Varkens Stoofvlees – Belgian Pork Stew cooked in Beer


This recipe is for Theo. He said this is a traditional pork stew made in Belgium. He challenged me to find the best beer in his opinion a Flemish Grimbergen beer however, my selection of beers from Belgium was limited so I made it with Affligem. I bought 2 dark beers for the stew and two blonds for drinking with it! Plus I did all the prep work on the stove however then I cooked it in a slow cooker which worked out perfect.


You will need:


  • 1200 grams/1.2 kg or 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder or sirloin chops – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4-6 tbsp good olive oil or a combination of olive oil and butter to sear meat
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 small onions – processed in a food processor or chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small apples
  • 2 cups of sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp dry mushrooms- re hydrated in boiling water 2 tbsp and chopped
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 3 cloves – crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 dark Belgian beers
  • 3 sliced bread -with Dijon mustard spread on them


  • more sliced mushrooms to saute just before serving cooked in olive oil/salt and pepper.
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Step 1: slice pork into strips and then into chunks.



Step 2: dust meat lightly in flour and cook in a hot pan (I have used a cast iron pan because it gets nice and hot and leaves lot of crusty bits on the bottom of the pan) Do not over crowd the pan. Cook in batches so you can get some carmelization on the meat. Set aside.



Step 3: puree onions and garlic until finely minced.



Step 4: add onions and garlic to pan scraping up all the bits and cooking for another 5 minutes.



Step 5: puree apples.



Step 6: slice mushrooms and soak dry mushrooms in some hot water for 5 minutes then chop fine.



Step 7: add meat, onions and garlic, mushrooms and mushroom liquid to a large slow cooker.



Step 8: add 2 of the 3 beers now, plus the thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir.



Step 9: spread Dijon mustard on 3 slices of bread.




Step 10: place mustard side down on top of stew and cook on high for 5 hours.



Step 11: after 5 hours stir and break up all bread to combine. Add last beer and taste. Adjust salt and pepper. Set for 1 hour on low.




I made some fried potatoes and served with a blond bitter beer which was perfect with the sweet, rich stew. The meat is fall apart delicious.  Pork, apples, mustard and beer all perfect friends.
























Spicy Chicken Noodle Bowl

This is a great hearty soup on a cold night and you just keep adding things to the same pot until you have made a rich mushroom and spicy chicken broth with loads of crunchy vegetables. Try it next time instead of a package of those instant Rahmen noodles with that extra salty package of seasoning.

You will need:

  • 1 onion – chopped fine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast – chopped into small cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced fine
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp dry mushrooms -soaked in hot water and chopped fine
  • 1 fresh chili – chopped fine
  • 6 mushrooms – sliced
  • 1tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 10 Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 litre of chicken broth
  • instant noodles 2-3 sections
  • 2 spring onions – sliced fine
  • handful of sprouts
  • 6 finely sliced cabbage leaves
  • large handful of sliced fresh spinach
  • soy sauce to season
  • cilantro to top

This recipe is perfect for two.

Step 1: start by slicing and chopping all your ingredients. I just make little piles of all my different vegetables and seasonings. Chop chicken breast into strips and then into small cubes.

Step 2: in a medium sauce pan add chopped onions and olive oil. Cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until just starting to brown.

Step 3: add chicken, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper. Cook another 5-7 minutes to let meat start to brown.

Step 4: add chili and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add chopped dry and fresh mushroom. Cook another 5 minutes until most of the water cooks out and the mushrooms start to brown around the edges. (Save the water from the mushrooms to add in a minute)

Step 5: add Chinese five spice, szechuan peppercorns. Stir well and cook in oil for 1 minute. Then add water from the dry mushrooms and chicken broth.

Step 6: add noodles to cook for the last 5 minutes. I used 2 sections because my soup was for two people.

Step 7: add thinly sliced cabbage. some spinach and spring onions to the bottom of each bowl. The hot soup will soften the spinach and the cabbage stays nice and crunchy.

Step 8: top with more spinach some sprouts, a few more spring onions and some cilantro. Add a slice of lime for a nice contrast and serve.

when you mix it all up you have a ton of contrasting flavours and textures.

