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Extracts from Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's Collection by Paul Gayler

31 January 2014
Extracts from Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's Collection by Paul Gayler

Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's Collection is by Paul Gayler, the former executive chef of London's Lanesborough hotel. With 100 recipes, ranging from the classics through to soups from Vietnam, Colombia, Japan and Sardinia, it also includes contributions from Tom Kerridge, Chris and Jeff Galvin and Pierre Koffmann. Gayler has written over 20 cookery books and sold 500,000 copies in 10 languages. In 2012, he was made an MBE and received the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Hotel Cateys.

All recipes make four hearty servings or six smaller ones.

NETTLE SOUP WITH FOIE GRAS TOASTS
Hedgerows and woodlands can offer an exciting abundance of culinary ingredients. When picking and handling nettles, always wear protective gloves to avoid being stung.

Once the nettles are cooked, they lose their stinging properties. Nettles are best picked between March and April; after that, they tend to become more fibrous.

Ingredients
50g unsalted butter
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 medium leeks, trimmed and shredded
1 litre vegetable stock
100g oatmeal
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
400g young stinging nettles (picked with care!)
100ml double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the foie gras toasts 4 medium slices of white bread
4 thin slices of foie gras terrine

Method
Heat 25g of the butter in a large pan over a medium-low heat, then add the onion, garlic and leeks and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.

Pour the stock over, bring to the boil, then add the oatmeal and potatoes. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Start the foie gras toasts. Preheat the grill. Cut the crusts from the bread to form squares, then grill until golden on both sides.

Slice each square in half horizontally, then diagonally into triangles. Return to the grill until golden and curled up at the edges. Set these Melba toasts aside.

With gloved hands, carefully throw the nettles into the pan containing the stock, oatmeal and potatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes only, then transfer to a blender or use a hand-held stick blender to blitz to a smooth purée. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Bring back to the boil, add the cream and whisk in the remaining butter. Season to taste.

Carefully spread a little foie gras onto each Melba toast. Divide the soup between four individual soup bowls and add two foie gras toasts to each. Sprinkle over a little salt and black pepper and serve immediately.

COOK'S SECRET This soup will freeze well, so you may wish to prepare a batch in early spring when the nettles are young. Add the cream when you serve it.

SARDINE BOUILLABAISSE
Sardines are tasty, nutritious and inexpensive and are often neglected in Britain, though they are popular in countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece. I use them here to create a wonderful French bouillabaisse-style soup. I often like to accompany it with some toasted French bread croÁ»tons, smeared with a little paprika-flavoured mayonnaise. If you are not sure about preparing the sardines, your fishmonger will be happy to do it for you.

Ingredients
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 small leeks, trimmed and cut into 2cm slices
1 head fennel, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes
¼tsp red chilli flakes
2tbs tomato purée
750ml fish stock
1 small bayleaf
1 x 200g can chopped tomatoes in juice
Pinch of saffron strands
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
8 large sardines
3tbs anis liqueur (such as Pernod or Ricard)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then add the onions, garlic, leeks, fennel, red pepper and chilli flakes. Reduce the heat and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomato purée, stock, bayleaf, tomatoes, saffron and potato. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is cooked.

Meanwhile, clean the sardines. Cut off their heads, scale them, remove their spines and cut into 5cm pieces. Wash under running water and dry thoroughly in a cloth.

When the potato is cooked, carefully add the sardines and cook gently over a low heat for three minutes. Add the liqueur and adjust the seasoning. Divide the soup between four individual soup bowls and serve immediately.

VARIATION
Zuppa di Pesce Proceed as for the basic soup, but add 1tsp finely chopped oregano together with the tomatoes to make an Italian-style fish soup. Also, replace the sardines with 800g mixed fish and shellfish of your choice, such as monkfish, red mullet, mussels, clams, etc.

CARROT SOUP WITH SEVEN SPICESMustard seeds, mustard seed oil and curry leaves can be found in Indian grocers and at good supermarkets. If you can't find mustard seed oil, it is fine to use all sunflower oil instead. To ring the changes, you can make this soup with all manner of vegetables. Try pumpkin, squash or sweet potato, for example.

Ingredients
1tbs mustard seed oil
1tbs sunflower oil
2½tsp black mustard seeds
12 small curry leaves
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
450g carrots, cut into small chunks
2.5cm piece of root ginger, finely chopped
1tbs Madras curry powder
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
½tsp cumin seeds
10 cardamom seeds, cracked and inner seeds removed
2tbs coarsely chopped coriander
1 litre vegetable stock
Pinch of ground turmeric
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
75ml thick Greek-style natural yogurt

Heat the mustard seed oil and the sunflower oil in a large pan, then add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook over a medium heat for about 15 seconds, stirring continuously until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Remove half the curry leaves and half the mustard seeds with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, carrots, ginger, curry powder, chilli, cumin, cardamom and coriander to the pan, cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.

Remove the lid, pour the stock over and bring to the boil. Add the turmeric and a little salt, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Transfer to a blender or use a hand-held stick blender to blitz to a smooth purée. Strain through a fine sieve.

Return the soup to a clean pan, bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the yogurt and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Divide the soup between four individual soup bowls and scatter with the reserved fried curry leaves and mustard seeds. Serve immediately.

VARIATION
Carrot, pineapple and ginger soup
Proceed as for the basic soup, using the ginger but omitting the other spices. Pour 750ml vegetable stock over and 250ml fresh or bought pineapple juice. Purée in a blender and season to taste. Omit the yogurt. This soup is delicious either hot or cold.

Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's CollectionBy">http://jacquismallpub.com/101/Great-Homemade-Soups/154)By Paul Gayler
Jacqui Small Publishing (part of the Aurum Publishing Group), £25

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