The Compassionate Cook's Diary

by Celia Fenn

Some Simple Autumn Soup Ideas

It'a been a while since I was able to write for the Food Blog. The Compassionate Cook has been travelling in Turkey, Russia and the Baltics in the last few months. It is always interesting to travel, to see how other people eat and what they eat, and to see how your own food choices can align with other cultures. Sometimes this can be really difficult, but I have found that the key is always simplicity.

I think there is a yearning in many of us for a simpler way of life, and this includes our food choices. As Autumn began to take hold in Northern Europe, I was enchanted by the "Forest Food"....the mushrooms and berries that are the natural food of the Forests. The Baltic Mushroom Creme Soup" is a variation of a soup that I ate in Moscow as well as in Riga. The key ingredients were Mushrooms, potatoes, to provide the "creaminess" and garlic for flavor, lots of it. Surprisingly, this was similar to a soup that I love from Turkey, the Turkish Lentil soup that is found all over Turkey. It is "peasant" food as opposed to the rich Ottoman cuisine, but it is very popular and very tasty and has the same emphasis on potatoes and garlic to provide creaminess and taste.

So, as Autumn rolls around in the North and it becomes colder, here are two wonderful vegetable soup receipes that are cosmopolitan in nature and appeal!

Baltic Mushroom Creme Soup (Latvia)

Ingredients :

3 small shallots
5 cloves garlic
400g mushrooms (chanterelles are best but you can use any small mushroom)
2 medium sized potatoes
1 cup Soya Cream
1 cup Soya Milk
500mls water
1 sprig Thyme
Fresh Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

Thinly slice the shallots and the garlic and fry them in a little oil in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms which have been finely sliced along with the two potatoes which have been peeled and cubed. Add the sprig of Thyme and a few grates of fresh Nutmeg. Add the water, salt and pepper and let boil for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the Soya Cream and the Soya Milk and allow to stay on the stove for a while onger at low heat. Then puree the soup in a blender.

The Result.......a Rich and Creamy soup that is quick to make and delicious to eat!

Note: If you don't want to use Soya products then you can substitute Rice Milk for the Cream and Milk.

Lentil Creme Soup (Turkey)


1 cup Red Lentils
5 cloves garlic
1 Onion
2 medium potatoes
vegetable stock
1 small red chili (optional)
salt and pepper for seasoning

Chop the onion and the garlic and peel and cube the potatoes. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until transparent, the add the garlic and the potatoes. Add the water, vegetable stock and the lentils. Add also the chili which has been finely chopped if you are using it. and cook for about 20 minutes until the lentils and potatoes are soft. Puree the soup in a blender. You may need to add more wate to get the correct consistency.

I like the chili in this soup, as it gives an added bite, but just not to much. There is an art to getting just the right amount for flavor and zest, but not so much that it is too spicy. The flavor of the lentils should be the dominant flavor.

Simple, quick to make and very tasty. Afiyet they say in Turkey!