Good for brain: The Magnificent Veal feet soup

The first time my mother served this soup; my brother and I were freshly in our teen years. His blue and sparkling eyes looked at me full of disgust, they were saying this is definitely the worst soup in the world. I agreed, slimy, gelatinous texture, strong flavor.

Few minutes later after a short but spicy argument with our mother we were obediently eating f**** soup trying not to think about the new entry on our You must eat that and I do not want to argue Menu. This soup was here to stay.

After a full year of cooking only macrobiotic, low fat, almost no meat, fresh and raw my mother decided that going to extreme is not good for her and that her blood type 0 deserve meat diet. At the time we were visiting and consulting several alternative experts regarding her MS diagnose and one of them convinced her that the veal tendons contain something (I completely forgot what) very good for brain synapse recovery.

25 years later I adore deep, slimy and meaty flavor this soup has. Despite the promise my teenage brain made not to ever eat this soup when I grow up I cook it regularly.
Never say never.
These bones are not easy to find; I have to pre order them from my butcher. Antonio cooks them privately at home and like to eat them but he’s not keeping them in the shop because nobody buys them.

2 veal feet (skinned, no hoof)
2 small onions (halved)
2 clove garlic (crushed)
1 carrot (whole)
few black peppercorns
some parsley
small piece of celery root
8 – 10 cups cold water
The Magnificent Veal feet soup

Combine all ingredients in a large pot; simmer on low heat for at least 2 hours (1 hour in a pressure cooker). Strain the soup. Remove the tendon from the bones and cut in bite size pieces. Cook in some soup pasta, mix in tendon parts and sprinkle with fresh parsley. You can feel how your gray brain cells are growing:-)

veal feet

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

3 cups chicken stock
1+1/2 chicken breast (cubed)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
4 tbsp. fish sauce
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 small chili (chopped)
1 tsp. muscovado sugar
165 ml (like 3/4 cup) coconut milk
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 spring onion (sliced)
2 tbsp. chopped peanuts
150 g rice noodles (cooked)
1 tsp. sesame oil
white pepper
bean sprouts (blanched)

Add turmeric, fish sauce, garlic, chili, sugar and coconut milk to the stock. Bring to a boil, add cubed chicken breast and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add sesame oil and peanuts.
Assembly – place rice noodles in a bowl, add some bean sprouts, cover with soup and garnish with spring onion.

Singaporean laksa soup

Singaporean laksa soup

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup found in many Asian regions, especially Malaysia and Singapore. There is no one specific way to make Laksa, for it has been altered over hundreds of years, and each culture – and even person – has a unique signature recipe.

The most important step is to make your own spice paste – unique to your own liking! I don’t like it too spicy, so i cut the amount of chilies in half and we are using olive oil instead of peanut oil.

 Spice paste 
3 stalks of lemon grass (tender, white hearts minced)
2 hot red chili peppers (deseeded, minced)
4 tsp. galangal (or 4 slices of fresh ginger)
1 tbsp. fresh ginger (chopped)
1 tsp. shrimp paste
3 shallots (roughly chopped)
4 large cloves garlic
4 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup tamarind paste

Directions to make spice paste:
Combine lemongrass, chile peppers, galangal, ginger, shrimp paste, shallots, garlic and peanut oil to a blender or food processor. Pulse until well combined. Blend in the cilantro, turmeric, sugar and tamarind and pulse until it has made a paste. Reserve until ready to use. Make paste one day ahead of time for flavors to blend.

Laksa paste

2 tbsp. olive oil
spice paste from recipe above
4 cups homemade chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup sweet Thai basil (chopped)
1/4 cup fish sauce

To assemble:
200 g thin rice noodles (cooked, drained)
1 can coconut milk
3 cups cooked cubed chicken or whole cooked shrimp

Directions for broth and assembling soup:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir spice paste into oil and heat for a few minutes. Add chicken stock and let it come to a boil. Lower heat to low and add in cilantro, basil and fish sauce and let gently simmer.

When ready to serve, stir the coconut milk into the hot broth. Place precooked noodles in a large bowl and top with chicken or shrimp and pour broth around noodles.

hard boiled eggs
cucumber (deseeded, cut in strips)
1 cup bean sprouts (blanched)
freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
fresh cilantro leaves

Top the soup with garnishes and squeeze a lime over soup.

Cream of pea soup

3 tbsp. butter
1 onion (finely chopped)
400 g frozen peas
1/2 cup water
2+1/2 – 3 cups of milk
salt and freshly grated white pepper

Melt the butter in a a pan over low heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, storing occasionally, around 5 minutes. Add the peas and water and bring to a boil, simmer on medium heat until the peas are tender (3 – 4 minutes for freeh peas, 10 minuter for frozen). Add 2+1/2 cup of the milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring and watching so it does not get burned or boil over. Remove from the heat and blend the soup with hand blender until very smooth. Bring the soup back to the boil and if it seems too tick, heat the remaining milk in a small pan and stir it to the soup.

