This is my first blog post in quite a while. Mainly because for most of January all I wanted do was whinge (about it being January) and eat dull plain food (albeit supplemented with vast quantities of chocolate leftover from Christmas). The upshot being that I totally went off cooking and so had nothing whatsoever to recommend on the recipe front.
Then, towards the end of January, I paid a visit down-river to Sat Bain’s amazing Nucleus restaurant and this reignited my culinary fire.
Normal behaviour resumed and I started thinking about food again – whiling away hours in the shop wondering what I would like to eat for dinner. I started reading recipe books and bookmarking those I’d like to try. I made a three course meal on a Friday night for my husband and it felt good.
All that said, it may surprise you to hear that my first recipe for 2016 is a soup. But it is a very fine soup indeed and it does come with a poached egg on top.
A few words on making soup
My first piece of advice is to always start with a recipe. Before I bought a decent soup recipe book (in my case ‘A Celebration of Soup’ by Lindsey Bareham) I used to chuck any old leftovers from the fridge into a pot with some stock, whizz it up and expect it to taste OK. But more often than not it was horrid to the point that I ended up thinking I just didn’t like soup.
Once you have tried a few recipes you can then start to go ‘off piste’ but getting the basics right is really important.
The main thing to remember is that a little extra effort is worth it if you want to make soup taste really good. Mostly it helps to properly cook down the raw ingredients first before adding the liquid as this enhances the flavour. And if you’re making a smooth soup then do pass it through a sieve (even though it’s an enormous pain in the neck).
Failing that, embellishments like croutons, a poached egg or a sprinkling of cheese will always turn a meager old bowl of soup into something more special.
For this soup (from Tom Kerridge’s ‘Best Ever Dishes’) you will need to do all of the above but I promise you won’t be disappointed in the result.
PS. Sorry the photo above is a bit crap. Tips on photographing soup anyone?
Celery soup with a poached egg
For the soup
- A little rapeseed oil for cooking and drizzling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- 1 litre of chicken stock
- 1 celery head (about 1kg), tough strings removed, leaves removed and finely chopped, stalks finely sliced
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, stalks removed and roughly chopped
- 200ml of double cream (I didn’t use this)
For the eggs
- One egg for each portion of soup
- A splash of white wine vinegar
- Celery salt
In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat a splash of rapeseed oil over a medium heat and cook the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the potato and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and simmer until the potato is soft (about 10 minutes).
Add the celery to the pan and simmer until the celery is soft (about 5-8 minutes).
Finally, stir in the parsley and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
If you are using cream add it here.
Then pour the mixture into a blender and whizz until smooth.
Pour it through a fine sieve and season to taste.
Poach the eggs for 3-5 minutes in a pan of salted simmering water with a splash of white wine vinegar added before cracking in the eggs.
When the eggs are cooked drain them with a slotted spoon on some kitchen towel then drizzle with rapeseed oil and roll carefully in the celery leaf.
Pour the soup into bowls and gently place a poached egg in the centre. Drizzle a bit more rapeseed oil over the top and sprinkle with celery salt.