Tag Archives: soup

Winter Garden Soup

Each evening I go to the garden to give the chickens their afternoon tea. It’s pretty slim pickings for them now that the shop is closed so their tea isn’t a gourmet selection anymore but fortunately the chickens are still tuned in to the universe and their inner egg radars have turned back on. It is amazing how quickly the incremental increase of daylight brings on the eggs so to thank them I prowl around the garden looking for green things to supplement their diet.

It’s surprising what’s out there. It’s not growing very quickly – more like suspended animation but there’s always something. Yesterday evening I came down to the house with a head of fennel, some leeks and a bunch of kale – I soaked some cannellini beans and we were set up for today’s lunch.

Soaking dried beans for this recipe is optional as canned beans also do a good job. The bonus of cooking dried beans is the cooking liquid makes a great base for the stock. A Parmesan rind is a definite bonus if you have one. I didn’t this time but I did find some pumpkin that needed a home while I was searching the fridge which was great for the colour scheme.

Winter Garden Soup

1 onion

100mls olive oil

1-2 stems celery

Parmesan rind – optional

1 bulb fennel

2 leeks

a bunch of kale

250g diced pumpkin

200g dried cannellini beans or 1-2 cans

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 litre vegetable stock or stock plus bean water

salt and pepper

If you’re using dried beans soak them in cold water overnight. The next day drain them, put them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently, covered with a lid for – now this is the mystery bit as it depends how old the beans were – anything between 40 mins and 2 hours. I keep checking. When they are cooked take them off the heat. Drain them and reserve the cooking liquid for the stock

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a medium/large saucepan, add the olive oil and the onion, give it a stir then turn the heat to medium.

Cut the celery in strips lengthwise then chop into a dice. Stir in with the onions.

If you have a Parmesan rind add it now.

Wash the fennel, cut it into half then slice thinly. Add to the pot. Season with a little salt and give it a stir.

You should be able to hear the vegetables sizzling. If you can’t increase the heat.

Trim the leeks – don’t cut all the green bit off, just the scraggy bits. Rinse well under running water to remove all dirt then slice into 1cm pieces. Add to the pot and stir.

Dice the pumpkin into 1cm cubes . Strip the rosemary from the woody stem and roughly chop. Add to the pot

Wash the kale then strip from the stem and chop into thin ribbons. Season with a little more salt and stir well.

Cook until the vegetables melt down. This sweetens the vegetables and enhances the flavours. Add the vegetable stock/bean water then bring to the boil. Stir in the beans then simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. If you have used a parmesan rind take it out and discard (chickens love them!).

I like to give the soup a quick mash to encourage creaminess but don’t overdo it.


Hey Presto Pepper Soup

The recent lockdown landed a large amount of vegetables into our kitchen – not a complaint but to be truthful too much of anything looses it’s appeal. We’ve been cooking our way through a box of red peppers and now we’re nearing the bottom they are beginning to get a little shabby so today I took the wrinkliest and made them into red pepper and tomato soup. This is super popular in our shop where we take a box of peppers, chop them up and toss them in olive oil and roast them in the oven. Ditto with ripe tomatoes.

Today’s recipe is made in a less industrial style. I didn’t even turn the oven on as roasting three peppers was definitely not going to save the planet, instead I slowly cooked them into sweet submission in a saucepan on the hob. We have eaten all of our fresh tomatoes so I used a can which always makes sense if it’s not tomato season or you don’t have any that need immediate attention.

Apart from the core flavourings – onion and celery – I added a tablespoon of red lentils, just to give the soup some body. Sometimes I use a diced potato but the choice is yours. Whatever you choose to use should remain anonymous in the soup – it’s just got a job to do not a starring role.

Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

3 red peppers

1 onion

1-2 stems celery

2-3tbs olive oil

1 can tomatoes or 6 ripe tomatoes diced

1 tbs red lentils or 1 potato peeled and diced

1 tsp ground cumin

800mls vegetable stock

salt and pepper

Peel and chop the onion finely. Heat a saucepan, add the olive oil and onions then cook on a medium heat.

