There is no denying it – soup days are here. I am holed up in the flat in my woolies. Spring is my favourite season, not Autumn so I am doing all that I can to stay positive and embrace all of the good things about the colder months – currently hot lemony soup is doing the trick!
We are a big soup family – my Granny can make a deliciously nourishing soup out of pretty much anything. Give her knobletts of the leftover roast dinner or the shrivelled dregs of the Summer vegetable garden and she will whip you up a winner. It’s that little genius touch – adding a splash of lemon here, a scoop of horseradish cream, spludges of spices or just an amazingly rich stock. A single ingredient can be all you need for some serious soup transformations. Today lemon is that magic ingredient.
Oh…and I think every good soup needs a good topping. So here goes with my Courgette and Lemon Soup with Crispy Kale Topping.
- 1 red or white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- ¼ a teaspoon of salt
- Generous dose of black pepper
- 600g (21oz/4 cups) courgette, chopped into 2cm cubes
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable bouillon powder or 1 vegetable stock cube
- 500ml (18 fl oz) boiling water
- Zest of ½ a lemon
- 70g (2.5oz/ 1/3 cup) of whole spinach
- 15g (0.5oz/ 5/8 cup) of parsley
- Juice of ½ a lemon or 2 teaspoons of horseradish (optional)
- 40g (1.4 oz/2/3 cup) kale, roughly chopped
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 50g (1.8oz/ 5/8 cup) flaked almonds or sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
- Start by making your crispy kale topping. Roughly chop the kale and put it into a baking tray with the salt, olive oil and flaked almonds or seeds. Using your hands, massage the olive oil into the kale until all of it is well coated. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the kale has turned lovely and crispy and the nuts or seeds are golden brown. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and set aside.
- While the kale is cooking, prepare your soup. Put the onion, chopped garlic, fennel seeds, olive oil, salt and pepper into a saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté for three minutes before adding 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Continue to sauté for a further two minutes until all of the water has been absorbed and the onions are beginning to turn translucent.
- Chop the courgettes and add them to the pan with the onions. Stir everything together and leave to gently sizzle over the heat while you prepare the stock.
- To prepare the stock, simply whisk the Bouillon powder or stock cube together with the boiling water until fully dissolved and incorporated. Add the stock to the pan and leave to simmer for 5-8 minutes or until the courgettes are just soft.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender and blitz until lovely and smooth. Next, add the raw spinach and parsley to the blender and blitz again. The heat in the soup will cook the spinach. Taste the soup and correct the seasoning a little if needs be.
- Pour the soup into your bowls and top with the deliciously crispy and lemony kale mixture. I love to add a little extra squeeze of lemon to my soup – or a dollop of horseradish sauce is delicious too.