Part of the quid pro quo of bed hopping is that I do cooking for my hosts. Fortunately I have been dossing down in Highbury, where Miss P (a trained chef), has a kitchen full of the toys with which this cook loves to play. No blunt knives or bashed up saucepans here.

I had been itching to make a spinach-y, meal in a bowl soup, the kind of food that keeps you warm from the inside out. Cruising the aisles in my local independent supermarket on Queens Crescent for interesting ingredients, I hovered indecisively over the Bangladeshi, Somali, & Chinese sections before filling my basket with a bag of fresh cubed paneer (Indian cheese), frozen spinach (fine for soup), chick peas, naan, and fresh curry pastes, whilst the Halal corner shop furnished me with long, budded mild green garlic shoots,(known as suen sum or suantai in China).* garlic shoots, suen sum, suantaiWhat I came up with by trial & error was inspired partly by a random magazine recipe, and partly by, well, hunger. It’s healthy, utterly delicious & very filling, with a kick of chili to aid the central heating effect. I’m not very good at exact proportions, but the soup goes something like this:

Sweat a chopped or sliced onion in oil for about ten minutes ’til translucent & golden. Add & fry off for a minute or so a couple of tablespoons of curry paste (I used one with a lot of coriander & cumin). Pour in a can of full fat coconut milk (the light stuff is a waste of time & taste) and double the amount of vegetable stock – I use Marigold bouillon powder. Add a tin of drained chickpeas. Simmer for five minutes. Whilst simmering, take a frying pan & fry tiny cubes of paneer in vegetable oil until browned. (You can use haloumi in place of paneer – delicious!)

Then add about 300gms/half a pound of frozen spinach to the coconut milk pan and cook till fully heated through. Then add pre-fried paneer. In a separate pan fry thin slices of the garlic shoots. Use to garnish as the slightly crunchy texture adds a fabulous contrast to the silky smooth soup, with its nuggets of melty, chewy cheese and meaty chick peas. Serve with warmed naan bread, brushed with melted butter. Feeds four people. Even nicer if eaten next day. (Add more water or stock as it thickens overnight.)

Kattebelletje’s food blog has more on garlic shoots for food obsessed people like me

Picture: By me.

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Waouu vous avez un trés jolie blog.


We are a beautiful blog!!!


glad to hear that you are on the mend. I would try adding a bit of nutmeg to your soup as an aside. It is fab with spinach (all dark greens really) and goes well with chickpeas. I have not written hear before, but quite enjoy your blog. I have just referenced you on my own as one of my new blogs that I am reading. Keep up the good work!!
Princess Steph


Yes, nutmeg is lovely with spinach, but not in this soup with all the chili, garlic, coriander & cumin. Nutmeg def works best as a single note. The heat of cinammon would be better, but it’s in most curry pastes anyway. LLG xx


Yummy-sounding soup, that was- I think I’m going to try making this sometime.
Hope you’re feeling better and not so confined to bed anymore…hopefully, lots of good books are at hand to relieve the boredom (if there is any).


Hmmm…that sounds really really delish…. I’ve never tried Paneer cheese…how cheesy is it on a scale of 1 to 10? I must confess, I have a huge fear of cheese (must be my dairy-intolerant heritage….)…


ah…FULL-FAT coconut milk! Deliriously correct for all cooking occasions. I just did a ginger/carrot/cumin soup that does not sound nearly so good as what you made here.

Can a cookery book be far behind?


BTW The soup is just as gd without paneer in it.

It is cow, which isn’t brilliant if you are lactise intolerant, but on a flavour scale of 1-10, it’s about 1! It’s all about the texture, not the taste. It has to be cooked, & then it takes on a lovely chewy/melty texture, but each piece of cheese keeps its form, rather than melting into the dish.(Which is why you can’t substitute, say, cheddar for paneer)

Paneer can be marinated to add flavour. I quite like it fried and then with Maldon salt sprinkled over it, but only when I am being a piglet rather than a svelte (hmm) fashionista.

(It’s similar to haloumi, which you can happily use as a substitute for paneer, so long as you watch any extra salt as haloumi is MUCH, MUCH saltier.)


Paneer is what we call cottage cheese. It doesn’t taste particularly milky or cheesy at all, and it’s rather spongy so I can see how it’s a good soup ingredient. Must try next time…


Except English cottage cheese & Indian cottage cheese aren’t quite the same! Goodness, it’s all so very confusing! Cottage cheese in the UK is a wet, loose unpressed curd which you can’t cook with, usually eaten as part of a salad…I know that paneer in India can come heavily pressed and therefore easily cubed, and that there is also a lighter, less pressed, fluffier kind. The paneer in this recipe is the heavily pressed kind in cubes. Does this help?! LLG xx

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