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Posts Tagged ‘Soup’

Carrot & cumin soup

It seems to be getting more and more difficult to buy a carrot, with supermarkets in particular insisting that you buy a huge bag. Why can’t we be like France and just have troughs of veg for us to pick what we need from? This is a suitable end for almost a whole bag of carrots.

Carrot & Cumin Soup – serves 6

  • 35g butter
  • 600g carrots, chopped
  • 110g onion, chopped
  • 150g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tsp freshly roasted and crushed cumin seeds
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1.2 litres light chicken or vegetable stock
  • a little creamy milk (optional)
  • crème fraîche or yoghurt (to garnish)
  • coriander leaves, chopped

Melt the butter until foaming, then add the chopped vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and add the crushed cumin. Cover with a butter paper and a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, add the stock and boil until the vegetables or soft – about 5 to 8 minutes, then purée the soup until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve in warm bowls with a swirl of crème fraîche or yoghurt if you like and some freshly chopped coriander.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Ltd., 2001.)

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Wild mushroom soup

Make this with wild mushrooms while you get them but it also works well with ordinary chestnut mushrooms.

Wine Suggestion: an old favourite with mushrooms for us is complex and nutty Oloroso sherry. The best are round and rich while remaining dry but if you have one with a touch of sweetness it should work just as well too.

If sherry is not your style then a lighter, earthy red like the Höpler Pannonica red, a blend of Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch and Pinot Noir from Burgenland in Austria is a good pick. Earthy and spices this wine has character and presence while remaining medium bodied and fresh.

Creamy Mushroom Soup – serves 4

  • 25g dried porcini (ceps)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • thyme sprigs
  • 400g mixed wild mushrooms or chestnut mushrooms
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 200ml tub crème fraîche
  • 4 slices white bread, about 100g, cubed
  • chopped chives

Put the dried porcini in a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover.

Heat 25g of the butter in a saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic & thyme for about 5 minutes or until softened and starting to brown.

Drain the porcini (keep the liquid) then add to the onion along with the fresh mushrooms. Leave to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the stock and the reserved mushroom juice (discard any grit at the bottom), bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for another few minutes then whizz with a hand blender (or similar device) before passing through a fine sieve.

Heat the remaining butter in a frying pan, fry the bread cubes until golden, then drain on kitchen paper. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle over the croûtons and chives.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Asparagus & Prosciutto soup

Another favourite from the River Café where the prosciutto gives a big addition to the flavour. Serve with a few asparagus tips and top quality olive oil on top. Delicious!

Wine suggestion: Sauvignon Blanc with bags of  flavour. Something like the Dog Point from New Zealand or the Dezat Sancerre from the Loire will work great. Going slightly off-piste we love the Domaine Bellier Cheverny Blanc which combines 85% Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay in a un-sung appellation from the Loire, a really good food wine.

Asparagus & prosciutto soup – serves 4

  • 500g asparagus
  • 140g prosciutto slices, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 140g spinach
  • Marigold Swiss bouillon powder dissolved with 750ml of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the remaining stalks into short lengths. Keep the tips to one side.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and soften for 5 minutes, then add the prosciutto, potatoes, parsley and asparagus stalks. Season with pepper (hold off on the salt until the end as the ham is salty) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the bouillon and simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are tender – about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the asparagus tips and cook for a another few minutes. Remove from the heat and blend to a rough purée.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry the reserved tips for a few seconds. Serve the soup with the asparagus and oil drizzled over each bowl.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Winter vegetable and bean soup with Kabanossi

A really nice soup with or without the Kabanossi sausage (so you can leave this out if you like) though it does add an extra layer of  smoky flavour. Most supermarkets stock Kabanossi sausages near the salami and other dried sausages.

Winter vegetable & bean soup with Kabanossi sausage – serves 8 to 9 (freezes well)

  • 225g rindless streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 225g onions, chopped
  • 275g carrot, cut into 5mm dice
  • 125g parsnips, cut into 5mm dice
  • 200g white part of 1 leek, cut into 5mm slices
  • 1 Kabanossi sausage (optional), cut into 5mm slices
  • 1 x 400g tin of good-quality tomatoes (Italian brands are good)
  • 225g haricot beans, soaked and cooked (see note at end)
  • 1.8 litres home-make chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Blanch the bacon, refresh and dry well with paper towels. (To do this y0u need to cover with cold water, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes before draining into a sieve and rinsing with cold water. This process removes some of the saltiness.)

