Difficulty Level: Easy
As usual, I was casting about looking for something interesting to make when I picked up Roast Chicken and Other Stories by English writer Simon Hopkinson. The cover boasts that it is "the most useful cookbook of all time" which is a bit of a lofty claim, but I am quite enjoying it. Originally I just read a few of the recipes and I've already shared the Cilantro and Coconut Soup with readers, but now I'm reading it like a novel and there are plenty of other recipes I'd like to try. The book is organized in an unusual fashion. Each chapter has a litle essay and recipes based on a particular ingredient that Mr. Hopkinson particularly likes. Call me infantile, but I just know that I'm not going to delve into the brains and tripe recipes, although he almost has me convinced about anchovies.
I do like parsley though, and it is very unusual to see a recipe where it is front and centre as an ingredient. Normally you toss some in at the end of the cooking process or else simply use it as a garnish. This recipe uses the stems, some of the leaves cooked into the soup, and some blanched and put in at the last moment so you use every bit of the plant. I've used cilantro stems in the past for soup and discovered that there is an enormous amount of flavour in that part of the herb. Another upside to this recipe is that you can find parsley everywhere. You can grow it in your vegetable garden, or you can keep it in a pot on your windowsill if you live in an apartment. It's easy to grow, and unlike say, pineapple, you don't need to live in the tropics to cultivate it. The downside of this recipe is that you really need an immersion blender, or a food processor. I was at the cottage and my immersion blender was at home and I can tell you that a milkshake maker does not puree parsley soup. The recipe calls for putting it through a fine sieve, which I also didn't have. It was delicious, but the texture was akin to eating your way through a bowl of grass. This is a keeper for me because I really liked the taste, but I'll definitely puree it properly the next time.
|2 large||leeks, white parts only, sliced|
|2 big bunches of||flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated, stalks chopped|
|1 large||potato, peeled and chopped|
|2 1/2 cups||chicken or vegetable stock salt and pepper|
|1/2 cup||heavy cream|
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the leeks and all the parsley stalks, gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the potato, stock and salt and peppers and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
- Coarsley chop the leaves of one bunch of parsley and add to the soup. Simmer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, blanch the leaves of the other bunch of parsley in fiercely boling water fo 30 seconds. Drain and refresh immediately under cold running water, then gently squeeze dry in a tea towel.
- Blend the soup with the blanched parsley to make a vivid green puree. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan, add the cream, reheat, and adjust the seasoning.