Sunday, July 20, 2008

A useful, frugal sort of soup

Seedlings of flat-leaf parsley, planted at the tail end of summer, have, halfway through winter, become forests. Which is a stroke of luck, really. It’s the one thing that I seem to be able to grow rather well. Other things – the pennywort I wanted so badly; the stubby bushes of rosemary that will not even try – are moving at the proverbial snail's pace, but the parsley, it is unstoppable. Lush forests of greenery that sit close to the back door so that I can slip out, feet un-shod, to grab a handful or two as needed. It’s enough to make a trainee kitchen gardener feel inordinately proud.

A mountain of parsley went into this soup, a wise attempt to harvest just a little of this year’s prolific crop. Incredibly delicious it is, though the sum of its parts may not initially suggest much. Ladled into shallow soup plates, this becomes quite sophisticated. Understatedly elegant and deeply herbal, in a deeply nourishing sort of way. Honest, restorative, iron-rich. Frugal winter food.

A soup to make you feel like a gardener, even if you’re not.

Parsley soup – feeds 2
To use anything less than a forest of parsley is to miss the point. This must be vital, green and herbal. You’ll need a whopping 300g, a generous ½ lb or so, to suffice two. Adapted from The Cranks Bible.

2 very large bunches of flat-leaf parsley
1 small onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of butter (or olive oil)
2 small potatoes
½ teaspoon of good veg stock powder (optional)
Sea salt and pepper
Best olive oil, for drizzling
1 heaped tablespoon of smoked almonds, chopped (optional)

Cut the parsley leaves from their stalks. Place the stalks in a large saucepan and cover, quite generously, with cold water. Throw in the onion and half of the garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Roughly chop the parsley leaves. Scrub the potatoes and chop them into chunks.

Stew the potatoes and garlic in the butter gently, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes. Add the parsley leaves and stir slowly through the garlicky potatoes for a minute, maybe two. You want it to collapse a little. Measure out 3½ cups of parsley stock and pour it in next. Stir, then add the stock powder. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes crush easily against the side of the pot – 10 - 15 minutes should do it. Season to taste. Cool a little before blending until velvet-smooth. Serve with a thread of good, spicy olive oil and the almonds, if you’re using them.

Holler is hosting this month’s herbal edition of No Croutons Required and this bowl of green is my submission.

In other news, I’ve been watching Posh Nosh over here and laughing very loudly. Required viewing for anyone who claims to love cooking, I reckon. Richard E. Grant at his absolute best.

Thanks, Grocer.


Duncan | Syrup&Tang said...

What a stunning colour! I'd rush out and harvest parsley if the building site next door hadn't run a bobcat over my forest:( I'll just have to bookmark this for late in the year.

Holler said...

Lovely looking soup Lucy! And I just love that bowl!

You have shamed me into going out and buying some seeds so I can plant some herbs in the garden. I only have basil and jalapenos growing in the house just now. Lazy, lazy!

Thank you for entering your soup into the No Croutons Required challenge :)

Lisa said...

Thanks for this entry Lucy! I just so happen to have parsley growing in my little backyard garden.

Ricki said...

Ohh, how I love green soup! Looks lovely. And that bowl (it is a bowl, isn't it?) is gorgeous--the photo makes it look as if the soup is suspended over some leaves! Love the swirls of oil over top, too.

Callipygia said...

What a blessing to harvest your own food. The soup frugal yes, but undeniably rich for the sense. I've always had my eyes out for those "cabbage" plate/bowls...

Sharona May said...

Amazing! I have never heard of that before. :)
It sure does look very good.

Sharona May

kale for sale said...

I feel all healthy and glowing simply looking at the gorgeous soup. I suspect it tasted even better knowing that you grew the greeness. Talk to the rosemary a bit, it probably just needs some encouragement.

Lucy said...

Duncan - a forest of greenery lost in its prime? Bastards...I should give you some of mine. The colour, yes, it's quite something (you know you're eating something Very Good for you) but be warned - it will oxidise to Army Green within 45 minutes. Not a horrible colour, not by any means, but much less vibrant.

Holler, darls, be not ashamed! Grow what you can, and when. A little taste of super-fresh is all you really need. The plate just balanced the green of the soup out nicely, I thought. Thanks - looking forward to the round-up, of course!

Ah, Lisa, a perfect use for it when it takes over later in the season!

