Hearty Winter Soups – Gluten Free

With particularly cold Melbourne’s winter, thick and nourishing soups go well as a meal, both for lunch or dinner. My approach was very simple, to cook our favourite casserole or stew with more liquid, add caned beans, lentils or gluten free grains, and the soup is ready. Freshly baked gluten free bread from the oven, with its intense aroma around the house, makes the meal especially comforting.

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I cooked lamb soup with vegetables and lentils, and vegetable soup with diced turkey and millet. Both soups were made with beef cheek homemade broth. I simmer beef cheeks in bulk for a long time, up to 4-5 hours in plenty of water with lots of vegetables (I use regular vegetables, as well as discarded parts of carrots, leek, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, zucchini) to give the meat extra infused flavour. If the stock is not too concentrated, I freeze it in 600ml portions and use later for cooking. However, both the meat and vegetables, as well as spice and herbs mix, are sufficient enough for the soup to have a deep and sophisticated taste, when cooked just with water. The list of ingredients below is simply a guidance, and can be changed according to individual tastes.

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Ingredients:

lamb vegetable and lentils soup

  • 400-500g lamb mini-roast, sliced or diced (any lamb meat can be used, including that with bones – lamb chops and ribs)
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, thinly sliced (using mandoline slicer makes the job easier)
  • 1 red capsicum
  • stock/water
  • can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup french/black lentils (kidney or cannelloni beans can be used instead)
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper for seasoning, the quantity will differ depending on the stock/water used and spice mix

herbs and spices

  • hot chilli
  • garlic
  • fennel seeds
  • fresh thyme

In my cooking I used my own individually portioned 600ml frozen tomato spicy sauce which included freshly blended tomatoes with garlic, chilli, parsley and sweet red peppers.

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thick vegetable soup with turkey and millet

  • 500g tray of diced turkey thigh meat
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 carrots, grated
  • 1 capsicum
  • 1 eggplant, cut in long pieces
  • 1/2 cup hulled millet
  • fennel seeds
  • 2-3 sticks of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • stock/water

For the spice mix I used 3 tea spoons of mild chilli and garlic paste which I make regularly either with parley or without it. You can use hot or mild chilli and 3-4 cloves of garlic to replace it.

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Preparation:

Preparation of both soups is very similar. The differences are only in the manner of carrot preparation (sliced for lamb soup and grated in turkey soup), eggplant preparation (thinly sliced for lamb soup and cut in long medium size pieces in turkey soup) and cooking time.

  • wash and dry the meat
  • prepare vegetables: slice leek and onion in semi-circles, slice or grate carrots. cut capsicum in long strips, slice or cut peeled eggplant
  • heat olive oil, add fennel seeds, leek and onion
  • fry them for 5 min until translucent, season with salt and pepper
  • add carrots, stir and cook for another for 5 min
  • add meat, broth (or water), canned tomatoes (for lamb soup), all herbs and spices
  • add capsicum and eggplant

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  • add water if necessary, the liquid has to cover all meat and vegetables
  • cook simmering until the meat is nearly ready: for lamb it can be 30-60 min depending on the cut, for the turkey 30-40 min
  • check seasoning and add salt if necessary
  • add lentils (to lamb soup) or millet (to turkey soup); french lentils have to be cooked for a longer time, allow 30 to 40 min, millet takes 20 min to cook, but check after 15 min, millet has to be nearly cooked with still some bite in it
  • cover the soup with a lid and several kitchen towels and allow to rest for 15-20 min

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These soups can be kept refrigerated or frozen for longer storage. They do not lose their taste and texture.

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Depending on how much liquid you use, the dish can be served as a regular soup, though I like the intense taste of the liquid part of these soups, which tastes practically as a sauce.

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