Having used all of my frozen soup supply I decided it was time I tried another soup. I wanted to try something different, something I would have minimal preconceptions about, and something that wasn’t going to be too heavy given current heat and humidity. I also wanted a soup that had a reasonable protein content as I was going to be eating it as a main meal rather than as a starter. I hadn’t used The Book of Vegetarian Cooking for a while, so I decided to look at it’s soup section first; I didn’t need to look any further, there were two interesting sounding options on the very first page.
Fennel and walnut soup
I considered making watercress and almond soup but, on reading through both recipes, decided on the fennel and walnut, The recipe book recommended serving it with sage derby puffs but, since I can’t think of a good sheep or goat’s alternative to sage derby and I’m having a lot of fun with a new bread maker, I opted for a rustic French style bread instead.
This was a really simple soup to make. The challenge was in the way the recipe is written, as the instructions for the sage derby puffs and the instructions for the soup are interwoven; personally I’d have written it out in four paragraphs, rather than the two used in the book, to make it easier for a less confident chef to follow. I probably shouldn’t complain, my soup making went without a hitch and the end result was delicious. This is a delicate, slightly earthy soup with almost a mushroomy hint to the flavour.
The recipe suggests it makes four to six portions, I’m assuming they must mean as a starter. I got two portions eating this as a main course which I followed with a portion of gooseberry crumble. I’m about to make another batch to put in the freezer.
4 out of 5 for ease of making (it would have got five if better written).
5 out of 5 for flavour.
The best of this season’s veg’
It can’t be beaten, locally grown asparagus that is. I know the supermarkets try to tempt us with asparagus year round but that just doesn’t work for me. Part of the joy of asparagus is that it has a relatively short season; I indulge, as far as budget will allow, while that season lasts but before I can make myself sick of it or start to feel guilty about the extravagance of it the season is over. Asparagus season marks Spring transitioning to Summer and, while we’ve already had some uncomfortably warm nights, I do relish the longer days and lighter evenings. White asparagus is different, I’ve never seen it UK grown and it’s fiddly to prepare from fresh (I have done so when I was treated to a bunch from Germany), and I do occasionally use it from jars in the later part of the year but green is to be enjoyed in season from local growers.
Souped not steamed
Usually I steam asparagus and serve it with, well, anything really! It pairs well with French toast and is fabulous alongside baked mushrooms with goats’ cheese. This week though I was offered some beautiful asparagus at a discounted price, it would have been rude to say no so I bought three bunches and tried the Asparagus Soup recipe in The Greens Cookbook.
There’s no cheating in this recipe, it starts with using the ends of the asparagus stems and the greens of the leeks to make a stock. Boiling the stock up is the longest part of the proceedings, once the stock is made it takes about 10 minutes to make the soup itself. Instructions are given for making this either a clear soup or a creamy one; we had cream open in the fridge so I opted to make the slightly more decadent version. This soup was easy to make, probably just as well since I was making it late at night to have some for the freezer and some to re-heat over the next couple of days.
I might make this again, if I get another chance to buy good quality bargain asparagus, but I’ll do a couple of things differently if I do. When I make the stock I’ll reduce the volume of water used but keep to the same quantity of asparagus stalks, I might also add a second bayleaf, as it was almost too delicately flavoured a stock and I had half as much again as I needed for the soup. I’ll also reduce the leek content and possibly increase the asparagus as the flavour of the leeks was attempting to overpower the flavour of the asparagus. It was tasty but definitely more a leek and asparagus soup than an asparagus one.
5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of cooking
3.5 out of 5 for flavour
I froze a tub of this soup, which I defrosted and reheated a month after I made it. The flavour of the asparagus came through much more in the portion that had been frozen than it had when I first made it.
I haven’t been doing so well at trying a new recipe every week; a whole month passed without me trying anything new, though I did make a couple of the dishes that I’d tried earlier in my challenge. I blame a recently rediscovered social life! There’s the somewhat raucous and off the wall weekly quiz, a couple of gigs, medieval fancy dress, family lunches and (when I’m not being sociable) I’ve been losing myself in some damn good books. None of which is good for my housework, my cookery challenge or finding time for crafty things but it is fun.
This week though I did find my way round a recipe book and made
I don’t think I’ve ever followed a recipe for soup before but I’ve noticed a few which sound interesting amongst my recipe collection. This week’s was a fairly safe option, carrot and tomato, from Just One Pot. It was also a very simple soup to make; chop and fry a couple of onions, chop the carrots while the onions fry, then add everything else to the pan and boil for around half an hour. My largest pan wasn’t quite big enough so I reduced the volume of stock by ½ pint, this wasn’t a problem as I like a good, hearty soup.
The day I cooked it I was a little disappointed in it; I was disappointed in the carrots anyway, they were pretty bland and something of a let down. Reheated the next day the flavourless carrots became less of an issue as the spices from the curry powder came through more noticeably. I took some to work to heat up and got approving comments on the aroma in the kitchen.
The only thing lacking in this soup as a meal is some protein. I accompanied it with cheese and crackers but if I made it again I’d probably tweak the recipe to add some lentils or split peas.
5 out of 5 for ease of cooking
3 out of 5 for flavour (blame those carrots)