Last Saturday, when lunchtime was on the horizon, I was feeling soupy. Not any old soup though. I've been through several soup phases just lately - there was the Mulligatawny, the Heinz Tomato with chilli and the Chicken noodle. This time, however, I wanted home-made.
I think what contributed to this was the knowledge that, in the fridge, was a bag of offcuts from the asparagus we've been using in various dinners. We always keep them as they are so useful in stock or soup, giving a touch of class wherever they go.
So there I was sat on the side of my bed, watching the birdies on the feeders arguing over who was sitting where, when the recipe for this soup struck me.
It struck me so forcibly, that I had to go and get my notepad and pen just in case I forgot the recipe before I reached the kitchen.
The best thing about this soup is that it is made entirely from vegetables that were surplus to requirements, or that had been left from another dish. I love it when I can make a bonus dish without having to buy anything new for it.
The second best thing about this soup, was that it used fenugreek - which is my new favourite ingredient. It's dried fenugreek, which is also known as Kasoori Methi and is very often used in curries. The name "fenugreek" apparently translates from the Latin for "greek hay" - which I love, as new mown hay is exactly what it smells of, to me. It even tastes like new mown hay - which I know, because I ate some and having baled a few tonnes of the new mown stuff in the past, I must have eaten my fair share of it by now - if only in dust form!
The soup was delicate, yet light and flavoursome whilst being robust enough to make a perfect lunch on a cool, damp, yet not too cold, day. Considering it was green - and I expect you know how difficult it is to convince a teenager to eat his greens - I was amazed when son & heir emerged from his lair and complained that we'd eaten it all. We hadn't - there was more than enough for him left in the pan - and he polished it off with every indication of having thoroughly enjoyed it.
The very next time we have some offcuts of asparagus, I'll be making more.
ASPARAGUS & FENUGREEK SOUP (feeds 3-4)
2 rashers of back bacon, chopped finely
a tsp of olive oil
a small onion, chopped finely
a medium potato, diced finely
2 sticks of celery, trimmed, washed and diced finely
a rounded tsp of dried fenugreek
400-500ml of chicken stock
3 handfuls of asparagus offcuts (or 100g of spears), chopped finely
sea salt & black pepper
low fat creme fraiche.
1. Put the bacon pieces into the bottom of a large saucepan and cook slowly, until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is beginning to crisp. Remove and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
2. Add the onion pieces and fry gently - without colouring - until the onion is transparent and beginning to soften.
3. Add the potato, celery and fenugreek and stir well. Continue to sweat the vegetables for another 5 minutes or so, until everything is heated through.
4. Add the hot chicken stock and the asparagus pieces.
5. Bring to a lively simmer and cook for some 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are all tender.
6. Using a hand blender, blitz until smooth.
7. Add the bacon pieces and creme fraiche and stir through. Do not allow the soup to boil from this point onwards.
8. Season to taste, and serve.