Chilled Vegetable Soup with Olive Oil Drizzle


This is like a gazpacho but I like to add lots of vegetables and I never strain the pulp because I just can’t bear to get rid of all that healthy nutrition. I like to thin it out with a bit more tomato juice or clamato juice when serving and I good healthy drizzle of olive oil and perhaps a bit of chopped vegetables for some added crunch. This really is perfect on a hot night when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen and last night it was 30 degrees C in my kitchen so this was the perfect thing.


You will need:

  • 1 32 oz can of tomatoes or tomato juice
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 spring onions
  • handful of basil
  • 3 small or 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1/2 fresh chili
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 32 oz canned whole tomatoes and juice
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1/2 cup great quality olive oil – I used a strong Spanish Dauro and Fuenroble to finish
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro, cucumber and tomato to serve 


Step 1: gather your ingredients. I don’t peel the cucumbers or the zucchini but, you can if you prefer.



Step 2: add onion, garlic, spring onions, basil, cucumbers and chili. Mix and then add zucchini, avocado (some recipes add bread I think the avocado is a better thickener) fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Mix to blend until pureed well. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Leave in fridge for a few hours to blend and chill.



Step 3: chop cucumber, tomato, bit of onion and some fresh cilantro (I really think the cilantro makes it but, if you don’t like it add a bit of parsley)


Step 4: add your soup to a bowl and you can add a drizzle of tomato or clamato juice to thin it out if it is too thick. Then add a generous swirl of exceptional olive oil like this Spanish Fuenroble. Add your chopped veggies and a sprinkle of sea salt.


Fresh and bright tasting!





Creamy Cauliflower Zucchini Soup

This is a hearty soup with zucchini, cauliflower and potato to give it creaminess without adding any cream or dairy. I save a small piece of the zucchini to grate on top along with a drizzle of olive oil to serve. Perfect for a rainy day.


You will need:


  • 1 leek – finely sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini – chopped into pieces – keep a piece to grate at the end
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 3 garlic cloves – sliced in half
  • 1 small onion – chopped
  • 1 small potato – peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • salt/pepper to taste




*keep 1/4 zucchini grated for topping



Step 1: chop leek, zucchini, cauliflower, garlic, onion and peel and chop potato.




Step 2: add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a pot and add all chopped vegetables, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently to avoid burning.



Step 3: add 1 litre of chicken broth and Italian or Tuscan seasoning mix.




Step 4: Bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are soft and cooked.



Step 5: carefully add contents to a blender. You may need to do this in batches but, my blender was fine pureeing it all at once. Remove the top plastic cap from the lid of the blender and place the lid with the hole back on the blender.  Place a thick kitchen towel over the hole in the lid and blend until smooth. Be very careful not to fill the blender too much because you don’t want to have hot soup explode out of the blender. The open lid allows the steam to be released from the hot contents. Taste to see if you need more salt and pepper. If you feel the soup is too thick you can add some water or more broth to thin it out.



Serve with some fresh grated zucchini and a drizzle of excellent extra virgin olive oil. It is a thick creamy soup without the added calories of cream.







Leek and Artichoke Soup


This is a delicious, hearty soup without using meat. It is best when you have access to beautiful fresh artichokes but, you can substitute frozen if you don’t want to bother cleaning them. I love this kind of soup for dinner with bead and some good olive oil. What more do you need!


You will need:


  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic – chopped roughly
  • 2 leeks – cleaned and sliced
  • 2 potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 fresh artichoke hearts – cleaned and sliced
  • 1 tsp wild fennel pollen (or crushed fennel seeds)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup cauliflower or broccoflower – broken in small pieces
  • 1 litre chicken broth plus 2 cups water



Step 1: get a large bowl of cold water and squeeze a lemon into the water – you can throw in the whole lemon after. You need to place the cleaned artichokes into the water as soon as you have cleaned them to avoid browning/oxidation. Remove all outer leaves until you reach the soft leaves around the heart. I slice all around the bottom of the artichoke rough base and stem. Take a grapefruit spoon and scoop out the fuzzy choke in the centre. If you are having problems you can slice it in half to expose the choke and cut with a pairing knife. Cut the small cleaned heart into thin slices and put in lemon water while you clean the rest. You will waste much of the artichoke so don’t be alarmed.



Step 2: clean and slice leeks, chop garlic, peel and chunk potatoes and break cauliflower into bite size pieces.



