Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Leeks and chickpeas cream soup

The temperature has been dropping all week. 

I didn't realize it at first, then one morning I got into a freezing cold car, heading for the kindergarten with M. and noticed a frosty white lace covering the fields.

Though the beautiful landscape helped me recover from the 'thermic shock', I couldn't avoid listening to the cold whispers of late Autumn. 

As usual, when days get shorter and colder, I try to keep my body warm by eating and drinking any sort of steaming liquid, be it a soup or a spicy tea (not to mention hot chocolate).

I like making soups, especially during this time of the year. I love the simple gestures involved in the process, like chopping vegetables, for instance. The concentration this action requires immediately helps me to focus and calm down. As crazy as this may sound it has a hypnothic effect on me. Does this happen to you as well? 

Making soups boosts my creativity too. I am always willing to try out new ingredients and new combinations of flavours. Take this cream soup, for example. Once I had decided the main ingredient - leeks - I started to add a bit of this and a bit of that, as inspiration (and the leftovers in the fridge) guided me.
The result really surprised and pleased me, and so I'd like to share this recipe with you.

p.s.:You can serve the soup with toasted bread or croutons as I did, but you may also add any grain of your choice (I recommend 'farro' -tr. spelt- or wholemeal rice). This will turn yuour soup into a tasty as well as healthy and nourishing meal.

Ingredients (serves 4):

leeks: 280 gr - 9,88 oz. - 3 + 1/2 cups - trimmed, halved, washed, thinly sliced 
potato: 100 gr - 3,53 oz. - 1 cup - washed, peeled and diced
pre cooked chickpeas: 150 gr - 5,29 oz. - 1 cup - rinsed
fresh ginger: 1cm - 0,39 inches - peeled and finely chopped
green pepper: 25 gr - 0,88 oz - 1/8 cup
raw vegetable stock: 3 teaspoons + water: 750 ml - 3 cups
              or, alternatively, vegetable stock: 750 ml - 3 cups
vegetable cream: 2 to 3 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil: 3 to 4 tablespoons
sea salt: to taste
freshly ground nutmeg: to taste
freshly ground pepper: to taste

for garnish:

sweet green peppers
fresh chives
hot chili

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the raw vegetable stock and the fresh ginger, stirring carefully. Add leeks, potato and green pepper, cook - don't forget stirring -for approximately 10-15 minutes until vegetables have softened. 
Add chickpeas and 3 cups of warm water- or veggie stock - bring to boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, until the vegetables are perfectly tender. Remove from heat and blend until you reach a smooth consistency, add water or stock if necessary.
Add the vegetable cream and season to taste with salt and spices.
Ladle the soup into small individual bowls, top with chickpeas and tiny green peppers squares, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with ground chili peppers and fresh chives and serve warm.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

About a new camera and a resolution

 If you have been reading this blog over the past months you may have noticed a (hopefully) better quality in the images I've posted recently. It is all about a new camera. This one.

Up until mid October I used to take all the pictures with a 'point and shoot' camera, and though I found it extremely practical I felt it quite limiting. No manual function. No lenses. I knew a digital reflex camera would help me progress futher in my food-photography 'apprenticeship'.

I'd been dreaming about it for months, and had been browsing through websites and photography-related blogs, looking for information and reviews, trying to figure out the best option. I felt quite confused reading all that technical stuff and couldn't figure out exactly what I needed. Talking to people - both professionals and amateurs - helped a lot. ..and borrowing their camera for a couple of hours was as exciting as helpful (grazie Cecilia, grazie Elena, e grazie zio Didi per la pazienza!).

I have to thank a special friend, though, for giving me the right information at he right time. Thank you Angela!
I bought both camera and lenses (Canon EF-S 18/55 mmSigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro)  from a second-hand shop in Milan (here, to be more precise). How lucky I was to find there what I needed. I couldn't really believe that!

Anyway, having a new camera doesn't make you a professional photographer and thus I made a resolution: to practice with the new camera as soon as I had some spare time. Unfortuately, as it always happens with this kind of resolutions, my plans got messed up by several adverse conditions.

I shot all the images you see in the post a week ago. The last sunny day before it started raining. And raining. And raining. It still does. (Heavy rains and floods caused major problems in Northern Italy this week - as you may read here - with Torino and Genova being the most damaged cities).
As if it wasn't enough, our daughter M. got ill. Nothing serious, bur still, the poor girl spent many sleepless nights coughing and sneezing...and many long homely afternoons with me on the sofa, watching The Little Marmaid over and over again. No appetite. No cooking. No photographying.

I am quite happy she is recovering though, and according to the weather forecast tomorrow the rain will stop.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

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