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat and warm the olive oil. Add the bacon and sauté until crisp and golden, then add the onion, carrots and celery. Cover the pan and sweat for 5 minutes, then add the parsnip and leeks. Cover again and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes.

If you are using the Kabanossi sausage add it now. Chop the tomatoes roughly in the tin and add to the vegetables with the cooked beans. Season with salt, pepper and sugar, then add the stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lots of brown bread & butter.

To prepare the haricot beans

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain the beans and cover with fresh cold water, add a bouquet garni (a bay leaf, sprig of parsley & spring of thyme tied with string), a carrot and an onion, then cover and simmer until the beans are soft. This will take between 30 minutes and 1 hour depending on the age of your beans. It’s important to check them often and stop cooking before they turn mushy. Season with salt when the beans are almost cooked. Drain and discard the vegetable and bouquet garni.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Ltd., 2001.)

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Pea soup with ham and mint

This is not your average pea and mint soup and has the most amazing sweet & salty flavour. A delicious starter to impress a few friends and very little work to prepare.

Wine Suggestion: a lighter weight red with spicy, peppery tannins was our choice, making sure it had a wonderful freshness of acidity too. We opted for a regular favourite, the unoaked Jesus Romero Rubus from Teruel in Spain. The absence of oak seemed to accentuate the “Spring” freshness of the peas and helped lift the grey, windy and damp January day.

Pea Soup with Jamón & Mint – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 150g jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham), finely chopped
  • a small bunch of mint, roughly chopped
  • 500g podded peas (frozen are fine)
  • 1 litre chicken stock (it’s worth using home-made for this recipe)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden, then add the carrot and bay leaves.  Fry for another 5 minutes, then add the garlic, two-thirds of the jamón and half the mint. Fry for another minute or so before adding the peas. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and simmer gently until the peas or tender, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and liquidise until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, season with salt and pepper and add the reserved mint. Serve with the rest of the jamón on top and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Moro Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

 

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Minestrone

This minestrone soup is from Jamie Oliver’s very first cookbook, back when his recipes were from the heart, had a simplicity and weren’t designed to be chucked together in 15 minutes. If you bake a ham be sure to reserve the water that you cook the ham in before baking, it makes a great ham stock for soups like this one.

Minestrone Soup – serves 6

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
  • 2 leeks, remove the outer leaves and dice into 1 cm cubes
  • 5 sticks of celery, remove the stringy bits with a vegetable peeler and dice into 1 cm cubes
  • 2 red onions, peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tbsp of chopped rosemary
  • 850ml gammon/ham stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 3 handfuls of basil
  • 170g spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Put the olive oil into a warmed heavy-based pan and sweat the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary over a medium heat until just tender – around 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming off any froth that comes to the top. Add the cabbage, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, then rip in the basil leaves and add the pasta. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste and season.

Serve garnished with the grated Parmesan and a slug of good olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 1999.)

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Tajik green lentil & rice soup

We made this because we had lentils, onions, celery and carrots lying around and we hate wasting anything. This is  hearty and perfectly adequate as as a stand-alone dish. The herb paste and goat’s cheese make it extra special.  Not at all bad for a leftovers soup!

Wine Suggestion: as this is so hearty and earthy a round, juicy red matches this dish well. The Beelgara Shiraz from the Riverland in Australia, while not particularly complex works well because of the warm bramble and plum flavours, medium body and gentle tannins that don’t dominate but rather sit delightfully alongside the flavours of the lentils, pesto and cheese.

Tajik Green Lentil & Rice Soup – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 200g green or brown lentils, washed
  • 150g brown rice, washed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 120g crumbly goat’s or sheep’s cheese

For the herb paste:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • a good handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • a good handful of coriander
  • a handful of mint
  • a handful of pistachios
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Throw in the onion, celery, carrot & tomatoes and cook until softened. Add the garlic, cumin seeds & allspice. Cook for another minute then stir in the lentils, rice & bay leaves.

Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then turn down and cover the pan. Cook for 20-30 mintues or until the rice and lentils are tender.

