Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Jerusalem artichokes grow well in the Uists, and they are delicious. Two words of warning – they tend to come back every year in the plot. They give me bad wind.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 kg jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 litre of stock
  • 300ml milk, or milk/cream

METHOD:

  • Melt half the butter and gently cook the onion until soft.
  • Add the celery, jerusalem artichokes, and garlic, season with a pinch of salt, put the lid on the pan and cook gently for another couple of minutes
  • Pour on the stock, bring to the boil, and then simmer until all the vegetables are soft.
  • Puree, then add the milk, bring to a simmer and season to taste. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
  • Whisk in the rest of the butter, and serve with a garnish of toasted nuts or croutons

Ginger and Lettuce soup

Good for when you have bought the cheap veg in the co-op, and you don’t want a salad after all.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 onions, chopped small
  • 2 carrots, chopped small
  • 25g butter
  • 1 iceberg lettuce (or similar)
  • 1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 litre of stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 50ml cream

METHOD:

  • Gently cook the onions and carrots in the butter until soft.
  • Turn up the heat and add the lettuce, ginger and parsley until they wilt, and then add the flour, stirring well.
  • Pour in the stock, and simmer for five minutes or so, until it starts to thicken.
  • Puree the soup, and then pour it through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Reheat the soup, and serve with the cream swirled through, and with croutons.

Curried Parsnip Soup

The famous Jane Grigson recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 very large parsnip, chopped
  • 1 potato, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 heaped tsp madras curry powder
  • 1.1 litres beef or vegetable stock
  • 1.1 litres water (approx)
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml cream
  • chopped herbs

METHOD:

  • Gently cook the onion, garlic, potato and parsnip in the butter in a large saucepan. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and curry powder, and continue to stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the stock, and bring to the boil, and simmer for around half an hour.
  • Puree the soup, and dilute to taste with the water, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Reheat and add the cream, and serve with chopped herbs as a garnish, and with bread and butter.

Borscht

Very good version of a classic soup.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 350g beetroot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium beetroot, peeled and grated
  • 1 carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 litres of beef or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cabbage, shredded
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • black pepper
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped fennel or dill leaves

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter and gently cook the beetroot and carrot.
  • Add the onion, tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and a small amount of stock, and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the cabbage and cook for a further 20 minutes. Keep an eye, and add extra stock if required.
  • Add all of the rest of the stock, as well as salt to season, the garlic, potatoes and pepper and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
  • About 10 minutes before the end, add the grated beetroot.
  • Leave to stand after cooking for around 10 minutes.
  • Serve in warm soup bowls, each portion topped with a good dollop of soured cream and garnished with chopped herbs. A side serving of bread and cheese goes well.

 

Red cabbage and cannellini bean stew

I have been experimenting with this stew, and have come up with variations that are vegan, vegetarian or just general. I’ll leave it for you to decide how to go about it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 25g pancetta, (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small or half a large red cabbage
  • 2 cans tinned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp chopped sage leaves (optional)
  • 1 can borlotti beans or cannellini beans
  • 1.75 litres of stock (vegetable or beef)

METHOD:

  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the pancetta, onions, garlic, carrots and celery, and fry gently until the vegetables start to brown slightly.
  • Add the cabbage, tomatoes and thyme, stir and cook until the cabbage is tender.
  • Add the stock, the can of beans including liquid, 1 tsp salt and a good amount of black pepper, as well as the other herbs. Cook over a very low heat for two hours, keeping a check to make sure it is not sticking.
  • Once the stew is cooked, check for seasoning, and add extra stock if it seems to need it.

This recipe is based on several others, some of which use Italian black kale, luganega pork sausage, omit the sage, etcetera. Please experiment.

