The Comfort that is a Bowl of Soup

There really is nothing like a bowl of soup to make you feel human again after a hard day, to warm you coming in from the cold, to comfort you when you are tired or down, to make a great satisfying lunch in the middle of a busy day.

And what could be simpler? Of course my all time favourite is What’s Left in the Vegetable Basket Soup. So although, to my mind, a good vegetable soup has to have a basis of onions, carrots and celery, the variations on this mean that no two soups are alike. Some have the hit of the last wrinkled chilli  and quite often something from the store of vegetables frozen from the glut in the summer but then there are the odd ingredients like the the last few tomatoes and half of a left-over courgette. Sometimes made chunky and sometimes whizzed to a creamy liquid. Every one a winner!

The spring soup I always look forward to is Asparagus and Sorrel Soup

Asparagus and Sorrel Soup

This recipe comes from Eat Your Greens by Sophie Grigson, published in 1993. While the asparagus and the sorrel are still in season, this is a delight.  You can use asparagus trimmings for this recipe. This lovely light fresh soup and can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients Serves 2 – 3

175 g (6oz) chopped asparagus or asparagus trimmings, 40g (1 1/2oz) butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 large handful of shredded sorrel, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 600ml (1 pint) water from cooking the asparagus or stock, salt and pepper, 50ml (2 fl oz) double cream, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chervil or chives.

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onions and garlic without browning. Add the sorrel and stir until it collapses to a mush. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for a few seconds then a little ata time add the asparagus water or stock. Add the asparagus and season. Simmer for 20 mins.

Process or puree until smooth and if you want, sieve to remove any stringy fibres. Just before serving stir in the cream and chervil or chives.

And a brilliant and tasty soup for the summer – or anytime!

Soup au Pistou

Pistou, the Provençal cousin of pesto, is stirred into this summer vegetable soup just before serving. Pistou, made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil. The basics are the potato, courgettes and beans but this is one of those soups that can vary as much as you like in terms of the vegetables used. Broken spaghetti, rice or bread is sometimes added as well. Try it out and then make it your own.

This version was from an anonymous hand-written recipe and translated in Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen

Soup

1.5 litre water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 150g potatoes, 150g onions, 150g courgettes, 150g aubergines, 200g white haricot beans (a tin would be fine), 100g green beans, Salt & pepper

Pistou

4 crushed cloves garlic, 4 cups packed basil, 1 cup grated parmesan, ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 plum tomato, cored

Method

Make the pistou: Process basil, parmesan, olive oil, salt, garlic, and tomato in a food processor until finely ground or in a pestle if you are feeling energetic. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables – chop the potatoes, courgettes, aubergine into cubes, roughly chop the onions and chop the green beans into 1 cm pieces. Fry the onions in the oil then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add the water, all the fresh vegetables then season well. Cook for around 15 – 20 minutes. Add the white haricot beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the pistou sauce and stir gently then taste and season again.

Guess what I’ve got for lunch?

Yummy Green Soup for Meat Free Day … and beyond

Asparagus and Sorrel Soup

The recipe this month comes from Eat Your Greens by Sophie Grigson, published in 1993 (that’s over 20 yrs ago!). While the asparagus and the sorrel are still in season, this is a delight.  You can use asparagus trimmings for this recipe. This lovely light fresh soup and can be served hot or cold.

Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients

175 g (6oz) chopped asparagus or asparagus trimmings, 40g (1 1/2oz) butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 large handful of shredded sorrel, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 600ml (1 pint) water from cooking the asparagus or stock, salt and pepper, 50ml (2 fl oz) double cream, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chervil or chives.

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onions and garlic without browning. Add the sorrel and stir until it collapses to a mush. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for a few seconds then a little ata time add the asparagus water or stock. Add the asparagus and season. Simmer for 20 mins.

Process or puree until smooth and if you want, sieve to remove any stringy fibres. Just before serving stir in the cream and chervil or chives.

And one more for luck

It’s almost the end of National Asparagus Month and here is the easiest Asparagus recipe (apart from just just adding lovely salty butter and fresh cracked pepper) from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen (a great book). The recipe does call for elegantly thin asparagus but it doesn’t grow that way on my plot.

Although is is the end of Asparagus month the season goes on through June so enjoy it for another month, make the most of this lovely vegetable. This is what seasonal eating is all about, enjoying food at it freshest and looking forward to it each year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chilled Asparagus in Dilled Mustard Sauce

Ingredients

1 lb asparagus

1 cup of firm yoghurt

2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard

1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional)

2 tablespoons minced dill

2 tablespoons of minced chives

salt & black pepper to taste

Method

Snap off and discard the tough bottoms of the asparagus. Steam the spears until just tender. Remove them immediately from the heat, rinse under cold water and drain well.

In a small bowl combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise (if you are using) mustard and whisk until smooth. Season to taste.

Arrange the asparagus and drizzle over the sauce. Although the recipe calls for minced herbs I have used finely chopped as I prefer the flavour, as always it is up to you.

