Prawn soup with Orzo

Don’t you just love making soup when it’s cold outside? Try this prawn soup with orzo next time you want to make a hot delicious soup to warm the soul after you come home freezing cold. I expected some serious cold in November here in the Netherlands but mother nature clearly had other plans. November was a nice and warm month with no cold, no snow and even more important: no ice.

I live in the Netherlands and us Dutch people are known for our love of ice skating. I actually know a lot of people who get really excited when the temperature drops below zero for more than a day. The mere prospect of maybe skating on natural ice can get the whole nation into a frenzy. There are a lot of Dutch people that are genuinely awesome at ice skating and we have a lot of ice skate champions here.

Having said that………………does anyone remember the famous scene in Bambi when he got onto the ice for the very first time? His legs all spread out under him and he can’t get up no matter how hard he tries? That’s more or less how I feel on the ice. To be honest it’s not that bad, but next to others on the ice here I feel like Bambi. That’s why I decided to get some ice skating lessons this year. I convinced my 8-year-old son to join me in the lessons and we both bought ice skates. We had our first lesson in November while it was still 15 degrees (Celsius) outside. That did not stop me from making a big pan of this prawn soup with orzo when we got home though. The prawns are my favourite part of this soup. Don’t you just love prawn?

Prawn soup with orzo

I remember never eating prawn growing up because of my mum’s dislike of seafood and fish in general. I still don’t understand how one cannot like all fish and all seafood. There are so many different fish and seafood that taste so different that I can’t understand how you can exclude such a big food group from your diet. Surely there must have been certain types of fish or seafood that my mum would have liked. Unfortunately, she was not prepared to try it. That’s why I did not eat a lot of prawns when I was young, but I certainly made up for that as an adult.

I’m a sucker for prawns and have them whenever I can. That’s why I love this prawn soup with orzo. An added bonus is that the kids call this “the best soup ever”. Also, this prawn soup with orzo is easy to make and the ingredients can be found in almost every supermarket. So there is no need for a trip to any speciality stores.

I tried this hearty comfort food soup with both fresh and frozen prawn and both worked just fine. Serve it with a crusty baguette and some garlic butter to coat the bread with. One last thing! Be sure to divide the prawn equally over the bowls, because they are the best part. Taking more prawn than you’re entitled to would be shellfish……………

Prawn soup with orzo

I hope you enjoy this prawn soup recipe as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

 

Prawn soup with Orzo
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • 500 gr peeled prawns (frozen or fresh)
  • 3 small red onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 3 bell peppers (preferably red or yellow)
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 200 gr orzo pasta
  • 10 gr chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • chili flakes, to serve
Instructions
  1. In a large pan sauté the onion on medium heat in oil until they start to colour. I used a Dutch oven with a heat diffuser underneath. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute longer. Don’t let the garlic get too dark or it will become bitter. Then add the tomatoes, the bell pepper and cook and stir for 8 minutes.
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  3. After 8 minutes you add the tomato paste. Fry this until it starts to caramelize. The caramelization is the secret to the umami taste you are looking for. If you don’t do this you will get sort of a sour raw tomato flavour. Fry it until it goes dark and starts to stick a little to the pan, but don’t let it burn.
  4.   

  5. Then use the stock to deglaze the pan while you make sure you scrape up all the bits that got stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the frozen prawn and bring it all to a boil (if you are using fresh prawn then add them about two minutes before the orzo is cooked). Then add the orzo pasta, cover and simmer for 8 minutes or until the orzo is cooked. Check the instruction on the package of the orzo you’re using as this may vary.

  6.   

  7. When the orzo is cooked take the soup off the heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. My kids prefer it without the lemon juice so I serve it on the side for us adults. Serve the soup immediately and sprinkle it with chili flakes over it. Serve it with a crusty baguette and some garlic butter.

Soba noodles with aubergine and mango

I love to cook and eat and what better person to share this passion with then the love of my life. Not that he’s much into cooking new recipes, but he definitely loves to eat. The best part is that he shares my enthusiasm for exciting food, textures and flavours. It’s such a joy to cook for someone who loves to eat as much as I do. He is always willing to try new things and is not fussy about certain ingredients. I don’t know if I would love cooking as much as I do if I had to adjust all recipes to fit his preferences.

I’m also lucky that my kids eat a lot of the dishes I cook, but kids will be kids and of course my kids are fussy sometimes. I do teach them that they are not allowed to say that they don’t like something when they have never tasted it before. That means they always have to taste everything I make. I have surprised them on a few occasions where they did not expect to like what I had put in front of them, and then they ended up having seconds. The first time that happened was when I made the green couscous from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Of course, what kid likes green fuzzy stuff on first sight, right? It’s now their favorite couscous recipe. I will share that recipe on another occasion.

There is one exception to the ‘tasting’ rule. If I use chilies in a dish then they don’t have to taste it if they don’t want to. They are not accustomed to spicy food (yet). So, the first time I made the soba noodles with aubergine and mango I also made a separate dish for them because the recipe called for red chili in the dressing. However……..when the kids heard our mumbles of joy at the dinner table they both asked for a bite despite the chilies. Which was ok because the vinegar in the dressing had made the chilies less spicy. After one bite of our salad they shoved their plate of pasta away and asked for a bowl of this salad. Go figure……….. They said the salad tastes like sushi 😆 and they love sushi.

