Showing posts with label Soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soup. Show all posts

20 Dec 2018

My sweet, earthy vegetarian soup with all the festive colours of Christmas

My Christmas Soup (Beetroot and Parsnip) from 2009

I first made this vibrant Christmas Soup almost ten years ago when I had a glut of beetroot from the veg patch.  Now I recognise that it's a very nutritious balanced meal, a perfect foil for sweet Christmas indulgences, and a good time saver if made ahead and frozen.

My late mother was an amazing cook and Christmas was a time when she could give free reign to all her culinary talents. Not for our family shop-bought mince pies and fruit cake, plastic wrapped turkey, boxed stuffing mix, microwaved Christmas pud or store bought brandy sauce. No, my lovely mum would start in early November making the fruit cake, feeding Dad's best brandy into it to keep it moist over the weeks ahead, ordering the bird (always called 'the bird' in our house) from the butcher in early December and building up to the big day like a military operation. Everything was made from scratch, just as her parents had done before and as I try to today.  Among all this preparation, she would still find time for freshly made soup for lunch and homemade mince pies at teatime.

Lunchtime soup became a reassuring daily tradition so it's no surprise that, in the early veg patch days when I set myself the challenge of finding ways of liking beetroot, I turned to soup. Soup is so comforting, isn't it?

The veg patch community grew beetroot as one of our first crops only because someone had a free packet of seeds; roll on to harvest time and it turned out that no-one, me included, actually liked the stuff. (Staggering to think as now I love eating beetroot in all its many guises.) Rather than letting the entire crop go to waste, I challenged myself to find ways of using beetroot that would change my mind; this soup was one of them.  (Chocolate beetroot cake was another.)

The recipe that I drew inspiration from in 2009 called for more beetroot than other veg. I tweaked the proportions so my version has more carrots, more parsnips and less beetroot to make a sweeter, less earthy soup but with the same vibrant deep red colour. With the confidence of experimenting with home grown veg over the past decade, these days I'd add celery to the veg mix and top the soup with toasted and crushed hazelnuts and green pumpkin seeds.  I'd also stir some horseradish through the yogurt garnish. After all, I've got to do something with all the horseradish romping through the veg patch!

Why not try it and let me know what you think? And trust me on the toasted hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds - that crunchy topping is delicious!

Parsnip and Beetroot Soup

For 4 good sized bowls, you will need:
150g onion
250g carrots
a stick of celery
300g parsnip (approx 2 medium)
800ml stock (easy to make your own or use powdered stock)
200g cooked beetroot
1/2 tsp ground coriander (Garam Masala is a good substitute)
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Optional garnish of yogurt, chopped dill, pumpkin seeds, toasted and crushed hazelnuts
  1. Roast or boil beetroot until soft (about 40 minutes); leave to cool before peeling, discarding stems and roots. Chop into smaller chunks.  
  2. Peel and chunk carrots, parsnips, celery.  Slice onions.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in heavy based pan.  Add onions, carrots, celery and parsnip. Stir to coat. Put on lid and sweat for 5 minutes until starting to soften.
  4. Add ground coriander spice.  Stir in and cook for 2 minutes more.
  5. Add stock and beetroot.  Bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes, lid off.
  6. When cool, blend soup until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Garnish with a swirl of yoghurt and/or other toppings.   
  8. Get creative with patterns in the yogurt! To make swirls, use a chopstick or skewer to pull the yogurt gently into the soup in small circles.

And here it is in pictures ...

Onion, Parsnip, Carrots about to be 'sweated'.

Stock and Beetroot added. Mmm, getting redder!

Simmering …

Cooled and ready to blend …

Checking the seasoning

A few thoughts:

  1. My first bowl didn't have Dill in it but was very nice.  I bought some dill for the second serving of soup and was amazed at the transformation. It added a whole new taste dimension, as did the yogurt - and both are quite important for the Christmas look!
  2. Fascinating fact: Did you know that Dill is traditionally an Ancient Sign of Fortune? And marketed by a certain UK supermarket as 'feathery fronds of fragrant flavour'.  Need I say more? 

Nutrition facts* that make this a very healthy soup:

Beetroot: A wonder food! A good source of soluble fibre, packed with Vitamins A, C and B6, and folic acid.  It is both an appetite stimulant, easily digested and contains an abundance of calcium, potassium, choline, organic sodium and natural sugars.  Helpful for anaemia, anxiety, fatigue, skin problems, liver problems, circulatory weakness, menstrual and menopausal problems, high and low blood pressure.

Parsnips: Another good source of fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals. The organic chlorine (not the sort used in swimming pools!) is a natural mineral and as such is used as a body cleanser. Parsnips are rich in sulphur and silicon which is very helpful for skin and hair health.  Parsnip juice is also very beneficial for anyone suffering from lung conditions, but small to medium sized parsnips are best for this.

Onion:  Rich in vitamin C, copper and iron, as well as sulphur, calcium and phosphorus.  The juice was used by the Romans for treating skin disease and healing wounds but is equally good for the immune system today!

* I firmly believe that being aware of what you eat is better than spending hours at the doctor's surgery.  I occasionally juice fruits and veg and the above facts are taken from a book called "Getting the Best out of your Juicer" by William H Lee.  Published in USA, it's not widely available in UK and  may be out of print.  I think I bought mine in a health shop about ten years ago.

