Creamy carrot and spinach soup

Now that the southern winter has truly kicked in, it’s time for some lovely warming soup. I’ve also discovered a batch of carrots lurking away in the back of the veggie bed in a variety of weird shapes and sizes, so what better than to combine the two?

Serves 2 as a hearty lunch or 4 as a starter.

Ingredients

  • 500g carrots, peeled or scrubbed
  • 100g baby spinach leaves or chopped spinach
  • 250ml beef or chicken stock (I used beef, you could use veg if you wanted this to be meat free)
  • 200ml milk
  • 50ml cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
  • pecorino to serve (optional)
  • nutmeg

Roughly chop the carrots and place in a pan with the garlic. Add enough water to just cover and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the water evaporates and the carrots are tender. IMG_0525

Add the stock and puree with a stick blender (or shove through a processor). Return to the pan and bring to a simmer.IMG_0526In a new pan, heat the milk and wilt the spinach to your liking; a couple of minutes at most.

Add the 2 pan contents together, simmer for a couple more minutes and stir in the cream just before serving.IMG_0527Grate on some nutmeg and a little pecorino – enjoy with some hot buttered bread of your choice – perhaps the rye bread in this post!IMG_0529 (2)Note 1 : this is a fairly thick soup; thin down with extra stock during the puree stage if that’s not your thing.

Note 2 : if you wanted to jazz this up a bit you could scoop the spinach out of its milk bath just after the wilting stage with a slotted spoon & puree it in a little of the milk, and set aside. Add the rest of the milk to the stock and carrot mix as above, then swirl in the spinach prettily as you’re serving. Personally I like a bite of chew in my soups rather than a fully blended style.

 

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Dried Out

Regular readers will know that one of my abiding themes is the preservation of freshly grown gluts of crops. I love a loaded larder. Loaded Larder. Even the sound of it makes me happy.

This year has been the year of the chilli. I planted loads last year, seeds from my brother’s garden from the year before that. Most of them failed to launch, so I bought a habanero plant (Unknowing fool! I know now that it’s the second hottest chilli in the world, but I didn’t when I was standing in the garden centre, oh no.) This has resulted in harissas, chilli jams and pickles that to my palate are barely edible unless eaten in homeopathic quantities, and a freezer full of napalm globes to be used under extreme caution. Continue reading

Almond and Basil Pesto

The autumn garden. Already the summer is over, autumn has rushed by and in 2 weeks it will be winter. It’s time to clear out the remains of the pumpkin vines, which have spread their sprawling limbs all across the lawn, and reveal the leggy, uncut grass and weeds beneath, to cull the bolted lettuce and pick the ripening chillies. Oh so many chillies! My aubergines have been chugging away steadily, providing us with grilled, pickled, baked and fried dishes, mousaka, baba ganoush and sandwich fillers. I plagued everyone with my aubergine photos and recipes last year, so this year I have only one image, just because I can’t help myself. Continue reading

Glut

Glut. Such an emotive word, isn’t it? Speaks not only of plenty, but of voluptuous over provision. Glut. Glutton.

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Here, it’s more towards the over provision, in the form of a shed load of tomatoes. This year I had a fair few plants self seed from last season, so I transplanted them all to their final location (gotta keep em moving in the name of crop rotation), not realising they were all cherry tomatoes. Only one solitary beef master type plant – so I suppose that tells me which was the more vigorous strain – and no roma.

What the heck, I thought, how bad can cherry tomato passata be? The answer is….not bad at all!

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • Salt

Method

Wash tomatoes thoroughly, halve and place in a large pan, with some salt (to taste). Bring to the boil – liquid will ooze out of the fruit pretty quickly, but make sure it doesn’t catch while it’s warming up. Cook for 15 minutes or so, or until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.cherry2

Use a mouli chery3to separate the skin and seeds from the pulp, cherry4then pour into sterilised jars. Ta da!cherryfinal

If I were keeping the passata for years, I might cover the jars in water, bring to the boil and simmer for a further 30 minutes, but I’m planning on these being used quite quickly, so I shan’t worry.

Quick Fridge Beetroot Pickle

That beetroot glut I mentioned recently – though scarred by harsh, acidic pickles from my youth, I had a balsamic vinegar pickled onion recently and it was a revelation. Sweet, rich, and a world away from the battery acid globes of yesteryear, I resolved on the spot to have a go at my own.

In the absence of teeny tiny onions at the markets, I figured beetroot would respond equally well.

Having boiled up a few both trad red and fancy new gold varieties for a different recipe, I had a go at 2 different pickles. One, a trad ‘proper’ pickle and the other a quick refrigerator one. Here’s the first: Continue reading

Spring has Sprung

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It’s the first day of Spring, here in the Southern Hemisphere, and I picked my first peas today.

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Only two pods were ready, but heck! it’s the symbolism that counts! We ate them in a salad of beetroot, beet tops, rocket, chives and spinach, all plucked from the garden today. Alongside were scrambled eggs from the chickens next door.IMG_5881

Urban paradise.