Chilled Broccoli Stalk Soup With Concassé

A while ago, I posted a recipe for a delicious soup based on broccoli stalks. With the beautiful run of weather we’ve been having in Ireland over the last month or so, I decided to do a chilled version. I just love chilled soups but we get too few chances to savour them during our normal summers. The soup turned out to be quite delicious and I’m hoping the weather stays nice so we can enjoy it again.

I’ve left the type of stock up to yourself. If you want a vegetarian version, use a vegetable stock: otherwise use a nice chicken stock.  I have specified white pepper, but this is mainly for aesthetic reasons, as this does not leave specks in the finished soup but don’t worry too much if you’ve only got black pepper: the flavour won’t be affected.

Summary

Makes: 4 generous portions
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 20 mins

Ingredients

4
1 litre
25g
1 sprig
250ml
4 tbsp
200g
100g
3 r.tsp
Broccoli stalks (about 500g)
Stock
Butter
Mint
Cream
White wine vinegar
Ripe tomatoes
Cucumber
Capers
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Fresh white pepper
Mint to garnish

Method

Trim the dry ends and cut the stalks into small chunks. Place in a medium saucepan with the stock and add the butter. Crack a little white pepper into the pan. If you know that your stock is not salty you can add a little salt now, but it’s better to leave the main seasoning until the end.

Cover the pan and bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer gently until the broccoli is soft (about 20-30 minutes). After about 10 minutes, add the leaves from the sprig of mint. Liquidise the soup and pass through a fine sieve. Add the cream. Put back on the heat, but don’t let it boil. Make the intial adjustment of the seasoning. Transfer to a jug or jar and chill in the fridge overnight.

Next day, add the vinegar, give everything a good stir and make the final adjustment of the seasoning. This soup tastes best well chilled, and your fridge may not be cold enough. You can cool the soup further by placing the bowl in ice water or putting it into the freezer for a short while before serving.

Meanwhile make the concassé. Seed the tomatoes and chop to about same size as the capers. Wash the cucumber and scoop out the seeds. Chop to the same size as the tomatoes. Rinse the capers to remove excess salt. Mix the tomatoes, cucumber and capers together, binding with the smallest amount of olive oil. Add a small amount of freshly ground pepper.

Serve in shallow soup dishes. Place a mound of concassé in centre of each dish. Carefully pour the chilled soup around the concassé. Garnish with a little mint. Enjoy!

The Saga of the Christmas Turkey

Christmas Dinner

This year Anna’s farmer brother, John, very kindly offered us one of his hand-reared turkies for the Christmas dinner. Being forewarned that they were on the large side got us thinking about what to do with the bird. We picked up one of the smaller ones, as seen in the picture, but it still weighed in at around 10kg, and came with all the giblets.

We decided there and then to remove the crown and save the legs and wings for future dinners. After dissection, the crown still looked pretty big, so we weighed it and found it to be 4kg: obviously too big for the two of us, so we split it in two. I made about 3.5 litres of very nice turkey stock out of the carcass, of which I froze about 2 litres for future use in soups and the like.

So, read on to see what we did with this magnificent specimen!

Christmas Dinner

Since we were only cooking the crown, we were naturally worried about it drying out. We decided to give it a two-stage preparation, suggested by Domini Kemp in the Irish Times. On the evening before, we poached it in a cider, water and orange juice liquor, suitably enhanced with salt, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. After simmering for about a half an hour, we turned off the heat and left whole thing to cool with the lid on until the dinner time the next day. We then smothered it with butter and roasted it on a bed of coarsely chopped root vegetables, along with a lemon and a splash of white wine, for about 45 minutes. The turkey stayed lovely and moist. We accompanied it with potatoes roasted in goose fat, peppered sprouts and buttered carrots, as well as a nice gravy made with some of the stock. Very tasty. Pacing ourselves, we made sure we left some room for a bit of cheese and Christmas pudding!

Leftovers

One of the fun bits about the Christmas Turkey is finding ways of using up the rest of the bird. This is what we did this year.

Turkey Soup

We actually had our first left-over on Christmas Eve. Using meat pulled off the carcass and the neck after making the stock, along with some slices from the heart and gizzard and carrots from the stock, we put together a delicious soup.

Turkey Pizza

Covered a base with a little tomata pizza sauce, then sprinkled on some turkey, brie cheese and cranberry sauce. Cooked for 10 minutes in a very hot oven. Really good. Have to confess to buying a prepared base, but there are good bases for sale: ours was from Pizza del Piero in Rathmines, Dublin.

