Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Philosopher's Bowl

My parents did a fairly good job on educating me about food.

I knew from an early age that milk came from cows, eggs came from chickens, that delicious meat is actually made out of delicious animals, the names of all the vegetables and all the various things Jamie Oliver seems to be so nervous about kids not knowing these days.

But there was one thing I just did not realise for many, many years.

You can make your own soup!

Intellectually I knew it had to come from somewhere and contained, y'know, ingredients but for far too many years I just associated soup with cans.

I guess I knew you could make soup but I put that in the same category as certain pastries.

Sure, theoretically you could make a croissant but I can just about guarantee that without a few years of training or practice, what you'll get will not look like a real croissant. It'll look like a buttery smear of undercooked flobble.

I thought of soup making as a kind of culinary alchemy, only undertaken by the learned and wise.

However, spurred on by the surprising amount of Hourly Comics that showed people making soup (and declaring how delicious it was and how amazing it is that they could have wasted so much of their lives eating the inferior and more expensive soup from tins), I started experimenting with soup making myself.

Guys, did you know that you can just take vegetables, boil them in water*, blend them up and they turn into delicious soup!

It's amazing!

So far I've made a pumpkin and cinnamon soup, a broccoli puree, a cauliflower and leek soup, a hearty minestrone, and a bean and pearl barley soup**.

They've all been delicious.

Chop things up, simmer them for half and hour and you've got a week's worth of lunches just sitting there being delicious at you.

Tell me that's not magical!

Anyway here's the recipe I used for cauliflower and leek soup which is one of my favourites so far.

1 onion
1 small leek
300 g (11 oz) cauliflower
2 teaspoons of olive oil
500 ml (17 fl oz) milk
250 ml (8 fl oz) water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Peel and chop the onion.
  2. Trim the leek, cut into thin slices and rinse well.
  3. Separate the cauliflower into small florets and rinse in a colander.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and leek.
  5. Cover and cook over a low heat for a few minutes to soften.
  6. Add the cauliflower, milk and water, season with salt, cover and bring to the boil.
  7. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, then blend the soup until smooth in a food processor or with a stab blender.
  9. Adjust the seasoning with salt a pepper.
Freaking. Delicious.

*Or a little stock

**I've made this one about 10 times, but I can't make it when my parents are coming around for dinner because English school lunches traumatised my mother so badly that even the sight of pearl barley triggers flashbacks.

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