Step 3: in a large pot add olive oil and garlic, leeks, potatoes, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir and cook 5 minutes on medium.high heat.


Step 4:  then add lemon zest and juice.



If you can’t find fennel pollen just substitute with some crushed fennel seeds.



Step 5: add artichokes, wild fennel pollen, thyme, cauliflower, broth and water. Let come to a boil and immediately turn down to simmer gently 30-40 minutes until all vegetables are soft and buttery.



Enjoy with fresh bread, an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.



Turkey and Lemon Polpettine


A warming soup with little turkey meatballs and a hint of lemon. Perfect for a weekend lunch when the weather isn’t feeling like Spring just yet.


You will need:


  • 1 leek- sliced thin
  • 1 stalk celery – sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion – sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic – chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp fresh flat parsley – chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil – chopped fine
  • 2 litres chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon juice plus 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta – or other small pasta

Polpettine – tiny meatballs

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey – mine was breast so I needed the extra olive oil to help keep it moist
  • 1 clove garlic – chopped fine
  • 1 spring onion – chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp parsley – chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil – chopped fine
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil



Step 1: chop the herbs, spring onion and garlic, then add all other polpettine ingredients to the ground turkey. I just mixed it all in the container (1 less thing to wash!)

Form tiny meatballs. Mine were half a teaspoon.



Step 2: chop all your herbs and vegetables for the soup. I like to chop everything and have it ready to go before starting.



Step 3: in a saute pan with some olive oil partially cook your little meatballs. I like them to have a little colour on them. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through since they will simmer in the broth to finish cooking. Set aside.



Step 4: In a large pot (since you will be adding 2 litres of broth) add olive oil, leeks, celery and onion. Saute for 5 minutes to add some flavour to the veggies and to just start to brown.




Step 5: add garlic, parsley and basil and cook 1 minute. Add broth, lemon zest, lemon juice salt, pepper and meatballs. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Taste it and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Add orzo and cook another 5-10 minutes.




Serve in big bowls with extra lemon and olive oil.









Chicken and Dumplings Soup


I love chicken soup and you can have it with noodles or rice or dumplings. These dumplings are made with leftover bread and are a nice change from rice or noodles. I have made them with marble rye bread and also from a basic white. Use what you like.


You will need:


  • a cooked chicken – you can buy a roasted chicken from the grocery store or cook one
  • 2 boxes of broth or make your own from bones (see link)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots- peeled sliced on diagonal
  • 1 stalk celery-sliced
  • 1 potato- cubed (peeled or not)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion- chopped fine
  • 1 leek- sliced thin
  • 2 spring onions- sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp dry Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dry poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme- chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley – chopped fine


  • 2 slices of bread – crust removed and cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme – chopped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley – chopped fine



Step 1: chop carrots, celery, garlic, onions, leek, spring onions and fresh herbs.




Step 2:  Chop potato and place in a bowl of water to prevent browning and to remove some of the starch.




Step 3: chop chicken. set aside.



Step 4: place leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and 1/2 of the fresh herbs into a small saute pan with  olive oil. Add Italian and poultry seasonings along with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Saute for a few minutes until just starting to turn brown. Reserve the spring onions and half of the herbs for the last minute before serving.



Step 5: add broth and chicken along with vegetables including potatoes into a large pot. Bring up to a boil and then immediately turn down to simmer for approx 20 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.



Step 6: prepare the dumplings. In a small bowl add eggs and chopped bread. let sit for 5 minutes. Add  1/2 cup flour, fresh thyme, parsley and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix with a fork. If still too wet add the rest of the flour to make it dry enough to form a loose ball.



You can form balls and place on a plate or simply take a fork and cut off blobs right into the hot soup to cook.



These are ones I made with a different type of bread.


Cook in simmering soup for 5 minutes.



Top with remaining herbs and spring onions and taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary and serve hot!










Avgolemono Soup

This is a Greek lemon chicken soup. My father in law came for Christmas and he picked up some bug from “those kids in the airplane” and since he is from Northern Greece I thought I would make him this chicken soup to help cure him.  I have made this quicker than the traditional version because I have used a store bought roasted chicken and also store bought broth.  Typically there is no addition of the garlic or herbs however, I think it adds flavour and makes the soup look nicer. You can of course omit them if you prefer.

