Thursday, 25 October 2012

A frugal soup for a dull day

I hear this morning on Radio 4 that Britain is officially out of recession. But as we creep slowly, slowly upwards from the trough of the double dip I find myself thinking that for most ordinary citizens this news will bring very little joy. Ever rising food prices and wages that are static at best, but shrinking in reality, mean that most of us find our wallets squeezed ever tighter. And as we lurch towards the end of the month I thought it would be timely to share an exceedingly cheap but nevertheless very tasty recipe for spinach soup.

It comes from my second book, SOUP!, in which I devoted a entire chapter to the cheap and the cheerful. These 'humble soups' are the soups of my childhood, the steaming pans of warming deliciousness that mum used to rustle up seemingly out of nowhere. Many of them are made from frozen veg, or tins of tomatoes and beans. Ingredients that are so handy to have lurking in the freezer or back of the cupboard. This is just the sort of dish that brings me huge satisfaction, the making-something-great-out-of-not-much school of cooking brings me far more pleasure than splashing my cash on luxurious ingredients. 

Spinach & nutmeg soup, taken from SOUP! (Absolute Press, March 2012)
Frozen spinach is so easy to use and cheaper than the fresh stuff, so I often have some lurking in the freezer for adding to soups or risottos.  This delicious soup, with its vivid green hue, exudes health and wholesomeness but tastes great too. Like many of the milk based soups in this book I like to thicken it with a little flour - it just seems to hold the whole thing together creating a more cohesive texture which I like.   

Serves 4-6
Takes 5 mins to make, 10-15 mins to cook

25g butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g frozen ‘bricks’ of spinach (no need to defrost)
1 litre milk (or half milk, half water if you prefer)
½ nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tbsp plain flour
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
A little single cream (optional)

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan. Gently sweat the onion and the garlic for a few minutes until slightly softened. 

Add the blocks of frozen spinach and pour over the milk. Grate over the nutmeg and season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 5-8 minutes, stirring from time to time to break up the spinach as it defrosts. 

Once the spinach has broken up, transfer the soup to a liquidizer and add the flour. Puree until completely smooth, then transfer back to the pan and simmer until thickened, stirring all the time.

Serve piping hot with a swirl of cream if you have some.

Freezes well.