Sunday, 24 February 2013

Snowy Sunday in Berlin: Red Lentil and Spiced Carrot Soup

Hearty red lentils and spices make this a warming, satisfying soup

Winter is resolutely refusing to budge in Berlin.  A few milder days in early February lulled us into false hopes that the worst was behind us, but the cold bit back with a vengeance.  It's the sort of cold that seeps into your bones and hovers over the city with sinister force; trying to dissuade potential revellers from venturing outside.

I put my survival to date down to two vital ingredients:
1. Duvet coat
2. Soup ….
... and copious amounts of it.  Making soup on a Sunday (when everything in Berlin is shut) is a therapeutic antidote to the preceeding night's adventures which invariably involve artic conditions and trudging from one bar to the next on perilous ice or slush.  Cook a big batch to keep you warm through the rest of the week when the weather is too schlecht to bother with the shops and too dark to inspire you to cook.

This gently spiced soup is particularly warming, and the lentils make it hearty and satisfying.  Curl up and enjoy a big bowl with some crusty bread.  Guaranteed to provide resilience until Spring arrives.

Jules x


small piece of fresh ginger
1tsp cumin seeds
a pinch chilli flakes
1 onion
2 large carrots
150g red lentils
1litre vegetable stock (I use Marigold bouillon)
small bunch fresh coriander

Finely chop the onion.  Peel and grate the ginger and the carrots.  Heat some olive oil in a large pan and fry the ginger and spices for a couple of minutes.  Add the carrot and onion and cook for 5 mins.  Add the lentils and stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.  Check the lentils are tender, if not cook a wee bit more.  Blend.

Sprinkle the coriander to serve.  You can stir through a spoonful of natural yoghurt if you fancy.

Enjoy as it warms your bones.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Cullen Skink from KK 2013 Calendar

By Ceri 

I am lucky and get to spend some time in Scotland every January for an amazing festival they have in Glasgow called Celtic Connections.  I love Scotland.  I love the people, the music, the landscapes, the Whisky and also the food.  Babbity Bowsers is a great pub in Glasgow and is where I was introduced to this Scottish dish by my dear cousin, Gareth.  A hearty, warming treat of a dish in the form of smoked haddock and potatoes in a tasty soup.  Some people add cream to this, but I don't think it needs it.  Best eaten whilst sipping on a fine ale, catching up with family and listening to some cracking tunes


500g undyed, well sourced smoked haddock
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 large leek, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
500 ml milk
100 ml white wine
1 bay leaf
1 lemon
1 tsp mustard powder
salt and pepper
2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
Fresh chives or parsely to garnish

  • Place the smoked haddock skin side down in a large pan with 500 ml water, peppercorns and the bay leaf.
  • Poach gently for approx 4 mins so the fish is just cooked.
  • Remove the skin from the fish, put the skin back in the cooking stock and set aside.
  • Flake the fish and place to one side.
  • Gently fry the onion, garlic and leeks in a separate pan until soft but not browning. Add the potato cubes and fry for 10 minutes coating the outside in butter.
  • Add the fish stock, wine and lemon juice and boil the potatoes for a further 10 minutes until soft. Now add the milk & mustard powder and season.
  • I very much prefer my Cullen Skink to have a hearty feel to it and therefore like having chunks of potato and fish to eat. I usually mash the potato lightly in the mixture and then add the fish. If you prefer yours a smoother texture, run it through a blender or liquidiser.
    Warm the mixture through, check seasoning.
  • Add chopped parsley or chives and serve with a big piece of chunky bread. Yum!