Slovene Pašta Fižol / Bean & Pasta Soup Recipe

This winter has been one of the most severe in recent years so it has been important to keep warm and eat plenty of hearty food.  One of my favourite recipes sure to warm you up and originating from Slovenia in the Balkans, is Pašta Fižol.  This bacon, bean and pasta soup is rich and has a touch of spice.  Plus, it’s incredibly easy and requires just one pot to save on washing up!  Simply serve with some chunky bread (preferably rye) to enjoy a fabulous winter warming meal.

Pašta Fižol

Ingredients

500g pancetta lardons (or smoked bacon)

1 tin of red kidney beans (240g drained beans)

1 bay leaf

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

20g plain flour

600ml chicken stock

125g small pasta shapes

2 tsp marjoram

2 tsp hot paprika

1 tsp cider vinegar

Instructions

Heat the bacon and onion in a large stockpot

Pašta Fižol

When the bacon and onion are thoroughly cooked, add the garlic and stir thoroughly

Stir in the tomato puree

Add the flour gradually

Pour in the stock and stir

Bring the boil (constantly stirring to prevent sticking)

Reduce heat to a simmer

Add pasta, marjoram, beans and bay leaf to pan and cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked

Pašta Fižol

Stir in the paprika and vinegar

Season to taste and serve

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Hearty Hungarian Mushroom Soup Recipe

Hungarians are as passionate about mushrooms as Italians.  As the autumn draws in I think about all those hearty winter dishes that will see me through the cold months.  There is nothing more warming or tasty than Hungarian mushroom soup.  Here’s my quick and easy recipe.

Ingredients

50g butter or margarine

8 shallots cut into quarters

3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

500g assorted wild mushrooms

(I like to use a mixture depending on what is in season.  Often I use chestnut, enoki and shitake with some dried wild mushrooms that I’ve soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained.  I reserve some of the liquid to add flavour to the stock)

800ml chicken or vegetable stock (depending on whether you or your guests eat meat)

1 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

Handful of finely chopped chives

Instructions

Melt the butter in a large pan and gently fry the shallots until soft (but not brown)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Add the garlic and stir

Add the mushrooms and cook out for five minutes

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Add the stock (and a few tablespoons of the liquid from the dried mushrooms) and leave to simmer for five minutes

Then add the dissolved cornflour and allow to cook out for five minutes

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Allow to cool, then blend

If you prefer a thin soup pass the liquid through a sieve but personally I like it thick

Reheat when required

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Season with salt and pepper to taste

To serve sprinkle chives on the top and enjoy with plenty of crusty bread

Hungarian Mushroom SoupEasy, tasty, cheap – everything y0u want from perfect winter-warming food!

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Borscht Recipe

Hot, cold, Ukrainian, Russian, there are so many arguments had over this dish it’s not even worth listing them.  Ultimately, every family has their own version and this is mine.  It doesn’t quite meet the standard I consumed at Chernobyl but it’s a pretty good effort.  Though be warned, it isn’t a quick dish to prepare.

Borscht

Ingredients

5 to 6 beetroots

2 carrots, grated

1 cabbage wedge, grated

3 potatoes, cut into chunks

2 white onions, grated

3 cloves garlic, crushed

15ml tomato puree

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 litre beef stock

300g boiled beef cut into chunks

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

Instructions

Put the beetroot in a saucepan

Cover with cold water

Heat until boiling and once come to temperature, lower to a simmer and leave for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes

Borscht

Remove the beetroot from the pan and allow to cool

Borscht

Keep the liquid for later

Peel and grate the beetroot

Heat oil in a large saucepan

Add the onion, cabbage, garlic, beetroot, tomato puree and carrot to the saucepan

Borscht

Stir together and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat

Add the potato to the saucepan

Cook for another 10 minutes

Add the stock and a ladle of the beetroot water

Borscht

Simmer for 30 minutes, add the lemon juice and serve

Can be served with a spoonful of smetana (sour cream), a sprinkling of dill and/or parsley and crusty bread

Borscht

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Lamb Meatball Soup with Vegetables

This family recipe combines flavours from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Europe.  Variations of the recipe are popular in Romania, Bulgaria and in the East Adriatic region.  It can be made as a starter, or as I did, for as a hearty main course.  It is ideal for using up all your leftover vegetables.  It’s the ultimate in one pot cooking; serve it with some crusty bread and hey presto – a delicious meal!

Lamb Meatball Stew
Lamb Meatball Stew

Read more…

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Romanian Bean Stew

Charlotte J - stirring. Photo Credit: Jill Robinson
Charlotte J – stirring. Photo Credit: Jill Robinson

I recently visited Cornwall for a few days as my school friends had rented a large cottage for the week.  The kitchen was an absolute delight and I insisted on cooking some good East European fare for my 7 companions.

