What I Love | Équilibre Edition

I’m pleased to introduce you to Nic and Pascal – a husband and wife powerhouse duo and generally delightful people.

I can’t remember exactly how I first met them – I had spotted flyers for their business in Studio Bomba, some of my friends had attended their fitness classes, they frequent my market and just generally overlap in the foodie community. But in a way that can only be described as serendipitous, there they were.

Nic and Pascal are always just so wonderful to talk to, grounded and knowledgeable, but not in a way that’s preachy or obnoxious – there’s nothing worse than someone who’s so focused on their message that there’s no room for anything else, and that is decidedly not the van Kans. They know that some times you just need wine, or cake or time out, and that is a truly wonderful thing.

So, team, say hello!

What I Love – Équilibre Edition

Who are you and what do you do?

We are Pascal and Nicole van Kan – a husband and wife team who juggle bringing up our young children with working and building our heart-centred business, Équilibre – Fitness for Foodies.

Pascal is a fully qualified exercise professional with 2 decades of experience in the fitness industry. He is a keen tri-athlete and has a passion for all things bikes (including managing Reid Cycles in Perth).

Nic works for UWA Publishing and has always cultivated her love for good food, cooking, baking and aesthetics. With a little help from Pascal, she is also a reformed exercise-phobic!

Balancing exercise and eating well with the realities of a busy family life is not always easy – we know this! That’s why our aim for Équilibre is to take away the fear and confusion, to inspire clients to be kinder to their bodies and to help them reclaim a sense of equilibrium. We’d like to think that our approach to food and fitness is balanced, down-to-earth and filled with joy.

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Why Perth?

Nic has lived in Perth since moving from the UK as a young girl, but Pascal is a relative newcomer. Although Dutch-born, he came from Melbourne around 18 years ago for a brief working holiday and decided never to leave!

Perth is the perfect place to bring up kids and supports the kind of lifestyle we love. We like the fact that we are (somewhat) insulated from the rest of the world, but also feel a sense of pride that Perth seems to be growing up of late – supporting a blossoming food scene and a host of creative entrepreneurs. It’s an exciting place to be!

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What (or who) inspires you?

Nic: I find authenticity inspiring. I’m also attracted to people who understand what they’re passionate about and are unafraid to pursue their dreams.

I’m a huge fan of Jude Blereau and her contribution to the world of whole-food cooking. It’s an approach that has always resonated with me, long before organic and ‘clean eating’ (gag!) became trendy. The idea that food needs to have an element of deliciousness and integrity, as well as being a very individual thing makes so much sense to me.

Pascal: It’s pretty simple for me. Getting out and riding my bike always provides inspiration, any time I need it!

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Your dream food day?

Would have to begin with a breakfast at Sayers – the Potato Rosti with Poached Egg is a sentimental favourite of ours.

The rest of the day we would happily hand over to Sophie Zalokar at Foragers. Her thoughtful, creative approach to cooking and sourcing the best in local produce would mean that whatever the season, we could be confident that our taste buds would be satisfied and our souls well-nourished. (There’s a reason why we choose to run our Équilibre Retreats at Foragers!)

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What ingredient makes everything better?

Can we be cheeky and say a glass of wine?

Otherwise, it would have to be Nic’s salsa verde. Packed with fresh herbs, lemon and a salty hit of capers and anchovy, we make a weekly batch to use on just about everything – salads, eggs, fish, soup. It’s our not-so fashionable version of the green smoothie and it really does make everything better.

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What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Nic: The Emperor with pickled tomato, basil, chilli and fennel at Bread in Common. The flavours were fresh, simple and delicious. Accompanied by a glass of Flowstone Gewürztraminer, it made for a truly enjoyable birthday treat.

Pascal: Nic’s Quince and Hazelnut Crumble Cake – tastes like autumn (based on an old Gourmet Traveller recipe, with a bit of a whole-food makeover.)

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Where do you love to go to eat?

