Mushroom soup with stilton, apple & walnut croûtes

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Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 organic chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • ½ a bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms
  • 100 g basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon single cream
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil
  • For the croûtes
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 ciabatta loaf
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 eating apple
  • ½ a bunch of fresh curly parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 50 g Stilton cheese
  • 1 small handful shelled walnuts
  • For the soup
  • 2 onions

Method

Ingredients out • Kettle boiled • Oven grill on high • Large lidded pan, medium heat • Griddle pan, high heat • Stick blender

START COOKING
Peel, halve and finely slice the onions and put them into the large pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil • Crumble in the stock cube, add a pinch of salt and pepper, strip in the thyme leaves and squash in 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic through a garlic crusher • De-stalk the chestnut mushrooms and place the tops on the griddle pan, turning when charred • Tear the chestnut stalks and portobellos into the onion pan, add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes • Pour in 1 litre of boiling water and boil with the lid on

Cut 4 slices of ciabatta at an angle and add to the griddle pan • When charred on both sides, rub with a halved garlic clove • Coarsely grate or slice the apple into matchsticks and toss with the roughly chopped parsley and a little lemon juice • Place the chestnut mushrooms on the toasts, crumble over the stilton and walnuts, then pop under the grill until the cheese is melted

Use the stick blender to purée the soup to a consistency you like, then season to taste, if needed, and swirl in the cream and truffle oil • Top the toasts with pinches of apple and parsley and serve on the side

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Roast carrot & fennel soup

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Ingredients

  • 1 kg carrots , peeled, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 bulbs of fennel , trimmed and sliced, tops reserved to serve
  • 1 onion , sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic , unpeeled
  • 1.6 litres vegetable stock
  • 100 ml single cream , to serve
  • For the flatbreads
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 250 g strong bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil , plus extra for shaping

Method

Recipe by Alice Hart

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Put the carrots, fennel and onion in a roasting dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then add the garlic cloves. Stir everything thoroughly and return to the oven for 20 minutes more, until the vegetables are soft and browned. Remove the papery skins from the garlic cloves.

Put the roasted veg in a large pan with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, then liquidise with a stick blender, until completely smooth.

Now make the flatbreads. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Crush roughly with a pestle and mortar, then pour into a bowl with the flour and ½ teaspoon of salt. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 100ml of hand-hot (not boiling) water, then add it to the flour mixture with the oil and 60–75ml of hot water and mix until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough. Knead for 5 minutes.

Pop the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and set aside to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Then, with oiled hands, divide the dough into 8 and roughly roll each one into a thin oval. Stack them up, separating them with baking paper to stop them from sticking together.

Heat a griddle pan until it’s smoking hot and add the flatbreads (you’ll need to do this in batches). Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until charred and puffed up. Keep warm in a tea towel while cooking the rest.

Gently reheat the soup, and serve with a swirl of cream, a scattering of fennel tops and the hot flatbreads.

Spicy parsnip soup

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Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 knob butter
  • 1 large onion , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 6 parsnips , peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 500 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 litre organic vegetable stock
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fresh red chilli , deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 handful fresh coriander leaves , optional
  • crusty bread , to serve
 

Method

I’ve given the humble parsnip soup a new lease of life with aromatic Asian flavours and added heat.

Heat a splash of olive oil and the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and garam masala. Gently fry for around 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and sweet.

Drop in the chopped parsnip and stir together so that everything gets coated in the oil and flavours. Pour in the milk and stock, season well and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on.

After half an hour, check that the parsnips are cooked by sticking a knife in. If you’re happy, remove them from the heat and carefully whiz up using a hand blender or liquidizer. Taste the soup to see if it needs a little more salt or pepper.

Serve with a sprinkling of sliced red chilli, a few coriander leaves if you like, and a good chunk of crusty bread.