I am so glad that I made up a load of chicken stock, and that I firmly believe that a freezer without soup in it is just an unreasonably cold box full of the re-useable remains of natural dyeing sessions (that’s just me, possibly). Toothache turned into agony and agony turned into a removed wisdom tooth, and all I could manage for several days was soup. Soup and yoghurt. The latter got boring. The former, happily, did not.
The first is a spicy riff on carrot soup. I often make it, because carrots are frequently such good value, and – of course – because I love them. I’ve recently made a classic carrot soup, carrot with ginger, carrot with a little lemon, carrot with fresh coriander, carrot with chicken, carrot with – well, you get the picture. But carrot soups can sometimes be rather – not bland, exactly, but perhaps less warming than I wanted this time. So I set to work to tweak my basic recipe, and I do like the end result.
Carrot, coriander and cumin soup
serves 3-4, depending on consistency
I large onion, chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil (often rapeseed – check ingredients and go for it if it is)
a scrape of butter
1 large stick of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 small potatoes
500g carrots, chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
half tsp cumin seeds, ground
200ml chicken stock
750ml liquid (water or vegetable stock)
Put a large pan over a gentle heat. Soften the onion in the oil and butter, keeping the lid on so that it doesn’t colour. Cook until transparent – about 5-10 minutes. Then take the lid off and allow the onion to colour a little for a minute, and add the celery and garlic. Peel the potatoes, chop them up and add them too. Lower the heat, add the carrots and the spices and stir everything together. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 10 minutes or so – check during this time to make sure that nothing is catching; the potato is particularly susceptible.
Add the chicken stock and cook for another 5 minutes, then add liquid to cover. Bring to the boil, then knock back the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes or so, until everything is soft and the liquid is much reduced. Blend the soup and add some more liquid to get the preferred consistency. Reheat, season and serve.
This second soup is based on one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes – but heavily adapted to suit me and what I had in the cupboards (there was no way I was going anywhere other than the dentist with a face like a football).
I used to put pulses in my soups a lot but have recently fallen out of the habit; I don’t know why. I think I’m back in it now!
Leek and bean soup
serves 3 hungry people
1 tsp olive oil
a scrape of butter – about half a tsp
a sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 x 400g tin of flageolet beans (haricot beans can be used instead, or any white bean)
2 dried chillies, seeds shaken out
a pinch of dried herbes de Provence
100ml chicken stock
2 tsp tomato purée
water to cover
Trim the leeks, slice them lengthways and then chop them. Put them in a large bowl of water and sloosh them about to shake off any soil. Warm the oil and butter in a pan. Lift the leeks out of the water with a slotted spoon and add them to the pan, then add the leaves from the thyme and the bay leaf. Put the lid on the pan and cook the leeks down for about 5 minutes. Drain the tin of beans and chop the dried chillies finely.
Add the beans and chilli to the pan, then add a pinch of herbes de Provence as well. Stir everything together and add the chicken stock; then add the tomato purée and water to cover. Increase the heat and simmer the soup until everything is tender. This should not take long but if it seems a little thin, increase the heat again and cook some of the liquid off. Check for seasoning and serve.
Now I’m dreaming of what I will eat when I’m able. Bacon sandwich!