Happy New Year!
If I could urge you all to stick to one resolution in 2016 it would be to shop seasonally, getting the best produce at the best prices, and in turn supporting British food producers. Despite much greater awareness of environmental issues in recent years less than 50% of the fruit and vegetables we buy are home grown. Unless you’re after pineapples and mangos by shopping seasonally you should, generally find yourself buying British produce.
As with previous years I hope that I can help to ward off any January doom and gloom by encouraging you to embrace these cold dark nights, and enjoying some good ‘soul warming’ food! This is certainly the theme for our January East Dulwich Supper Club, which we have named the “January Blues Basher” for good reason. Our starter of Leek & Garlic Soup with Prosciutto and Brick House Bakery Sour Dough Breads is included below. Trust me when I say this is a really spectacular soup. Roast garlic is absolutely amazing; so sweet and smooth. Roasting gives it a rounded flavour, wonderfully tasty and in no way pungent so don’t be afraid to go with two whole bulbs.
Leek & Garlic Soup
Less than 30 minutes preparation time
30 minutes to 1 hour cooking time
2 whole garlic bulbs
1L chicken stock (do make your own if at all possible – substitute for vegetable stock if necessary)
650g potatoes – Vivaldis are my favourites (around 4 medium sized)
1 tablespoon butter
Cream or Crème Fraiche
- Pre-heat the oven to 2000 Remove the ‘tops’ of the bulbs of garlic with a horizontal slice so that the cloves inside are exposed. Drizle with olive oil, wrap in aluminium foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove. Allow to cool and, with a firm hold of the base of the bulb, squeeze the soft, caramelised garlic into a small bowl. If you want to use prosciutto as a garnish, place the slices on a tray and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the tops, or the darkest green leaves from the leeks. Slice the stalks in half and wash well (because leeks have many layers there may be plenty of dirt and soil in there). Finely chop into small pieces.
- Peel potatoes and roughly chop into 2cm cubes.
- Heat butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped leeks and stir until softened, around 10 minutes. Add the litre of stock, the cubed potatoes, the soft garlic and a teaspoon of salt. Combine, bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium. Cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables have softened significantly.
- In batches, pour the soup into a blender and process until smooth. Alternatively use a stick blender straight in the pot. Return to the pot on a low heat and add cream.
- Spoon ladleful’s of soup into a bowl. Add a dollop of cream or crème fraiche, a piece of prosciutto and garnish with cracked black pepper.
Food in Season:
Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Red Cabbage, Shallots, Spinach, Swede, Turnips.
Fruit & Nuts
Apples, Pears (late – Concorde, Doyenne du Comice, Conference and Winter Nellis), Rhubarb (forced), Walnuts
Duck (end of season), Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Venison
Fish & Seafood
Brill, Clams, Cockles, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Salmon (coming into season), Monkfish, Mussels, Oyster, Plaice, Turbot
Suzanne is a professional chef, wife and mother who has lived in East Dulwich all her life!
This article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of SE22 magazine