Sunday is soup day in winter. It allows me to use up any leftover vegetables and get ready for lunches in the week ahead. A flask of steaming soup is almost compulsory for outdoor market days when the February cold creeps through my coat. This week I had an abundance of leeks and onions and I could hear their gut boosting properties calling to me from the bag. To boost the nutritious qualities even further I threw in garlic, chilli and half a bag of black kale waiting to be used up. The now trendy kale has a deliciously earthy, slightly iron flavour and is high in vitamins K, A and C. It is also the nearest modern cooks can get to the wild cabbage our ancestors once foraged.
I am generally reluctant to imbue particular foodstuffs with health boosting claims but, along with the ubiquitous chicken, onion soup sticks in the psyche as immune boosting and all round healthy fare. Anything that can lift the body and mind towards spring is welcome in my kitchen.
Giving an exact recipe for soup seems to go against the very nature of the dish itself. From Anglo – Saxon pottage to the traditional Italian home cooked minestrone, soup has been about taking whatever the season has to offer and turning it into a sustaining and delicious meal. For this reason I am going to give the foundations of my Winter Alium Soup and let your instincts do the rest.
- 5 – 6 medium leeks
- 6 – 7 brown onions
- winter greens
- 2 low salt stock cubes
- garlic cloves
- fresh chilli
- dried thyme
- dried sage
- red lentils
- salt and pepper
- Finely slice the onions and leeks and place in a large pan with a little rapeseed oil. Fry slowly until translucent and much reduced. This might take 30 – 40 minutes.
- Wash and tear the winter greens, removing any tough stalks at the same time. Toss into the pan along with the stock cubes. Add the herbs, garlic, sliced chillies and seasoning to your preferred taste. I usually start small and add more as it cooks.
- Pour on enough water to cover and then a bit more. Bring to the boil and simmer for another 30 – 40 minutes. Keep tasting and adjust flavourings as needed.