Blank Canvas Vegetable Soup


3 Carrots

1 onion

4 stalks celery

¼ butternut pumpkin

2 potatoes

1 cup shredded cabbage

2-4 cups spinach and kale

Large handful of parsley

Chicken stock to cover (approx. 1lt, will vary depending on the size of your pan and its contents)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Slice and sauté carrots, onions and celery over a medium heat. When just beginning to brown, add sliced pumpkin, potatoes and cabbage and just cover with chicken stock. Simmer until tender, then add spinach and kale. Simmer a few more minutes and add parsley.

Once all is ready, remove and reserve around a quarter to a half of the liquid and blend the veggies until smooth. Add back the liquid as necessary until you reach your desired consistency. Season generously with salt and pepper.

At this point, the soup can be eaten as is, but for the most velvety soup imaginable, pass the whole lot through a sieve. Push it through with a ladle, or rubber spatula, or spoon until you have passed as much as of the vegetables through as you possibly can, making sure to scrape the pureed veggies from the bottom of the sieve into the soup. What you have left in the sieve is the fibrous material from the plants. Don’t throw this away. By removing it from the soup, you will have a slightly thinner but impossibly smooth and silky soup. This fibrous vegetable material is the good stuff though, so you should keep it and make it into fritters – like so.

Add the remaining vegetable matter into a bowl, crack in an egg and mix in flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a thick batter. Add whatever seasonings you like – chilli, garam masala, curry powder etc along with sesame seeds, salt and pepper. If you’d like to make these vegetable fritters a specific type, add some corn, or chickpeas, or any leftover roast veg etc you may have in your fridge.

Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a heavy based pan and once it is nice and hot, add the batter for the fritters in large dollops, trying to prevent them from touching. As they crisp up and start to brown, flip and cook on the other side. Season both sides generously with flaked salt and pepper. Serve on the side or as a starter for your soup.

Obviously, as the name states, this is a blank canvas soup and fritters recipe. Don’t like pumpkin? Leave it out. Have leeks and sweet potato? Add those in. Never cooked something without adding an entire head of garlic? Toss in the whole peeled bulbs at the start while you brown the veg, it’ll add some sweetness and richness. Glut of zucchini from the garden? Chuck ’em in. Don’t have one of the ingredients but do have something else? Go right ahead and substitute. It’s a very generous and forgiving recipe, and open for endless mutation. It would work well, for example, with curry spices and coconut milk, or a big dab of sour cream. Same goes for the fritters. Add a tin of tuna, or sautéed bacon or chorizo, or fancy cheese, or as many spices as you can, or just salt and pepper. The sesame seeds add a nice texture and nuttiness, but you could swap those for other kinds of nuts or seeds. Perfect for using up everything you have left in your fridge, or for making the most of the produce from your garden.

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