Monday, 18 February 2008
Sticks Of Sunshine
Today is one those blinding winter sunshine days, when despite the sun being so bright it makes you squint all day, the frost has taken hold of everything. I love this kind of weather; I call it perfect walking weather, where you can get wrapped up and still bask in a little sunshine at the same time.
It is also perfect soup weather. Nothing too elaborate, just a peek at what is left from the weekend and then devising a simple soup. In other words, the bottom of the fridge soup. Waste not want not and all that.
Celery is one of those vegetables that often is just there to make up the numbers. So a stick or two is chopped as part of your base for a soup, casserole or stew then the rest is left to go limp at the bottom of the fridge. Personally, I think it should be celebrated. It has a fantastic unique fresh taste and crunch of its own yet it remains a vegetable not exactly top of the list of choice, especially with young ones.
If it is the strings that put you off, a blitz into soup form gets rid of that. This soup combines lots of celery with fresh mint and salty fresh feta cheese, in this instance the superb Yorkshire Feta cheese, now known as Fine Fettle from Shepherds Purse Cheeses in Thirsk, North Yorkshire. And the sun shined down and I squinted at it. And everything seemed rather lovely on this bright frosty North East Monday morning.
PS I've decided to be a late entrant in the wonderful 'No Croutons Required', a Blog that invites Bloggers all over the world to enter a vegetarian meal each month to be judged by Lisa and Holler. This month it is soups, so I reckon my soup meets the requirements. Wish me luck, there looks like lots of good competition in there.
Celery, Mint and Yorkshire Feta Soup
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 whole bunch of celery, leaves and all, sliced
2 floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and cubed
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
3 juniper berries, crushed
750ml vegetable stock or water
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
250g Fine Fettle Cheese or any feta
Salt and Pepper
1 - Heat up the oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery and potatoes. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
2 - Add the stock, juniper berries and bay leaves. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the juniper berries and bay leaves.
3 - Crumble in half of the cheese. With a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth, don't worry if it still a little lumpy.
4 - Taste for seasoning. It should not need any salt due to the feta cheese. Serve in bowls with more feta crumbled over the soup, some fresh mint and a drizzle of oil.
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