“The Italian Ramen is a delicious cross-cultural take on chicken soup. The angel hair pasta represents Italy; the soft-boiled egg and chile oil evoke Japan” – Food & Wine
Italian Ramen – I have this lovely American colleague that started working with me this year and she reports to me what she cooked the night before (and I of course report to her :-)) and sometimes she brings along a small tester portion for me to taste. The American’s name is Madeleine. I needed to clarify that because I have another American in my life that I love dearly – she is another talented foodie and I will talk about her at a later stage.
So one morning Madeleine brought this delicious chicken based soup to the office – an Italian Ramen. It just blew me away – the chicken broth was so intense and just perfectly infused with the herbs. The chicken was cooked to perfection and the crunchy carrots added a wonderful sweetness and texture to the dish. Madeleine sent me a link to this specific recipe on Food & Wine’s website and I decided to make it – this is not a dish you want to fiddle with – It is perfect as is. It takes about 3.5 hours to make but its well worth doing it.
This soup is served with a beautiful soft boiled egg – the traditional Ramen way … the egg compliments the dish but does not steal the limelight from the perfect chicken broth and succulent fleshiness of the white chicken meat.
So here is a quick guide to boiling the perfect soft boil egg:
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil add the eggs and cook for 5 minutes. While the eggs are boiling fill another large bowl with cold water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to the bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Crack the shells and peel the eggs.
Preheat the oven to 260°C. Arrange the chicken in a roasting pan and roast until the skin is lightly browned – for +- 20 – 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken and any juices to a soup pot. Add the onions, carrot chunks, celery and herb sprigs. Add 3.8L of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.
Using tongs, remove the chicken from the broth and let cool slightly.
Remove the meat from the bones and pull into shreds; discard the skin.
Return the bones to the pot and simmer until the broth is reduced to 8 cups, about 1½ hours.
Strain the broth, discard the solids and skim off the fat. Season the broth with salt and keep warm.
Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain and divide the pasta between 6 large soup bowls.
Top with the shredded chicken, carrot matchsticks and soft-boiled eggs.
Ladle the hot broth on top, add some chillie oil and garnish with basil leaves and serve hot.
Derick Henstra is the Chairman of the company that I am very fortunate to work for. He is an amazing individual, architect, artist, food lover and wine connoisseur. A while ago he told me about a cauliflower soup with brie, smoked paprika and crostini (“little toasts” in Italian) that he ate in Durban. I immediately decided that I would have to make and taste this – I made it a bit different…choosing to roast the cauliflower … well, I cannot tell you how amazing it tasted. The smoked paprika certainly compliments the roasted cauliflower and the melting brie inside gives it just that extra edge. There is not one flavour that overpowers the other and all seems to come together in perfect harmony … it is a simple + beautiful bowl of joy! This one is for you dh … carpe diem.
Note: Smoked paprika is a wonderful ingredient but please use it sparingly + with respect. You can easily overpower the dish with its strong flavour. I bought the smoked paprika at Newport Deli in Cape Town.
roasted cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts
2 Cups full-cream milk (if you want it richer you can replace one cup of milk with cream or you can use fat free milk as a more healthier option)
20g Butter (or more 🙂 )
1 Large pinch of salt
Black pepper to taste
125g Brie cheese – cut into 6 pieces
Smoked Paprika to sprinkle over the soup.
Preparing the "little toasts"
Cut a French loaf into thin slices and toast in toaster.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
Put cauliflower and onion in bowl – pour the olive oil over it and swirl the contents around in the bowl until all the vegetable pieces are lightly covered in oil. Place on baking tray and bake in the oven for +- 25 - 30 minutes until roasted and browned.
Take a pot, add the water and the stock cube.
Add the cauliflower and onion and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the milk and liquidize. It will have a nice thick consistency. If you find the consistency too thick just add a bit of extra milk.
Add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Please taste and use more salt if needed.
Pour piping hot soup into bowls. Put a wedge of brie in each, then add the "little toasts" on top and sprinkle lightly with smoked paprika!
This is my all-time favourite winter soup recipe. It lies very close to my heart for two reasons – I was introduced to this recipe by my wonderful chef friend, Louis Verwey (the recipe was very different then and I developed it as I went along into what it is today) and secondly this recipe took me through to the Top 50 of Masterchef SA and earned three overwhelming and resounding yes’s from judges Andrew, Bennie and Pete. My Masterchef journey was an incredible experience, it was an amazing roller coaster ride of emotions, nerves and sheer excitement but the best part was meeting all the fantastic people who all share a common passion – cooking! This adventure re-ignited in me the fire and a burning desire to learn and share in the fun, frivolity and sheer pleasure that comes with cooking and everything culinary. I am very proud to have made it into the Top 35 only to be booted out on the potato challenge. Needless to say I have not cooked or peeled a potato again – but that is a story for another day…enough about me…back to this exquisite soup …
1 onion, cut in half (I keep the skin on - I only peel the onion if I want to make a clear stock)
1 carrot, chopped (…again keep the skin on – didn’t we learn that all the nutritional value lies in the skin?)
5 black pepper corns
2 cardamom pods
1 clove of garlic cut in half
1 small bunch of parsley
350g white fish – I use small whole hakes which I cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, finely grated
24 mussels in ½ shell
400 g kingklip (or any other firm white fish), cut into cubes of +- 2.5cm x 2.5cm
12 de-veined prawns with shells – I love to keep heads on – if you do take the heads off, don’t discard these….add them to your stock
45 ml flour
10 ml masala (I mix my own from the following ground ingredients: 15 ml turmeric, 15ml cumin, 10 ml coriander, 10 ml fennel, 15 ml hot “curry powder” this you can get from your local spice shop or supermarket)
30 ml tomato paste
1 ½ chicken stock cube, crumbled
2 large tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
Juice of ½ small lemon
For the gremolata
30 ml chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Zest of one lemon
One big squeeze of lemon juice
30 ml olive oil
Prepare your stock by adding the first 9 ingredients in a pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Take the mussels and place them in a sieve and then put it in the stock to cook for 2 minutes. I do this to infuse the juices in the stock (and to defrost if still frozen). Take out and leave aside.
Repeat the same process with the prawns – leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes in the stock. Take out and set aside
Take the stock and strain through a very fine sieve. Set aside. (You can discard the stock ingredients but it does make for a very nutritious and fishy treat for my two canine children!)
Add the finely grated garlic to this stock.
Now, melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and masala. Stir well.
Add the warm stock - ladle by ladle - whisking briskly to make sure it does not form lumps. Once you have added the stock, bring it up to simmer - you will see that it has now thickened.
Add the stock cube and the chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir well.
Now add the raw fish and let it simmer for +-3 minutes, then add the prawns and mussels.
Add the lemon juice and stir lightly – be careful not to break the fish! Season for taste by adding salt and pepper, lemon juice.
Simmer for a 5-10 minutes.
Lastly, mix the last 4 ingredients together to make the gremolata and set aside
To serve – in the bottom of a soup bowl put a dollop of the gremolata. Take the prawns out of the soup and place 2 prawns on each plate, add 3 or more pieces of fish. Strain the fish soup through a sieve and pour in the bowl around the fish and prawns. Add 3-4 mussels on top.
Garnish with a few drops of gremolata on top. Serve immediately.