broccoli, broadbean and spinach soup

30 Mar

‘Green soup’ is one of my favourite dishes, especially on days when things just need a bit of perking up. It’s also pretty quick and needs hardly any attention as you’re making it, so can be shoved in between other chores activities. This soup is fairly bulky, relies heavily on the flavours of the vegetables used rather than lots of herbs and spices, and very economical. It uses up the whole of a head of broccoli, including the stalk which is usually, lamentably, thrown out.

Be warned: this recipe is full of ‘a dash of this’, ‘a spot of that’ and ‘chuck a bit of that in for taste’.

ingredients:

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced into 1/4-1/2-inch thick slices
3 cloves garlic
1 head broccoli, including the stalk and any leaves, roughly chopped
2 large potatoes, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, including the leaves if there are any, roughly chopped
a dash of mustard seeds
several pinches mustard powder
a shake of celery salt
some dried oregano
a grating of nutmeg
pepper to taste
1-1 1/2 l. vegetable stock
firm tofu, crumbled (for vegan option only, see note below)
6-8 oz fresh or frozen broadbeans
half dozen handfuls of spinach
salt to taste

optional garnish:

Stilton, crumbled, and double cream

method:

In a large pot, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil. Gently saute the onion and garlic until almost transluscent. Add the chopped potatoes, broccoli and celery, stir briskly to coat and cover with a lid, for about 5-10 minutes. (If using fresh broadbeans, add with the potatoes and broccoli.)

Check on it periodically, because when the broccoli starts to get really green that’s when you want to add the herbs and spices. Stir briskly to even them out and cover with a lid, for 2-5 minutes, until the air is a bit fragrant. Add the stock and bring to a slow rolling boil, about 20 minutes. Decrease the heat and add the frozen broadbeans and spinach. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the spinach so it’s not sitting on the top. When the spinach has wilted, use a blender to roughly pulse it into a thick but not liquidised soup.

When serving, if using the Stilton and cream, distribute the soup among the bowls then pour a generous splash of cream in the centre of the bowl and pile the Stilton in the centre of that splash. To make a wonderfully creamy vegan option, add the tofu with the stock and blend thoroughly before adding the broadbeans and spinach.

Serves 4-6.

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