 

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Another Yummy Asparagus Recipe

It must be the showers but the asparagus is growing great guns on the plot. Celebrating both National Asparagus Month and Nation Vegetarian Week here is a lovely simple dish. It makes a great dish for lunch or breakfast. Sauteed Asparagus with Eggs and Parmesan, this quantity serves 2 people. This comes from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection a classic book that should be on everyone’s shelf. Can you believe it was published 1993?

Ingredients

8oz (225g) asparagus, washed and snapped to remove the woody end

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 hen’s eggs or 12 quails eggs

1 tablespoon parmesan shavings

salt and freshly milled pepper

Method

Use a vegetable peeler to shave off thin slices of the cheese.

For this recipe you need two frying pans or a frying pan and a griddle pan. In the first (or the griddle pan) heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over a high heat, add the asparagus stalks, then immediately turn the heat down to medium. Move the stalks around and turn them so they are a little toasted at the edges. This should take 3 -4 minutes but will depend on their thickness. When they are done, turn off the heat, add the balsamic vinegar and let them keep warm in the pan while you cook the eggs.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the other frying pan and cook the eggs over a medium heat. If you are using quails eggs break the shell with a sharp knife as cracking the shell will break the yolk.

Arrange the asparagus on a warm plate with the pan juices. top each portion with 1 hen’s eggs or 3 quail’s eggs and season. Then sprinkle on the parmesan and serve (as Delia says) pronto!

As one of my favourite ways of serving asparagus is simply with Hollanaise sauce, I have combined the two and added Hollandaise on the side.

This is so tasty I could eat it every day.

 

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Chargrilled Asparagus and Halloumi with Citrus Dressing

Keeping on the asparagus theme for National Asparagus Month I found this delicious recipes from The Abel & Cole Cookbook by Keith Abel a great book.  Isn’t it great when you find a new recipe that you absolutely love, this is so easy and tasty I think I am going to to be eating it a lot in future. Serves 4 as a starter (or two as a light lunch)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 bunch of asparagus

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/3 mug of pine nuts

1 pack of halloumi cheese

For the dressing

Jiuce of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons of choppped flat leaf parsley

salt & fresh ground black pepper

Method

Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Toast the pine nuts by tossing them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until golden brown. Watch them carefully to make sure they don’t bur. Put them to one side.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain in cold water and pat dry, then coat in olive oil. Cook for a few minutes on each side on a hot griddle. I haven’t got a griddle so I just used a dry frying pan.

Slice the halloumi into eight slices, brush with a little oil and cook in the griddle pan for a few minutes on each side until the slices have good dark char marks.

Make a loose stack of asparagus on each plate, top this with the halloumi and pine nuts and drizzle of with the the dressing. OK so I stacked it the wrong way round for the photograph It still tasted great.

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It’s National Asparagus Month

Did you know there was a National Asparagus Month? No nor did I. I love, love, love asparagus, it is the first crop on the allotment and the thought of those fresh little shoots just makes my mouth water. This is what seasonal food is all about. Fresh from the ground it is unbeatable, lightly steamed with lashings of butter and a little pepper and salt, eaten with soft boiled eggs or as fresh asparagus soup and because it is one of those crops that has to be constantly picked I can share it with friends and family.

Anyway throughout May it’s National Asparagus Month – the perfect time to try out this delicious vegetable! The UK asparagus season lasts through May and June, so make the most of it.

Native to Europe, asparagus is a great source of fibre and is rich in vitamins A, B and C as well as folic acid – perfect for getting you fit and ready for summer.

If you are not lucky enough to grow asparagus buy as much as you can now while it is in season, choose firm but tender stalks with good colour and closed tips.  Asparagus soon looses its flavour and tenderness, so it is best eaten on the day you buy it

For more information, and all you need to know about asparagus, including events around the UK and great recipes go to the National Asparagus Month website.

So get ready for National Asparagus Month and start eating your greens this May!

Yummie green soup for vegetarian week

Asparagus and Sorrel Soup

The recipe this month comes from Eat Your Greens by Sophie Grigson, published in 1993 (that’s nearly 20 yrs ago!). While the asparagus, which has been late this year due to the cold weather, and the sorrel are still in season, this is a delight.  You can use asparagus trimmings for this recipe. This lovely light fresh soup and can be served hot or cold.

Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients

175 g (6oz) chopped asparagus or asparagus trimmings, 40g (1 1/2oz) butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 1 large handful of shredded sorrel, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 600ml (1 pint) water from cooking the asparagus or stock, salt and pepper, 50ml (2 fl oz) double cream, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chervil or chives.

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onions and garlic without browning. Add the sorrel and stir until it collapses to a mush. Sprinkle over the flour and stir for a few seconds then a little ata time add the asparagus water or stock. Add the asparagus and season. Simmer for 20 mins.

Process or puree until smooth and if you want, sieve to remove any stringy fibres. Just before serving stir in the cream and chervil or chives.