17 Sept 2018

Garden gathered soup: Raymond Blanc recipe

Bowl of chunky vegetable soup

My son was feeling a bit peaky at the weekend so I made soup.  Not that I don't make soup at other times, it's just that soup with nutritious ingredients freshly gathered from the veg patch seems to be the perfect cure for autumn chills. (Of course the minute I typed those two words, the sun came out and it was really hot outdoors!)  I'm a big believer in the preventative power of good fresh food. (Beetroot seems to knock back the first signs of a cold for me. Works every time.)

It's a nurturing instinct isn't it, to provide good food to boost the immune system against seasonal change. My mum thought so, as did the mother of chef Raymond Blanc.  The influence of his mother's cooking, based on ingredients grown in the family garden, is well documented.  I was lucky enough to sample the soup inspired by 'Maman Blanc' when I attended a workshop at the RB Gardening School a few weeks ago. Admittedly, on that occasion it was made in a two Michelin star kitchen but it was so delicious that to say it was clean and fresh yet with complex flavours doesn't do it justice. For me, it captures the connection between the garden and kitchen and proves the reason I grow fruit, veg and herbs.

22 Nov 2017

Soupe du jour

Brrrr! Ooh, I'm feeling the chill today - probably because I've not been darting around outdoors.  Instead, I've been sitting indoors trying to write this morning but thoughts of a bowl of tasty warming soup kept popping into my head. And then I thought, why not share?

2 Jul 2010

Cool Soup for Hot Summer Days

Everyone enjoying the heat?  Yes?  … I 'm quite enjoying it -  but not necessarily when, as last week, I'm trying to sort out the architectural structure of the VP: digging holes, moving raised beds and laying brick paths. (I'd be a pathetic labourer, far too wussy.)  My forays into the Veg Patch are a little less impromptu than usual, planned so that I'm not toiling away in the heat (as I was last weekend when I felt distinctly peculiar by the afternoon) - the veg patch is between two blocks of flats so it gets very early morning shade and again in the evening.  My plans don't always work and I've managed to get both heat rash and sunburn on my feet this week by gardening in sandals (oops, forgot the suncream).  And it looks like it may continue, at least for another week in London, according to the BBC …

If this is true, I thought I'd have a go at this cooling summer soup, found in a vegetarian cookbook* from the library.  I'll have to let you know how it turns out as this will be my first attempt at it, but it looks good to me - probably tastes like a big bowl of runny Tzatziki.  (Of course, you could always put the cucumber, mint and ice into a jug of Pimm's and enjoy the Greek yogurt with a dish of strawberries and summer fruits … or do all three!)

Chilled Cucumber, Yogurt and Mint Soup

-- image © 'Meat Free Meals' 
For 6 bowls, you will need:
  • 1 cucumber
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) Greek Yogurt
  • a generous handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 125ml (4 fl oz) cold water or light veg stock
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 6 ice cubes and mint sprigs to serve
1.   Leave a chunk of cucumber to grate later for decoration. Coarsely grate the remainder and put in a large bowl with all the other ingredients for the soup and mix together.  Chill for up to 12 hours. (I imagine that means you can eat it sooner if your happy with the degree of chilled-out-ness.)

2.   Before serving, stir the soup, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the soup into six bowls.  Into each bowl add an ice cube, 1 Tbsp of the reserved cucumber and a few mint sprigs.

3.    Try eating as finger food, mopped up with rolled up tortilla.  Best enjoyed while sitting in the path of a cooling breeze!

(*Adapted from Good Housekeeping ‘Meat Free Meals’, pub. June 2009)

19 Dec 2009

Warming Weekend Watercress Soup …

D'ya like the snowfall effect I've added to my page?  We've had flurries of snow for real from midweek here in North London - causing L and I to dash out on a mercy mission and buy horticultural fleece for the VegPatch winter produce - and we've been promised heavy snowfall tonight.  (Oh how the readers in the North must be laughing!  We're lucky if we get 3 inches of snow; they have to find a spade to even leave the house.)

Last weekend, I added a bag of watercress to my shopping and made soup as soon as I got home.  This wonderful emerald soup is so nourishing and just the thing when brrrr-baby-it's-cold-outside.  Gleaned from my tried and trusted Leith's Cookery Bible, why don't you give it a try?

For 2 hearty bowls you will need:

1 bag of watercress (I remove the bigger stalks)
1 medium onion, sliced and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 pint of white stock (or use a bouillon powder)
1 oz butter
Optional: a few sprigs of basil and coriander; 1/2 pint milk

What you do:

Melt the butter and cook the onions over a low heat until soft but  not coloured.  Add the diced potatoes and white stock.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Let it cool slightly before chucking into a blender with the watercress (and any other herbs) and blitzing.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg (if liked).  Reheat in the cooking pot and serve. 

Leith says to add up to half a pint of warmed creamy milk to get the consistency that you want - this would stretch the soup to 4 small bowls.  I didn't do this because to me it was lovely as it was and the addition of milk would detract from the beautiful vibrant green of the soup.
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