Get Ready for Soup Season
Hearty soups from, pea, cheese & onion and a lovely spiced parsnip to keep you going through the colder months.
Whatever the season and no matter how bare the cupboards are, most of us have a bag of peas knocking around in the freezer. This soup couldn’t be simpler or quicker to make. To make it into a more substantial meal, I recommend serving it with a poached egg. The runny egg yolk also helps to give the soup a little richness.
- 200g frozen peas
- 2 small white onions
- 1 spring mint
- 1 tbsp of neutral oil
- Juice ½ lemon
- Dice the onions finely. It doesn’t need to be neat, but you’re aiming for small and fairly evenly sized pieces.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and ¼ tsp salt and turn the heat down low. Cover with a lid and sweat the onion, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the onions are completely soft but not coloured.
- Meanwhile get a pan of water on to boil for the poached eggs and preheat the grill for the bacon.
- Once the onion is completely softened, add the peas and stir to coat the peas in the soft onion mix. Add the sprig of mint and pour in enough cold water to just cover the peas. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the peas are just cooked.
- Test your peas. If you overcook them they will begin to discolour and your soup will lose its vibrancy, but if you under cook them your soup will be grainy so keep an eye on them as they simmer and check them often.
- As soon as the peas are tender, remove from the heat. Remove the sprig of mint and blitz using a hand blender.
- Blitz the soup until completely smooth then pass through a fine sieve to get a really glossy, restaurant quality finish. If you prefer a chunkier soup, skip this step.
- Seasoning is the key to a good soup so check the salt and add the juice of ½ lemon and a good crack of black pepper. The acid really brings out the vibrancy of the pea flavour, so add a little more lemon if necessary.
- Set the soup aside over a low heat to just keep warm whilst you cook the eggs and bacon.
- Pop the bacon under the grill to crisp. Once your water has reached a rolling boil, turn the heat down to very low and add a splash of white wine vinegar. Swirl the water very gently, then carefully break the eggs into the gently simmering water. Leave them to poach for 2-3 minutes. To check the eggs are cooked, lift them out gently with a slotted spoon and shake them gently. The white should remain set and the yolk should wobble slightly. If the white is still jelly like, return to the pan for a few more seconds.
- Pour the soup into a bowl and top with the poached egg and crispy bacon.Add a generous smattering of fresh black pepper and finely chopped chives, and a drizzle of extra virgin oil.
Cheese and Onion Soup
This soup is very rich and filling, so you only need a modest portion. I serve this with some brown butter and crispy sage, but for a slightly lighter topping it would also be lovely with some apple batons and some finely chopped chives. For a really comforting supper, serve with a cheese and chutney toastie.
- Peel and slice the onion into thin half-moons. Do the same with the leeks (the white parts only to keep the white colour of the soup) and the celery.
- In a saucepan, heat the butter until foaming, then add the chopped vegetables, along with a ¼ tsp salt. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and pop the lid on. Leave the vegetables to sweat down for 15-20 minutes until they are completely soft and their volume has reduced by more than half. Stir occasionally to check they’re not sticking.
- Meanwhile grate the cheese.
- Once the onions are a sticky tangle, add the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes then add the milk and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Stir in the grated cheese until melted, along with the mustards and a generous grind of black pepper. Check the seasoning and add a little more salt if necessary.
- Blitz using a hand blender until completely smooth.
- Set aside to keep warm whilst you make the garnish.
- Place a small frying pan on a high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast them until they start to crackle. Remove them from the pan and return it to the heat.
- Immediately add the butter – it will start to foam straight away and turn brown. Quickly add the sage leaves and stir them through the brown butter. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the soup into bowls and drizzle over the browned butter with the sage. Scatter over some pumpkin seeds and enjoy.
Spiced Parsnip Soup
Sweet earthy parsnips are a great base for spices. Feel free to get creative with your spicing – like it a little spicier? Add a bit of chilli powder in addition to the fresh chilli. Like it a little milder? Skip the chilli altogether and consider adding a little coconut milk to mellow out the flavour. You could also use a curry paste instead of dried spices.
- Dice the onion roughly and roughly slice the ginger and garlic. De-seed the chili and finely slice.
- Peel then top and tail the parsnips. Chop them into roughly even chunks and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions gently. Fry the onions until just starting to soften and turn golden at the edges – about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for 3 more minutes.
- Add the spices and fry for one more minute.
- Now put the prepared parsnips into the pan and stir so that they get evenly covered in spices. Cover with 750ml cold water and increase the heat. Bring to the boil then decrease the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes until the parsnip is completely tender (make sure it really is tender otherwise the soup won’t get perfectly smooth).
- Blitz using a hand blender until smooth. Add more water if necessary to loosen the soup to the consistency of double cream.
- Taste to test the seasoning. Add 1 tsp salt and the juice of half a lemon. Taste again and add a little more lemon juice and salt if necessary.
- To serve, slice half and apple into thin matchsticks and squeeze over a little lemon juice to stop them discolouring. Scatter them on top of the soup with pumpkin seeds and coriander leaves.