The Soup Doctor : Miso And Corn Chowder, Porcini Cappuccino, Oriental-Style Prawn Laksa

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Someone once told me if you can make a good soup, you can make a good sauce and if you make a good sauce, then the world is your culinary oyster. I stick with that

One of the first jobs I got when I was a youngster was at a gentleman's club called The In and Out Club. It was one of those old London institutions and, at the time, afforded me a good training ground. So, there I was on the veg section as a first commits chef with my senior, Steve, as chef de parties. One of our daily tasks was to produce two very different soups. Steve would make the soups the evening before and I'd come in the following morning to prepare for the lunch round. Well, Steve's soups were, for want of a better word, atrocious, so at the top of my miser en place list every day I'd inevitably find the instruction: "Fix soup".

And so it was that I earned for myself the title "soup doctor". And, let me tell you, these soups will fix everything from a runny nose to flagging dinner party conversation …"

Miso And Corn Chowder

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 1 hour

·         Miso paste 2 T

·         Sake or white wine 1 cup

·         Creamed sweet corn 1 x 400 g can

·         Ginger 1 x 4 cm piece, grated

·         Mussel or fish stock 2 cups

·         Cream 2 cups

·         Sweet corn kernels 1 cup, cooked

·         Spring onions 4, sliced

Description: Miso And Corn Chowder

Miso And Corn Chowder

1.    Blend the miso paste, sake, creamed sweet corn and ginger until smooth.

2.    Transfer to a saucepan and reduce very slowly until thick.

3.    Add the stock and reduce by two-thirds, add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

4.    Strain the soup and divide between bowls. Top generously with sweet corn kernels and garnish with spring onion.

Wheat- and gluten-free

Wine: Nabygelegen Chenin Blanc 2010

Porcini Cappuccino

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation: 20 minutes, plus soaking time

Cooking: 40 minutes

·         Dried porcini mushrooms 50 g

·         Dry sherry 1¼ cups

·         Onions 2, finely chopped

·         Garlic 2 cloves, finely chopped

·         Leek 1, finely chopped

·         Butter 30 g

·         Thyme 1 T

·         Strong beef stock 2 cups

·         Cream 2¾ cups

·         Milk froth 1/3 cup

Description: Porcini Cappuccino

Porcini Cappuccino

1.    Soak the mushrooms in the sherry for 30 minutes or until soft. Squeeze out the sherry, reserving it for later.

2.    In a medium saucepan over a low heat, sweat the onion, garlic and leek in the butter, taking care not to allow them to color.

3.    Add the thyme and sherry-soaked mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.

4.    Deglaze the pan with the reserved mushroom-infused sherry and reduce by half over a medium heat, about 30 minutes.

5.    Add the beef stock and slowly simmer until slightly thickened, then add the cream and simmer, again until slightly thick.

6.    Strain the soup through a sieve, fold in the milk froth and serve immediately.

Cook's note: The soup can be made in advance and stored. To serve, heat the soup and fold in the milk froth.

Carb-conscious, wheat- and gluten-free wine: Newton Johnson Felicite Pinot Noir 2011


Oriental-Style Prawn Laksa

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 1 hour

·         Prawn shells 500 g (reserve the meat)

·         Lemongrass 1 stalk, finely chopped

·         Garlic 2 cloves, finely chopped

·         Ginger 1 x 4 cm piece, finely chopped

·         Lime leaf 1, finely chopped

·         Oil 7 T

·         Tom yum paste 3 T

·         Orange 1, juiced and zested

·         White wine 114 cups

·         Fish or shellfish stock 2 cups

·         Coconut milk or cream 2 cups

·         Coriander leaves, torn

Description: Oriental-Style Prawn Laksa

Oriental-Style Prawn Laksa

1.    Preheat the oven to 200°C. Arrange the prawn shells on a baking tray and place in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes to caramelize.

2.    Place the lemongrass, garlic, ginger and lime leaf in a saucepan and sauté in 5 T oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until fragrant.

3.    Add the tom yum paste and stir until incorporated. Add the orange juice and zest, wine and prawn shells. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

4.    Add the stock and reduce by three- quarters, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the coconut milk or cream. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

5.    Sauté the prawn meat in a pan in 2T oil over a medium to high heat until golden and cooked through.

6.    Strain the soup through a sieve, then add the coriander leaves and cooked prawn meat and serve immediately.

Carb-conscious, fat-conscious, dairy- free, wheat- and gluten-free

Wine: Villiera Riesling 2011

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