Not too long ago Dear Readers, you may remember I reviewed A Gluten Free Taste Of Turkey by Sibel Hodge, and this successful author, qualified Health and Fitness Professional and self-professed Wonder Woman- has already released her next cookbook- A Gluten Free Soup Opera!
This Souperb book takes your taste buds on a journey around the culinary world, sharing the favourite flavours of each country or continent in a spectacularly spoon friendly fashion.
From Asia to Africa, the best of each cuisine is distilled into a deep dish of dining delight!
The fun and quirky personality of Sibel is one of the things that makes her books special. Instead of just a dry list of contents or ingredients, Sibel promises that that all her recipes are not only gluten free, but ricin free as well, and that eating soup makes you super attractive to the opposite sex- now how could you resist putting that theory to the test?
Each recipe is again prefaced with delightful insights into the ingredients used- from recommending goggles for peeling onions, to using certain ingredients as an anti-aging face cream, to claiming that the use of goat milk products will make you you cuter to look at, as well as a wealth of nutritional information to tempt you to try them for health benefits alone. I have to admit though, that the recipes I tried taste so good that I didn't really care if they were good for me, I just loved the taste :)
The first recipe to catch my eye was, in fact, the very first recipe in the book- African Peanut Soup.
My family loves peanuts, and Asian peanut satay is one of our favourite meals so I thought that this dish would probably go down well...and I was right!
Made up of sweet potatoes, capsicums and of course a healthy dose of peanuts it was absolutely delicious and had a gorgeous richness to it too.
The Carrot and Coriander Soup sounded so wonderful that it will be receiving a whole blog post of it's own, and the Festive Chestnut Soup is just what I need to use up that bag of roasted, peeled chestnuts that have been languishing in my freezer since last season. They have obviously been biding their time for such a glorious transformation such as this.
I will also have to plan a Ladies Lunch, so I have an excuse to create the Salmon and Green Tea Soup. Its subtle sounding sophistication shouldn't be wasted on my husband, who much prefers tinned mackerel for his fishy fix, and only drinks sweet, milky Irish Breakfast tea- yuck! My friends and I, however, will enjoy the antioxidant and Omega3 benefits while we sip and slurp our way elegantly to the end of each bowl..
Once again Sibel has produced another great user-friendly cookbook. While recommending homemade stock, the use of convenient items like stock cubes is acknowledged, and most ingredients are readily available at large supermarkets without trouble. The recipes are easy to make without too much mucking about, and I foresee that this self-confessed Soup-a-holic will soon have you joining her in a big bowl of steamy goodness!
African Peanut Soup
From A Gluten Free Soup Opera by Sibel Hodge
3 Spring Onions (1 large white/brown onion for us)
2 cloves Garlic
5 cups Chicken Stock
1 large Carrot
1 Sweet Potato
1 Yellow Capsicum
1 Red Capsicum
1 cup gf Peanut Butter
2 large Tomatoes
2 tab Tomato Paste
1 1/2 inch piece fresh Ginger
1 or two fresh Chilli or Chilli Flakes
1 tab Paprika
Splah of Oil
Dice the capsicums, chilli and onions. Now as you can see, I couldn't find a yellow capsicum anywhere on this particular day, but red ones I have a plenty in the garden. A yellow capsicum brings a lovely mellow sweetness so substitute with a red one if necessary, but not with the slightly sharp green ones
One of Sibel's handy tips is to grate the tomatoes. You just slice off the bottom end, then holding the stem end grate it on a grater into a bowl. The flesh and juice will come away easily into the bowl and the skin will be left in your hand
As I already had the grater out, I used it to grate the carrot, ginger and garlic as well- but you could chop them instead if you like
Roughly dice the sweet potato- of course you could grate that too, but it was pretty big...
Strictly speaking, Sibel's recipe just asks you to fry the capsicum and onions until soft. Add the rest, bring to the boil, simmer for 35-45 minutes, then blend until smooth.
Now that's fine, but a little more effort here at the start will make a big difference to the finished soup at the end- sorry Sibel!
Sweat off the capsicum, chilli and onions in the oil until starting to soften, you don't need colour here. Then add in the carrot and other grated ingredients as well as the spices and tomato paste and cook down until they collapse and soften up as well.
This will bring out a lot more sweetness from the veggies and take the 'raw' taste out of the tomato paste, making a slightly more mellow soup overall. All the flavours will happily start to mingle before blitzing and become friendly with each other a lot sooner
Now pop in the chicken stock, sweet potato and peanut butter
Mix thoroughly and let it simmer away for half an hour or so, or until the veggies are totally cooked through and soft. If the sweet potato isn't cooked enough the soup won't blend properly and it will taste gritty, so err on the side of squishiness here.
Also DON"T forget to stir the soup well or place it on a simmer mat- the peanut butter catches on the bottom of the pot really easily
Once done to specified squishiness, blitz the soup with a stick blender or other less handy blender until it's nice and silky smooth. Check for seasoning- it will depend a lot on if your peanut butter has added sugar or salt, that's why you should check at the end instead of trying to adjust it as you go
I garnished my soup with a bit more peanut butter, some chopped peanuts and a little sprinkle of paprika for colour- Beautiful!
My family loved this rich peanutty soup, and were blissfully unaware that I had snuck in a healthy dose of vegetables to their treat as well. We were all happy, thanks Sibel!
So Dear Readers, do you make much soup, and what's your family favourite?
The InTolerant Chef was gifted a free e-copy of 'A Gluten Free Soup Opera', by the author Sibel Hodge. No payment was received for this review.
A Gluten Free Soup Opera
Also available in all other major ereader formats from B&N, Kobo, iStore, Smashwords.