Two Late-Winter Soups to fight Infection

Another late Winter day, but I felt the first hint of Spring around the corner last Wednesday!

It’s difficult to define what made it happen, but suddenly I looked at my garden in a slightly different way; I noticed bulbs pushing through, bird song and I had my first urge to start tidying things up. Right on cue my hens started laying properly again. I think day length has something to do with it; and something to do with the quality of light.

Melvyn Bragg hosted a great ‘In our time’ episode a month or so ago, where he and his guests talked about circadian rhythms. It’s amazing to think that each of our cells has an independent little clock ticking away registering the Earth’s 24 hour rotation. Even more amazing to think that the workings of those tiny clocks originated so long ago that we were blue green algae and the Earth was spinning faster, in a 23 hour spin. Nice, perhaps, to think that we really do get progressively more hours in the day!

There was a little bit of sunshine this morning in-between showers so I pulled on my wellies and trudged down the garden looking for inspiration for dinner.

Why did I think it was a good idea to let my hens into my vegetable patch over Winter? The same instinct last Spring that made me hesitate in Oxfam when I was looking for net curtains to net my red current bushes “some for me, some for the birds…”, ha!

Still, I really do think I’ll give the mouse in my greenhouse one more chance; there are hardly any more bulbs left for him to eat…

So trudging back to the kitchen I’d salvaged some leeks, onions, garlic, chard (tiny, hen nibbled leaves), and a big bunch of rosemary and bay leaves.

I’d spent the morning starting marmalade making; industrial quantities it turned out, having found three kilos of organic oranges in Booths. So the kitchen was already full of the delicious scent of seville oranges. 

Juggling between huge bubbling pans of simmering orange peel I made two types of leek and sweet potato soup. So many people are ill at the moment; either a really bad cold or a stomach upset; so I’ve made these recipes anti-iviral, and added coconut milk to one for its particularly mild, sweet flavour as well as for its high levels of vitamin C, B1, B3, B5 and B6, E iron and ,of course, for its lauric acid content (which helps fight off viral infections).

Leek and Sweet Potato Soup with Rosemary.

2 onions
chop and cook in a desert spoon of coconut oil until fragrant,

meanwhile chop up;
2 leeks
2 sweet potatoes
1 carrot
2 cloves of garlic
Half a whole, small, hot, red chilli, chopped up small
Add to the onions, cover and sweat for 20 mins, checking that the veg aren’t sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.If they do, then add a little water.

Next add
1 teaspoon French mustard
1 Litre of good stock (I use organic marigold)
4 stems of rosemary tied with string
2 bay leaves
ground pepper

Simmer for another ten mins, take out the rosemary and whizz it if you like a creamier texture.

Leek and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut milk and Cumin.

Just the same as the previous recipe up to adding the stock but add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin to the onion frying stage, then
three quarters of a Litre of good stock
1 tin of coconut milk
ground pepper
Simmer for ten mins then whizz

I like to use some fresh herbs like chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley when serving. I also like the bite of a bit more heat so I add half a teaspoon of rose harris to mine to serve.

Keep wrapping up warmly against these late-Winter chills and enjoy!

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