My favourite season has definitely arrived. I know that Autumn is here as each of my windows are covered in condensation. I also know that it is here when my washing remains damp and cold on the drying line.
Something about this time of the year gets me a bit excited and brings out the food obsessive in me. I start to plan ahead with great enthusiasm. Already I have chutneys made with marrows and damsons. I've lots of jams made with various summer berries. Herbs have been dried and crumbled. Litres of sloe gin and sticky plum vodka are marinating away ready for a winter treat by the fire. I've done battle with the grey squirrels and hoarded a few bags of cob nuts. The Christmas lunch has been planned and confused guests are already invited.
The cob nuts excite me the most. Bags of hazelnuts, fresh ones at that, are not cheap. So a few squeaky fresh creamy textured fresh nuts make me more than happy. It is hard to resist just cracking them as I find them and eating them as they are. But if you can resist, you can make all kinds of lovely produce.
Soup is going to be pretty much a daily food in my house now that the roots and mushrooms are here in abundance. This soup combines a magnificent pairing in tarragon and mushroom, the aniseed of the dried tarragon perfectly matching the meatiness of the field mushrooms I used. The smell of both roasting is to die for. A few of my lovely cob nuts, pan roasted and distributed throughout, gives a nice crunchy surprise. There are reasons for seasons.
Roast Mushroom, Cobnut and Tarragon Soup with Tarragon and Nut Butter
1 leek, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
500g wild mushrooms, sliced (I used field mushrooms)
2 tbsp dried or fresh tarragon
2 handfuls of cob nuts or hazelnuts
750ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
For the butter
1 tbsp fresh or dried tarragon
1 tbsp cob nuts or hazelnuts
1 - Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the leek, mushrooms and tarragon and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, until golden and well reduced.
2 - Add the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
3 - Blitz in a blender until smooth then return to the pan. Pan roast the cob nuts in a dry pan until golden, then roughly chop and stir into the soup.
4 - For the butter, pan roast the cobnuts then finely chop. Mash the butter with the herbs and nuts.
5 - Taste the soup for seasoning, then serve in bowls with a spoon of the butter.