To make the herb paste: put all the ingredients in a small blender with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then whizz to a thick puree.

Thin the soup with a little hot water and taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls with the herb paste & crumbled cheese on top.

(Original recipe from Samarkand by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford, Kyle Books, 2016.)

Tajik herb paste

 

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Easy laksa

Rice noodles often get forgotten in the back of our larder. Much better to use them up in a soup or laksa like this one which is substantial enough for a main course. This recipe is gluten-free – the only reason we’re telling you that is because from now on we are going to add a gluten-free tag to any recipes that are gluten-free. So very soon you will be able to search JonoandJules for gluten-free recipes.

Wine Suggestion: We quite often plump for a Riesling when eating aromatic Thai dishes but have found another gem that works superbly for this hot, spicy, creamy, coconut dish: Alsace Pinot Gris. Often overlooked the richer styles favoured in Alsace provide a counterpoint to the heat and bring spices and texture of its own to the mix. For this dish we had a Bott-Geyl Points Cardinale, which is a Pinot d’Alsace, that is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Noir. We found it both elegant and rich with a fresh attractive fruit and a breadth of flavour to match the Laksa. We’re on the lookout for more Pinot Gris and dishes to try now after the success of this match.

Chicken Noodle Laksa – serves 4

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
  • 100g medium rice noodles
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins coconut milk
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, bashed
  • juice of ½ lime
  • coriander leaves, to serve

FOR THE PASTE:

  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp light muscovado sugar

Make the paste by putting all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor or mini food processor and whizz until finely chopped (if you don’t have one of these you can grind them with a pestle and mortar).

Spoon 2 tbsp of the paste into a bowl. Add the chicken strips, season well with salt and pepper and stir until evenly coated with the paste.

Put the rice noodles into a shallow dish and pour over boiling water from the kettle to cover. Leave for 10-15 minutes or until softened. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then snip into short lengths with kitchen scissors and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add 2 tbsp of sunflower oil and when hot, tip in the chicken and fry quickly for about 3 minutes or until nicely coloured and just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan, then add the scallions and the remaining paste and fry for a minute. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lemon grass. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the soup and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Divide the noodles between 4 deep bowls. Remove the lemon grass stalk from the soup and add the lime juice. Ladle the soup over the noodles and sprinkle with coriander leaves to serve.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking, BBC Books, 2016.)

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Hot & sour fish soup

This is a quick and very low-calorie but very tasty soup. Buy some really fresh fish – we used hake. Hot & Sour Fish Soup – Serves 2

  • 2tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 dried red chilli (or use a small tsp of chilli flakes)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 stem lemongrass, lightly bashed
  • 700ml chicken or fish stock
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 400g skinless white fish fillets, cut into big chunks
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • cooked noodles

Put the ginger, chilli, scallions, lemongrass and stock in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, vinegar and fish, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spinach and season with the fish sauce. Adjust the vinegar and soy sauce to your own taste. Put the cooked noodles into soup bowls, discard the lemongrass and dried chilli from the soup, then pour over the noodles and serve. (Original recipe by Lulu Grimes and Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive February 2015.)

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Jerusalem Artichoke soup

This is so refined in flavour and texture with the creamy and elegant soup working perfectly with the crunchy topping of celery, pancetta, garlic and fresh tomato. Highly recommended!

We’re a bit late with the recipe as Jerusalem artichoke season finishes in March but they’ll be back again at the end of the year and they’re probably still around somewhere in the world.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup – to serve 4

  • 1kg Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1.8 litres of salted water
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • small piece of celery, chopped
  • a little parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped ham or bacon or pancetta

Peel and chop the Jerusalem artichokes into even sized chunks. Simmer in the water until tender, then drain and purée with a stick blender.

Heat up the artichokes and gradually add the milk.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the tomatoes, garlic, celery, parsley and bacon for just a few minutes, then pour into the soup (along with the oil).

(Original recipe from At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her very best everyday recipes, Penguin, 2010.)

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We love cheese after dinner but it seems a bit indulgent during the week and therefore we inevitably end up with chunks of cheese lurking in the back of the fridge. We try our best not to waste any food but something as expensive and delicious as cheese (particularly the cheese pantry stuff as opposed to the supermarket plastic-wrapped kind) is even more of a travesty to not use. That’s when recipes like this one are perfect for a mid-week treat without having to indulge in a two-course evening meal.

