There’s nothing quite like it, it wraps you up from the inside out but at the same time remains quite clean and almost guilt free. Considering it’s basically boiled onions in beef stock, which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, it delivers on so many levels. There’s sweetness, depth and texture with every mouthful. There are so many different ways of making French onion soup/onion soup and after looking at several versions I was able to ascertain the most important ingredients are: onions, beef stock, alcohol and Gruyère. I went into soup making with full gusto.
Beetroot soup has always had a whiff of borscht about it and I’m not one for cold soup. Not even the most delicate of gazpacho can tempt me to more than a few spoonfuls. I wanted a warming, hearty soup but I did not want to redecorate the kitchen in varying shades of fuchsia while trying to achieve this. Purple beetroot is a glorious colour but there’s always varying degrees of risk when cooking with it. Every person, pet and piece of kitchen equipment is playing beetroot roulette.
There’s not much point in wasting the striped beetroot in a soup either. Rumour has it that instead of being the baby pink you envisaged it goes more of an off-grey. The only other off-grey thing I can think of is gruel. Nobody wants to eat gruel. By happy chance there is another shade of beetroot that can save all this heartache. A beetroot that results in soup that looks like a bowl of sunshine. Not only does the golden beetroot look happy, it makes you happy because there’s much less messing around.
Cooked cabbage and a wet flannel have an unfortunate amount of textures in common. Particularly if, like me, you were put off cabbage at school where it was boiled to what can only be described as wallpaper paste. Things have moved on since then and I wanted to give the cabbage a chance. I’ve baked it, boiled it, steamed it and fried it. Apart from frying, none of these yielded any spectacular, life changing results. Nevertheless I wasn’t about to give up on them; they are pretty much the only thing in season right now so I have no choice. If I have learnt anything about the cabbage it is that determination is key.
Sometimes carrots can be taken for granted. The base of a soup or stew, added to stock or shoved on the side of the plate. What a shame. They are such glorious things in their own right and there is no carrot sweeter than a home grown carrot. I planted these little beauties a few months back expecting them to be riddled with carrot fly and a complete disaster. The results have been quite the opposite. I am now inundated.
Before you ask, the one second from right is not a parsnip, it is a white carrot. The two on each end are orange and the other is a yellow carrot. I didn’t know what a rainbow I had underground until I pulled them up.
Whether you’re using home grown or bought carrots, a lovely subtle carrot soup has to be the way to go. Carrot soup is one of my favourite soups but the carrots can sometimes be overshadowed with what they are paired with. Sometimes coriander can be a little too much or the orange overwhelms the humble sweet carrot flavours. Not this time though.
I can see how some might think I’ve recently become obsessed with soup. This is not true but it seems the most appropriate thing to slurp in January. One thing I am obsessed with is Jerusalem artichokes.
Despite their unsociable side effects they are one of my absolute favourite vegetables. Unfortunately I can never seem to get my hands on them or they all get snaffled up by abdominally superior individuals before I can get to them. When I can get them though I always do.
I wrestled for my ugly roots knowing full well they were going to be blended with some leeks. I managed to get 400g of artichokes and 2 leeks. It cost me £1.50. This dish ended up serving four people a light lunch. Bargain.
A new year and many resolutions to break. I decided to start with good intentions however with a fresh, earthy and filling soup.
It had three main ingredients; celeriac, leek and apple. To be frank and somewhat rude, the celeriac is not a looker. If you’ve been through life without the celeriac, please overlook its brutal looks in favour of its wonderful flavour. My apple was half a Russet and half a Kentish somethingorother and rather strikingly large. My leeks were still covered in mud and had a little frost still left from picking in the green ends.
The Farmers’ Market can offer these things in a way that nothing else can. It is for vegetables like this and a hundred other reasons why I love it so much.
What you will need (for two bowls):
- 2 large carrots (2 purple if you can get them)
- Chicken or vegetable stock 400ml
- Garlic clove
- Coriander seeds 1tsp
- Fresh coriander
- Creme fraiche
If you ever manage to get hold of these little beauties, my advice would be to never boil them. Not only does it turn everything else a strange browny purple colour it also takes all the colour out of the carrots.
As I only had change for the one purple carrot I added an orange one too. For the soup, fry the carrots and garlic in a nice hearty sized knob of butter. Put the lid on them and let them soften.
While they do this, dry fry a teaspoon of coriander seeds until they jump around the frying pan and are good and toasted.
I just spent the last week in Dorset. It had me positively wanting to don my walking boots, breathe the fresh air – slightly tainted by manure – and whistle Greig’s Morgenstimmung all day long. Fortunately, my dignity stayed in tact. I was also hampered by the fact I don’t own walking boots and will only walk if there is the promise of food and drink at the other end.
They are so proud of their food down there and Dorset cheeses were offered everywhere I went. They are most excellent. As an homage to Summer, on an almost scorching September day a soup was needed. I found the following things around and about: