Ampersand Duck presents – Duck Souper

pasta-bookNothing like inviting people around for soup on a chill Autumnal evening. Knowing that you’ve invited foodies adds a bit of pressure, but I chose soups that had been tried and praised before, so the only pressure was to cook them well: Lamb Shank & Penne Soup, and Spinach & Dahl Soup.

The Lamb Shank soup comes from one of those generic newsagent cookbooks: the Family Circle Pasta & Noodles Book. I’ve been trying to remember when I got this, and whether I inherited it from my mother when she had a clean-out, or whether I bought it from a garage sale. It’s quite a dull book, but there’s a couple of winner recipes that I’ve discovered and treasured. This is one of them.

The Spinach & Dahl soup was bought as a packet mix of spices produced by a fab little family company called The Saucy Spice Co., based in Pambula on the Far South Coast of NSW. They peddle online, but also have a stall at the Canberra Bus Depot Markets every Sunday. I highly recommend their spice mixes. They buy fresh supplies, and their simple packages are always marked with a use-by date so that they are never stale (unless you stash them in the back of a cupboard and forget them).

They sell packages of spice mixes for specific recipes, and you provide the rest of the ingredients. The ingredients needed are listed on the label, but the actual recipe is inside the packet. Their curries and soups are superb. I can’t include the recipe for the Dahl soup here, mainly because they tell you which spices they’ve used, but not the quantities, so I encourage you to buy a packet or two of their wares and enjoy. The heat of each recipe is always indicated, and they have some fantastic mild recipes that kids will love. I highly recommend their Javanese Chicken, my son loves it.

The Dahl soup needed blending at the 2/3 point of cooking, and I’d given my stab blender away to my mother years ago, once I’d stopped making my own baby food. I just never seem to need one. So I asked Zoe to bring hers… talk about the awesome power of the blend! It had a life of its own, with scary suction action…

I forgot to take a photo of the finished soup on the night, but I managed to catch one of the bowls when we had leftovers a couple of nights later:

Yum! Coriander garnish, and we added yogurt on the leftover bowl (both of which, stupidly, I forgot to offer during the dinner party. Sorry guys.) There’s a drip on the bowl, too, for which you can mentally slap me on the wrist.

Now, the Lamb Shank Soup. I’ve been promising Zoe this recipe for years. Here it is.


Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour, 15 mins
Serves 6 (just)

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lamb shanks (about 1 kg), well trimmed of fat
2 medium onions, cut into strips
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 dried bayleaf (I used fresh)
4 cups water (I added more later)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup penne pasta
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup fresh or frozen broad beans
1 clove garlic, crushed

1. Heat oil in pan. Add lamb, cook over high heat for about 3 minutes each side or until well browned. Remove from pan, drain on absorbent paper.

2. Add onions to pan, cook over medium heat for about 3 mins or until well browned.

(This browning of meat and onion is essential, because it dictates the colour of the soup. It becomes a lovely rich brown soup instead of a pale broth.)

2 (cont) Return lamb to pan, add wine, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, bay leaf and water; bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered, 1 hour or until lamb is tender.

3. Remove lamb from pan, discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick from stock. Add soy sauce and tomato paste to pan, stir until combined. Bring to boil, add pasta, simmer, covered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. meanwhile, cut lamb into bite-sized pieces; discard bones. Return lamb, peas and broad beans to pan, simmer, covered, a further 5 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Stir in crushed garlic just before serving.

Yum! I forgot to photograph this one before serving as well, so here is the cookbook version, followed by the result of happy eating:



#1 Zoe on 09.06.08 at 7:40 pm

It was a most excellent dinner. And I am so glad you finally coughed up that recipe – we had it tonight and the smell of it cooking all afternoon was divine. I used what was handy so Shaoxing wine instead of dry red, asparagus and jerusalem artichoke instead of the broad beans and wholemeal spirals instead of penne:

zoe soup

That magazine picture looks weird to me now! The second more familiar ; )

#2 ampersand duck on 09.06.08 at 9:07 pm

Ooh, yum. The bit about stirring in crushed garlic just before serving has transformed my cooking style… it’s what I do with my chicken/mushroom risotto now, and it makes the dish taste sparkling fresh with garlicky zing. I’m going to try it with a few other dishes as well. Sometimes I think we have to add garlic way too early in a recipe.

#3 enny on 09.06.08 at 10:01 pm

Oh yum! The soup sounds great :o)
Do you reckon it’s vegan?!
If so, I’ll have to start making it all the way out to the markets sometime.

#4 ampersand duck on 09.06.08 at 10:07 pm

I’m presuming you mean the dahl soup! They tell you to use chicken stock, Enny, but it’s easily substituted for something vegan-friendly! That seems to be the only non-vegan ingredient. The packets are purely spice-mixes, nothing evil :)

#5 Pavlov's Cat on 10.06.08 at 12:21 am

I am so making that lamb shank soup tomorrow.

#6 Zoe on 10.06.08 at 10:10 am

Send us a picture Pav, and we’ll whack it in.

#7 Kirsty on 10.06.08 at 4:53 pm

Yum! Mmmm, lamb shanks.

#8 Naomi (Dr Sista Outlaw) on 10.06.08 at 10:13 pm

I would like to add my two bits and tell youse all that the soup was absolutely farking delicious. The spinach soup was too, at least I thought it was until I found out that the coriander and yoghurt were OMITTED. This is a hard burden to bear.

You’re going to have to do it again, or there are no more plum puddings for you!

#9 ampersand duck on 10.06.08 at 10:27 pm

oh noes! not the puddings! You can’t threaten that!

I’m sorry. I have never pretended to be anything but a forgetful slack tart.

[hangs head]

#10 ampersand duck on 10.06.08 at 10:28 pm

Zoe, you need to put the thumbscrews on Dr Sista for teh secrets of her puddin.

#11 Naomi (Dr Sista Outlaw) on 10.06.08 at 11:02 pm

Heh, well, I thought you’d never ask but then I reckon it’s probably a seasonal thing and wonder if you would you like a post on lemony sweet secrets instead?

#12 Laura on 11.06.08 at 9:49 pm

I do love the expression on your face while you’re wielding the stab mixer. For me it sums up everything about why I don’t have a stab mixer.

#13 ampersand duck on 11.06.08 at 10:02 pm

Well, it WAS scary. It kept sticking to the bottom of the saucepan and growling at me. It’s always bad when they name appliances after the things they want to do to you…

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