New style Chicken & Corn soup

2 cobs of cooked corn, husked
2 small red onions (thinly sliced)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 celery stalks (sliced)
1/2 tsp saffron treads
5 cups homemade chicken stock
4 dried Chinese (shiitake) mushrooms
generous amount of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of dried sage
2 tbsp. flat parsley (chopped)
1 tbsp. fresh marjoram (chopped)
splash of olive oil
100 g rice vermicelli noodles (cooked)

Reconstitute shiitake in hot water and chop them up after 10 – 15 minutes.
Infuse the stock with saffron. Boil the chicken stock, remove from heat and add saffron, cover and leave for 5 minutes.

Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onions and celery an cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic, cook for another minute. Increase the heat to medium, pour in the saffron infused chicken stock, add mushrooms, pepper and nutmeg, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook covered for 25 minutes.

Increase the heat and add husked corn, sage, parsley, marjoram. Season with salt. Reduce the heat and cook for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile cook the rice vermicelli and drain them. 
Put small amount of vermicelli in a bowl and ladle the soup on top of it. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Split peas healthy soup

1 big onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 cups green split peas (washed, drained)
splash of olive oil
2 bay leafs
salt & pepper
6 cups water

Wash well split peas. Change water few times until clear. Drain.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add split peas, water and bay leaves, bring to a simmer. Skim the scum off the top of the soup for few minutes, until the scum ceases to rise. Cook on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Purée the soup with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken, mushroom & barley soup

1/3 cup barley (rinsed and drained)
2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion (chopped)
1 large leek (sliced)
4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 cup cooked chicken meat leftovers
200 g small shiitake mushrooms (quarter)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 tbsp. fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
spring onion to garnish (chopped)

Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add the barley and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Skimming any foam and impurities from the surface. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the leek and cook for another 4 minutes. Stir in the stock, then drain the barley and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Add the chicken, mushrooms, carrot, oregano and bay leaf and cook covered for another 30 minutes.
Remove bay leaf, garnish with spring onion.

Broccoli & blue cheese soup

2 tbsp. butter
1 large onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 large potato (cut into chunks)
1 large head of broccoli (chopped into smaller pieces)
4 cups water
100 g blue cheese
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
black pepper
croutons, to garnish

We are using the whole broccoli plant. Peel the outer, tough skin of stalks and also use the leaves. Cut everything into smaller pieces.
Melt the butter into a large pan. Add the onions and potato, cover and cook over low heat for 5 – 7 minutes. Add the broccoli, stir well and cook covered for an additional 5 minutes.
Add water and bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper. Re-cover and simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are tender (15 – 20 minutes).
Remove from the heat, let it cool slightly and blend everything with a hand blender, add nutmeg. Reheat gently until very hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese until melted and thoroughly combined.
Adjust seasoning. Serve with the croutons.

Asian style duck soup

For the duck stock:
1 duck carcass chopped in pieces so they fit in your pot (including wings, neck, head…)
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
1/2 small celery root (roughly chopped)
1 onion (roughly chopped)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp. soya sauce
8 cups water

For the duck soup:
4 cups duck stock
dang myun noodles (or whatever noodles you have)
baby bok choy
some cilantro (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 small knob of ginger (peeled, finely chopped)
handful of button style mushrooms
2 tbsp. fish sauce
around 4 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
handful bean sprouts (parboil bean sprouts in boiling water for few seconds, rinse with cold water, drain off)
1 shallot (finely sliced)

Make duck stock like you make any stock. Put all the ingredients in a large pot and cook for 2 hours. Remove any remaining meat from the carcass and reserve. Cool reduced stock, and refrigerate overnight. When stock is cold, skim fat from the surface. You can use it for frying. Store in plastic containers in the freezer until ready to use.

To make asian style soup heat 1l of duck stock and add half of the garlic, ginger and cilantro to it and let it boil to absorb all the flavors. Stir in the mushrooms and the baby bok choy for a couple of minutes until the greens wilt. Adjust seasoning with fish sauce, soy sauce and lime or lemon juice.
Separately, boil some water to cook the noodles. Boil them for 5 minutes, strain, cool.
Heat some of the duck fat in a wok add remaining garlic and ginger. Stir in the noodles and season with soy sauce. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
Ladle in flavored duck broth to bowls with noodles. Top with bean sprouts and sprinkle with remaining cilantro and shallots.

Michael’s heavenly chicken & corn soup

2 cobs of grilled corn, husked
splash of olive oil
3 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cumin (powder)
4 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 green chili pepper (seedles)
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1 cup grated cheddar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 + 1/2 cup cooked chicken meat

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until golden (almost caramelized). Then add garlic and cumin powder. Stir for a minute longer until you can smell the garlic and cumin.
Add warm (hot) chicken broth and chili pepper, bring to a simmer and cook up to 20 minutes (so that the chili infuse the soup with spicy flavor). During this process taste the soup and remove the chili when it’s spicy enough for you.
Puree the soup with a handheld blender. Slowly stir in the cornmeal. Add chicken meat and cook on low heat 5 to 8 minutes until the cornmeal is cooked.
Add husked corn, lime juice, grated cheddar and cilantro.

Stolen from chef Michael Smith:-)