You will need:

  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2- 1 cup cooked rice or orzo pasta
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme – chopped
  • 1 small sage leaf- chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic -chopped fine
  • 6 baby spinach leaves- chopped fine 
  • salt/pepper to taste

Step 1: gather all ingredients. Shred chicken and set aside. Prepare rice or I make this soup when I have some leftover rice from the night before. You can also cook a small amount of orzo pasta which is shaped like rice. If you are cooking orzo just put it in the broth to cook it. Crack eggs, zest and squeeze lemon, chop garlic, herbs and spinach.

Step 2: in a medium pot add broth, water and chicken. Add chopped thyme, sage and garlic. If you are using orzo then add 1/3 cup uncooked at this stage. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
Step 3: Just before serving bring broth up to a boil then turn off heat. In a small bowl whisk eggs with a fork for 10-15 seconds. Add lemon and whisk again to incorporate.
Step 4: remove 1 cup of broth from pot and slowly whisk in the hot broth to the eggs and lemon. Once all of the broth has been tempered into the eggs. Add mix to the chicken and broth and stir to combine. Do not do this when boiling or the eggs will curdle. 
Step 5: add shredded spinach or some parsley for colour and salt and pepper to taste.
Lemon and chicken soup to cure what ails ya!!

Turkey Meatball Soup

Turkey Meatball Soup is full of lots and lots of vegetables, noodles, and some yummy little turkey meatballs. This soup packed with flavour and is great anytime. 
You will need:
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries chopped
  • 2 green onions/scallions-finely chopped
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh basil – chopped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley – chopped fine
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 celery sliced
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 head broccoli – separated in small pieces
  • 1/2 head small cauliflower
  • 1 Swiss chard leaf and stem
  • 2 cloves garlic -chopped fine
  • 1/2 -1 cup egg noodles (broken in small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1 box chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt/pepper
Step 1: start by making the meatballs. Add the ground turkey to a medium sized bowl.
Step 2: chop cranberries, green onions, basil and parsley. Add to the turkey along with poultry seasoning, Italian seasoning, crushed garlic salt and pepper.
Step 3: mix ingredients
Step 4: form into tiny balls. I used a melon baller as a scoop it makes for a consistent sized ball. I was able to make 32 meatballs.
Step 5: fry meatballs briefly to get a bit of browning on them. They do not need to be fully cooked since they will cook in the soup. You just want them browned at least on one side. Set aside.
Step 6: chop all vegetables in sizes that should fit on a spoon. You really can use whatever vegetables you like here.
Step 7: I have used a fresh egg noodle that I had in the freezer (I made them for another dinner and had some left so I froze them in little nests in a Ziploc bag) I chopped the egg noodles into small pieces. I am looking for small pieces that easy can be picked up with the spoon.
Step 8: start by sauteing in a few tbsp olive oil, the carrots, leeks, celery. Cook 3-4 minutes.
Step 9: add broccoli, cauliflower and all remaining ingredients except egg noodles and rice. They just need a few minutes at the end.
Step 10: cook on medium heat for 20 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add egg noodles and rice and cook  5 more minutes and serve.
This can easily be kept in the freezer in individual serving sizes. It’s nice to have something in the freezer when you just don’t feel like cooking. 

Mushroom Miso Soup

Mushroom Miso Soup in a beef broth. 

You will need:

  • a box of beef broth (you could use vegetable/chicken if you like)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 packages of mixed mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp of dried mushrooms (chopped finely)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 large onion chopped fine
  • 4-5 sprigs if thyme
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 shakes of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp miso paste (Japanese fermented soy beans available in most grocery stores) 
* If you don’t add the miso paste this soup is still very good.
Step 1: chop mushrooms, onions, dried mushrooms, parsley and crush garlic.
Step 2: add onions to saucepan and fry in 2 tbsp olive oil. Add salt/pepper and cook until starting to brown around the edges.
Step 3: add fresh chopped mushrooms and saute until most of water has evaporated and volume is reduced by half.
Step 4: add crushed garlic (in a garlic press) and dried mushrooms, cook for 1 minute. Add broth, water, miso and chopped parsley. Cook for 5-10 minutes on low simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Step 5: serve