It is fair to say that after 14years in London I still can’t get use to English summers. Yesterday was sunblock weather and today I woke up to grey and rainy skies. The kitchen is in a bit of a mess as I am desperately trying to clear out the kitchen cupboards before our trip through Europe. A fellow chef Clare Heal (who is a very clever cook and writer http://www.clare-cooks.com) suggested using Olio to recycle unused food items – and what a revelation! OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. And boy did I share! Thank you to all that came to collect everything from oils, pulses, nuts and even excess homemade Marmalade.
Anyway back to lunch, it was in this clearing out frenzy that I needed something fast, mobile (eating and packing away) and comforting (a must in grey weather). I am still thinking of 101 ways to utilise my father-in-laws garden courgettes and here is another way. I added a bit of crispy beetroot for crunch and colour and I so happen to have some Paneer in the fridge which was meant for a Saag Paneer which never materialised. I used my trusty Thermomix for this recipe but this soup is easily made without.
While at Leiths we had wonderful guest chefs come to cook for us and what a privilege to sample their food. One such lady was the very dynamic Angela Malik (yes chef : ) ) who instilled in me the importance of cooking the onions – long, long, long and slow, slow, slow till they caramelise and become a soft and fragrant mush. If you have the patients to do this it will be worth it.
- 2 small onions finely chopped
- 2 small garlic cloves finely chopped or minced
- 10cm ginger grated (go easy on the ginger if you are not a fan – clearly I am)
- 2 large courgettes cut into chunky bits
- pinch of hot curry powder
- 1tspn of milk curry powder
- 350-450ml of chicken stock – preferably homemade (recipe to follow)
- neutral oil for frying – I used Groundnut
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 50g of Paneer cut into little cubes – feta would also work
- 1 small beetroot very finely sliced (I use a mandolin)
- few sprigs watercress
- few sprigs coriander
- Soften the onions in a little bit of oil (not olive) on a low to medium heat till onions are very soft and start to slightly change colour
- Add the garlic and ginger and stir till fragrant making sure the heat is lowish so the garlic does not burn
- Add the courgette and cook for about 5-8minutes till soft but not broken up
- Add both the curry powders and stir till fragrant
- Add the HOT chicken stock. Do not add all the stock depending on how chunky or broth’y’ you would like the soup, I went for chunky and only added the 350g
- Bring up to a simmer for 5-8minutes.
- Pulse the soup either in a food processor to the desired consistency or use a hand held blender.
- Season to taste
- Keep warm
- For the garnish fill a small saucepan 1/3 with oil. Heat the oil till a piece of bread sizzles when dropped in. Add the slices of beetroot taking care not to overfill and turn the slices after 1-2minutes. Remove the beetroot with a slotted spoon once crispy (the slices will crisp up once on taken out) lightly season with salt. Continue till all the slices are fried and drain on a some kitchen towel. (see note)
- While the oil is still warm (not too hot) add the pieces of Paneer taking care as it WILL SPIT – once caramelise (slightly) immediately remove with a slotted spoon draining the pieces on some kitchen towel.
Serve the soup warm and add the garnishes including the greens
- When frying the Beetroot take care not to make the oil to hot. The beetroot will brown very quickly. Rather heat the oil on a medium heat taking a bit longer.