WORDS:: Chyka Keebaugh
PHOTOS:: Lisa Atkinson
We really are in the thick of winter now aren't we?
Coming home from a European summer to ice cold days and nights has been a bit of a shock to the system, but I do love the fact that we have a definite fours seasons in Melbourne…as much as I would like a little more sun! I crave warm, hearty soups in winter. Piping hot served with warmed crusty bread with lashings of butter ready for dipping.
- 4 rashers of streaky bacon
- 2 red onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 bulb of fennel
- ½ a bunch of fresh basil
- olive oil
- 125 ml red wine
- 2 courgettes
- 300 g savoy cabbage or chard
- 2 x 400g tins of quality tomatoes
- 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans
- 800 ml organic chicken or vegetable stock
- 75 g dried pasta (shells or odd ends)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Start by making a sofrito (frying off the aromatic ingredients to make the base of the soup). Slice the bacon, peel and finely chop the onions and garlic, then chop the carrots, celery and fennel. Pick the basil leaves, finely chopping the stalks.
- Heat a lug of oil in a pan over a medium-low heat, stir in the chopped ingredients and sauté gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until everything is soft but not coloured.
- Halve and slice the courgettes lengthways. Core the cabbage or remove the tough stalky bits from the chard, then wash the leaves and finely slice.
- Add the wine to the softened veggies and bring to the boil. Tip in the tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon, then add the courgettes. Bring back to the boil, and simmer on a low heat for around 15 minutes.
- Mix in the cabbage or chard, the beans and their juice and the stock. Bring to the boil, then add the pasta. Simmer over a medium heat until the pasta is cooked (use the packet instructions as a guide) – if the soup is too thick, add a little stock or water to loosen.
- Season to taste, then rip in most of the basil leaves and dress with a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil. Stir well, and serve with the reserved basil and a fine grating of Parmesan.
WHOLESOME VEG & BEAN SOUP
- 2 sticks of celery
- 3 carrots
- 2 large leeks
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
- Olive oil
- 1 x 400 g tin of borlotti or cannellini beans
- 1-litre organic vegetable or chicken stock
- 75g baby spinach or kale
- 100g frozen peas
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Start by prepping the base of your soup: trim and very finely slice the celery, peel and roughly chop the carrots and trim, wash and roughly chop the leeks. Peel and very finely slice the garlic, then pick and finely chop the rosemary. Finely slice the bacon.
- Heat a lug of oil in a large pan on a medium heat, then add the rosemary and bacon. Fry for a few minutes, or until the bacon is just turning golden, then add the chopped celery, carrots, leeks and garlic. Cook gently for around 15 minutes, or until soft, stirring regularly.
- Add the beans (there’s no need to drain them) and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes – add a little more stock or water if you think it needs it. Finally, add the spinach or kale and the peas and cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the greens are cooked but still vibrant green. Have a taste and season, if needed, then tuck in.
BAKED POTATO SOUP
- 3 large baking potatoes or leftover baked potatoes
- 40 g butter
- 1 onion
- 1 Parmesan rind, whatever size you have in the fridge, optional
- 1.5 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock
- Sour cream
- 1 small bunch of fresh chives
- If you’re using leftover baked potatoes, skip these first 3 steps. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Wash the potatoes and dry well, then prick each one with a fork and wrap in foil.
- Put on a rack in the middle of the oven and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes. The exact time depends on the size of your potatoes, but to check, give them a quick squeeze, bearing in mind they’ll be hot: the potato should just give under your fingers.
- Remove from the oven then, when cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters. Leave to cool completely.
- Peel and dice the onion. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and cook the onion for 10 minutes, or until soft.
- Cut the potatoes, skin and all, into 2cm chunks. Add the potato and Parmesan rind to the pan, season, then cook for 5 minutes.
- Add 1.25 litres of stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the rind, then purée the soup until smooth with a stick blender or in a liquidiser. Return to the pan, check the seasoning, and thin with the remaining stock if you like.
- Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream, snipped chives and a pinch of black pepper. Delicious with crumbled Lancashire cheese and crisp, crumbled bacon on the side for the whole baked potato experience.
Credit : Recipes via Jamie Oliver.com