This salad is very simple and nutritious; it has the perfect balance of flavours and a great mix of textures. It’s a salad that keeps you going back for more and more and more………………

After I made it the first time it quickly turned into one of my favourite summer salads which you can also easily take to potlucks or BBQ parties. If you want to keep it all to yourself (which totally makes sense to me) just store it in the fridge for a perfect easy lunch during the week. It’s so refreshing, especially when the temperatures are warm and the sky is sunny. The mango might seem weird in this recipe, but it’s an absolute must. Just make sure your mangoes are of the juicy and delicious variety.

The original recipe has you frying the aubergine in 220ml sunflower oil, but besides the fact that all that oil is not that healthy I don’t like it when the aubergine soak up a lot of oil. I only use just enough oil to ‘bake’ the aubergine in a skillet on the stove. I think I don’t use more than 2 tbs per batch (2 batches).

   

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me if you liked it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with aubergine and mango

Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with aubergine and mango

5 from 2 votes
Soba Noodles with Aubergine and Mango

Source: “Plenty” – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 120 ml rice vinegar
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 4 tbs sunflower oil
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
  • 250 g soba noodles
  • 1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm dice
  • 40 g basil leaves, chopped
  • 40 g coriander leaves, chopped
  • ½ red onion, very thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. First make the dressing. In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice. 

  2. Heat up 2 tbs of sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry/bake the aubergine in 2 batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain. Repeat with the remaining aubergine. I have to say that when I do this it never releases any fluids so I don’t do this anymore. Maybe because I don’t use a lot of oil.

  3. Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 4–5 minutes to become tender but still retaining a bite (check your package for instructions). Drain and rinse well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a tea towel.

  4. In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, aubergine, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1–2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.

Gnocchi with Sausage, Spinach and Peas

Once upon a time…………. a few weeks ago I was in the mood for a gooey cheesy casserole. As I’m always looking for new pasta dishes I wanted to try a gnocchi recipe. Gnocchi is a small, dumpling-like pasta common throughout the whole of Italy made with semolina flour or potatoes. You’ll probably find them with the fresh or dried pasta in your supermarkets. While gnocchi is traditionally boiled and served with simple toppings such as olive oil and a little Parmesan, this recipe has you frying them for a crunchy twist.

             

I would not be surprised if this gnocchi dish becomes a regular in our meal rotation. It’s easy, fast and super tasty. I prefer to fry the gnocchi and cook the peas separately, but you could turn this into a one pot meal if you add the gnocchi and the peas into the tomato sauce. Then there will be only a little washing up to do afterwards. Sometimes cooking can be so relaxed, and sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax…….am I right?

My kids loved this gnocchi dish and gobbled it up before you I could say ‘bon appetit’. I’m sure it will also satisfy the carb lovers, the carnivores, the melty cheese eaters and even the veggie lovers in my life.

I usually serve this with a simple green salad but if you want to indulge you can always serve some crusty bread to mop up all the leftover sauce! For a less indulgent meal you can use minced chicken as a more healthy variant. Add spices like thyme and fennel seeds to mimic the seasoning of the Italian sausage used in this recipe.

Don’t you just love italian food? By the way…………did you hear about that italian chef that died?
He pasta way.
We cannoli do so much.
His legacy will become a pizza history.
He ran out of thyme

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

            

Gnocchi with Sausage, Spinach and Peas
Source: Culy.nl
Servings: 5 people
Ingredients
  • 500 grams of gnocchi
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh sausages (choose a good brand with Italian spices or make your one)
  • 200 grams of fresh baby spinach (or chopped normal size spinach)
  • 1 tin of canned diced tomatoes with juices (do not drain)
  • 70 ml of water or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 100 grams shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 25 grams of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 200 grams peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and peppe
Instructions
  1. You start by cooking the gnocchi in a pan of boiling water for a couple of minutes (check the package for directions) until they float to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to take the gnocchi out of the water and strain the gnocchi until all of the liquid drains off. Don’t throw them into a hot frying pan immediately, because the water on the outside of the pasta will not allow the gnocchi to develop a nice, golden crust. Drain all the water (in a strainer) and add a drizzle of olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat.

  2. Put the gnocchi into the pan, and spread them around with the back of a spoon to create an even layer over the pan, this is very important for the crunchy crust. Let the gnocchi fry for a couple of minutes until they turn golden brown. Turn them gently with a spatula, and cook on the other side until brown and crispy. Take them out of the pan and set aside for later.

  3. Cook the peas in a pan with boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and also set aside for later.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large broiler-safe skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until brown which will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Take the sausages out of their casing and cut them in little pieces. Add the garlic to the pan and fry for a minute with the onion. Then add the sausage, salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes while breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Add spinach a handful at a time and cook, stirring, until wilted,  this will take about 4 minutes.

  5. Then add the canned tomatoes, the water (or the stock) and the dried herbs and spices. Taste and add seasoning when necessary. Mix well and add the fried gnocchi to the pan. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pan and if necessary add a dash of water. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and let it simmer for a while, until the cheese forms a melted gooey cheesy layer on the pasta. That takes about four minutes. In the meantime preheat the broiler of your oven.

  6. Position a baking sheet in the upper third of oven. Broil until the cheese starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. This gives the cheese an irresistibly crusty crust. Remove from the oven, top with some chopped basil or oregano if desired. 

  7. Enjoy immediately.