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.

As always more than happy to answer any questions.

 

 

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Roasted Marinated Chicken with Tomato Curry and Toasted Almonds

Oven roasted Chicken on the bone marinated in yogurt, spices and garlic. Served with a delicious medium spicy tomato based curry sauce and garnished with toasted almonds.

I love it when you design a recipe and it tastes just as you had hoped, this is definingly one of those occasions. The roasted chicken on the bone marinated in yogurt, garlic, turmeric, chilli, fennel seeds and garam masala is wonderfully moist and flavoursome. The medium spicy curry sauce made from tomato, onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, mustard seeds, cardamom, cloves and some butter is the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. A garnish of coriander leaf and some toasted almonds complete this dish.

Serve with choice of rice or Indian breads.

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Serves Two

Preparation time 15 minutes (plus 2-3 hours for marinating chicken)

Cooking time 35 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

For the marinated chicken:

2 large chicken thighs, on the bone – remove skin and membrane

6-8 dessert spoons Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp salt

3 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

Method: Combine the yogurt, garlic, salt and spices in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and mix well until covered in the marinade, cover bowl and put in a fridge for at least two hours (overnight is even better).

To cook the chicken, remove the bowl from fridge 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat your oven to 200°c, place the marinated chicken in a roasting tin and cook for 35 minutes. Rest the chicken for 5 minutes before serving.

For the curry sauce:

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 large round tomatoes – quarter

5 cloves garlic – peel, crush

Root ginger (thumb sized) – peel and thinly slice

2 bay leaves

2 large red chillies – remove stalks and seeds

2 small red onions – peel, dice

2 medium white onions

5 cardamom pods

5 cloves

15-20g flaked almonds – for sauce, extra below for garnish

1 tbsp.  brown sugar

Water – see method below

20g unsalted butter –  cut into cubes

Salt – to taste

Handful of almond flakes –  toast in a dry hot frying pan until coloured on both sides

Handful of coriander leaf – roughly chop

Method: Start by heating the vegetable oil over a medium high heat, add the mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop (like pop corn). Add the onions and fry for 4-5 minutes until they soften and colour. Next add the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, chilli, ginger, garlic, flaked almonds and tomatoes. stir well and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add water to the pan, enough to cover the mixture (around 200ml), bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 – 12 minutes.

Once the mixture has simmered remove the bay, cardamom and cloves.  Use a stick or standalone blender to blitz sauce until smooth. You may wish to add a little extra water depending upon how thick you like your curry sauce, take care not to add too much as it will dilute the flavour.

Bring the smooth sauce to a simmer then add 1 tbsp. sugar and season with salt to taste (I used 1 tsp salt), stir until dissolved into the sauce. Add the cubes of butter and stir as they melt into the sauce, they will bring the classic gleam to your sauce as well as adding flavour. Once the butter is melted into the sauce it is ready to serve.

To serve ladle the sauce into the serving plate, place chicken on top then garnish with toasted almonds and chopped coriander.

 

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Carrot and Coriander Soup

Classic soup made from carrots, onions, celery, stock, ground coriander and coriander leaf.

Easy to prepare, and a joy to eat. This is one of my favourite soups and one I eat often. I have also done a bit of experimenting and came up with a recipe for carrot and coriander curry using leftover soup – a really amazing dish that I hope you will try.

You require a stick blender for this recipe.

Tip: thinly slicing the vegetables , although not necessary, helps cook them quicker.

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Carrot and Coriander Soup

4 Portions (2 large bowls plus leftovers for curry)

Preparation and cooking time 45 minutes

Ingredients and method

750g carrots – peel, trim ends and thinly slice

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 bay leaf – remove before blending

3 white onions – peel, dice

3 sticks celery – trim, slice thinly

1.5 L vegetable stock

Handful of coriander leaf and stalks – keep a small amount for garnish and finely chop

1 heaped dessert spoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper – to taste

Method: Start by heating the oil in a deep soup/stock pot. Add the sliced carrot, onion, celery and bay leaf. Fry over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes until the vegetables soften. You want to add a little colour for flavour but do not let the vegetables burn. Next add the heaped dessert spoon of ground coriander, plus a generous amount of ground black pepper and stir through the vegetables, fry for a further 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. It is vital not to burn the spice, if it catches on bottom of pan add a little water to loosen it.

Add the stock and the fresh coriander (retain a little for garnish), bring to the boil then place lid on pan and reduce to a simmer. Leave the soup to simmer for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the lid and stir well, make sure you scape any residue on sides of pan back into the soup – that’s where the flavour is!

Remove the bay leaf then use the stick blender to blitz the soup until smooth. Add the retained coriander (very finely chopped). Taste and add required salt (should not need much as salt in stock already). Serve in a bowls with some nice crusty bread.

Once cooled store any leftovers in the fridge, and use them the next day to make my carrot and coriander curry.

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.