Scotch Broth

I’ve no idea if I make this soup the best way, but this is how I do it. Scotch broth involves a lot of chopping. If I get a lamb neck, this is what I make. I adjust the quantities depending on what is available

INGREDIENTS:

  • Lamb or mutton neck, around 900g, trimmed of any surplus fat.
  • 500g leeks, one left whole, the rest chopped finely
  • 50g pearl barley
  • 250g carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 turnip, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • sprig of thyme
  • a bayleaf
  • finely chopped cabbage

METHOD:

  • In a large stock pan, make the basick stock for the soup as follows: Put the lamb neck, the whole leek, carrot, chopped onions, barley, turnip, black pepper and bayleaf into the pan, and  cover with water. Bring to the boil slowly and simmer for two hours or more, until the meat is well cooked and easy to remove from the lamb neck.
  • Fish out the whole leek and the lamb neck. When the lamb neck is cool enough, get as much meat off it as possible, chop it and return to the soup, along with the chopped leeks and shredded cabbage. Season the soup with salt. (This would be a good point to freeze any for later)
  • Bring back to the boil, and simmer gently for a further ten minutes or so before serving. The cabbage and the leeks should still be slightly crunchy.
  • Serve with bread, oatcakes or potatoes.

Crecy Soup

This is one of my stand-by recipes, a lovely buttery soup. The type of rice used can be varied, and I have made up the weight of carrots with other root vegetables in the past. The stock can also be varied, as can the garnish. The thyme is an important flavour though, don’t mess with the thyme. Very flexible.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 75g butter
  • 250g carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 25g rice
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 700ml stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
  • Garnish, could be chopped chives, parsley, chervil etc.

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, melt 50g of the butter, and add the onion and carrots and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put the lid on the pan, and cook very gently for 10 minutes or so.
  • Add the rice, thyme and stock, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the thyme sprig and puree the soup. Reheat, check the seasoning, and whisk the last of the butter into the soup.
  • Garnish with chopped herbs, and serve with croutons

Quince and roses

I got given some quinces so I had a stab at making quince marmalade. I added some essence of roses, and it was inspired. Thank you to Mrs Bird.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 Quinces – each quince produces around 100g flesh
  • 1 lemon
  • 500g jam sugar
  • 2 tbsp rose water
  • Water

METHOD:

  • I wiped the fuzz off the quinces, put them in a pan and covered them in water, and simmered in a covered pan for an hour.
  • Once the quinces were tender, I cooled them, peeled and cored them and chopped the flesh up into small chunks.
  • I added the peel and cores to the remaining water and boiled this up with the zest of the lemon. The liquid started to change to a gentle light red.
  • I strained the liquid, and then added the rose water and lemon juice, and made the volume up to around 300ml
  • I put the chopped quince into the liquid, and started boiling, as the colour darkened I added the jam sugar, and boiled to setting point. (I used a jam thermometer, but I also used the cold plate technique)
  • I poured into clean jars that I had heated up in the oven.

The test on the spoon was wonderful, but the true test will be in the morning when I try it on toast.

 

Parsnip soup with ginger

A colleague was eating the most divine soup in the staffroom at work. I asked her what it was, and she replied that it was one of her stand-by recipes, parsnip and ginger. I have a recipe for parsnip soup, so I took that, mixed it with a recipe I already had and made this delicious spicy smooth soup.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3cm ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 500g bag of parsnips, (Misshapen parsnips v cheap in the shops at the moment)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (you can also use beef stock if you are not vegetarian)
  • 1 small tub low calorie sour cream
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter into the olive oil and slowly cook the chopped onions for ten minutes
  • Add the chopped ginger and garlic, continue cooking
  • Add the spices, and stir to incorporate
  • Dice the parsnips and add to the pan, stir and then add the stock, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Puree the soup, season to taste, and blend in the sour cream.

There are so many ways to make parsnip soup. You could serve with bacon croutons, or sprinkle with chives, or toasted seeds. You can swap the stock around, substitute some of the parsnip for potato etcetera. I will post the curried parsnip soup another time.

 

Ragu – bolognese sauce

This is the bolognese sauce that goes into lasagne, or any other kind of pasta. There are many versions of this sauce, this is based on more than one recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 250g beef mince
  • 50g pancetta or other bacon, ham, lardon etc
  • Butter
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes, pureed
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 glass of ‘marigold’ stock
  • 1 bayleaf
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Chop the pancetta, or other bacon, and fry gently in a little butter
  • Chop and add the onion, celery and carrot, and continue to fry gently, until everything is browned.
  • Add the beef mince, and stir so that it is browned evenly.
  • Add the tomato and the white wine, and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and add the bayleaf.
  • Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for at least 40 minutes. The longer the better.

I prefer to make this the night before, so that the flavour develops.