there is something oh-so-comforting about a big ol’ bowl of soup, don’t you agree? but it’s not just for winter y’know; i’m a big fan of asian broths in the summer months – full of fresh zesty flavours and crisp colourful veg – as well as traditional english offerings like pea and mint, and deliciously chilled spanish gazpacho. i would also absolutely swear by the healing properties of a comfortingly fragrant bowl of creamy chicken soup when you’re feeling under the weather, whatever the season.
since going dairy-free a few years ago though, i’ve really struggled with the discovery that most shop-bought soups contain an intriguing amount of milk, cream, milk powder or other lactose ingredients, in even the most un-creamy of concoctions (and frustratingly, many coconut-based oriental soups – why??!). as a result, i’ve found myself getting more and more adventurous with making my own soups from scratch at home, so it was a very happy day when villeroy & boch got in touch recently to introduce me to their soup passion range – literally the most perfect pieces to add to my new kitchen, and growing crockery collection!
i’m pretty sure this post may be the start of a regular ‘soup passion’ series here on the blog, given the number of new recipes i’ve tried my hand at in recent months, but for now i thought i’d share three of my recent faves which co-ordinate wonderfully with the pieces i selected from villeroy & boch’s new porcelain line..
a twist on spanish gazpacho
i mentioned my love for the ice-cold tang of spanish gazpacho in the summer months, so was immediately drawn to sarah britton‘s chill-out cucumber and avocado soup whilst browsing her latest cookbook, naturally nourished. creamy avocado and crisp cucumber certainly seemed a winning combo in my book, and the addition of lemon, mint and dukkah (an egyptian herb, nut and spice mixture), nailed it for me. the recipe is super simple to whip up – just blitz all the ingredients in a blender and strain – and because my avocados were sadly just on the wrong side of ripe, i decided to enhance the creaminess of my version with the addition of a little drizzled soya cream before i added the dukkah.
the perfect serving vessel from the soup passion collection for this lunchtime soup dish was the dual soup bowl, designed to allow you to serve soup and accompaniment together in one elegant double helix-style dish.
available in two sizes, this is probably my favourite of all the soup passion range, as to me it feels like the most versatile of the pieces. the smaller bowl is ideal for holding bread, fresh herbs, vegetables or any other tasty garnishes you’d like to add to your soup throughout the course, and is perfect for ensuring toppings such as crispy croutons don’t get overly soggy from being added to the hot broth too soon (nightmare!).
i also love the fact that the larger bowl has a sloping base, so that as you work your way through, the remaining soup in the dish pools together helping you to easily scoop up every last spoonful and not forgo a drop!
i served my chill-out cucumber and avocado soup with a side salad of pea shoots, crisp tomatoes and cubes of violife (a vegan cheese alternative made from coconut oil which is far tastier than it sounds, and oh so addictive!), but the dish would work equally well with a feta and watercress salad, and slices of grilled wholemeal toast.
japanese miso soup
the soup passion asia soup bowl with lid really is as handy as it’s name would suggest. the clever little compartmentalised tray fits perfectly atop the bowl so soup retains heat until it’s ready to consume, and also keep a selection of garnishes close to hand. the pleasingly deep bowl has an integrated groove in the rim to allow your chopsticks or small asia spoon to rest neatly as well, making the whole package both super cute and incredibly practical.
a natural partner for a serving of traditional japanese miso soup, i’ve paired mine with steamed vegetable gyoza served upon soup passion ceramic trays, and a generous bowlful of chilli-salt dusted edamame.
miso soup is often thought (wrongly to my mind) best suited to the depths of winter, but i believe that something that ticks both the healthy and comforting checkboxes shouldn’t be confined to a single season.
sushi in particular feels a very summer-y dish to me, but i rarely find myself craving just sushi alone – i always need to a mug of miso to accompany it. i have to confess to never having tried to make a pot of miso from scratch before though – and instead have a store cupboard laden with pre-packaged miso pastes complete with spring onions and wakame seaweed, ready and waiting for a just-boiled pour of the kettle to bring them to life.
that said, i’m definitely far more adventurous now in the additions i make to my pre-packaged soup servings. my favourite add-in is a soft-boiled egg, which adds both substance and intrigue to the soup, and i’m also partial to freshly grated cucumber, or pickled vegetables when i’m feeling especially bold.
someday soon i’ll try my hand at 101 cookbook’s classic miso soup with soba noodles, which sounds super simple to make and takes just ten minutes. the addition of the noodles will also make for a more substantial meal on its own – i usually have mine with gyoza or sushi, or as a starter for a rice or noodle-based main. have you ever tried making miso soup from scratch before?
thai green curry
this last dish is half culinary wizardry, half total cheat. by that i mean, made-from-scratch green thai curry paste (from a recipe in tess masters’ the perfect blend cookbook), used as the basis for a quick-as-a-flash, out-the-packet rice dish..
i think sometimes you need that balance in life. whilst i have time at the weekends to concoct and create, most times during the week by the time it gets to dinner i’m absolutely ravenous and want to eat all the food, immediately! so, by having spent time at the weekend leisurely blending homemade curry pastes that can be kept in sachets in the freezer ready for use, i have the building blocks for a truly tasty midweek dinner, with minimal effort.
i really do believe that a homemade paste makes all the difference to a great curry dish – shop bought fixes just pale in comparison!
now, i also have to confess that i like my thai green curries to be less on the soup-y side than most, but that doesn’t make the soup passion asia soup bowl any less of the perfect serving dish for this big ol’ bowl of deliciousness..
this recipe really could not be simpler; i fry some tofu pieces in a wok using a little coconut oil for a minute or so, add some fresh chopped green beans and tenderstem broccoli, toss for another minute before adding in a dollop of my homemade green thai paste and let it gently simmer to release the aromas.
then, easy as you like, i dump in a packet of microwave rice (coconut is my fave) and coat it in the paste before adding in a little coconut milk to bring the dish together. at this point you could of course add a whole lot more coconut milk and make the dish far more soup-y, i’ve just found that personally i prefer it a little drier.
to finish, i add a handful of desiccated coconut, and garnish with some pea shoots and a drizzle of fresh lime juice to bring out the tang of lemongrass, green chilli and fresh kaffir in the curry paste. it’s great to have a big chunky bowl to serve a dish like this up in, as this is a bowl of comfort food i think is best enjoyed on the sofa, in front of the midweek telly..
this post is in collaboration with villeroy & boch. all opinions and photography my own.