Bowl them over: Skye Gyngell counts down the top of the broths with her pick of seasonal soups
If you're bored of turkey leftovers but don't have the energy to cook anything complicated, Skye Gyngell has just the answer...
Sunday 27 December 2009
Sometimes, simplicity is everything. If soup is hearty enough, for example, no other course is needed. These soups are bold, filling, and just the thing for a midwinter supper. Accompany with good, crusty, warm bread.
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, www.petershamnurseries.com
Salt cod and potato soup
At the restaurant we cure our own cod. Simply fillet and skin the fish, season with a tablespoon of sea salt per kilo, lay on a trivet and leave for 48 hours. Then bathe in cool water for two hours; the water needs to be changed twice. And there you have a delicate fillet that's ready to use. If you buy it from a Portuguese or Spanish delicatessen, it will have been salted over a much longer period of time, and needs to be soaked overnight before it is ready to use.
1kg/2lb well-rinsed salt cod
1 pint of milk
4 sprigs of lemon thyme
1 bay leaf
20 little plum tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A second pint of whole milk
3 tbsp double cream
Plenty of freshly ground pepper
Peel and slice the potatoes into chunks, put in a saucepan and cover with water. Place over a medium heat and cook until tender enough to just pierce with a fork. Drain and set aside. Pat-dry the cod and put in a saucepan as a whole piece. Cover with the milk, add the thyme and bay and place over a low heat for five minutes, or until the fish is no longer translucent. Drain and discard the milk. When the fish is cool enough to handle, flake into chunks – this is easiest done using your fingers – and return to a clean pan. Add the whole tomatoes, garlic, potatoes and second pint of milk and place over a low heat for five minutes, then add the cream and plenty of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning; if it is a little too salty, add a drop or two of lemon juice, and serve in warm bowls.
Squash and sage soup
This is a lovely, thick soup with sweet and musty undertones.
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
3 bay leaves
1 small bunch of sage, leaves only
1 dried red chilli
1 butternut or onion squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
1 jar of good-quality Italian plum tomatoes
2 slices of peasant-style white bread
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Place a large pan over a medium heat and pour in the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onion, bay and sage. Crumble in the chilli and sweat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. It may be necessary to turn the heat down slowly so the onions do not brown. Add the chopped squash and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season well with salt then add the tomatoes and one cup of water (230ml/ 71/2fl oz). Put the lid on and cook until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Tear the bread into the soup and turn off the heat. Allow the soup to sit for 10 minutes then return the heat to low. Once the soup is warm, taste and add more salt if needed and a little black pepper. Divide into warm soup plates and drizzle with the oil. It is very nice with a little Parmesan grated on top just before serving.
Spinach soup with nutmeg and crème fraîche
This is a thick green tangle of a soup that is deliciously comforting to eat.
300g/10oz young, tender spinach
25g/1oz unsalted butter
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (230ml/71/2fl oz) of chicken stock or water
100ml/31/2fl oz crème fraîche
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Wash the spinach well. Put a large pan on top of a gentle heat and add the butter. As the butter begins to melt, add the shallot, garlic and a little salt and sweat for five minutes or until translucent. Add the spinach and cook until it just wilts, then add the stock and cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan and purée the spinach in a blender until velvety smooth. Return to the pan and stir in the crème fraîche, add the nutmeg and taste for seasoning. Don't add too much salt, but plenty of black pepper is good. Serve warm – do not boil, as the spinach will lose its vibrancy – with warm bread and butter.
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