Cream of celeriac soup

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I made this soup after I returned home from spending a weekend with my friends Annie and Andrew at their home in Wiltshire.  On the Saturday Annie and Andrew took me to Salisbury where there is a very good market in the main square – a proper market with vegetable stalls, fruit sellers, butchers, a cheesemonger (maybe two) and all manner of stalls with delicious foods to buy.  One of my purchases was the celeriac – the other was a brace of pheasant which were locally sourced (and shot) and are now residing in my freezer – the subject of a future post.  I must say that the Salisbury saturday market is reason enough to move there.

What you’ll need for four people as a soup/first course:

  • One celeriac approximately 1kg in weight
  • One medium-sized onion peeled and cut in half
  • One small to medium-sized potato peeled and cut in half or quarters*
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cream**

What you’ll need to do:

  • Prepare the celeriac by trimming off the thick knobbly roots.  Then, either using a potato peeler or a sharp knife, ‘skin’ the celeriac.  If you are using a knife be careful not to take off chunks of the vegetable with the skin.  The skin is easy to trim away so not much force is needed.
  • Cut celeriac into chunks
  • Make up the vegetable stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Add the celeriac, onion and potato to the stock and reduce to a simmer.  Cover with saucepan lid and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Check that the celeriac and potato are cooked and if so turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
  • Once the broth and vegetables are cooled sufficiently transfer to a liquidiser and whizz until smooth.
  • Return soup to a clean saucepan and season with salt and a little pepper if you wish.  Remember,  the stock will have salt in it so you may not need to add more.
  • As you are warming the soup prior to serving pour in the cream a little at a time to your liking.  Once you have added the cream don’t let the soup boil as the cream may separate.

* I include a potato because it acts as a natural thickening agent.  If you prefer a thinner soup then you may either omit the potato altogether or add more stock after you have blended the soup.  I think the potato adds a little silkiness to the overall texture.

** If you wish to keep the calories down then you can ditch the cream – the soup will be just as delicious without it.  Oh yes, I use double cream myself.

As a post-script I would like to thank my friend June Lim of Singapore who suggested  I should put the picture of the finished dish at the top of the recipe and not at the bottom.

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Pea and ham soup

I had some ham hock which had to be used up and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it other than turn it into a pasta dish.  Then I had an idea – why not make a pea and ham soup which would be different from the traditional pea and ham soup?

The traditional pea and ham soup that most of us will remember is made using split peas, a ham hock bone and long, long cooking.  This one is simplicity itself AND it can be adapted for those who prefer a vegetarian version by using vegetable stock and omitting the ham hock.  And it is quick!  Well quicker than the two hours it takes to make the traditional version!

I had mentioned this recipe to my sister Maria and niece, Natalie, some time ago and they both have been pressing me to post it ever since.   So here it is, at last!

What you’ll need for two people is:

  • A knob of butter
  • 1 small onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium potato peeled and cubed
  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 250gr frozen garden peas or petits pois
  • Salt and pepper (if required)
  • 100/150gr shredded ham hock (I used Waitrose shredded ham hock)
  • Double or single cream

What you’ll need to do:

  • Heat the butter in a saucepan then add the chopped onion and gently fry until opaque.
  • Add the stock and the potato cubes and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the broth simmer until the potato cubes are cooked.
  • Check to see if seasoning is required and adjust to taste if necessary. (Remember there may already be salt in the stock)
  • Add the peas and bring the broth back to the boil and cook the peas for a few minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool sufficiently then either transfer to a liquidiser to blend or if you prefer, use a hand-held blender directly into the soup.*
  • Pour the soup into a clean saucepan, return to the stove and warm through prior to serving.
  • To serve pour an equal amount of soup into two soup plates or bowls then pour a little cream in the middle of the soup.  Place a portion of the ham hock onto the cream and serve.

*If you are in a bit of a hurry you can liquidise the soup whilst hot but please be careful when transferring to your liquidiser and especially careful  if you use a hand-held blender in case some of the soup splurges upward and flies out of the pan!

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A delicious emerald-green pea soup

Spicy broth with prawns or chicken or without.

I created this soup as part of my repertoire for my 5:2 diet regime – a dish that is so straight-forward  it really doesn’t require much thinking about and provides me with a dinner of around 600 calories, maybe fewer.   Though you might not think it by the sound of it a full portion of this soup is a pretty substantial meal.

And the beauty of this soup is that it can be vegetarian by excluding the prawns or chicken and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

What you’ll need for 2 people as a first course or for a main meal for 1 person is:

  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • A little vegetable oil for cooking
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red or green chilli chopped – I use Thai chillis
  • 6 to 12 large raw or cooked prawns (12 if the soup is to be shared) or 100gr – 150 gr shredded cooked chicken breast. (Thigh meat can be used too of course)
  • Soy sauce (about a dessert spoonful  or more to taste)
  • Half a carrot peeled and diced*
  • 1 -2 teaspoonfuls of Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce (optional)**
  • 2-3 Cavolo Nero leaves sliced or any other green leaves you may have to hand such as kale or Swiss Chard
  • Half a pack of mixed exotic mushrooms (Eryngii, Shiitake & Oyster were in the pack I had and which can be bought from Waitrose) or any assortment of mushrooms you fancy.  Slice the mushrooms.
  • 1 nest of Rice Vermicelli noodles (I use the Thai Taste brand)
  • Handful of coriander or chives chopped for garnish if liked.

*You may like to substitute the carrot with fennel or celery

**When I made this a few days ago I decided to add a bit more zip to the broth by adding a teaspoon or two of the Sriracha Chilli Sauce and it was even more delicious but do take care, the Thai chilli is heat enough.

What you’ll need to do:

  • Make up your 500ml of stock and have it to hand.
  • In a saucepan (large enough to take 500ml of liquid plus the ingredients) heat a little of the vegetable oil and gently fry the garlic and chilli to release the fragrance.  Try not to let the garlic brown because  it will taste bitter.
  • Add the chicken/vegetable stock and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
  • Add the soy sauce to taste.  (Be careful in the amount you use due to its saltiness)
  • Add the diced carrots and sliced mushrooms.  Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the vegetables to cook.
  • Add the prawns or chicken if using.  (If using raw prawns they will turn pink when cooked.  If using cooked chicken ensure that it is heated through thoroughly)
  • Add the chopped Cavolo Nero leaves
  • Whilst the broth is simmering bring a small saucepan of water to boil.  Once boiled turn off the heat and drop the nest of vermicelli into the hot water, place a lid of top and leave for 10 minutes or follow the recommended time on the packet. when the time is up drain the vermicelli and keep warm.
  • Once the broth is ready divide the vermicelli noodles between two soup plates or bowls (or just one large bowl if it is a main mean) and ladle the soup over the noodles.
  • Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves or chives over each portion and serve.

 

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