Happy new year! Well, that’s another Christmas over with. And, undeniably nice though it is to be eating delicious rich meals that have been cooked for you every day, with a choice of puddings, and booze, and maybe one or two Thornton’s to ward off the appearance of so much as a whisker of hunger, when I got back home I really just wanted a plate of beans on toast. With marmite on the toast, naturally. And then I wanted some vegetable soup.
99.9% of the year, I would have passed over this recipe. We are talking about Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest’ – there are plenty more interesting/odd sounding things (including an actual recipe for an actual broccoli forest. I may find her unremitting tweeness endearing, but even I draw the line at making woodland scenes from vegetables). I mean, vegetable soup just makes me think of the yellow goop you get from Heinz tins, replete with tinny tasting potatoes and tinny tasting carrots. I was almost surprised by how nice this turned out – I really just wanted something plain, with vegetables in it, that wouldn’t make my overloaded tummy hate me even more. But this was herby, and brothy in a clean tasting way, but with pleasing nourishing chunky bits. It’s really the large quantities of mushrooms, I think, that make it – Tom said it tasted ‘meaty’. So you could think of it as mushroom soup, with extras, if vegetable soup sounds too dull.
Vegetable soup Serves 4-6
In the book, this soup is really a base from which you can add – put in different cooked vegetables, beans and grains, serve with cheese toasts or poached eggs, add tofu – there’s even a recipe for alphabet soup! Yay! I really should have made it. Except I didn’t want alphabetti spaghetti in my soup.
1 large potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups water or stock
a pinch of salt (I suggest you leave this out if your stock is quite salty)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
250g mushrooms, chopped quite small
1/2 tsp each thyme, dill, marjoram and basil (I used a couple of sprigs each of lemon thyme and rosemary, as that was what I had fresh)
200ml dry white wine (or use vermouth)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas (not sure what the non-US cup measurement equivalent is – a couple of large handfuls I’d say)
1 spring onion, finely sliced (for garnish)
Boil the potato in the stock or water until the potato is just tender. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and salt. Saute over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring regularly, for about 8 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft and tender. Then tip the contents of the frying pan into the stock pan. Add the wine or vermouth, soy sauce and peas and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of spring onion on top of each serving.
Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s ‘The Enchanted Broccoli Forest: And Other Timeless Delicacies’.