CHUNKY POTATO SOUP WITH PARSLEY & HAZELNUT PESTO
Serves 4–6 This soup is most delicious when made with a jumble of different potato varieties — pink fir apple, nicola, Dutch cream, desiree… any and all will do. It also includes lovage, which is one of my favourite herbs and is especially good with potato. Lovage is also known as celery leaf herb, but it has a more subtle, peppery, curry-leaf-like taste.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 brown onion, peeled, roughly chopped 1 bay leaf 3 large sprigs flflat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems roughly chopped 3 sprigs lovage, leaves and stems roughly chopped* 1kg mixed potatoes, scrubbed, halved 100ml pure cream
PARSLEY & HAZELNUT PESTO
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon unsalted butttter 1 brown onion, peeled, roughly chopped 80g freshly shelled raw hazelnuts, skins on** 4 garlic cloves, peeled 3 large stems flflat-leaf parsley, chopped Place butter, onion, bay leaf, parsley and lovage in a medium saucepan and season with a pinch of sea salt. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, over a low heat for 5 minutes or until soft and fragrant. Add potatoes and 4 cups water, and cook for 30–35 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat. Use a potato masher or fork to gently break up potatoes into small pieces. Add cream and season to taste. Simmer over a low heat for 5–10 minutes or until heated through. Meanwhile, to make pesto, place oil, butter and onion in a small heavy-based saucepan and season with a generous pinch of sea salt. (It will look like more oil than you need, but this is necessary to gently ‘melt’ the onions. Drain offff any excess oil and save it for later use.) Cook over lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes or until onion is golden. (Turning the heat on and offff is a good way to regulate the temperature if your stove does not have a low enough setting.) Cool. Place hazelnuts, garlic, parsley and a pinch of sea salt in a heavy mortar. Add 1–2 tablespoons of oil from onion mixture. Pound with a pestle into a coarse paste. Season to taste. Ladle soup among serving bowls. Top with pesto, a tablespoon of caramelised onion and a drizzle of onion oil. Enjoy! If lovage is not available, substitute celery leaves or omit it from the recipe. If fresh hazelnuts are unavailable and the skins taste bitter, toast gently in the oven and rub the skins offff before using.