I’ve recently subscribed to a delivery service of local organic produce, currently being supplemented with some imports due to the late start to the season here. It’s taking some doing to get into the rhythm of dealing with the produce that appears on my doorstep weekly, but I’m trying not to waste anything.
Last week I did some produce shopping on Wednesday, not really thinking about Thursday’s delivery. So, there was a lot of produce in the fridge today, including some vegetables that hadn’t been touched at all, and odds and ends of others.
I decided to clear a swath through the fridge and make soup. The result is truly a freestyle pot full of goodness. Yes, if I made this again I would tweak a few things, but that’s part of the fun.
Clean-Out-the-Fridge Spring Soup
I started with a good glug of olive oil in my big soup pot, gently heating while I trimmed and sliced two leeks. Into the pot they went, followed by the tail end of a bunch of scallions (that would be three), also thinly sliced. A few cloves of garlic, finely chopped, went in next, followed by half a bunch of asparagus chopped into small pieces. This is the point where I added a generous grinding of pepper because nothing much happens in my kitchen without pepper.
Hmmm, what next? There was a rather sad third of a head of cauliflower hanging around the crisper. I trimmed away any bits not worthy of my soup, washed the florets and then sliced them and chopped them into small pieces. At this point, I had a green and white base for the soup. Time for a little colour, don’t you think?
Last week’s delivery included a bag of organic carrots. They taste remarkably good raw, but I finely chopped a couple for the soup pot (okay, I ate half of one).
I recently found a really good line of organic vegetable stock cubes that make a well-flavoured, low-sodium broth. I added six cups of that to the pot, and a good amount of dried chili flakes for some kick. There was a small bunch of fresh thyme in the fridge, so I trimmed the ends, gave it a good wash and trussed it up with kitchen string. I tied it to a handle and suspended the bundle in the pot.
With everything in there, I brought the soup to a boil and then turned it to a simmer for 20 minutes. It’s important to taste soup a couple of times during the cooking process. I added a bit of salt along with the stock, and then a small amount again at the end of the simmering period. For more body and protein, as well as a different texture, I added a small can of cannellini beans at this point. (I think they added some vaguely Mediterranean flair.)
I like to finish a lot of my soups with wine, lemon juice or vinegar. Sadly, I didn’t have any wine, so once the beans were heated through I added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, along with some chopped fresh mint that needed to be used.
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And there you have it, my spring clean-out-the-fridge soup. Or today’s version at least. Chances are, I’ll never have exactly the same ingredients on hand again, unless I deliberately set out to replicate this soup.
Yes, there are two things I’d do differently next time. A splash of white wine at the end would have been better than the vinegar. Don’t get me wrong, the vinegar did add a pleasingly funky flavour, but I would have preferred wine. And next time, I’ll use my immersion blender to puree just a bit of the soup, to add a bit more body to the broth. Both small changes, but one of the joys of cooking is the everlasting tweaking of recipes.
Work-in-Progress Bonus: Mushy Peas
Not too long ago I saw Jamie Oliver make some ‘mushy peas’ on television, using potatoes, peas and mint. I thought I’d like to have a go at that myself, so whipped up this side dish that we enjoyed along with the soup tonight. It’s not quite to my liking just yet, but it was a good start. And I thought this photo was too pretty not to share.