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Gazpacho

This spring, when planting our vegetable garden we might have gone slightly overboard with the amount of tomato plants we put in the ground. Sixty tiny green spindles which were to eventually produce every colour and every shape within the tomato world. Each one carefully placed in a pile of sheep manure, before being soaked in some sparkling clean limestone well water. Seeing them grow in the warm spring sun was a joy.

This summer, I am pretty sure we’ve been consuming more tomato salads then in our entire lives combined. Not once though did we get tired of them. It really is true luxury to be able to go out in your back yard and pick tomatoes, warm from the sun, and pop them in your mouth. I am totally convinced everything tastes better this way. Home grown.

This fall, as the last of the abundance of tomatoes are ripening Bruno has filled our freezers with his delicious marinara tomato sauce. Quickly cooked tomatoes, carefully pureed, deseeded and skinned, along with a few garden grown green onions, hot peppers and basil.

Along with salads and sauces, a third way to fully enjoy fresh tomatoes is through a Gazpacho. This Spanish classic is always a winner. Beautiful to look at, fresh flavours straight from the garden, a nice kick and bright acidity makes it perfect. Really so simple. I usually serve mine slightly chunky – I like the texture but serving it smooth is fairly common as well. I will leave that decision up to you. Some consider it being more of a summer soup but I have to admit I like it equally as much in the fall, even though it’s served cold. There are loads of versions of Gazpacho online. All slightly different. This version is mine. Enjoy! 

Jens

900g ripe tomatoes

1/2 red onion

3 green onions

1 small red bell pepper

1 small green bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, 1/2 seeded

1 english cucumber, roughly seeded

1/2 cup plain tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves

100g stale white bread

1/3 cup olive oil

juice from 1 lime

3-4 olives, pitted

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tsp ground cumin

salt & pepper to taste

fresh basil, thinly sliced (chiffonade) for garnish

Place the bread in a bowl and fill with water. Make sure the bread is fully submerged. Set aside for 15-20 min.

Roughly cut the tomatoes, onions, peppers and cucumber into chunks. Add to a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Break the bread up in smaller pieces and add as well.

Process until preferred texture is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge for at least an hour, ideally over night for flavours to develop.

Serve cold in a glass or a bowl. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.

Swedish Split Pea Soup

sps1Can you make lunch today?” my mom asked one chilly morning while I sat down for coffee. 

Sure!” I said, not really knowing what to make. 

My parents and I always divided up the cooking duties during my visits back home. This yearly sojourn in Sweden has become a veritable feast of new recipes to discover on top of my old favourites I still get to enjoy. Food is a huge thing for my family. Almost daily trips to the grocery store, planning and prepping. So much fun. 

I took a sip of coffee and we started to plan the dayplan the food. We were talking about soup. How we all love soup. All kinds. Savoury, sweet, hot and cold.

“Almost,” my mom interjected. Her hand had reached out and touched my arm. “There is one I am not fond of.” 

It was the classic, Swedish split pea soup. 

Really? I thought. Perhaps she just hadn’t had a great version of it yet. sps2Back in the middle ages, Sweden, while still a Catholic empire, Friday was a day of fast. So, on Thursdays, people started making a hearty soup with yellow split peas, cooked in a delicious broth of pork and served with hard bread, mustard and cheese. 

Long after The Catholic Church lost its grip here, Thursday is still called ‘soup day’. Today’s Special in restaurants is often soup and most schools serve soup for lunch. 

Today was not Thursday. It was, however, a perfect day for hearty soup. This in mind, I jotted down items I needed to get for lunch. My mom, sharp eyed as ever, spotted ‘yellow split peas’ on the list. She looked at me. I looked at her, smiled and nodded. She smiled back. 

I’m looking forward to it,” she said. I assured her she’d love it, all the while quietly praying I would be right. 

This is a very simple recipethough a bit time consuming to preparethe results are rustic and beautiful. My dad loves split pea soup, so I wasn’t worried about him. My mom’s verdict? Well, one wouldn’t take seconds if one didn’t like it, correct?

Jens sps4

2 cups yellow split peas

8 cups water

1 large onion

2 carrots

2-3 bay leaves

300g bacon

5 whole allspice corns

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp thyme

4 cloves garlic

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup crème fraîche

pinch of salt

pepper

Place the peas in a large bowl and fill up with water. Leave to swell for 6-12 hours.

Drain the peas and transfer to a large sauce pan. Add most of the water. Cut the carrots in 2″ pieces and peel and quarter the onion. Add to the pot along with bay leaves. Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered for 30 min. Fold half of the bacon in half and tie together with kitchen string. Add along with the rest of the spices and let simmer for another 30 min. Stir once in a while and add water as needed. Remove the bacon and set aside. Let the soup cook until the peas are soft and starting to break down. 

In a frying pan, fry the rest of the bacon until nicely browned and crisp. Cut into small pieces and place in a serving dish. 

Remove carrots, onions, bay leaves and allspice corns from the soup. Cut the bacon from the soup into small pieces and add back to the soup. 

In a bowl, mix together mustard, creme fraiche, salt and pepper. 

Decorate the hot soup with a dollop of mustard crème fraîche and sprinkle with fried bacon. Serve with crisp bread, butter and Havarti cheese.sps3sps5

Spinach Soup with Egg Halves and Carrot Slaw

ss1We all have them. They come and go. Difficult to avoid. I’m talking about the days where you just want to stay in bed. Not move, not care, not anything. The reasons might be all different but the feeling is universal. I recently had one of those days. The weather was cold, grey, rainy and windy. Coffee didn’t even lift my spirit, which is rare. I knew I had to get up and get on with my day and was looking for something to cheer me up. 

This Swedish spinach soup came to mind. Traditionally served with egg halves and hard bread. I recently picked up some local eggs from a nearby farm and the yolk is the brightest orange you’ve ever seen. This in turn inspired me to go crazy with the colour. A refreshing carrot slaw with ginger and orange zest became a great side snack to the soup which offers subtle spinach, onion and a hint of freshly ground nutmeg. The meal did lift my spirit. Thanks to both flavour and colour. Try it. It’s the perfect lunch on a day when feeling a tad blue.

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Soup:

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely diced

2 1/2 tbsp flour

5 cups vegetable broth

500g frozen spinach

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

salt

white pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 boiled eggs

Carrot Slaw:

4-5 grated carrots

2 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

zest of 1 orange

2 tbsp orange juice

salt 

pepper

In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for the carrot slaw. Set aside to marinate while you make the soup.

In a large pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. When slightly browned add the onion and turn the heat down to medium. Sauté for 2-3 min until slightly translucent. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mix well. Let cook for another minute. Add about a cup of the broth and stir well. When simmering add the rest of the broth along with the spinach and nutmeg.

Let simmer for 10-15 min. Take of from the heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup along with the boiled eggs. The carrot slaw can be served on crackers or hard bread or on its own on a side plate. Serves 4.ss5
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