We welcomed March with a double-whammy of crazy "meals" (cake and toast post-pub at midnight, and an uber-carb-fest for lunch in front of the Carling Cup final) and so when dinner time rolled around N and I were in need of some serious vegetable goodness.
I thought I was feeling pretty tired and uninspired, then I spotted my stash of rosemary, stolen from the huge bush in K's garden, and suddenly an idea came flooding to me. I don't often cook with rosemary, except to put it on the top of focaccia, but the scent of the fresh sprigs conjured up memories of Italy and I knew that at least one handful of the fresh herb was destined for the pot.
I raided the vegetable draw and discovered some leeks and courgettes that needed using. I added to that some plum tomatoes, stock and broad beans and in half an hour we had soup.
I've never really improvised with soup. I'm not sure why. I'm happy to experiment with any sauce I make, and most of our meals involve some free-styling on my part. Yet when it comes to soup I've always followed recipes, with the odd exception of removing cream in favour of soy milk. Then last night something happened, I don't know if it was sheer laziness (the soup book was across the room), or if I was being headstrong, knowing that I probably wouldn't have all the ingredients a recipe asked for, but for some reason I decided that suddenly I knew what I wanted and how to get it.
The result? A veg- and bean-packed soup that was hearty enough for a chilly evening, but somehow light enough to be slurped from a mug in the sunshine this lunchtime. Yes, there was a tiny amount left to be savoured again today, much to my delight, because I was really pleased with how my first soup experiment worked out. N must have been too because he ventured back for seconds.
This is a soup to fix vegetable withdrawl, and is still tasty enough to be a treat. I'm calling it "soupy twist" in hommage to "A bit of Fry and Laurie." Why? Well, because I can. Oh and it's a bit ad-hoc as I wasn't actually paying too much attention. As ever.
Soupy Twist (Italianesque vegetable and bean soup)
Serves four, probably.
A large knob butter
fresh rosemary, chopped (a tablespoon-ish, perhaps)
3 medium leeks, scrubbed and sliced
2 courgettes, sliced into rounds
400g (1 can) broad beans, drained
400g (1 can) plum tomatoes
1/2 pint low-salt veggie stock
In a large pan heat the butter, over a medium hear, until just melting, then add the rosemary. Fry until the herbs begin to soften in the fat, then add the leeks and turn the heat down. Saute the leeks for about five minutes until they become softened, slightly translucent and beginning to brown slightly. Add a squeeze of tomatoe puree, a teaspoon of mustard and a slosh of white wine and stir to combine and lift all the juices. Then add the courgettes, broad beans and tomatoes and stir gently. Cook for five minutes and then add the stock. Simmer slowly, uncovered for aprox 30min, or until reducing and thickening (this will depend on how thick you want the broth, we had ours slightly thinner than pasta sauce). Check that the beans are cooked and the courgettes have softened and collected the juices. Season to taste. Serve with crusty Italian bread, ciabatta or focaccia.