The first post

The first thing I made was soup, because I still had some veg left from last week which needed dealing with. It was one of the best soups I’ve ever made, thanks largely, I think, due to the Jerusalem artichoke. The celeriac was showing its age and starting to go soft and the branch celery was slightly blemished so not ideal for the salad bowl, but perfect for soup. Every ingredient came from the farm box, except the bouillon mix and the parsley. The only thing I felt the need to peel was the celeriac, for obvious reasons.

January vegetable soup

2 leeks, washed and sliced
3 carrots, washed and unpeeled, sliced
1 celeriac, peeled and diced
1 large potato, washed, unpeeled and diced
1 large Jerusalem artichoke, washed and unpeeled
2 celery branches, including the leaves, chopped
Large handful fresh parsley, leaves and stems
Rapeseed oil
Salt, pepper
Stock or bouillon, about 1 litre

Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a large pot. Add the leeks, carrot and celery pieces and cook, stirring occasionally until browned. The longer you leave the veg to go brown, the nicer the taste of the soup. But don’t let it burn.

Add the rest of the vegetables and the parsley and toss to coat with the oil, adding a bit more oil if you want. Season lightly with salt and pepper. How much you season at this stage depends on what kind of liquid you are using.

Add the liquid; I generally put in enough to cover the veg and then top up by 2.5 cm more for soups that I will later puree, like this one. Cover and let simmer until all the veg are tender, 25-35 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To puree, use a hand-held immersion mixer, a blender, a food mill or a food processor. I use the first method. This will now be ready to serve and tastes good straight away but, like most soups, will be even better the next day.

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When I collected the box last week, I was pleased to see the sprouts but I got the impression from the young man handing me my box, I was one of the few who who liked them. Roasting is the reason. And once you make them this way, you’ll never go back.

Oven-roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts
Rapeseed Oil
Sea salt

Simply  separate the sprouts from the branch, rinse well and dry. They need to be dry or they won’t roast properly so use a clean tea towel and rub off the excess moisture. Halve the large sprouts and leave the little ones whole.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Arrange the sprouts in a baking tray and douse liberally with  good quality vegetable oil.  Using your hands, toss in the oil to coat  and spread in an even layer. If there are any stray single leaves, leave them; they go crunchy, like Brussel sprout crisps. Yum.

Bake in the hot oven until they begin to go brown; you will smell them. Remove from the oven, shake or toss to brown a bit more evenly and return to finish cooking. They are done when they are nice and brown. Time depends on quantity and size of sprouts, anywhere between 20-40 minutes.

Sprinkle with sea salt, like Maldon, and a grinding of black pepper and serve.

If you have any leftover, they make a nice salad, with or without chopped well-browned bacon. Toss with vinaigrette and 1 tbsp or so of grated mature Cheddar, and more pepper. Serve at room temperature.

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There will be more, but it’s a busy week. I’m moving house on Friday so cooking on the back burner, so to speak.

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