Turkey Quesadilla

Basically the same as the pizza without the tomato sauce, but the filling is sandwiched between two flour tortillas and fried on both sides with a good knob of butter.

Turkey Pie

Cut chunks off the crown. Unbelievably not quite gone yet. Made a nice velouté, enriched with some cream, mustard and a little grated gruyere. Added the turkey and some baby onions, which had previously been peeled and fried until golden. Topped with a puff pastry lid and cooked in a very hot oven until the pastry was golden. Delicious

Paella

On New Years Day, we cut the last few chunks from the crown and used in place of chicken/pork in a delicious paella dish, which I’ll post soon. Due to the limited supplies in the shops I had to replace the spinach with pak choi from the local Asian shop. Tasted a bit different but still very good.

Broccoli Stalk Soup

Ever wondered what to do with those leftover broccoli stalks when your recipe only calls for the florets? Well, as befits the times we are currently experiencing, this simple soup gives you a delicious means of doing so. Despite the humble ingredients, the soup is rich tasting and sophisticated enough to serve at any dinner party. One supermarket chain near us gives customers a small hacksaw to chop the stalks from broccoli crowns. It’s a bit like people only wanting chicken breasts and discarding the legs and wings. So far, I haven’t plucked up the courage the ask the shop if I could take stalks off their hands.

I’ve left the type of stock up to yourself. If you want a vegetarian version, use a vegetable stock: otherwise use a nice chicken stock. If you can’t get crème fraîche, you can use sour cream. I have specified white pepper, but this is mainly for aesthetic reasons, as this does not leave specks in the finished soup but don’t worry too much if you’ve only got black pepper: the flavour won’t be affected.

Note: You can also make a similar soup from cauliflower or asparagus stalks.

Summary

Makes: 4 generous portions
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 20 mins

Ingredients

4
1 litre
25g
Broccoli stalks (about 500g)
Stock
Butter
Salt
Fresh white pepper
Crème fraîche
Chives to garnish

Method

Trim the dry ends and cut the stalks into small chunks. Place in a medium saucepan with the stock and add the butter. Crack a little white pepper into the pan. If you know that your stock is not salty you can add a little salt now, but it’s better to leave the main seasoning until the end.

Cover the pan and bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer gently until the broccoli is soft (about 20 mins). Liquidise the soup and adjust the seasoning. A tablespoon of white wine vinegar can also be added to give more depth. Put back on the heat to bring up the temperature for serving.

Serve in warmed bowls with a blob of crème fraîche, which helps to cut the richness, and garnish with chopped chives.

Here’s a link to a delicious chilled version for the summer.

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

A real winter warmer or just perfect for the Irish summer! Familiar from northern and central Europe: Erbsensuppe in Germany; Ärtsoppa in Sweden. If you add a couple of Frankfurters/Wieners or a meatier sausage such as Bockwurst or Mettwurst you get what the Germans call an Eintopf or a one-pot meal. In Sweden split pea soup is traditionally served alongside pancakes and lingonberry sauce. Some people like to put a spoon of mustard on the lip of the bowl and take a small amount with each spoonful.

Summary

Makes: 2 mains or 4 starters
Preparation: 10 min
Cooking: 1 hour

Ingredients

250g
1
1
1
1 stick
200g
50g 

1 litre

Split green peas
Good-sized floury potato (such as Kerr’s Pink)
Medium onion
Medium carrot
Celery
Left-over ham or bacon (in one piece if possible)
Unsalted butter
Splash of oil
Water
Salt (probably not)
Pepper

Method

Rinse the peas and pick over to remove any grit. Chop the onions roughly. Dice the carrot and celery into pieces of similar size to the onion. Peel the potato and cut into 8 pieces.

In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter over a medium to low heat. Add a splash of oil (sunflower, olive, etc) to help stop the butter burning. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Cover and sweat for 10 minutes or so. Add the peas, potato and meat. Season with pepper and add water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes. At this stage the peas should still have the faintest bite of bite. Don’t let them go to a mush.

Lift out the meat and cut into small pieces. Use a potato masher to mash the contents of the pot. Don’t overdo it: leave some texture! Add the meat back into the pot and adjust the seasoning. You really shouldn’t need any salt as ham or bacon is usually quite salty.

Serve in warmed bowls and enjoy with some crusty bread.