Honestly? Although we appreciate good food, we rarely get the chance to ‘go out’ to eat unless you count our local pizza shop, Pizzaca (which is good, by the way!)

These days, you’re more likely to find us hanging out at coffee shops. In fact, our kids have been well-trained in café etiquette from birth!

Favourites include Yelo, The Daily, Humblebee, Hobart Street Deli and Voyage. We also really enjoyed a visit to Gordon Street Garage and are keen to try Hylin in West Leederville. The Tenth State is keeping Nic happy since moving in to UWA next door for work.

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Where do you love to hang out?

When we’re not at a café, you’re likely to find us at the local park, or riding our bikes (Perry Lakes Reserve is a great spot).

Family outings often involve a weekend farmer’s market. Subi Farmer’s Market has the best atmosphere and arguably the best stalls. Our favourites include Wild Bakery, Macabee Dorper Lamb and Spring Valley Orchard. It’s also worth adding that our daughter is quite taken with Mr Drummond’s crumpets!

We’re big fans of City Beach, too. Whether it’s fish and chips at sunset, a morning walk or simply watching the kids in the playground, it’s one of those special places that always reminds us how lucky we are to live where we do.

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What’s your favourite thing right now?

Nic: (can I have more than one?)

– Meditation (i’m so excited to be doing the Mindful in May challenge.)

– My Baker’s Drawer.

– Cooking autumn comfort food in my new French blue cast-iron enameled pot.

Dunn and Walton (organic shopping heaven!)

Pascal:

– Autumn in Perth (perfect training conditions!)

– Wines from the Adelaide hills (in particular pinot noir).

– Thursday night food shows on SBS

What are you looking forward to?

Nic: I’ve just turned 40 so I’m very much looking forward to embracing a new decade, losing the fears and becoming the kind of confident, creative person i’m so inspired by.

Pascal: I’m looking forward to developing new coaching programs for Équilibre and writing for our blog. It still excites me to be able to help clients discover a love for exercise, and gain energy and confidence in the process.

We’re also looking forward to winter and watching the Tour de France (preferably accompanied by some good red wine!)

If you would like to learn more, you can check out the website, Facebook and Instagram (where all images are from), or this from We Love Perth

What I Love – Pure Glow Edition

Man has invented many brilliant things in his time upon this earth.

The wheel is a good one. As is the ability to refrigerate food. The telephone. Penicillin. All excellent things for the advancement of humanity. My personal favourite (aside from the internets and elasticated waistbands) is the deep fryer. Is there anything it can’t do? Mac and cheese, chips, a whole turkey. Mars bars, doughnuts, even Coke.

While my diet isn’t entirely deep fried, I’ve been so busy lately that an unforgivable amount of what I’m eating is take-away or quick fixes, and I feel like crap. Surprise! It turns out your mum wasn’t lying – you are what you eat. Damnit mum, I hate it when you’re right.

My system needed a bit of recovery time. Enter: Pure Glow Cleanse.

Annett has long been one of my favourite customers on a Saturday morning when I’m slinging crumpets. When she suggested that the cure to my woes may be some time out from my beloved fries, I looked at her fabulous glowing skin and demanded that she sign me up immediately.

While I don’t believe in ‘detoxing’ in the traditional sense – my liver and kidneys function perfectly well, thus have no need for detoxing – I was keen to kind of hit the reset button for my body, giving it time out from the heavily processed foods I’d been bombarding it with.

And you know what? My skin cleared up, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought I’d be, and I felt better, pure and simple.

So today, I’m talking to the fabulous Annette! Say hi, team!

