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Members' Recipes Archive

January 2002
Simple soups: Glorious Green Soup
Bridget Jones

Simple soups: Glorious Green Soup

By: Bridget Jones

Serves: 8

Bright, frosty weather is brilliant for long winter walks, especially when there's a pot of soup waiting back home to warm up on afterwards. Made from a few everyday vegetables, these recipes are full of goodness. They are simple and satisfy the seasonal urge to enjoy comforting, traditional dishes but without being rich and heavy.

Glorious Green Soup
When there are lots of people around to savour the results, it is great fun stirring up huge potfuls of soup from very basic ingredients. With builders in the house for the last couple of months, I have been making the most of the opportunity to make great pans of mixed vegetable soups - minestrone style one day, bubbling away with root vegetables another, or with just an armful of leeks and some potatoes. Running low on fresh produce the other day, I decided to make 'green' soup using frozen petit pois and spinach. I love wintry pea soups but I was not sure that the builders would appreciate the rather lurid soup that simmered ready for their lunch.
It was a complete hoot seeing their faces when I opened the pot to reveal GREEN ... suddenly they all had sandwiches, thank you very much, and tried to escape. I insisted they at least HAD to taste it before they refused. When I pointed out that I knew they were just being wimpish because they were frightened of tasting my green soup, they crumpled. And within two spoonfuls they were all wide-eyed with amazement that it tasted good. They keeping asking when there's going to be more green soup!

Pepped with a little garlic and warming nutmeg, then topped with a crunchy mixture of croutons and chorizo on some shreds of basil, this soup tastes terrific. It is excellent for times when you are snowed under with a thousand things to do and have not had time to shop for fresh vegetables. Stock leftover from boiling ham or bacon is the best to use - I freeze even the smallest amount of cooking liquor from ham to enliven vegetable soups - but chicken or vegetable will do very well. If you do not have any home-made, buy one of the better commercial types rather than using cubes with an overpowering artificial flavour.

Ingredients:

Small knob of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for cooking croutons
3 bay leaves
2 onions, chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 carrot, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1.5 litres/2 3/4 pints ham or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
450 g/1 lb frozen petits pois
225 g/8 oz fresh spinach or 100 g/4 oz frozen spinach
Freshly grated nutmeg

Garnish
100 g/4 oz chorizo, finely diced
4 thick slices good white bread
Handful of tender basil sprigs (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat the butter and oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the bay leaves, onions, garlic and carrot, and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables are evenly coated in oil and butter. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the potatoes and pour in the stock. Add a little salt and pepper if the stock is not salty - be careful if using liquor from boiling a traditional ham as it may already be too salty undiluted. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover the pan, then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the petits pois, bring the soup back to the boil and reduce the heat again, then cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Finally, stir in the spinach and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. By this time the peas should be well cooked and the potatoes soft and falling.

4. Prepare the garnish while the soup is cooking. Dry fry the chorizo in a heavy pan until the fat runs and the dice are very small and well cooked. Use a draining spoon to remove the chorizo from the pan, then add a little olive oil to the fat from the chorizo, and toss in the cubes of bread (these can be quite chunky). Fry the croutons, stirring and turning them frequently, until crisp and brown. Mix with the chorizo and set aside.

5. Cool the soup slightly and discard the bay leaves before pureeing it until smooth in a blender or using a hand-held blender. Return the soup to the pan, if necessary, taste for seasoning and add a little nutmeg. Reheat the soup, if necessary, stirring all the time, and ladle it into large bowls. Finely shred the basil with scissors, then sprinkle over the soup. Top with croutons and chorizo and serve immediately.

© Recipe copyright 2002 Bridget Jones

 

Author: Bridget Jones Email:


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