Wendy is a writer. Wendy is my friend. For a long time we sat together each day and wrote, wrote, wrote. There is no-one whose short stories I love more. She is also English and a dog lover and has given us her recipe which owes a lot to George Harrison in his bearded and robed era:
Vegetables were big in my house.
Something to do with Krishnamurti and a grandfather who grew broad beans.
Vegetables were treated like chocolate in the Murray household. Leeks and swedes. Parsnips and jersey royals. Peas and Scarlett Runners. Spring greens and mushrooms.
It is of vegetable soup that I wish to hum…plain old vegetable soup. Not really ever plain, but happily uncomplicated.
It was what we made when the evenings were cold. When we were poorly. When it was Guy Fawkes night. When we were sad.
There isn’t really a Murray vegetable soup “recipe”. This is the vegetable soup “recipe” of the moment. These cold nights. When I’m poorly. When I might get sad. It shifts a little as I find something at the farmer’s market or in the bottom of my vegetable drawer.
Most months of the year I will open my fridge and there will be a large glass jar of soup there in the door next to the raw milk.
I make it the same way my mother did. Every time I make it, I think of her. And how she never got stuck in a recipe or a house or a country or a belief.
So this is …Vegetable Soup, January 2013.
Don’t come to me in March and expect it to be the same.
As my mother would say….” People make the mistake of thinking life is written is cement…..it’s not….it’s all written in sand…..”
Ingredients: leeks, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes. Olive oil, vegetable stock, curry paste.
Couple of things before you start
1. For this, I don’t use potatoes – I think it stays lighter without them.
2. Chop the vegetables small so that they cook without losing their flavour
3. Blend for two minutes longer than you think you should. Makes it smooth.
Nice big, deep, solid pan. On medium heat.
Put the kettle on to boil for later.
A good couple to three tablespoons of fruity olive oil.
2 leeks. Chopped into small rounds. Don’t listen to those people who tell you to just use the white bits. Use it all until the ends get frayed.
Lots of garlic. At least 6 plump cloves.
Give it a minute…..
3 sticks of celery. Chopped.
3 carrots. Chopped
2 parsnips chopped.
Lid on saucepan. Sweat vegetables, without browning them. Just make them feel safe.
A good few minutes.
Add a tablespoon of “Patak’s coriander and Cumin Curry paste.” (Can be found at all Indian stores. Made in England)
Make sure you move it around and let the oil and the heat cure the spices.
Another couple of minutes.
Add a heaped teaspoon of “Better than Bouillion; No-chicken base.”
And a few cups of boiling water. Just cover the vegetables and an inch to spare.
Bring it to boil. Lid on and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until you can cut the carrot with a knife.
Chop up a couple of tomatoes. Proper ones, with flavour.
Turn off the heat and pop the tomatoes in and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
And as you sit there with a bowl of bright velvet soup and a spoon ……know that everything in your world is going to be all right.