What I Love – Pure Glow Cleanse Edition

Who are you/what do you do?
My name is Annette & I’m the co-founder of Pure Glow Cleanse and editor of Wellness WA (the latter is currently taking a little nap!). My business partner Jacqueline Forth and I launched Perth’s first juice cleanse delivery business in April 2013 and have been busy getting the people of Perth nourished, detoxed and glowing ever since! I also moonlight at lululemon, selling yoga gear & hitting up yoga classes with my amazing colleagues (best retail job ever!)
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Why Perth?
Perth is such an amazing place to be right now. It’s really undergoing a huge transformation and has been for the last couple of years. It’s such an exciting time to start up a business, as there are so many fantastic ideas that exist in the Eastern states and overseas which haven’t quite made it to us yet – so for entrepreneurs there is no time like the present to take a leap of faith and just go for it.
What inspires you?
Goal setting, farmers markets, yoga, dreams of travelling to Portland.
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How did Pure Glow come about?
Both Jacqueline and I wanted a cold-pressed juice company in Perth, and at the time there was nothing available. I’d been waiting for about 4 years for a juice cleanse delivery business to start up here and when she emailed me out of the blue asking if I thought it would be a good idea to start this business, I said yes instantly! From there it’s been a very crazy journey full of challenges, highs, & lots and lots of green juice!
Your dream food day?
Ha! What a great question. My dream food day would start with our Glowing Greens smoothie, I’d then head to Subiaco Farmers Market and enjoy 3 x organic crumpets with honey from Mr Drummond’s Foods (!!!), after this I’d pat some pups and have a snack of Cheezy Chipotle Kale Chips, which at $9 for a small packet is a very pricy addiction to have unfortunately.
Lunch is a Garden Goodness burger at Grill’d, washed down wish a Little Creatures cider, and I’d then go and lie down for an afternoon food-induced-nap for a few hours.
Post-nap it’s time for some Cadbury Furry Friends & then out to dinner at Meeka in Subiaco. If I could teleport anywhere in the world, dinner would be at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, consistenly rated the No. 1 vegetarian dining place in America.
Dessert is either apple crumble, churros, or artisan icecream. Then home to bed to most likely have vivid, food-induced dreams!
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What’s the best thing you ate recently?
Probably some yummy pumpkin soup or banana bread made by a lovely friend of mine.
Where do you love to go to eat?
Meeka, Subi Farmers Markets, Lanna Thai, Aisuru. Anywhere with great vegetarian and vegan options.
Where do you love to hang out?
Can I say at home?! I’m usually working 7 days a week so try and get to farmers markets when I can. I also really like Double Double small bar.
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What’s your favourite thing right now?

Now, and always, hounds. I’m also pretty obsessed with acai smoothies right now!

What are you looking forward to?
Summertime, exciting new business opportunities, turning 30!
If you’re interested in trying a cleanse before summer, you can read about other people’s experiences here, here, here and here.

The French. Is there anything the can’t do?

Is it any wonder that the rest of the world is in love with the French?

They own the term champagne. If you put ‘French’ in front of a product description, you can charge 700% for it (French butter? TAKE MY MONEY). Their accent is the stuff of dreams/fantasies. They don’t diet or need face-lifts (apparently), their children simultaneously eat everything and nothing (how else do you stay skinny?!), and if you believe the internet, French women basically invented style. Look, I may have to conceded that last point, I do own at least six Breton striped tops. That’s normal, right?

If none of that impresses you, the French are also responsible for the framework of modern cooking, so, you know, there’s that. I’m not going to lie to you, traditional French cooking isn’t something I know a hell of a lot about. It’s never been my scene, though I respectfully acknowledge its contribution to food.

However, when you live with someone who is all about all things Paris and it is their birthday (Happy birthday Lou!), you shut up and pull out Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Soupe à l’Oignon is a pretty excellent entry into French cooking. The recipe for French Onion soup is relatively effortless, but is still chic enough to serve at a dinner party. Impressionnant, non?

My advice to you, is this: as always with recipes with so few ingredients, the strength of your dish depends on the quality of those ingredients. Buy the best you can afford. and you can’t go wrong.
I also advise you to get your hands on a mandolin, because it will take you forever to thinly slice all those onions without one, unless you’re a pro with impeccable knife skills. They’re a pretty cheap bit of kit, and worth having in the cupboard for times like these. Make sure you buy one with a safety guard!

