Thursday, 23 December 2010
A tablespoon of good olive oil in a nice big pan on a medium heat and then in with a chopped leek. I was taught to use only the white of leeks, but here you can use the whole leek, green and all, sliced into coin sized pieces. You can equally use onion, but leek is a little nicer here. And you can toss in some garlic too if you like it. The next ingredient is a couple of sticks of celery chopped thinly against the string. Or you could use a nice Cox apple - or a mixture of both. When those have melted a little add about 500 grams of shitake mushrooms torn into smaller pieces. If you have no shitake then chestnut or portobello mushrooms work just as well. Then chop 4 or 5 dried prunes and add them. If you don't have prunes then tamarind or a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, or even dried apricots will do. Put the lid on the pan and just let everything go on melting together over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Into a grinder put some salt (to your taste), some Szechuan pepper (if you dont' have Szechuan pepper then some chilli flakes for a bit of heat will do, but Szechuan is a lovely melodic arpeggio of flavour compared to the single loud note of chilli), and a couple of handfuls of shelled chestnuts (if you have no chestnuts or couldn't get them out the shells this side of Christmas, then use shelled walnuts instead), together with a good tablespoon of dried porcini or dried woodland mushrooms. Blitz to a flour. Make up a pint of stock with some Marigold bouillon and stir in the blitzed mixture - add all this to the soup and blend (with a hand held blender) well. It will be quite thick at this stage. Now for the taste that makes the gamey flavour. You need three or four dessertspoons of good, acidic, probiotic yoghurt. Nothing mild and Greek or anything with strawberries, sugar or even honey, please, it won't do. If you don't have the yoghurt simply leave it out, the soup will still be lovely and you can take it in another direction at the end by stirring in a little fresh cream. When you reach this point, you will probably need to slacken the soup to your liking with a little more bouillon or hot water. Ladle out in bowls and dollop a teaspoon of yoghurt or cream on the top, arrange small parsley leaves on top of that with a cranberry in the middle to look like a holly sprig. Now is this sampler motif of a pheasant or not?
Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 21:48