Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cream of Fennel and Roast Garlic Soup

Nicola found some fennel bulbs at the farmers market and brought a couple home for me. At the same time I really enjoyed the garlic in the mushroom and garlic soup last week and so decided to combine the fennel with garlic and cream aiming for a creamy consoling soup. When cooked fennel has quite a subtle flavour so I have roasted the garlic which mellows it beautifully. You could roast the fennel and onion as well if you like but I didn’t.

-Begin with the garlic. Put the oven on to 190 centigrade. Take a whole bulb of garlic, snip off the top with some scissors, put on a baking tray and pour over a little olive oil and some salt.
- Pop in the oven and roast until the cloves are soft enough to squash between your fingers, twenty minutes to half an hour probably.
- Meanwhile peel and chop up a small onion and a couple of fennel bulbs.
- Cook gently in a tablespoon or two of olive oil
- Take the garlic out of the oven and allow it to cool. Then separate the cloves and squeeze them out into the onion and fennel pan. The flavour really is quite mild so use the whole bulb.
- Add in a small palmfull of thyme leaves and stir it all about.
- Pour over about three quarters of a pint of chicken or vegetable stock and leave to simmer until the fennel is soft, maybe another twenty minutes.
- Allow the soup to cool a little and then blend smooth.
- Reheat again adding some salt if neccessary, black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and then some cream. I never add much cream, a dessertspoonful or two is all that is required to give the soup a creamyness without over powering the rest of the ingredients.


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Failure, or a pretty cool way to crack walnuts

My soup making has gone off lately, nothing seems to taste right. Being bunged up with flu probably has something to do with it. So instead of making soup this weekend, my youngest and I built a small trebuchet.

And then spent the afternoon throwing walnuts around the garden.

Lunch was Courgette, Cumin and Chick Pea soup from the freezer.

If your cooking mojo seems to have left you, don't worry, open a tin or look in the freezer and do something else for a while.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mushroom and Garlic soup

Upping the amount of garlic in the base and a pinch of nutmeg makes for a comforting and very tasty soup that might just drive away the flu that is just lingering on inside my head. The garlic is cooked slowly to bring out it’s sweetness and flavour. You could roast the garlic as well if you have the oven on anyway for something else. If this doesn’t work I’ll just have to blast it away with some chilli and ginger!

- gently fry and onion, a celery stick and three cloves of garlic ( peeled and/or roughly chopped as appropriate) in some olive oil and a big slice of butter.
- leave them to cook for ages until they caramelise to a golden brown. This will take a good fifteen minutes.
- Meanwhile roughly chop up a couple of good handfuls of mushrooms.
- Add the mushrooms to the onions and stir around. Cook until the liquid that comes from the mushrooms has nearly all evaporated or until you get bored waiting.
- Pop in a pinch of ground Nutmeg and a dessertspoonful of plain flour.
- Stir and cook the flour for a couple of minutes.
- Pour in a pint and a quarter of vegetable stock and a small bunch of parsley, chopped.
- Simmer until the mushrooms are cooked then blend the soup smooth.
- Reheat adding salt and black pepper as required.

Serve with a good dollop of soured cream, sit back, enjoy the mushrooms backed up by a gentle garlicky background and think healing thoughts. At least that's what I did. . .

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pea soup

A simple plain soup for those Winter days when Summer seems a long way off.

- Warm some olive oil in a pan and add half an onion and a clove of garlic or two, peeled and chopped.
- Add in a small potato, peeled and chopped into chunks.
- When the onion is soft and translucent add in say four handfulls of frozen peas.
- Pour over a pint and a quarter of half strength vegetable stock.
- Bring to a gentle boil and cook until the peas are soft, fifteen to twenty minutes or so.
- Blend the soup smooth.
- Return to your washed out saucepan, reheat adding a teaspoon or two of Tamari to taste along with some black pepper and salt if required, go carefully though because the Tamari is very salty itself.

And that is all there is too it, half an hour from start to eating . . . I had mine with some grated parmesan and more black pepper.

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