Broccoli & Stilton Soup – to serve 4

  • 2 tbsp flavourless oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 litre of good chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped (including stalks)
  • 140g Stilton (or other blue cheese), crumbled

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions until soft but not coloured. Add a splash of water if they start to catch.

Add the celery, leek, potato and butter. Stir until the butter melts, then cover with a lid and sweat for 5 minutes.

Pour in stock and add any chunks of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the remaining broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes. Whizz until smooth, then stir in the stilton. Season with black pepper (you are unlikely to need salt) and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Sage brings an unexpected element to this soup that really works. Super warming and homely.

Pumpkin and sage soup – to serve 8

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped sage
  • 1.4kg of pumpkin or squash flesh
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock

Melt the oil and butter in a large pot. Add the onions and sage and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until really soft. Add the squash and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the honey and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is soft.

Cook before processing until smooth. Season and add a bit more stock if its too thick. Reheat to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is a real gardeners’ delight as chervil grows well, but doesn’t travel well, so its best cooked soon after picking. We love the hint of aniseed it brings to the flavours and have to thank Rai and Linda for their allotment which allowed us to make this soup!

Chervil & Potato Soup – to serve 4

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 450g fresh chervil (or you can use other soft herbs like parsley, sorrel or marjoram)
  • 1 large floury potato, peeled, diced and rinsed
  • 1.1 litres boiling vegetable stock

Melt the butter and soften the onion without browning.

Stir in the herbs, a generous pinch of salt and some pepper, cover and sweat for a few minutes.

Add the potato and 275ml of the boiling stock. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the rest of the liquid. Continue to simmer until the potato is soft enough for you to mash into the soup. Taste for seasoning and serve.

(Original recipe from Lindsey Bareham’s A Celebration of Soup, Penguin Books, 1993.)

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We’re always on the lookout for low-calorie dishes for weeknights (so we can afford to redress the balance at the weekend!) This one was tasty and helpfully used up some of the bits and pieces we had in the fridge.

Coconut, noodle & vegetable soup – to serve 4

  • 1-2 tbsp Thai curry paste (use whatever colour you’ve got)
  • 1 tsp groundnut (or other flavourless oil)
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 300ml reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 200g thick-rice noodles
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 140g sugar snap peas, halved
  • 100g beansprouts
  • 1½ tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 scallions shredded
  • some mint and coriander leaves to serve (if you have some)

Put a large pot over a medium heat. Cook the curry paste in the oil for a minute until it starts to release its aroma. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the noodles. Simmer for 7 minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and sugar snaps. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add the beansprouts, fish sauce and lime juice. Take the pan off the heat.

Serve in bowls with some scallions, mint and coriander.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Surprisingly light and healthy despite the big, rich flavours.

Red Lentil & Chorizo Soup – to serve 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g cooking chorizo, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • pinch of cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
  • pinch of golden caster sugar
  • small splash red wine vinegar
  • 250g red lentils
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomato
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • plain yogurt, to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chorizo and cook until crispy and the oil has run. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside but leave the oil in the pan. Fry the onion, carrot and cumin seeds for about 10 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Sprinkle in the the paprika and sugar, cook for a minute then add the vinegar. Simmer briefly, then add the lentils and pour over the tomatoes and chicken stock.

Stir well, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Blitz in a blender but you don’t want it completely smooth.

Serve drizzled with the yogurt, a little extra olive oil if you like, and a sprinkle of paprika.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This was really elegant and luxurious and the fennel and parsnip combination was unexpectedly delicious.

Fennel & Parsnip Soup – to serve 8

  • 50g butter
  • 175g onion, diced
  • 450g parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 450g fennel bulb, finely diced, keep the fronds to garnish
  • 1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml cream

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the onion, parsnips and fennel and stir well to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a circle of baking paper and and the saucepan lid. Cook on a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes or until soft but not coloured.

Heat the stock and add, simmering for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender. Add the milk and cream.

Blend until smooth and taste for seasoning. Serve sprinkled with the reserved fennel fronds.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2001.)

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A very filling dish that hits the mark on these icy evenings. Oh spring where are you?

Minestrone Invernale – serves many!

