Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Soup of the Evening, Beautiful Soup
I tend to agree with the Mock Turtle. Soup is one of the best things you can eat in winter. Phoebe has Scholarship maths at 7 on Monday night & Harriet is staying & has French until 8.30. Because I needed to serve meals at 3 different times, we have been having soup Mondays. The soup just sits on the stove in the dutch oven. It is so popular it may become a permanent fixture. We have some old standbys in our house. Basic pumpkin soup is a must. I roughly chop a whole pumpkin - allow plenty of time if you have forgotten what hard work this can be. Add to a large pot with several onions, several carrots, a large potato & I often add a swede - all roughly chopped. You can add bacon bones if you like. Just cover with water, bring to the boil & simmer until all the veg are cooked, especially the carrots. This is your base. I freeze most of it at this stage, in batches. When you're ready to use dress it up as you fancy. This year I've been making a paste with a little curry powder & adding to the base with a little cream. This is one of the few times when I use curry powder - we buy Empire Madras hot. The others are devilled eggs & kedgeree. Try grating in some nutmeg or chopped herbs, and thin with yoghurt or cream. Another favourite in our house is Digby Law's carrot soup which involves gently sweating chopped onions & carrots in thyme with fresh time until soft, then covering with chicken stock & adding 4 tbsp rice. Simmer until rice is cooked, puree in the blender & serve with cream. The rice is deliciously nutty. Or try simmering 4 chopped kumara in chicken stock until almost cooked. Add 1/2 head diced celery & cook a further 5 mins. Puree & serve with cream & a crushed garlic clove. Try a delicious cauliflower soup. Cauliflower can be deceptively smooth, almost velvety. Cook a thinly sliced leek until softened. Chop the cauliflower into small florets & saute most (reserve a cupful for garnish) & add to leek with some chopped garlic. When the cauliflower has softened slightly, add a litre of vegetable stock & simmer 20 mins until the cauliflower is very soft. Puree until very creamy & add more stock if it is too thick. Make croutons according to my method in previous post. Steam the reserved cauliflower until al dente then saute in a little oil with 3 tbsp capers, until golden. If you want a richer soup add a little cream. Serve with croutons & capers. What about a carrot & parsnip soup? In a large bowl mix 4 or five carrots & 2 parsnips, peeled & diced into 2 cm pieces, 1 onion thinly sliced, 2 roughly chopped tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic crushed & some olive oil. Tip onto a large roasting tray & roast at 180 about 40 mins. Turn occasionally. Process half the vegetables & 2 cups of chicken stock until smooth, then tip into a saucepan & add the remaining vegetables & another 2 cups of stock. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in juice of 1/2 a lemon, 3tbsp cream & chopped parsley to serve. Finally I have saved the best for last. Finely chop in the food processor an onion, 2 carrots, a stick of celery and whatever else you like the look of in the fridge. I used a bit of fennel, some capsicum, 1/2 a red onion. I have taken to using the food processor to finely chop my vegetables for sofrito because I get improved consistency and, let's face it, it just saves a lot of time & effort. Just chop them into rough chunks first. Soften the vegetables in a large saucepan with a few chilli flakes. Add 4 cups boiling water & 3/4 cup pearl barley. I bought this to make a barley & meatball dish I haven't got around to, but this soup is now on my list of must repeats. Simmer about 1 1/2 hours until barley is tender. Stir in a tin of chopped tomatoes & a can of creamed sweet corn. Must be creamed. Simmer 20 minutes or so & serve with chopped parsley. Season to your taste. You can freeze the left overs. Watch this space for more soup Monday ideas. What are the favourites in your house?