Chop the celery and add to the pot.

Wash and deseed the peppers then chop into small chunks. Add to the pot with a good pinch of salt and give everything a stir. Cook until the peppers begin to melt down, stirring from time to time.

Once the peppers have softened stir in the tomatoes, vegetable stock, ground cumin and lentils (or diced potato). Bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Take off the heat, buzz until smooth, taste and add more salt if needed.


Vampire Soup with Optional Eyeballs

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Beetroots have been around since the Romans who enjoyed their earthy charm.  The root and leaves have been eaten for centuries. They also had a moment of glory when it was discovered that beetroots could be converted to sugar but these days these brightly coloured vegetables are known more for the fact that they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The colour of the beetroot that makes everything that it touches turn some shade of pink/red/purple seems to perk people up. Antioxidants or not their colour certainly cheers things up on a rainy day

 

To celebrate Samhain and Halloween I ‘ve made this this sensational Vampire soup with optional eyeballs. The soup is in fact a sophisticated marriage of beetroot and fennel gently cooked into sweet submission and adorned with crème fraiche but with a little imagination and a few peas it transforms into a ghoulish delight.

 

The Vampire title may entice your children to try this stunning soup and the optional eyeballs are easily achieved by posting a pea on top of a little spoonful of crème fraiche and setting it afloat.

It could be just the thing for Halloween

You could even organise an eyeball eating contest.

 

Here’s the recipe

It’s very easy to make, It doesn’t matter too much  the size of the beetroots that you use, it’s more important that they are fresh so don’t use ones that are pre cooked and vacuum packed.

Choose about three big or six small beetroots

 

Beetroot and Fennel Soup

 

1 onion

75mls olive oil

1-2 stems celery

1 fennel

1 potato

3-6 beetroots

800mls vegetable stock

A squeeze of lemon juice

 

Peel and chop the onion

Heat a saucepan, add the olive oil and onion then cook on a medium heat.

Chop the celery into 4 lengthwise then dice small and stir in with the onion.

Trim the fennel then cut into half and chop finely.

Stir in with the onion and celery, season with a little salt. Keep the vegetables gently humming away in the pan. Turn the heat up and down until you’re happy the gentle sizzle is not burning. Peel and dice the  beetroots and potato small, add to the pan and stir into to combine leave to cook for another 10 minutes with the occasional stir. Season with salt,  Add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil then cook at a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Blitz until smooth, add a squeeze of lemon juice, taste, then adjust the seasoning.

Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche

 

 


Courgette Trio

The courgettes are back and it’s time I got back to my blog. I have spent the past few of months working on The Lettercollum Cookbook, it was good fun but didn’t leave time for much else. Now that it’s pretty much done and dusted- fingers crossed – I can think of other things.

The garden has been growing away all this time and there is an abundance to eat at the moment. The courgettes are increasing their momentum.They are very healthy after such a sunny early summer, and the rain in the past couple of weeks has helped them along even more. Each day we wander through the courgette patch and pick the ones that have grown inches over night. We try to pick courgettes when they are small as they are tastier but somehow there always seems to be the odd escapee that camouflages itself under the big leaves. We’re not quite wheel barrowing them away yet but I have been checking out some new recipes to deal with the anticipated glut.

These recipes are especially for anyone that is growing courgettes and wondering how to eat them all – it’ll save sneaking round to friends houses and leaving them on the doorstep!

 

Courgette Fritters

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These fritters are are tasty and light, perfect for lunch or dinner, they’re even good cold for a picnic.

 

3 courgettes

1 large potato

2 eggs

1 small onion, finely grated

Grated zest of one lemon

Salt

A big handful chopped mint

Oil for frying

 

Peel the potato.

