Now for all that I like the brothy kind of soups, I wanted this one to be hearty, thick and worthy of being served as a dinner soup. Perhaps with some crusty bread, or as it turned out, a gorgeous thin flatbread with mozzarella, basil and olive oil. Mmmnn, delicious.
Truth be told, you could use just about any vegetables you wanted for this soup. I will give you the full rundown of vegetable input in the recipe, but you need to follow a few rules, no matter what veggies you use. Said rules go like this :
a) chop some veggies very small, so that they cook down and disappear into the vegetable stock.
b) chop some veggies into bite sized pieces, so that they will be retained and create lovely texture.
c) start with a tasty oil - coconut, or butter, or rapeseed - and a finely chopped onion. Do not be tempted to use a bland vegetable oil, or a slightly bitter olive oil. If you start wrong, you won't ever be able to come back from it.
d) use the best vegetable stock you can source. It is the base of your soup and deserves to be delicious.
Here comes the recipe!
THICK, CHUNKY CREAMED VEGETABLE SOUP (Serves 4)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 rashers of streaky bacon, finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp ground coriander
a large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
half a tsp dried thyme
half a tsp dried parsley
Peeled and chopped small :
1 medium carrot
1 large stick of celery, with fluffy green bits if possible
1 large leek
2 chestnut mushrooms
6 sweet cherry tomatoes (halved works for these)
half a medium potato
Peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks :
2 medium carrots
2 large sticks of celery
5 chestnut mushrooms (quartered)
1 and a half medium potatoes
2 small parsnips
a decent sized chunk of swede or turnip
750ml of strong vegetable stock (I used 1.5 tsp Marigold vegetable bouillon and 1 tsp Essential Cuisine vegetable stock powder)
4-5 tbsp dry split red lentils
3-4 large leaves of Savoy cabbage, ribs removed and leaves sliced
2-3 tbsp double (or heavy) cream
2 tsp cornflour mixed with a drop of water to thick pouring consistency
sea salt & ground black pepper to taste.
To begin, make sure you are using a pan which can contain the entire contents. It needs to be BIG and have a lid which fits. I used my steep sided wok, which worked perfectly.
Heat the oil and add the onion & bacon (if using). Cook, stirring often, until the onion is transparent and the bacon is beginning to render its oil. Add the coriander, sea salt, black pepper and herbs and stir through.
Add all the chopped small ingredients and cook on, stirring regularly to turn the pan contents. Once the leek and mushroom pieces are softened and the whole is beginning to look cooked, add the vegetable stock.
Increase the temperature under the pan and bring the contents to a gentle boil. Add the bite sized chunks of veggies, the red lentils and the cabbage. Gently stir through, cover the pan and bring back to a gentle boil. Cook on for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste to check the seasoning levels - which should be fairly high as when you add it later, the cream will obliterate a certain level of seasoning.
Remove from the heat, leave covered and go and have a sit down for a couple of hours.
When you return, using a hand blender, blitz a certain amount of the soup to your preference. I probably made it 50:50 blitzed to chunks which seemed to go down well.
Turn the heat on under the pan and add the cream and cornflour slurry and stir through. As the soup heats up to a lively simmer, the cornflour will thicken the soup to a consistency where it will coat the back of a spoon - which is what you are aiming for. If it becomes too thick, add a little water.
Finally, check the seasoning and adjust to your taste. Serve into warm bowls with crusty bread for dipping.