One minute I was enjoying our Indian summer, the next it was already autumn. As soon as the mercury falls, I change the bed linen over to our mid-season duvet, swap shorts for trousers and start riding in my 3/4 bib shorts and long-sleeved jersey. One minute I’m enjoying salads, the next I’m yearning for hearty soups and comforting stews. It all happened so quickly. Some of the local cols have now closed for winter because of snow and the Domaine has switched on the central heating – and thank goodness – two weeks ahead of schedule. It’s been so chilly, and wet, that I’ve rummaged in my dressing room for cashmere sweaters.
It’s not all bad news my beloved has been away for the last ten days so I’ve been able to progress some of the sorting out and overseen the installation of new blinds and shutters. Though, with the weather forecast is not looking too favourable for the next ten days or so, I doubt we’ll be making much use of the terrace. Instead, I’ve had the ideal excuse to spend a few relaxing and restful hours in the kitchen preparing some soups for the freezer.
I rarely follow recipes when it comes to soups. My vegetable drawer generally provides enough inspiration. I had 500g of organic carrots and two small sweet potatoes crying out to be used up. Generally, I would chop and sweat a small onion, a clove of garlic, a knob of ginger and a small red chilli in a mixture of butter and olive oil over a medium heat until translucent, before adding the peeled and chopped vegetables, a teaspoon of sea salt, half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and continuing to cook for a further ten minutes or so before adding homemade chicken stock. Cook gently until the vegetables are soft, liquidise and serve with a swirl of coconut cream….mmmm. You get the idea. Choose your base ingredients, add aromatics, release the sugars, add stock and you’re most of the way there.
However, my new regime prohibits the use of animal fats or animal products or frying, gently or otherwise. But that doesn’t stop me from still making great soups. Instead I cook the chopped vegetables in vegetable stock and again liquidise once they’re cooked. If the soup’s too thick, I’ll add a spot of hot water and add a few chopped herbs before serving. This time I had some chives which needed using, although my preference would have been for coriander which goes well with carrots. A nice steaming hot bowl of soup was just what I needed to keep the chill at bay. Well, that and my fleecy jimjams!