Would you believe I saw some blossom this week Dear Readers?
That may not seem all that interesting if you live in the warmer regions, but down here where we're still hitting the minuses most nights, it was very exciting indeed!
Despite the bit of watery Winter sunshine shining through my window today, it's still the season for hearty wholesomeness and Soup is still at the top of my list. One of the really great things about cold weather though, is the abundance of top quality root vegetables. A lot of people think of these as a bit old fashioned and a lot of them haven't had quite the renaissance that beetroot seems to have had the last few years, but they are really quite lovely and very sweet indeed this time of year
Turnip, Parsnip and Swede
I also happen to have a smoked Lamb Shank languishing in my freezer so this is also destined for the pot to add a bit of extra flavour and depth. A smoked ham hock or ribs would be great as well, or leave them out all together if you prefer a meat free version
Smoky Lamb and Root Soup
1 large Parsnip
1 large Swede
1 large Turnip
2 large Carrots
half bunch of Celery
375gm/1 packet dried Soup Mix or mix of dried beans & peas- make sure there's no barley!
Smoked Lamb/Ham Hock
1.5 lt Stock- veggie or chicken
big pinch dried Thyme or few sprigs fresh
couple of Bay Leaves
Chop the onion, carrot and celery into fairly small pieces. I like to use a food processor to save some time and to save my wrists the hassle. In a long simmered soup like this they all meld together anyway and the rustic presentation means that painstakingly chopping each veggie to look it's best just doesn't matter
I like the Mckenzie's Italian Style Soup Mix. It has a great combination of beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils but no nasty gluten containing barley
Dried herbs because it was raining and I was too lazy to go outside for fresh- it wasn't the rain that worried me, it was the soggy, smelly dog that would want to jump all over me and make me muddy :)
Definitely too good to waste- just look at how much meat is left on the bone!
Sweat off the onion, carrots and celery in the splash of oil until they have a touch of colour
Add in the herbs and mix through well
Whizzy up the turnip, swede and parsnip into smallish chunks. I don't worry about the odd bit that misses the blades, it will certainly cook down anyway
Stir through the bean mix
Bury the hock in the veggie and beans- don't add any salt yet as it can toughen the beans and the hock could have a fair bit in it anyway
Top up with the stock and simmer for a couple of hours or until the beans are nice and tender but not mushy OR pop it all into a slow cooker in the morning and it will be hot and hearty by the time you get home from work in the evening
Keeping the soup warm, pull out the hock and remove the meat from the bones. The meat should just pull off easily by now, then just roughly chop it into bite sized pieces. I always include the gelatinous gristly bits too, they just melt away to nothing in the soup
Stir the meat bits back in, check for seasoning, then serve up big, steaming bowls of Yum
See how a lot of the veggies have broken down and thickened up the soup- this is a real 'Stick-to-your-ribs' type of meal indeed!
So Dear Readers, do you enjoy the old fashioned Root Vegetables and is it still Soup Weather in your neck-of-the-woods?