January 9, 2014 by caitlinvaclark
ABC’s The Taste is back! And we all know I love me some cooking competition shows. Now that the auditions are complete and the teams are picked, I’ll be starting back up with my weekly Taste challenges for another season. Only thing is that in the US, the show has moved to Thursdays. But, lucky me the catchy alliteration still works! And in even better news, The Taste has actually come to the UK on Channel 4! (And on Tuesdays for old times sake woohoo).
I’m actually excited that we are moving to Thursdays. This gives me the weekends to really spend time meeting the challenges that come up this season. After all, I did “resolve” to push myself more in the kitchen this year. Plus I hope it encourages you to try some of these recipes out – either as mini appetizers if you host friends over the weekends or perhaps as a date night dinner. I mean, no promises yet. We’ll have to see where these episodes take us. But hopefully food TV can inspire all of us to make real food rather than just watch and drool over it in HD.
Since last week’s episode did not present me with a specific challenge, I couldn’t decide what to cook to kick off this season. But then I remembered that I had bought some new mini taste dishes last time I was in Paris, and was inspired by my adorable “bite-sized” soup bowls.
Who doesn’t love a hearty soup this time of year? The only thing that can beat a soup is a soul warming casserole. Why not make one of my favorites into a two in one – Shepherds Pie Soup. But to gussy it up and add a bit more texture, I topped my soup with crispy potato pancakes rather than the traditional mashed potatoes. I mean, you eat with your eyes first, right? So it gives the soup a bit of a wow factor. Plus the actual taste gets a boost from the crunchy buttery potatoes on top.
I start by browning the meat so that it gets a good brown color. Lamb is traditional for Shepherds Pie, but you can certainly substitute beef if you prefer.
Then remove the meat and drain off the fat. Sauté all the vegetables until soft then start adding in lots more flavor: tomato paste, mustard, thyme, Worcestershire, yummy! After simmering the soup for 30 minutes, add frozen peas and leftover mashed potatoes (the creamier the better).
While the soup comes together, make the crispy potato cakes by mixing shredded potatoes with a beaten egg, flour, salt and pepper. It is crucial that the potatoes are drained of moisture. I like to grate them directly onto a layer of paper towels to then squeeze out all the liquid.
For the potato mixture into thin pancakes and fry them over a medium heat in butter to become crispy and brown and cooked all the way through.
Serve the soup as tastes in small bowls with potato wedges.
Or you could always serve them in large bowls with the potato cake resting on top, more like the traditional Shepherds Pie’s mashed potato topping.
Shepherds Pie Soup with Crispy Potato Cake Topping
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb ground lamb (or beef)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 cups beef stock
1 ½ cups creamy mashed potatoes
1 cup peas
For the potato cakes:
1 large egg
2 cups shredded potato, drained
1 ½ Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Butter for the pan
Dice the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.
In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add ground lamb (or beef) to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove lamb from the pan and reserve. Pour off all but one tablespoon of remaining fat and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in the pot for 5-8 minutes, until softened. Add tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire, Dijon, and salt and pepper to the vegetables.
Add lamb back to the pot. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer then cover and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the mashed potatoes and peas. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until the mashed potatoes have mixed smoothly into the soup.
While the soup cooks, make the potato cakes. Mix together the shredded potato (be sure it has been drained of moisture and dried), flour, egg, salt, and pepper. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and grease with butter. Form into 3” pancakes and panfry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
Serve soup topped with potato cakes.