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

Feeds 4

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.


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ahh, you make me long for the beauty of winter. I'd love to get all frosty on a long walk then warm myself up slowly with a big bowl of your satisfying soup. It sounds wonderful.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

This soup sounds delicious David. We have a goat farm her in the valley that makes goat cheeses. Personally from this particular farm I prefer their creamed cheeses but there are many others to try for this heartwarming soup:D

Aimée said...

I'll toast to celery with you, David. We love to munch on it for a healthy snack, but your soup sounds really elegant and I must try it.

William Leigh said...

come on then, give us a bowl and a nice bit of bread!

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Wowee, this sounds good David! You have some of my favourite ingredients here and then.... you went and added cheese.
You should have entered this into our soup challenge, No Croutons Required!

Lisa Turner said...


You can still enter our soup event if you wish! I'll except entries until tomorrow morning. Just make a little update to your post and email us. Delicious soup!

Alison said...

David, how essential are the juniper berries? I couldn't find them in either of my local supermarkets here in New Jersey. I know I can order them online, but I was hoping to make the soup this weekend. If they're absolutely essential, I'll put off making the soup until I've got them.

David Hall said...

Susan - it IS winter over here in blighty!

BV - lucky you, I'm very envious, I adore goat's cheese

Aimee - glad you love the stuff too

BDF - some may spill on the way to yours

Holler - well, I've entered it so you will just have to gag! Glad you like it though Lisa

ATN - they are non essential, it was just me experimenting. I like the aroma they give if anything, leave them out. You will hardly notice as celery is the predominant flavour

Alison said...

Made the soup today, and it was a great success. My husband said it was the best soup he'd ever had! I found it did need a bit more salt at the end, but this probably depends on how salty your feta is. All in all, a great recipe!

Meatball Marinara

An unnamed high street food provider has a version of this on their menu. Meatball marinara: hot meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese stuffed ...