Grate the courgettes and potato on the coarse side of the grater and sprinkle over a little salt. Put them into a colander and sit it over a bowl. Leave for 30 minutes. You will be surprised at how much liquid will come out and what initially looked like an enormous amount will shrink dramatically. Next take a clean t-towel and put the courgette and potato into the centre, gather the four corners up and twist to extract the rest of the liquid. Put the squeezed courgettes and potato into a bowl and mix together with the lemon zest, onion and eggs. Season with some black pepper and a little salt.

Heat a large frying pan, add enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Put tablespoons of the courgette mix around the pan leaving about 5 cms between each fritter.. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon Turn the heat down to medium and cook gently until a golden crust has formed. Carefully flip the fritters over and cook the other side.

Delicious served with tzatziki or mayonnaise on the side.

 

Courgette and Rocket Soup

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Courgette soup has a reputation for tasting and looking a little bland but the addition of a handful of rocket picks it up and adds a dash of bright green.

 

1 medium onion

25g butter or olive oil

1 potato

3 courgettes

500mls vegetable stock

1 tsp white wine vinegar

100g rocket-

 

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a saucepan, add the butter or olive oil and the onions and sweat gently for a few minutes. Peel and chop the potato and cut into a very small dice. Add to the onions, season with a little salt and give everything a good stir. Cook gently for at least 5 minutes. Don’t let them brown. Chop the courgettes into small pieces and add to the pot along with a little ground black pepper. Cook for a few minutes more then pour over the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for five minutes. Check the potato is soft then take of the heat and buzz until smooth. Roughly chop the rocket and buzz again. Don’t cook the rocket otherwise it will loose the vibrant green colour. Serve immediately or if needs be re-heat gently without boiling.

 

Courgette, Poppy Seed and Lemon Cake

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This cake is deliciously moist with no distinguishing vegetable flavor, the only evidence of courgettes are little green flecks throughout the sponge.

 

150g caster sugar

125g butter

200g grated courgette

200g plain white flour

1 heaped tbs poppy seeds

half tsp bread soda

half tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

finely grated zest 2 lemons

half tsp salt

 

 

Pre heat the oven 180c gas 4

Line a 1lb loaf tin with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar then mix in the egg and grated courgettes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bread soda and cinnamon then stir into the mix along with the poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nourishing Nettle Soup

We were planting out onion sets in the garden this morning on a newly dug and composted spot.

It turned out that we had more onions than composted spot and the mission expanded to building a new compost frame so that we could move the top of the next compost and then we could access the prized gold underneath. We – being myself and the Woofas – managed to build the new construction and then we set about putting lots of twiggy bits down the bottom so that air can circulate. First of all we tidied up all the bits under the trees looking for suitable twigs then we spotted the fennel plantation in the chicken run. There were some prize twiggy bits there so we moved in and what did we discover? Lots of new nettles. Yum! What a treat, and funnily enough the chickens are not the least bit interested in these.

We picked the young tops from the nettles and I totally diverted from compost heap building and cooked soup for lunch

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Nettle Soup

nettle tops – 1 litre jug full

1 onion- peeled and chopped

25g butter or 25mls olive oil

2 stems celery- finely chopped

1-2 potatoes- peeled and diced

a handful of spinach

salt and pepper

about 600mls vegetable stock

creme fraiche or cream to serve

Melt the butter in a sauce pan or add the oil. Stir in the chopped onions and celery. When they start to sweat and melt down add the chopped potatoes and a little salt. Cook gently for about ten minutes. Tip the nettles into a large bowl of water and gently sort them out. They won’t sting you if you don’t grab them. Put them into a colander to drain. Give the colander a good shake then stir the nettles into the other vegetables. Cook for a few minutes on a fairly high heat until the nettle tops have wilted. Wash and shred the spinach and stir in. Cook until it wilts then add about 600mls vegetable stock and bring everything to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes then buzz and season. Serve with a swirl of cream or creme fraiche.

It’s good to gently cook the potatoes, it gives better flavour but don’t overcook the soup once the nettle tops are in otherwise the soup might end up looking like Gollum juice.

 

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