Also, even with a mandolin, I cried the whole time. Stupid onions.

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Soupe à l’Oignon (French Onion Soup)

From Smitten Kitchen

680 grams thinly sliced yellow onions (I sliced up 6 large onions)
42 grams unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
8 cups or 2 litres beef stock
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)

To finish (Optional)
1 to 2 cups grated cheese (I used Gruyere)
Thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard (2/3 toasts per person)

 

In a large, heavy based saucepan, melt the oil and butter together over low heat. Add the sliced onions and gently stir until coated in oil. Put the lid on the pot, and allow to gently cook for 15 minutes.

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Once this is done, ditch the lid, stir in the sugar and salt and raise the temperature ever so slightly. For the next 40 minutes, stir the onions frequently until they are a deep golden brown. This caramelisation process builds the soup’s flavour, so make sure you take care!

Once the onions are golden, add the flour and continue to stir for 3 minutes. Add the wine to the pot and scrape any delicious brown bits from the bottom. Add the first litre for stock, a little bit at a time, continuing to stir. Then add the second, and season with salt and pepper. If you’re adding the cheese later, go easy on the salt – it’s easier to add more at the end, but you can’t make it less salty if you add too much now! Add in the brandy or cognac and stir.

To finish, cover the toasted French rounds with Gruyere, and grill until golden and bubbly. Stir any leftover cheese into the soup, taste and season accordingly. Divide soup between bowls, and serve with toasts.

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The cure to all your problems

It took no more than 3 days after Perth’s cold weather kicked in for one of my housemates to come down ill.

The Plauge Man-flu is as merciless as it is swift and incapacitating. The sniffles and aches, headaches and sneezing; it’s truly a wonder that health organisations don’t take it more seriously. There is, of course, only one known cure for man-flu – the magic of chicken soup.

Now, before you tell me that’s an old wives’ tale, science has my back (thanks, science!) on this one. With its anti-inflammatory properties and congestion clearing super-powers, getting a big bowl of this into your belly is probably the best life choice you can make when curled up on the couch with a box of Kleenex and 6 seasons of Sons of Anarchy.

I loved this recipe because it’s packed with vegetables for nutrition, pasta to fill you up, and plenty of juicy chicken, which is everyone’s favourite part. The stock base for the soup can even be made in advance and frozen if you’re a little short on time.

So, as soon as man-flu kicked in, a pot of this went on the stove, because there’s nothing in this world that is more comforting than this soup. Promise.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

4 carrot
4 sticks celery
3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
sea salt
4 whole peppercorns
1 free range chicken (see note)
1 large knob butter
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
200g fresh egg pasta
200g baby spinach
1 lemon

 

Roughly chop 2 carrots and celery sticks, then add to a large pot over medium heat with the chicken carcass, 2 diced onions, bay leaves, peppercorns and a big pinch of salt. Cover the chicken completely with water – roughly 1.5 litres. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.

 

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While the stock simmers, dice the remaining carrots and celery into even pieces. In another large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; add the garlic, remaining onion and parsley and gently cook until soft but not brown. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.

When the stock is done, remove the chicken and shred the meat, setting it aside. Discard the carcass. Strain the stock, reserving the liquid and discarding the vegetables.

Add the stock to your second pot. Bring the soup base to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add the egg pasta, baby spinach and shredded chicken and simmer for a further couple of minutes until the pasta is cooked. Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with a really good piece of sourdough slathered in butter. Seriously.

 

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NOTE:
So, in terms of the chicken you use, you can go two ways.
1) If you use a whole, raw chicken, you can break it down into parts following a video like this one. Breaking it down makes the chicken easier to handle once it’s cooked.
2) If raw chicken freaks you out, you can simply use a roasted chicken from the supermarket. Pull roughly 2/3 of the meat off the bones, shred it, then leave it in the fridge until a few minutes before serving – stir it though and simmer for a couple of minutes to warm it up. Add the carcass and remaining meat to make the stock in the first step.

