The Larder Diaries.
So, the ongoing tale of Haddock and her larder………….
I thought today my exploits of no shopping were to be brought to a full stop: I reckoned that I was out of onions. Disaster!
However, after a quick rifle around in the summer kitchen, I found quite a few onions in good order, so my plan was back on.
My inspiration for this soup came from a memorable meal at Restaurante Taxidermista in the Barrí Gótic in Barcelona. It is a stunning setting for a restaurant, which straddles one side of the Placa Reial in the old quarter.
I ordered soup and was curious to find what I was served:
It was a light pumpkin soup – almost a velouté really, but prior to serving, the waitress patiently assembled an assortment of delights in the base of my soup plate – braised shitake mushrooms, home made ravioli and some dainty triangles of roasted pumpkin. The resultant feast was a meal in a bowl, and I was hard pushed to get through my next course.
It spawned an idea that to “big” a soup up, it can become an entire, nourishing meal – I have poached chicken and braised whole cabbage leaves and served it with a lightly flavoured chicken broth, and I have simply added rice or pasta into the bowl of a soup I am serving.
The combinations are endless and are all well received.
I would advise one word of caution though: Your soup does need to be light and quite thin, as you will end up with too much going on in the bowl. Avoid cream unless you fancy a last minute swirl at the end for good looks – the same goes for any dairy – cheese, yoghurt, and the like.
Through fear of sounding pretentious, I would advise you to “de-construct” your favourite soup, limit it to key ingredients for the liquid, and then incorporate the other ingredients as a garnish for maximum taste and presentation.
So, after the build up, here’s the recipe:
- SOUP BASE
2KG OF ASSORTED ONIONS
2 HEADS OF GARLIC
1 LITRE OF CHICKEN STOCK
SALT AND PEPPER (NO SALT IF IT IS A COMMERCIAL STOCK BASE OR CUBE)
2 TABLESPOONS OF FRUITY OLIVE OIL.
SOME CHOPPED FRESH HERBS – PARSLEY OR WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO HAND (I used tarragon as it accentuates the onion’s sweetness).
HALF A CIRCLE OF CHORIZO SAUSAGE – DULCE OR PICANTE – SLICED THINLY AND GENTLY FRIED FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS ON EACH SIDE.
ONE REASONABLE SIZED POTATO PER SERVING (this will serve 4 easily with seconds for the hungry) – COOKED WHOLE AND THEN PEELED. (If you can’t be bothered, cook as normal, but keep the pieces intact – you don’t want mush or mash)
HALF A CUP OF LENTILS(NOT RED), SOAKED AND COOKED UNTIL TENDER
- Bake the onions and the garlic, whole and unpeeled, in a hot oven – 200 degrees c for about an hour – less if the onions are small.
- Allow the onions and garlic to cool slightly, then squeeze the contents of each bulb out into a bowl. this is easier if you snip the top off the onions with a scissors and peel off the outer papery layer of the garlic
- Blend with a hand blender or pop in the food processor and blend until smooth with the warm stock and olive oil.
- Season to taste.
- Add chopped fresh herbs.
Place some of the potatoes, cut into hearty chunks, the lentils and pieces of chorizo in the centre of a soup plate.
Sprinkle with some of the fresh herbs.
Pour over the soup mixture and serve with some good crusty bread.