Mexican Chilli Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

A comforting soup flavoured with four different types of chillies, served with grilled cheese Quesadillas.

This is essentially soup and sandwiches – comfort food, Mexican style.

The soup is flavoured with four different chillies – Ancho, Guajillo, Chipotle and red chillies. The soup is rich, Smokey and very delicious with its flavour coming from a wonderful paste made from pan roasting the chillies along with tomatoes bell peppers, garlic, onions and spices.  Charring these in a pan before blending makes such a difference and really brings the flavours to life. Diced carrot and celery are fried, stock is added, then the paste followed by a good simmer. Before serving diced bell peppers, more sliced red chillies, diced onion and some fresh coriander leaf are added to give the soup texture and freshness.

The Quesadillas are the perfect accompaniment and very easy to make – just don’t tell anyone how easy! They can be made in minutes, and eaten even quicker.

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Soup gives 4 portions

Quesadillas recipe for 2 persons

Cooking time 40 minutes

 

Ingredients and Method

For the Mexican Chilli Soup

1 stick celery – dice

1 medium size carrot – peel, dice

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tomatoes

3 small white onions – leave whole with skin on

1 ancho chilli

1 guajillo chilli

2 red chillies – thinly slice one chilli, Set aside in a bowl

4 cloves garlic – leave skin on the cloves

1 orange bell pepper – dice half the pepper, set aside in a bowl

1 red bell pepper – dice half the pepper, set aside in a bowl

1 red onion – dice, set aside in a bowl

Generous handful of fresh coriander – keep a few stalks aside and roughly chop the rest

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chipotle paste

1/2 tsp oregano

4 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1.5 litres chicken stock

Method: Start by warming a large flat pan or griddle over a medium heat. Place the tomatoes, garlic, the chillies, half the bell peppers and onions on and dry fry until they become slightly charred, for approx. 7-8 minutes, turning halfway through. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dry fry until the spices become aromatic.

Remove the contents from the pan, add the spices to a food processor and leave the rest on a chopping board to cool for a few minutes. Once cooled remove the skins from the garlic and onions, but leave the skins on the peppers and tomatoes. Add everything to the food processor along with a few coriander stalks,  1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp chipotle paste, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp oregano and 4 tsp brown sugar. Blitz until a smooth paste is formed, make sure you blend it well as the smoother the paste the smoother the final soup.

Add 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to a deep soup pan over a medium heat, once hot add the diced carrot and celery and fry for 4-5 minutes until softened. Next add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Now add the paste and stir well, bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Complete the soup by adding the diced bell peppers, onion and sliced chilli then simmer for a further 5 minutes – enough to heat these through but not so long that they loose their texture. As a final step add the chopped coriander and stir through. The soup is now ready to serve.

For the cheese Quesadillas

4 corn tortillas (2 per person)

Canola oil – in a spray or ramekin with pastry brush

2 handfuls of sweetcorn

2 medium tomatoes – diced

1 small red onion – diced

Handful of coriander – roughly chopped

150g strong cheddar cheese – grated

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of sea salt

Garlic mayonnaise – optional, to serve

Barbeque sauce – optional, to serve

Method: Begin by pre heating your oven to 170°c, and warm a flat frying pan over a medium heat.

In a large glass bowl, mix the tomatoes, sweetcorn, coriander leaf, ground coriander, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cheddar cheese.

Spray one side of the corn tortillas with canola oil then heat the tortilla on that side until golden, remove and repeat with the rest of the tortillas.

Assemble the quesadillas by spooning the mixture on the non cooked side of the tortillas then like a sandwich place another tortilla on top. Place the assembled quesadillas on a baking tray and heat them through in the oven for approx. 15 minutes, until the cheese in the mixture melts – this could be slightly quicker or slower depending upon how big the tortillas are and how much filling you have added.

Remove them from the oven, let them cool slightly then cut into quarters. As an optional garnish drizzle some garlic mayonnaise and some barbeque sauce  over them.

 

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Mexican Prawn and Crab Soup

King prawns and swimming crab in a delicious prawn stock flavoured with tomato, chipotle, guajillo, garlic and bell pepper. Garnished with strips of fried corn tortilla, red onion, sliced chilli, avocado and coriander leaf.

This recipe is far simpler than it looks, and is made in three easy stages – making a prawn shell stock, making a paste to flavour the stock, then adding the meat and the garnishes.

Like all great soups it is important to get the absolute maximum flavour out of the ingredients, the garnishes not only look pretty but add extra flavour and different textures to the dish.

You must use whole raw king prawns for this dish, although tinned crab meat is ok. You require a mini chopper, blender or food processor for this recipe.

