AS THE temperature cools and the nights draw in, it’s beginning to feel like autumn has arrived.
At this time of year, I start to crave warming dishes that make the most of the best of the season’s vegetables as they begin to fill my kitchen – a vibrant range of colours and flavours.
Soups can be a great way to experiment with different seasonal flavours and textures and have fun in the kitchen. They tend to be quick and easy to make, so it’s a good chance to push yourself and try something new.
The joy of cooking soups is you can prepare the recipe and leave the soup to slowly cook and intensify in flavour. We always try to make a big pot so there’s plenty left over for the next day. I love the aromas that fill the kitchen when we’re cooking soup at home.
Carrot soup looks wonderful on the plate, but there’s no need to simply stick to the same flavours, such as a typical carrot and coriander soup. Delicious as it is, there are so many other wonderful flavour matches to try, such as one of my favourites: carrot and star anise, which really adds an autumnal twist and level of subtle sweetness to the dish.
Equally, in this recipe I’m sharing today, the addition of seasonal apples brings a little natural sweetness to complement the earthiness of the carrots. Fresh ginger also brings a delicate warmth and peppery punch to the soup – perfect for warming up autumn evenings.
I also like to garnish this dish with bright red and white radishes, fresh herbs and fresh diced apples. It makes the whole dish look fresh, colourful and seasonal, and the different textures bring it to life.
When it comes to soup, you can also add a little twist with the addition of fresh seasonal meat or fish, like a hearty winter broth or seafood chowder. We’ve been serving this velvety cauliflower and black pudding soup, which is filling and warming, at The Scran & Scallie. It blends the richness and crumbly texture of the black pudding with the smoothness of the cauliflower perfectly. Keep the cauliflower chunky and it will feel like a meal in a bowl.
Head to your local butcher for some fresh, quality black pudding if you don’t have time to make your own like we do at the restaurant.
The key to making a great pot of soup is to ensure you let the produce speak for itself and bring in ingredients that enhance the natural flavours. Do so, and you’ll be able to enjoy the best that autumn has to offer in a big, warming, comforting, delicious bowl of soup.
Cauliflower soup with black pudding
1 onion (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 litre chicken stock (can use vegetable stock if vegetarian)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf and parsley stalks wrapped in green leek)
salt & pepper
1 handful of coriander
6 slices good-quality black pudding (pan-fried and lightly crumbled)
extra virgin olive oil
Sweat the onions with a little salt in the vegetable oil over a medium heat until completely soft then add the butter and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cauliflower florets and bouquet garni and continue simmering until cauliflower is completely soft. Remove the bouquet garni and discard. Blend the soup until completely smooth then pass it through a fine sieve. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Boil the eggs in water for roughly six minutes. Serve in bowls with the coriander, sliced black pudding, bite-size pieces of cauliflower, sliced egg and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.
Chilled Carrot, Ginger and Apple Soup
20 carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
40g fresh ginger, finely diced
1 tsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
6 Granny Smith apples
juice of 4 limes
1 day-old slice of bread
Sweat the onion and ginger in a heavy bottom pan for 3-4 mins until cooked. Add half the carrots, keeping the rest for later, season with salt and sweat for 10-15 mins until the carrots are tender. Set aside to chill before blitzing in a food processor until smooth. Meanwhile, add the water and juice the rest of the carrots and five apples, reserving one apple for garnish. Combine the juice with the chilled carrot until you’ve reached a soup-like consistency and add fresh lime juice to taste. Slice the bread into bite-size croutons, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven on a low heat for 5-10 mins. Top each bowl with diced apple, sliced radish, chopped coriander and chives, and croutons. Serve chilled.