Monday, 7 February 2011

Chunky vegetable soup with garlic croutons

Today was a very sad occasion - I learned of the death of Gary Moore and the publication of Kerry Katona's novel.  Good job I had lots of veg to hand for a nice comforting soup!

I know I always say this, but for this recipe you REALLY need the best, freshest veg and stock you can get.  I would even go as far as to say that you shouldn't even attempt it unless you've made a nice fresh vegetable stock otherwise it will just be bland and boring and you might as well eat bran flakes.  However, if you do have the right stuff for it it's delicious.  The garlic croutons are a fancy touch I thought I'd try - they worked well but feel free to use any kind of nice crusty bread.

NOTE: these ingredients are what I used, but you can use what you like as long as it's in season.  Just make sure you use the right quantity of veg per person by measuring using a bowl.

Ingredients (to serve four):
  • 1 x large onion
  • 1 x celery stalk, thoroughly cleaned - reserve the herby leaf
  • 1 x parsley sprig, 3 x sage leaves and some leaves from the celery tied into a bouquet garni
  • 1 x leek, thoroughly cleaned
  • 4 x large carrots
  • 1 x medium-large potato
  • 1 x celeriac
  • 2 tbsps rapeseed oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 litres vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • French bread, to serve
  • 2 x garlic cloves, for the croutons
  1. Heat the rapeseed oil to a medium heat in a large heavy-based pan.
  2. Chop your onions, leek and celery into chunks and gently fry them in the oil.  You want to sweat them, not colour them, so that the resulting soup tastes fresh and zingy rather than roasted.
  3. Peel your carrots, potato and celeriac and reserve the peel for use in future stocks (i.e. put it in a bag and chuck it in the fridge).  Chop them into bite-size chunks and let them join in the party in your pan.
  4. When the onions, leeks and celery have gone soft and have started to turn transluscent it's time to pour in the stock.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and the bouquet garni.  Bring it to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables have all become tender.
  5. Cut diagonal slices of french bread, toast them and rub them with peeled garlic cloves - voila, you have garlic bread!
  6. Discard the bouquet garni.  Serve the soup in bowls with the croutons on the side and drizzle a little rapeseed oil over it.  When you get stuck in, it can be nice to break the croutons up and drop them into the soup.

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