leaves
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
Handful coriander leaveshandful coriander leaves

Method

  1. Place the beef in a pot covered with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil; when the scum rises, remove the beef and rinse. Cut beef into 2cm pieces.
  2. Dry-roast the spices in a pan for 4-5 mins until fragrant, Allow to cool and wrap in a tied muslin cloth.
  3. In a large pot, put in the beef, spices (in the muslin cloth) and 2 ½ litres; bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Lift out the beef and the spice bag and reserve including the stock.
  4. Heat oil to hot in a large wok. Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and spring-onions for 1 minute. Add both the bean pastes and fry until fragrant.
  5. Deglaze with Shaoxing wine, then season with the soy and sugar. Check seasoning.
  6. Add the beef and spice bag and 1 ¼ litres of the beef stock; bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Cook the noodles until al dente; 8 – 10 minutes or according to instructions; I doubled the amount of noodle though this does change the dish to more of a noodle dish than a soup.
  8. Remove the spice bag from the wok and discard; dice the cabbage leaves into 3cm pieces and blanch for a minute in the stock; add the noodles to heat through.
  9. Ladle the soup into four large bowls and garnish with the chilli and coriander.