Ricki, yes, it's a bowl - shallow, lipped plates are quite useful in a veg kitchen, I reckon. A happy marriage of bowl and plate. Thank you, darls.

Calli, I can't think of a greater nor more satisfying challenge than growing just a little of one's own food. Each season, I learn a little more. Ah, those plates...they're pretty, aren't they? A gift, to myself, on my birthday, last year. One of the last 'new' things I purchased. They look AWFUL in the summer light, but the angle of light in the cooler months lets them relax a little and shine.

Hi Sharona May, and welcome. A great, cheap meal, this one, and rich in both vitamins and minerals, too!

Oh, Katrina, it's a skin tonic, alright! Parsley thrives in the cooler months here, and cooking something, harvested mere moments before, is a true treat. Shall whisper and coo in my Rosemary's ear - she's telling me to be patient, I am sure!

Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Hi Lucy. I wonder, would a liberal squeeze of lemon juice prevent the oxidation in the soup?

Lucy said...

Duncan, I like your thinking. Perhaps it may bleach things out a little, though? Shall experment and get back to you. There is more to harvest and only so much tabbouleh one household will put up with...

Johanna said...

that is a gorgeous green that is good for the soul - love your top photo of the soup. Years ago i would have turned up my nose at the idea of parsley soup but if my parsley thrived like yours I would be quite interested!

Thermomixer said...

Soooo jealous. My parsley after 8 weeks just did not want to grow while my rosemary won't stop.
You might try blanching the parsley leaves in boiling water & then refresh in iced water to stop the khaki colour. Works for other greens.

Christina said...

This is BEAUTIFUL! You say those smoked almonds are optional, but I can imagine they turn the already gorgeous soup into something remarkable.

Anh said...

What a stunning soup, Lucy! The color is just soo vibrant!

Anonymous said...

How beautiful. Parsley is one of the most under-rated herbs, I reckon. This soup is designed to let it shine!

vegetablej said...

Wow. I envy your parsley. I've been growing in a small pot on a tabletop and it's not too happy.

About the Rosemary, I wonder if you have tried pruning it? Rosemary only spreads out if it is trimmed. I had a sad little plant in the garden in Japan, the same size for a year until I cottoned on to that. When I left it was chest high and in full gorgeous bloom.

As others have said, lovely pictures, and those bowls have so much vegetable texture. Love them.


bee said...

potatoes and aprsley are made for each other. the colour of your soup is what i'd call 'the colour of happiness". a warm chartreuse just brings me joy.

bluerot said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Not only were we feeling particularly frugal last night, but we've also been wondering how to deal with the the flat leaf parsley that has, quite literally, taken over our back garden - it was a delicious end to our double dilemma ;)

Lucy said...

Very good for the soul, Johanna! The older I get, the simpler/more elegant I want things to be!

Themro, I am a VERY lucky gardener, this time around and there are tonnes of the stuff left...good thinking, re blanching, but you know, the thing about this soup is that it needs to be slurped right away, to gain as much goodness as possible. Worth a try for a smarter affair though!

Christina - I knew you'd like this. And yo are, of course, right (when are you not?). The almonds are a level of flavour well worth seeking out.

Thank you, Anh.

She is, Vegeyum, much under-rated. I often wonder if she is a herb or a vegetable. Suppose that depends on where you are, geographically, in the world.

VJ - pruning, of course! Now that makes perfect sense. Shall do so this weekend. I'd love them to be full, with long, fragrant branches. Hope your parsely is growing well!

bee, you are lovely. Johanna of GGG (see earlier comment) often says that green is the colour of hope. It clearly inspires lots of joy. Thank you.

Hi bluerot, and welcome. So pleased to a) have been able to help (it does use up a sizeable chunk of one's crop!) and b) that you enjoyed the soup! Frugalty is as under-rated as parsley, I reckon.

neil said...

Love parsley soup no matter the colour and it is such a great way to use up excess parsley -- I understand the too much tabouli thing, as much as I like it.

Holler's right, great bowl. Is it to liberal to say I want to rub my hands all over it? It's crying out to be touched.

Lucy said...

Neil, my dear, rub as liberally as you like.

These plates (got them from Market Imports if you're interested) are Very Lickable.

maybelles parents said...

Oh, this is on my list. My parsley is darn near close to having its head shaved.