Those summer nights

There are some days where it’s pure torture to drag yourself into the kitchen. Even food bloggers aren’t immune to this.

Maybe it’s 38* outside.
Maybe you’ve had to do a lot of cooking lately.
Maybe you’re just too damn tired, and flopping on the couch with a season of Vikings and a bottle of wine is a much better idea.
Maybe it’s all of these things on the same day (last Monday, if you wanted to know).

These are all perfectly legit reasons to eat from the instant/delivered section of the food pyramid. BUT, if you stay with me, I can present to you a dinner that takes less time and effort to cook than it takes for Chinese to appear on your doorstep, with the added bonus of being good for you. I promise.

Lamb Skewers with Mint Pea and Feta Salad

From Good Food

500g lamb rump
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and black pepper
300g frozen peas
1 bag mixed lettuce greens
1/3 cup torn mint leaves, chopped
1/3 cup parsley leaves, chopped
150g marinated Persian feta
Flatbread, to serve

Dice the lamb into bite size chunks. Toss together in a bowl with oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. Soak wooden skewers in cold water, if you’re using them, to prevent them from burning.

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When you’re ready to eat, cook the peas in a pot of boiling water until tender (5 minutes, or whatever the packet instructions say). Drain, and refresh in cold water. Add the peas, herbs, greens and feta together and toss to combine.

Heat a bbq or frying pan. Thread the lamb onto the skewers evenly. Grill the skewers for a couple of minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking.

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Serve lamb with salad and flatbread.

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I used the flatbread to make everything into little wraps, because everything tastes better in a wrap. Duh.

The 10th Circle of Hell (perfect for roasting)

I love imaginary winter.

I hate real winter, because I’m useless with the cold. But this pretend winter that’s going on? I can handle this. 

There is, of course, an exception. WHO INVENTED MORNINGS? A terrible idea! It’s early and super extra cold and there’s no coffee and getting out of bed is the devil.  In my not so humble opinion, Dante forgot a circle of hell. Getting out of bed early, when it’s cold, on a weekend. Bah. 

Which is exactly what I find myself doing every Saturday. I get up, and I help Wade sell crumpets at Subi Farmers Markets. Come! Say hi! Eat things! Wait… I’ve gotten side tracked.

At the markets, there is all manner of deliciousness. Burgers and breads, chocolates and chai, pastries and bacon oh my! There’s also a heap of incredible stall holders whom I’ve been very lucky to get to know. I’ve talked about my love of Gingin Beef before, but today, say hello to Macabee Dorper Lamb.

Anthea carries just about every cut you can imagine, so the limit is really your imagination. Also, she’s bloody nice. I couldn’t say no to the mini roasts she sells – I typically only cook for one or two people, and for that purpose, they’re perfect.

Reasons why I love this recipe:

  1. The meat roasts while you make the world’s easiest risotto. Dinner in 30 minutes.
  2. It makes for surprisingly excellent leftovers – if there is any
  3. Cheapest. Side dish. Ever. A bag of frozen peas, stock, rice? $10.
  4. Perfect winter comfort food
  5. Brilliant impress-a-date recipe. You heard me, gentlemen.

Rare Roast Lamb with Minted Pea Risotto

Adapted from Nigel Slater

1 mini lamb roast (mine was approx 340g, and that was enough for 2 people)
1 glove of garlic, sliced thickly

2 medium shallots
1 tbsp olive oil
750g frozen peas
1 litre vegetable stock
1 onion, diced or 1 leek, thinly sliced
150g aborio rice
Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
butter (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220*c.

Using a sharp knife, cut small slits into the roast. Stuff the garlic slices into the cuts. Line a roasting dish with baking paper, add the roast, then rub with olive oil, pepper and salt.

