Any soup is only as good as the stock used to make it. Whether you choose to use chicken or vegetable stock in this recipe, it is important to use a good, flavoursome one that will compliment the other ingredients. Best of all, make your own stock – it’s incredibly easy: simply take a mixture of base vegetables – carrot, leek, onion, celery – and sweat them gently and slowly in a little olive oil to release their sugars (and therefore their flavour). You can add other vegetables such as fennel, mushrooms, or even tomatoes to vary the flavour. Add a bay leaf, 1 tsp of whole peppercorns, and a sprig of thyme; pour over enough cold water to cover the vegetables by 3 inches, bring to the boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and use. To make chicken stock, add chicken bones, wings, off-cuts or carcasses to the pan a few minutes before you add the vegetables, and then follow the same process.
For the recipe below, if you can find wild garlic during the spring and early summer months – it’s usually very easy to find, just follow your nose when wandering down country lanes or canal towpaths – add a good handful in place of the garlic clove. It adds a wonderful fresh vibrancy to the soup.
- Method :
- Remove the outer few leaves of the kale and discard. Cut out the thick central stalks from the remaining leaves, roll them, and finely shred.
- Heat a little olive oil in a deep pan and add the butter. When it begins to foam slightly, add the onion. Sweat for 2-3 minutes before adding the garlic. Sweat for a further 2 minutes.
- Add most of the spinach and kale to the pan, reserving a small amount of each to add at the end - about ⅛. Gently sautée until the spinach and kale begin to cook down, and add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the hot mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Add the reserved raw kale and spinach and blend until smooth and incorporated - adding the raw ingredients gives a brighter, more vibrant colour and fresh taste to the dish.
- Transfer back to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of fresh nutmeg and serve.