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Soup kitchen

PUBLISHED: 09:25 30 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:25 30 January 2014

Mary's Farmhouse kitchen - soups.
Sweet potato and butternut squash soup.
Photo: Denise Bradley
Copy: Nancy Wedge
For: EDP Norfolk Mag
©Archant Photographic 2008
01603 772434

Mary's Farmhouse kitchen - soups. Sweet potato and butternut squash soup. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: Nancy Wedge For: EDP Norfolk Mag ©Archant Photographic 2008 01603 772434

©Archant Photographic 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Mary's Farmhouse kitchen - soups.
Winter vegetable soup with homemade pesto.
Photo: Denise Bradley
Copy: Nancy Wedge
For: EDP Norfolk Mag
©Archant Photographic 2008
01603 772434Mary's Farmhouse kitchen - soups. Winter vegetable soup with homemade pesto. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: Nancy Wedge For: EDP Norfolk Mag ©Archant Photographic 2008 01603 772434

This substantial soup is lovely served in a large bowl with crusty bread, or a slightly more delicate portion as a starter served with a dollop of cream or crème fraiche with croutons.

1 butternut squash peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 good-sized onion, chopped

Mary's Farmhouse kitchen - soups.
Cauliflower and Norfolk Dapple soup, garnished with Norfolk pancetta which is sprinkled with black pepper.
Photo: Denise Bradley
Copy: Nancy Wedge
For: EDP Norfolk Mag
©Archant Photographic 2008
01603 772434Mary's Farmhouse kitchen - soups. Cauliflower and Norfolk Dapple soup, garnished with Norfolk pancetta which is sprinkled with black pepper. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: Nancy Wedge For: EDP Norfolk Mag ©Archant Photographic 2008 01603 772434

1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

1 celery stick, chopped

A dash of oil

800ml chicken stock or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Toss the chopped vegetables in oil and then place them on a large baking tray and roast in a hot oven

oven (200C/gas mark 6) for a good 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so they don’t catch.

2 Once the vegetables have started to turn golden brown, transfer them to a large saucepan, cover with the stock and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring the pan to the boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.

3 Once the vegetables are cooked, liquidise or whizz

the soup until it is a creamy, smooth consistency, taste and adjust the seasoning. Warm through and serve.

If the soup is too thick, add a little extra stock or water when reheating.

Winter Vegetable Soup

This soup is based on the recipe for soupe au pistou, a Provençal version of minestrone with basil. I cook it very quickly using the very best and freshest vegetables I can find. The soup is beautifully light and doesn’t need any stock. All the vegetables should be cut to a similar size so they cook in the same time. If you don’t have time to make the pistou, you can use a good

ready-made pesto.

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

1 tbp rapeseed or olive oil

1 small potato, finely diced

1 medium carrot, finely diced

1 small swede, finely diced

1 small turnip, peeled and finely diced

1 small celeriac, finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 medium leeks, with the outer leaves removed and finely diced

2 celery sticks, finely sliced

700ml water

1 large pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp of fresh pistou (see right for recipe) or pesto

Freshly grated parmesan to serve

1 In a large saucepan or sauté pan, soften the onion in a little oil. Add all the root vegetables and cook

for a further 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the garlic, leeks and celery

and cook for a couple of minutes. You may need to add a little extra oil if the vegetable dice start

to catch.

2 Pour in the water, bring the soup to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are just cooked. Remove from the heat, season and add the pistou. Serve with a bowl of finely grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

Pistou (basil purée)

15g pine nuts optional

50g basil leaves

1 large cloves garlic

50ml rapeseed or olive oil

If you are using the pine nuts, gently toast them in a frying pan for a few minutes. Blanch the basil leaves in hot water for a few seconds then plunge them into cold water and drain them well. Whizz all ingredients until smooth and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cauliflower and Norfolk Dapple Soup served with crispy Norfolk Pancetta

This is one of my favourite soups. Norfolk Dapple cheese is from Ferndale Norfolk Cheeses in Little Barningham and the pancetta I used is cured by Simon and Sue Cattermole’s butchers in New Buckenham. The combination of the cauliflower, cheese and crispy pancetta works brilliantly together, making a rich, creamy, delicious soup.

6 slices pancetta or thinly sliced streaky bacon

50g butter

1 banana shallot or 1 medium onion, finely diced

1 leek, trimmed and finely diced

1 large, fresh cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

500ml chicken or vegetable stock

100ml double cream

100g Norfolk Dapple cheese or lightly smoked cheese, grated

Salt and freshly ground pepper.

1 Cook the pancetta till it is crispy brown then stand it to one side to cool.

2 Heat the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and gently soften the shallot and the leek. Add the cauliflower florets and cook in the butter for a few minutes. Don’t let the vegetables colour too much or catch as it will discolour the soup.

3 Pour in the stock, bring the pan to a gentle boil then simmer for about 10 minutes; don’t over cook it. Whizz in a processor or liquidiser until smooth and then return the soup to the pan.

4 Add the cream and grated cheese and slowly bring the soup back to boil, stirring so the cheese doesn’t catch. If the soup is too thick, add a little extra stock or water. Taste and season with a little salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Serve piping hot with a spoonful of crispy pancetta pieces scattered on top.

Top tip

I try not to have to weigh the ingredients for a soup; you don’t really want to be left with half a carrot! One vegetable soup recipe I was given several years ago is not really a recipe as such but a simple ratio of quantities. It’s a great way of cooking soup as it doesn’t matter how many you are feeding, you can use a cup, a mug or a jug. The ratio is 1:1:3:4: one part onion, one part potato, three parts any vegetable and four parts stock or liquid. This ratio works brilliantly and is the basis for lots of soups I make including leek and potato.

Making stock

Vegetable stock:

My rough guide to making a vegetable stock is: 1small turnip, 2 onions, the green parts of 3 leeks,

3 sticks celery, 2 carrots, ½ fennel bulb, 1 handful of mushrooms or mushroom stalks, bouquet garni (I tie a few parsley stalks, a sprig of thyme and a couple of bay leaves to a piece of celery) and a few peppercorns. Put all the ingredients in a big pan and cover with 2l of water, bring to the boil then simmer for about 1½ hours. Strain and cool.

Chicken stock: Ask your local butcher for some chicken bones; I prefer to make chicken stock with chicken wing tips (the two end bones on the wings). I roast these in a hot oven (200C/gas mark 6), until they are golden brown, stirring them occasionally. Add 2 chopped onions and 2 to 3 cloves of garlic in the last few minutes of roasting. Once the bones are a lovely rich brown, transfer them to a large saucepan, discard any excess fat from the roasting tin, deglaze it with 1tsp of tomato purée and a little water. Then add these caramelised juices, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf and a large jug of cold water to the pan, making sure you cover the bones. Bring the stock to the boil, skim and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Strain and cool.

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