Wednesday, 6 January 2010
First find two leeks, two onions and a handful of small potatoes sulking in the blue plastic tub in the cupboard under the sink. Seek out a couple of cloves of garlic. Some honey in a jar. Spices.
Remember there is no milk in the house.
Wash and slice the leeks, peel and slice the onions and garlic.
Add to a pan with some olive oil and butter if you have any.
Peel potatoes in readiness.
Let the leek, onion and garlic fry away gently till very soft and a bit mushy. Take this slowly, it brings out the sweetness in the veg and allows you the time to realise that you are wearing inside out long johns and no socks. For no apparent reason.
When the onions, leeks and garlic are soft, add a teaspoonful of the Scottish Heather Honey that was recieved as a gift then left on a shelf and forgotten about. Which is daft as you really like honey. The honey will help the mixture to caramelise and to further aid the process, turn the heat up and leave the pan alone. Don't stir, take the opportunity to stop cooking and look out of the window. Count the goldfinches on their special birdfeeder and enjoy the sight of someone else clearing the path outside. Return to look at the pan when it begins to smell toasty but before it smells burnt.
Chop the potatoes, add to the pan and stir, making sure that you dissolve the toasty brown stickiness on the base of the pan, this is where a lot of the flavours are hiding. Add stock ( bouillion powder and boiling water in this case) and cook gently for about 45 minutes till the potatoes are beginning to melt into the soup. Don't add too much stock as you are just about to ask the path-clearer if he will go to the shop and buy the milk which is needed to finish off the soup. *
On his return, place a cup of milk in another saucepan, add a couple of bay leaves, a clove, some peppercorns and some fennel seeds. If your spice collections boasts a little packet of juniper berries, now is the time to bash one or two with a spoon and add it to the milk. Bring to the boil and then straight away turn off the heat and leave to cool down.
When the soup is ready, strain the spiced milk into the pan and gently reheat. Do don't boil. Boiling can cause upleasant curdling.
Divide into bowls to share with the path-clearer/milk buyer and saviour of the bird table. In the best of all possible worlds, eat with some oatcakes and sharp cheese and a glass of whisky.
* More organised households would have enough supplies in order to allow the spices and milk to be prepared in advance to allow for the fullest flavour to develop.