The best thing about East European cooking is that the recipes are usually not desperately complicated, require just one or two pots and few ingredients, which keeps both washing up and costs down, yet enables you to create a really hearty and tasty meal.

Although this bean stew required smoked pork and a ham bone, I cheated and used pork chops and smoked bacon which added the required smokey flavour.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it  so I would definitely recommend this recipe!

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry beings)

2 white onions

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 red chilies

1 tbsp Hungarian hot paprika (or to taste)

3 tins of mixed beans

20 black peppercorns

8 pork chops

500g smoked bacon

4 tbsp cornflour

Tomato puree or chili powder for colour if desired

Handful of chopped parsley for garnish

Crusty white bread to serve

Instructions

Put mixed beans into saucepan

Place pork chops on top of beans

Just cover pork with cold water and add peppercorns

Beans, chops & water in pan

Heat until boiling

Reduce heat, cover pan and leave on gentle simmer for 2 hours

Remove pork chops from pan

Cut off fat and bone and cut into chunks

Return pork to pan

Chop onions and heat in sunflower oil in separate pan until translucent

Onion

Add chopped and deseeded chili to onion and cook for 5-10 minutes

Onion & chilli

Chop smoked bacon and add to onion and chili and cook until crispy

Onion, chilli, bacon

Add paprika to bacon mix, stir and cook for 5 minutes

Onion, chilli, bacon, paprika

Add cornflour to bacon mix, stir and cook for 5-10 minutes

Add bacon mix to stew and stir

Cook for further 10 minutes until well mixed

Romanian Bean Stew

If desire deeper red colour, add tablespoon of tomato puree or chili powder

Serve into bowls, garnish with parsley (I forgot to!) and serve with chunky white bread

Serve!

Serve!

Owen, Jared, Dave, Jill, Simon, Nicky, Carla
Owen, Jared, Dave, Jill, Simon, Nicky, Carla

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Sheraton Hotel Zagreb & Zagorje Soup

Sheraton Hotel Zagreb
Sheraton Hotel Zagreb

The Sheraton Hotel in Zagreb is the ideal location for a short stay in Zagreb.  The hotel is located a ten minute walk from the main square Trg bana Josipa Jelačića and a ten minute walk to the train station in the other direction.  The exterior of the hotel is not stunning but once inside, the grand piano, beautiful chandeliers and attentive staff confirm that the Sheraton is a haven of luxury.

The rooms are spacious and boast the most comfortable bed and pillows in the world ensuring after a tough, or not so tough, day of sightseeing, one can enjoy a good night’s sleep.  Although there is little Croatian influence on the hotel’s interior the halls are lined with beautiful paintings of Zagreb’s most notable attractions.

Room 323
Room 323

Flights with Croatian Airlines run twice daily from London Gatwick to Zagreb at 10.20 A.M. and 5.20 P.M.  After landing, luggage is promptly presented on the luggage carousels in only the way a small European airport is able to, and a short, 20 minute taxi ride takes one to central Zagreb and the hotel.

On arriving at the hotel on Thursday night I was too tired to venture out to find some food so decided to order a snack from room service.  While the hotel may not boast Croatian charm, its menu at least does, aside all the usual hotel food stuffs.  I naturally opted for one of the Croatian delicacies: Zagorska Juha (Zagorje Soup).  I was starving and the forty minute wait was a bit frustrating but when the soup arrived, I realised the wait had been thoroughly worth it.  Served in a giant wholemeal bread roll, this soup was gorgeous in presentation and taste.

Zagorska Juha
Zagorska Juha

Ingredients:

150g smoked beef, chopped into cubes

50g cooked ham, chopped into cubes

50g smoked bacon lardons

100g mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 onion, finely chopped

4 potatoes cut into cubes

2 peeled tomatoes, finely chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 soup spoon of flour

1 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of chopped parsley

4 soup spoons of oil

1 teaspoon vegeta

Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Instructions

Heat 2 soup spoons of oil in a medium saucepan

Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes

Add beef, ham, bacon, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes

Stir well and fry for 10 minutes

Add potatoes and stir for a few minutes

Top up with one and a half litres of water

Add vegeta

Cook for 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft

Make a roux with the rest of the oil and flour and add it to the soup

Remove the soup from the heat and season with salt and pepper

Lightly beat sour cream with a fork to make it runny and add to the soup, stirring well

Add chopped parsley, stir and serve

Sheraton Hotel Zagreb

Kneza Borne 2

Zagreb 10000

Hrvatska

Telephone: (385) (1) 455 3535

Fax: (385) (1) 455 3035

www.hotel-sheratonzagreb.com

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