Winter Hot Pot

with Polenta Croutons

Winter’s underway and there is no steaming hot soup on our blog? Not possible at all! Soups are not everyone’s favorite that’s why there might be no recipe by now. I’m a huge fan of soups. In summer I need a light Asian soup with a lot of vegetables and coconut milk on a regular basis. In winter it needs to be Indian lentil soup with potatoes or a simple barley soup with carrots, potatoes and leek! So when I ask Yannic whether he likes something, most of the time his response is “no”. Not all soups are alike. I prefer fresh soups with a lot of yummy stock and Yannic rather prefers nicely reduced hot pots. I’m happy that we finally found a recipe where we agree with each other! As if that is not a reason to let you participate.

Start with the polenta. Don’t buy the classic cornmeal instead of pre-cooked instant polenta. Cornmeal needs to be cooked and stirred for at least 40 minutes. The pre-cooked polenta is ready in 10 minutes. For the croutons, you need to combine 150g polenta with 500ml vegetable stock. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and slowly add the polenta while stirring. Let it soak for five minutes at low heat. Fill in a greased pan and let it cool down. I have prepared the polenta the night before to let it cool down completely over night. Now in winter it cools down fast if you leave it outside while the beans simmer on the stove. They are next. You can also prepare them the night before and let them soak over night. This reduces the cooking time from 1 1/2 hours to only 1 hour. Chop the onion and sweat with olive oil in a big pot until clear and soft, then add the garlic cloves. Sweat again and add the beans with the rest of the vegetable stock. Chop the dried peppers, chili and mortar the cumin and add together with thyme to the stock. Once it boiled, reduce heat and let the beans simmer for an hour. In the meantime preheat the oven to 250°C and dice the polenta. Roll them in the remaining dry polenta. Drizzle some olive oil on baking paper and put the polenta dices for 20 minutes in the oven until they turn golden brown and crunchy. Cut the squash and turnip in equal cubes and combine with the tender beans in the soup. Maybe cover with some more stock. Now add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste. Now you can start seasoning the soup with white wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Let the soup simmer until the vegetables are done (15-20 minutes depending on the size). Now start preparing the kale. Wash, remove the stem and chop it. The kale only needs to soak for 5 minutes in the soup. Decorate the soup with the polenta croutons immediately before serving.

FoR 4 Servings

200 g instant polenta

ca. 2 l vegetable stock

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

200 g cooked white beans

2 tsp dried sweet red peppers

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 small dried chili peppers

1/2 tsp dried thyme

500 g butternut squash

1 small turnip

400 g tomato pulp

1 tbsp tomato paste

100 g kale


black pepper

white wine vinegar