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 head celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1kg Swiss chard, leaves shredded and stalks roughly chopped
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes, drained of most of their juices, roughly chopped
  • 1 kg cavolo nero, stalks removed, leaves shredded (or use Savoy cabbage)
  • 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 500ml chicken stock or water
  • a few sprigs of wintery herbs like thyme or sage, chopped
  • Parmesan, for grating over
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil in a very big saucepan and slowly fry the carrot, onion and celery until soft and dark. This will take ages. Add the garlic, chard stalks and half the parsley, and keep cooking, stirring so it doesn’t stick. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes or until they have reduced.

Add half the Swiss chard leaves and half the cavelo nero, ¾ of the beans, and the boiling chicken stock or water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. You can add a bit more stock if needed but the whole point is that the soup should be really thick.

Add the remaining Swiss chard and cavolo nero and blanch briefly so they are cooked but stay green and crisp. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Purée the rest of the cannellini beans coarsely in a blender, with a bit of liquid from the soup. Add to the soup. Stir in the herbs and serve hot with Parmesan and some extra virgin olive oil.

Tastes great re-heated over the next few days.

Wine Suggestion: This is a very rustic, country dish and would suit a similar wine with some earthy character. We suggest a Barbera or something Tuscan.

(Original recipe from The River Café Cookbook by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, Ebury Press, 1995.)

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Crab & Sweetcorn Soup

This soup is absolutely delicious and super simple to throw together. We made a main meal out of it by serving it with some shop-bought spring rolls. Try and use freshly ground white peppercorns if you can as they give a subtle spiciness that works really well with the aromatic ginger.

Crab & Sweetcorn soup – to serve 4

  • 125g white crabmeat
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock
  • 2.5cm knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 225g tinned sweetcorn, pulsed to a rough purée in a food processor
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

Lightly beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the egg whites to the crabmeat along with the blended cornflour and stir well.

Put the stock and ginger into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the sweetcorn and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for a few minutes. Add the crabmeat mixture and some seasoning. Let it simmer gently and keep stirring for a few minutes until the soup has thickened. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Serve in warm bowls with the scallions scattered over the top.

Wine Suggestion: We didn’t actually try this but, having discussed it at length, we reckon an Austrian Grüner Veltliner might work here. Grüner has a savoury peppery character which should complement the peppery flavour of the soup. You don’t want it to be too heavy though so go for one that is no higher than 12.5% alcohol.

(Original recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen: Recipes From the F Word, Quadrille.)

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Try and find a tasty pumpkin (i.e. not one of the huge varieties grown to make lanterns) or failing that a butternut squash will do. This makes an absolutely delicious starter or  lunch served with some crusty bread.

Roasted pumpkin and thyme soup – to serve 4

  • 1.5kg unpeeled pumpkin, or butternut squash
  • sunflower oil
  • 40g butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • leaves from 4 small sprigs of thyme, plus a few extra to garnish
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 150ml single cream
  • 75g Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Cut the pumpkin into chunky wedges and scoop out the fibres and seeds. Rub with oil, season well with salt and pepper and put into a small roasting tin, skin-side down. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

When the pumpkin has cooled down a bit, slice away and discard the skin and cut the flesh into small chunks.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and half the thyme leaves and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until very soft but not browned. Add the roasted pumpkin, any pumpkin juice from the plate, the stock and ½tsp of salt. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Leave the soup to cool slightly, then blend with the rest of the thyme leaves until smooth. Return to a clean pan and bring back to a gentle simmer. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve in warm bowls with a pile of grated cheese and a few thyme leaves in the centre.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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This is a good soup for the dark nights. The parsley pesto will keep in the fridge for up to a month (put in a sterilised jar and cover with some olive oil) and makes a great pasta sauce.

Potato Soup with Parsley Pesto – to serve 6

  • 50g butter
  • 900g potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 850ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 225ml milk (or half milk and half cream if you have it)

For the parsley pesto: 

  • small bunch of parsley, leaves chopped
  • 25g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the potatoes and onion, toss until well coated and season. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Put all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor and whizz until evenly chopped and smooth. Add the oil and a pinch of salt.

Liquidise the soup until smooth, then add the milk. Adjust the seasoning and serve with some parsley pesto drizzled over the top.

(Original recipe by Rachel Allen in BBC Good Food Magazine, October, 2006.)

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