Here’s another Ukrainian recipe inspired by Olia Hercules. If you love mushrooms, you’ll love this broth. It packs a mighty umami punch and is dark and delicious. I serve is as it is for a lighter meal or for a more filling meal, with these stuffed buns or with creamy mashed potatoes. If you add a spoon of soured cream or crème fraiche when you serve, the flavour is really reminiscent of a stroganoff, and of course, these flavours of umami rich mushrooms, onions, pepper, dill and cream are popular in Eastern European and Scandinavian countries, post-Soviet states, Russia and more. We all have so much more in common than what separates us, and food is one of those things where we can clearly see our commonalities.
Buckwheat is a highly nutritious, gluten free whole-grain, a great source of protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium and energy. We sell the whole grain in compostable bags here (and also useful buckwheat flour and flakes). As well as extra nutrients, buckwheat brings a bit of body and texture to the broth but you can switch it with noodles, pasta or rice as you like. Happy cooking!
Ingredients (serves 4)
200g buckwheat groats
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp crumbled dried mushrooms
1 litre of boiling water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 white onions, roughly diced
3 carrots, chopped chunkily
500g chopped mushrooms (a mix with some wild mushrooms is always more interesting, but chestnut mushrooms work well too)
a large handful or two of chopped dill
sour cream, yoghurt or creme fraiche to serve
mashed potatoes/cooked noodles/pasta/rice to serve or toast or stuffed buns…
Start by making a mushroom stock. Put the bay leaves and dried mushrooms in a glass measuring jug and boil the kettle. Pour a litre of just-boiled water in and let the stock brew.
Next toast the buckwheat groats in your soup pot. Put the pot onto a medium high heat and tumble in the buckwheat. Stir or shake the pot regularly until the buckwheat is perfectly toasted. Then tip all the grains into a bowl to use later.
Now, in the same pot, add the oil and onion. Sauté with a big pinch of salt until the onions start to colour and soften. Then add the mushrooms and carrots, more seasoning and sauté again for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
Add the mushroom stock and the toasted buckwheat and simmer with the lid on until the buckwheat is cooked through but still has some bite. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with more salt and pepper.
Just before serving, add the dill. Enjoy as is in bowls with a dollop of cremè fraiche or with toast, buns, mashed potatoes, pasta or anything you like.
This soothing broth is what I make when we have a nasty cold going around. It’s a light, warm and comforting dinner any day of the week though. We call it ‘balance broth’ because it’s an attempt to perfectly balance the tastes sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. And because it makes an imbalanced day seem instantly more level. It’s funny how food can do so much more than fuel our bodies.
Do you have a go-to recipe which makes you feel good? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 litres of water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp dried seasweed, crumbled
1 tbsp dried mushrooms, crumbled
2 green tea bags
1 fat clove of garlic, finely grated
1 thumb of fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp tomato purée
4 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp miso
scallions, fresh chilli, sesame seeds, fresh coriander, rice or noodles, silken tofu and stir fried vegetables to serve
Prepare what you will serve your broth with first. Our favourite is nutty brown rice, stir fried seasonal vegetables and some simply chopped silken tofu.
In a large pot, simmer all the broth ingredients except the miso and toasted sesame oil for 10 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and turn off the heat. Allow the broth to cool a little then add the sesame oil and miso and stir. The slightly-cooler-than-boiling broth will ensure the beneficial bacteria in the miso will stay alive.
Taste the broth and balance it as you need with more salty soy sauce or more sour lime juice.
Then ladle the broth over bowls of rice, vegetables and tofu, sprinkle with sesame seeds, coriander, chopped scallions and chilli. Enjoy!
This classic Tuscan soup is just gorgeous. A hearty combination of white beans, tomatoey broth and seasonal vegetables, most notably kale. What makes this soup extra delicious for me is the combination of garlic, lemon zest, really good olive oil and fragrant rosemary and sage. This is one of those stew-like soups that is better the next day. Once you’ve done all the chopping, it’s really simple to make. Leave it brothy if you like or thicken the soup with torn chunks of stale bread or blend a portion of the beans before adding them. I prefer to leave it brothy then serve the soup over torn bread. Let us know your favourite way of eating ribollita.
Ingredients (serves 6)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
3 large carrots, diced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
the zest of a lemon
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tbsp chopped sage
2 stock cubes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins white beans, drained
8 kale leaves, stems finely chopped, leaves torn
the juice of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
stale bread to serve, optional
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, sauté the onion with the olive oil on a medium-high heat until soft and starting to colour. This should take at least 5 minutes.
Then add the diced carrot and celery and the thinly sliced kale stems, season with salt and pepper and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the chopped garlic, lemon zest and chopped herbs. Stir for another minute or two, your kitchen should smell really really good now.
Crumble in the stock cubes and tip in the tin of chopped tomatoes. Fill the tin with water 4 times and pour that water into the pot.
Add the drained beans then bring the soup up to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on.
Then add the torn kale leaves and the lemon juice to the pot, pop the lid back on and let the leaves wilt for just 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add more water if you’d like a brothier soup, blend some of the soup if you’d like it thicker.
Serve in generous bowls, as it is or with torn pieces of stale bread.