Mark Hix recipe: Parsley soup with poached quails' eggs

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

If you grow parsley at home this makes a cheap summery soup that you can serve hot or cold. Often Asian and Mediterranean shops sell big bunches of parsley at very reasonable prices.

1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
1tbsp vegetable oil
1tbsp flour
1.5ltrs vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few handfuls of parsley (or a large bunch), washed with the thicker stalks removed and put to one side
12 quails' eggs

Gently cook the leek in the vegetable oil in a covered pan for 4-5 minutes until soft, stirring every so often.

Add the flour and stir well, then gradually add the vegetable stock and season. Bring to the boil; add the thicker reserved parsley stalks and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the rest of the parsley and simmer for 3-4 more minutes only.

Blend until smooth in a liquidiser, then strain through a medium-grained strainer (a fine-meshed sieve will not work as well).

To keep the green colour, you need to cool the soup down as quickly as possible, so put the bowl of strained soup over another bowl of iced water or in a sink of cold water with some ice packs. Re-season if necessary and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, while the soup is cooling, bring a pan with about half a litre of water to simmering point. Put the vinegar into a bowl and carefully – with a small, sharp kitchen knife – crack the quails' eggs into the vinegar, using the point of the knife to initially crack the shell.

Have a bowl of cold water ready to transfer the eggs into once poached.

Pour the eggs and vinegar into the pan of simmering water and continue to simmer very gently for about 30 seconds or until you can see the whites of the eggs have set. Take the eggs out carefully with a slotted spoon and place into the bowl of cold water.

After a minute, remove the eggs on to a plate, trim them and return to a container of clean water until required.To serve, pour the soup into chilled soup bowls and place the eggs in the soup.

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