Matt Pre­ston:

Use beau­ti­ful au­tumn pro­duce to make creamy bowls of good­ness as we head into soup sea­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASSIE LIVING - MATT PRE­STON Cele­riac veloute with sage brown but­ter. Recipe at de­li­cious.com.au

On the al­lure of creamy soups

WHO doesn’t love a mug of warm­ing soup at this time of year? And yet few dishes are eas­ier to make at home – so ditch the can opener and cre­ate your own bowl of steam­ing de­li­cious­ness.

Many of the veg­eta­bles that are com­ing into sea­son are per­fect for turn­ing into a creamy soup. Some of these use the veg­etable’s nat­u­ral creami­ness, while oth­ers achieve it with the ad­di­tion of ev­ery­thing from cream, yo­ghurt or co­conut milk to pota­toes, eggs or even a flour-based roux.

CREAM OF BROC­COLI SOUP

Sep­a­rate 2kg broc­coli into flo­rets and stems. Peel and trim any rough skin of the stems, chop and steam. When the broc­coli stems soften, add the flo­rets and steam them too.

When soft, blend with chicken stock and some of the green broc­coli-flavoured wa­ter un­der the steamer so you get the per­fect soup con­sis­tency (or soup-sis­tency as I like to say). Stir in milk or cream, warm and sea­son well. Serve topped with caramelised onions and crum­bled blue cheese.

Or take a leaf from Bill Granger’s broc­coli soup and just add grated gruyere cheese with the cream – broc­coli loves a little salti­ness.

CREAMY CEL­ERY SOUP

Cel­ery also makes a clas­sic French soup. Sweat 750g de­stringed and diced cel­ery in 60g but­ter. Puree and add 1.75L good qual­ity chicken stock and 250g floury pota­toes, that you’ve peeled and cut into equal-sized chunks.

Bring to the boil and then cook for 30 min­utes.The pota­toes will break­down and their starch will make the soup creamy. Sieve, sea­son and beat in 50g cold, diced but­ter be­fore serv­ing.

CREAMY LEEK SOUP

Just fol­low the same in­struc­tions for the cel­ery soup (above), but use washed and trimmed slices of leek in­stead.

CREAM OF CAU­LI­FLOWER SOUP

Cook four cups of grated cau­li­flower in milk un­til soft. Skim off any foami­ness, sieve the cau­li­flower and re­serve the cauli-flavoured milk.

Blitz the cooked cau­li­flower with equal parts of the milk and stock un­til you get the right thick­ness. Sea­son. Blitz to aer­ate the soup just be­fore serv­ing as it makes it more vel­vety. This soup is great flavoured with blue cheese, parme­san or even curry pow­der and then topped with toasted co­conut and grilled prawns.

CREAM OF CELE­RIAC SOUP

This is an­other nat­u­rally creamy veg­etable that works well in a soup.

Peel, grate and cook it in milk like the cau­li­flower and then turn it into soup as above.Top with a swirl of melted but­ter, diced cel­ery that you’ve cooked in that but­ter, and some drops of vine­gary hot sauce like Tabasco.

CREAM OF SPINACH SOUP

In a large pan, sweat down 500g finely sliced shal­lots and two grated gar­lic cloves in some but­ter un­til soft. Re­move them from the pan, leav­ing the but­ter.

Add to the pan 2kg washed spinach and a strip of lemon zest, and cook gen­tly.To bulk up the soup, add a cup of chopped, cooked broc­coli, cooked peas, grated zuc­chini or cooked rice (the starch will also in­crease the per­cep­tion of creami­ness). Puree the con­tents of the pan with enough stock to reach the re­quired con­sis­tency and fin­ish with cream, cream fraiche and a grat­ing of nut­meg. Sea­son, warm and serve.

CREAM OF MUSH­ROOM SOUP

At its sim­plest, cream of mush­room soup is sauteed mush­rooms blitzed with stock and/or milk. But I like to pump up the mush­room flavour.

So blitz a cou­ple of pack­ets of dried shi­itake mush­rooms (as they are cheaper than porcini). Throw the

re­sult­ing pow­der in a pan to toast with diced red onion and finely chopped mush­rooms. Deglaze with red wine (or sherry vine­gar), puree with warm stock, sea­son with soy sauce and stir in some cream. Gar­nish with roasted ch­est­nuts, crispy, but­ter-fried mush­room dice and ei­ther thyme leaves or a little orange, man­darin or lemon zest.

CREAM OF TOMATO

For years I’d open a can when I wanted cream of tomato soup – OK, I still do when I want some­thing to take to the footy. Still, He­ston Blu­men­thal showed us how easy it is to make back in 2005.

Blitz 2kg ripe toma­toes and sprin­kle over 2 tsp caster sugar and 1 tsp salt. Set this in a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for a cou­ple of hours.

When this time is com­ing to the end, fry 4 finely diced gar­lic cloves with half a diced onion and two sticks of cel­ery cut into thumb-sized pieces. When the onions are soft, add the tomato pulp, the juice, a strip of lemon zest and 2 tsp tomato sauce. Bring to the boil, then sim­mer gen­tly un­til re­duced by twothirds. Re­move cel­ery and lemon zest.

Pass tomato mix­ture through a sieve. Add enough wa­ter or milk to bring it up to 500ml. Add 225ml cream, then re­turn to the clean pan and warm. Serve with cream, thyme and black pep­per. For my full list of 14 creamy soup recipes, go to de­li­cious.com.au

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