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Serves Two people

Preparation and cooking 45-50 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

For the prawn stock

Shells and heads from 250-300g raw king prawns – keep meat separate

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 carrot – peel, thinly slice

1 stick celery – thinly slice

1 onion – peel, slice

2 bay leaves

1-2 tbsp. coriander leaf and stalk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1.25l water

Method: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the raw prawn shells and stir-fry until they all change from grey to pink. Add the onion, bay, carrot and celery and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.

Add  the water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Add the salt, pepper and coriander and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool then strain the stock, ensuring that you squeeze all the juice out of the shells. Set aside for later.

To flavour the stock

3 dried guajillo chillies – soak in water for 30 minutes, discard liquid

3 large round tomatoes

6 cloves garlic – leave skin on, see method

1 large white onion

1 tsp chipotle paste

1 red bell pepper – remove stalk and seeds, cut into quarters

1 fish stock cube – I use knorr stock cubes

Method: Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, guajillo chillies and the onion. Dry fry these, turning occasionally for 15-20 minutes until they show some colour, then remove on to a chopping board and allow to cool.

Remove the garlic skins, remove the onion skin and quarter the tomatoes. Add all the ingredients into the mini chopper along with 1 tsp chipotle paste. Blitz until a smooth paste is formed.

Warm the stock from earlier over a medium heat, add the flavour paste and the stock cube, stir well until combined, bring to the boil for 10 minutes then reduce to a simmer.

For the Prawns, Crab and garnishes

250-300 Raw King Prawn meat

125-150g tin shredded blue swimming crab meat

Vegetable oil for shallow frying

2 corn tortillas – cut into strips

1 avocado – slice into strips at last minute

1 red onion – diced

1 red chilli – thinly sliced

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander leaf

Method: Heat the oil to 175-180°c then fry the tortilla strips in small batches until golden and crispy. Only do a few at a time as they cook very quickly. Drain them on absorbent paper and set aside ready to add to the dish.

Prepare the other garnishes – dice the avocado, dice the onion and slice the red chilli, collect together ready to add to the soup.

Bring the soup back to the boil them add the prawns, turn off the heat and let the residual heat poach the prawns. As soon as they turn pink serve the dish.

Ladle the soup and prawns in to deep serving bowls. Add the shredded crab in chunks, add the tortilla strips, onion, avocado, chilli and coriander then serve immediately.

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Scottish Mussels in roasted Tomato and Pepper sauce

Rope grown Scottish mussels, cooked in a sauce made from roasted tomato, red pepper, onion, garlic, chilli, fish stock, white wine and coriander.

One of my favourite ways to cook mussels, guaranteed to bring flavour to your diner table. The secret of the flavour comes from the roasted sauce, which brings a rich deeply satisfying flavour to the dish. Serve with some nice sour dough or crusty bread.

Many people are put off cooking mussels at home because they think it is either hard or too time consuming. In reality it is very easy, to prepare the mussels simply rinse them in water, then soak them in water for 10-15 minutes, discarding any that stay open. To clean them scrape any barnacles off the shells and remove the beards by pulling them gently then cut them off with kitchen scissors. Rinse them well under running water, then they are ready to cook – which takes a matter of minutes, and is easy to tell because they open when they are cooked.

Note: to cook this recipe you require a wide, deep pan with a tight fitting lid.

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Serves two people

Preparation 45 minutes, cooking time less than 10 minutes.

 

Ingredients and method

For the roasted tomato sauce:

2 small red onions – roast whole

1 medium white onion – roast whole

1 Romano pepper – remove stalk and seeds

2 red chillies – remove stalk and seeds

4 plum tomatoes

2 round tomatoes

6 cloves garlic

Method: Pre heat your oven to 220°c. Place the tomatoes, onions, chilli, garlic and pepper on the tray and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove the skins from the tomatoes, chilli, peppers, garlic and onion. Place all in a mini blender or food processor and blitz until a smooth sauce is made.

For the main dish

1 kg rope grown mussels – see opening notes for cleaning instructions

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 glass dry white wine

500ml fish stock

1 tsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper – to taste

3 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander

Method: Heat 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil in the pan over a medium heat. Add the roasted sauce along with the white wine, fish stock, sugar, black pepper and a little salt – take care not to add too much as there is salt in the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander, stir well, then add the cleaned mussels. Increase the heat until sauce starts to bubble then place the lid on the pan, reduce heat slightly and leave to cook for 3 minutes. Carefully remove lid and look at the mussels, they are ready when they open (see picture for example) if necessary replace lid and cook for further minute. It is important not to over cook the mussels as they will turn rubbery.

Ladle into pre warmed bowls and serve straight away with some nice sourdough or crusty bread to soak up the wonderous sauce.