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Place in the oven and cook for at least 25 minutes if you like your meat rare (and I do), longer if you like it well done. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

While the lamb roasts, make the risotto. Peel and finely chop the shallots, cooking them in a saucepan in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the stock and peas and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Use a stick blender and blitz the peas until mostly smooth – feel free to throw an extra couple of handfuls of peas in after, you want some to remain whole. Leave the soup over a low heat to keep warm.

Finely dice the leek or onion, then cook slowly in butter until soft. Stir in the rice, coating with butter. Add the soup, a ladleful at a time, and stir gentle until absorbed; just like making a normal risotto. The texture you want is tender but with a bit of a bite. Add the mint, if you’re using it.

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Taste, season with salt and pepper and if you’re anything like me, whack a big, fat slab of butter on top.

Serve with thinly sliced lamb and extra mint.

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Tip: the key to the risotto is using a good, salt reduced stock. When a recipe has so few ingredients, you have to make sure they’re good ones!

P.S. These are my favourite blogs this week:
The Skinny Perth – his new post about Hoi Bo? I was there. Order the chicken rice. You’re welcome.
Beers and Sympathy – I don’t drink beer or watch Parks and Rec. But I now plan to, because it sounds awesome.

All killer, no filler

As I’m typing, it’s raining. This makes me extraordinarily happy. I might have wasted absolutely no time wriggling into a pair of track pants and a hoodie, though I’m having a little trouble finding my knitted socks. All in good time, I suppose. Of course, with the sudden influx of wet and cold comes the need for wintery foods. Cravings wait for no man, and I wasn’t really surprised when I discovered no less than 4 friends delving into soup territory in this same afternoon. Beetroot, pumpkin, pea and ham… My contribution to the souptivities, was carrot.

I know. Carrots, right? Possibly the least exciting of all the vegetables. They’re filler veggies, to bulk up salad or add colour, but not distract from the hero of the dish, whatever it may be. Who goes out of their way for carrots? No one. Why would you?

Here’s what happened. The downside to living in a share house is the double ups. Wade peered into the fridge last week and noted that between the three of us, we’d accumulated 3 kilos of carrots.  What the hell  do you do with three kilos of carrots? Admittedly, he made some amazing carrot muffins, but that only knocked it down to 2.5 kilos. Juicing? That got us down to 1.5 kilos. Hummus dippers took care of half a kilo. And so here we are. Sunday, and soup. Waste not, want not, right?

I know I ask you to trust me regularly. And you’re still here, so thank you for humoring me so far. But for old times sake, trust me on this. I know it looks like baby food, and probably as appetizing. Holy jeebus, this is really, really tasty. Cumin, turmeric and coriander are regularly seen kicking about in Indian recipes and they really shine here. The addition of chorizo is inspired, because who doesn’t love chorizo? All in all, you might just be looking at your new favourite winter soup. Yeah, I went there.

Carrot & Chorizo Soup

From Delicious Magazine

30g unsalted butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp cumin seeds
1kg carrots, chopped
1.25L (5 cups) chicken stock
1 tbs lemon juice
150g chorizo, finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves, to serve
 

Preheat your oven to 220*c. Roughly chop the carrots to even sized chunks. Place in a roasting pan, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes until softened.

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In a large saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter and oil together. Gently cook the onion and garlic until soft, then add the ground coriander, turmeric and 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds until fragrant.

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Add the carrot to the pot, stirring to coat with the spices. Pop on the lid and soften for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrot is soft.

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Once cooled slightly, blend with a stick blender. Stir in the lemon juice.

In a frying pan, add the chorizo and last of the cumin seeds, stirring until crisp. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the lemon while cooking.

Split the soup between bowls and top with chorizo and coriander.

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As an FYI, you don’t have to roast the carrots first, you can just throw them in raw if you don’t have time. But I like the sweeter flavour that you get from roasting first.