17 June 2011
Spring vegetable chowder with ham - swerving the failed Gnocchi
You'll recall from the earlier Menu Plan blog that I was planning on having Gnocchi for dinner one night this week, but due to an oversight in the Sweet Potato front, the whole lot went in the bin.
Well, this left us with a whole heap of diced carrot, celeriac, fennel and asparagus sitting with no home to go to.
I'd already mentioned to hubby (who was doing the chopping and a-peeling) to keep the woody ends of the asparagus and I'd make some soup at the weekend. (Darn it, just remembered we forgot to buy a leek in the shopping!). Anyway, this throwaway request had obviously sowed a seed in hubby's brain as he suggested I make some soup with all the dice.
So, back he went to chopping and a-peeling-land and added an onion and two potatoes to the mix, finding some tinned sweetcorn on the way.
I had bought a litre of Jersey milk to make the sauce which was to have gone with the Gnocchi, so I had the basics for a really nice chowder-style soup.
The ham was a last-minute inclusion, but for all that it was the making of the soup. It added that little bit of savouriness that otherwise would have been missing.
With some bread and butter for dipping, this made a perfect main course soup - and is easy to have as a vegetarian option, by simply leaving out the ham.
This soup actually took me back to a time when I was vegetarian for a while. It was just after I'd had my first horse, Baringa, put to sleep and the whole experience had made me turn my back on meat. As often happens, it was the demon bacon sandwich that turned me back again!
SPRING VEGETABLE CHOWDER (feeds 4)
A knob of butter
a splosh of olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 celeriac, peeled and diced
100ml vegetable stock using half a stock cube
1 litre of jersey milk
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 fennel bulb, diced small and with herby fronds chopped & retained
a bunch of asparagus, trimmed and sliced to 1cm pieces
2/3 slices of thick cut ham, shredded thinly
crusty bread with butter, to serve.
1. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan and add the olive oil.
2. Add the onion and saute until transparent (around 5 minutes on a light/medium heat) - do not let the onion brown at all.
3. Add the carrots and stir to combine. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes.
4. Add the potato and celeriac and stir to combine. Allow to cook until the heat appears to have penetrated the mass.
5. Add the stock and as much of the milk as it takes to cover the vegetables. Season to taste, being careful of the amount of salt that the stock may have brought.
6. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Test a piece of potato. If it is well on it's way to being cooked, add the fennel - but not the frondy fennel herb. Continue simmering until the carrot is within minutes of being cooked.
8. Add the asparagus and the fennel herb, stir to combine and simmer until the asparagus is done (around 2-3 minutes).
9. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until the majority of the cubes are pulverised, then add water until it becomes the consistency you are happy with.
10. If you are using the ham, add it now by either resting it on top of the soup, or mixing it in.
11. Serve in deep warmed bowls, with crusty bread and butter.