 

 

 

 

Scottish Parsnip Soup

A very easy recipe for fantastic tasting Scottish parsnip soup.

The inspiration for this soup comes from my Grandmother or Granny as we call them in Scotland. She made truly amazing soups and my aim is always to try to match hers. She is sadly no longer with us but I do think she would have liked this.

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Ingredients

500g parsnips – peel and thinly slice

100g carrots – peel and slice

1 medium sized leek – wash and slice

2 sticks celery – slice

75g garden peas

4 medium sized white onions – peel and slice

2 bay leaves

1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock

1.5 tbsp. rapeseed oil

Sea salt – for grinding

Black pepper – for grinding

Method: Add the rapeseed oil to a deep soup or stock pot and warm over a medium heat. Add the leeks, bay and onions and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot, celery, peas and parsnips, stir well and fry for 5-7 minutes until the mixture softens.

Add the stock, stir well, increase heat to bring to the boil for 2 minutes then reduce to a simmer, cover and let it bubble away for 35-40 minutes.

Carefully remove the lid (watch for steam), fish out the bay leaves, then use a stick blender to blitz soup until smooth. Season with a little salt and black pepper to taste and stir well. Serve with rolls or crusty bread and enjoy!

The soup can be cooled then stored in a fridge overnight for the next day, when it tastes even better.

Mussels in Laksa Broth

Mussels cooked in my Laksa broth, with tofu, spring onions, chilli and coriander.

This recipe is a great way of using the Laksa paste in my Laksa recipe. Mussels work very well with their slightly sweet taste complimenting the Laksa broth. Serve either as a starter or a main course along with some noodles.

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Serves two

Cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients and method

Half of Laksa paste – see my Laksa recipe if making this first

2 Kg live rope grown Mussels – see below for preparation

Handful of pre fried Tofu pieces

3 large red chillies – cut into thin strips

3 spring onions – cut on diagonal

Handful of fresh coriander leaf – roughly chop

500ml coconut milk

500ml fish stock

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1.5 tbsp. vegetable oil

To prepare mussels: Rinse thoroughly under running water, then soak mussels in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. Discard water, rinse again then discard any mussels that are already open. Remove beards (most will pull off, but some may require scissors)  and scrape off any barnacles. Set aside ready to cook.

To cook: Start by heating 1.5 tbsp. vegetable oil in a deep soup/stock pot (you need one with a lid) over a medium high heat. Add the curry paste and fry (stirring frequently) for 6-7 minutes until the paste is very aromatic and starts to split from the oil. Make sure you do not burn the paste, add a little of the fish stock if it catches on the pan. Next add the fish stock and the coconut milk, stir until combined then bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the tofu pieces, 1 tbsp. fish sauce, 1 tbsp. soy sauce and 1 tbsp. brown sugar then stir well until combined. Add the cleaned mussels then increase heat to bring back to a simmer, place the lid on the pan,  and let the mussels cook for 3 minutes. Next add the sliced chilli, spring onions and coriander, replace lid and simmer for a further minute then serve.

Please browse my many other recipes including my original Laksa

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Spiced Bean Soup

A rich, smokey and spicey soup of vegetables and mixed beans

A simple recipe for a rich, smokey, spicey and deeply flavoursome soup which is as healthy as it is delicious. A flavour base of onion, peas, garlic, carrot and celery is fried in a little olive oil then mixed beans, chipotle paste, spices, herbs, tomato paste and stock are added. Unlike most my soups this one is not blended so it is important to spend a little time cutting the vegetables so that they are all the same size and cook at the same time. The result is a soup with a really satisfying deep flavour – works brilliantly with a nice bacon roll (other fillings are available) or as a starter on its own.

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 This recipe gives 4 large portions

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 45 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 white onions – finely diced

3 sticks celery – finely diced

4 cloves garlic – crush finely chopped

50g garden peas

4 carrots – peel, finely diced

400g tin mixed beans (in water) – drain, rinse well

2 bay leafs

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp chipotle paste

2 dessert spoons tomato paste

1 dessert spoon brown sugar

1.5 litres vegetable/chicken stock

2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaf

salt and pepper

Method: Start by heating 2 tbsp. olive oil in a deep stock/soup pot then fry the onion, bay leafs, carrot, garlic, peas and celery for 5-7 minutes until slightly softened. Add the beans, the chipotle and tomato paste and mix well, then add the spices. Stir fry for a further 2 minutes then add in the stock, the chopped coriander, the sugar, a generous amount of black pepper and a little salt. Bring the soup to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover pot with lid and cook for around 40 minutes. After this carefully remove lid and taste test the seasoning, add a little extra salt or pepper if required. Before serving remove the bay leafs then ladle the soup into bowls. Enjoy.