The lov­ing spoon­ful

Au­tumn is a time of year for com­fort food – and noth­ing ticks that box bet­ter than a bowl of hot soup. Pho­to­graphs by Louise Hag­ger

The Guardian - Weekend - - Con­tent - Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi

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Six years ago to­day, my hus­band Karl and I en­tered into a civil part­ner­ship. And six years be­fore that, the first gay civil part­ner­ship in the UK took place at 11am on 5 De­cem­ber 2005. So what’s all this got to do with soup? Well, soup will for me al­ways mean com­fort and home, and com­fort and home will al­ways mean eat­ing at the end of the day with Karl and our boys. Soup soothes and strength­ens, and is the very def­i­ni­tion of true love.

Shred­ded chicken with wild mush­room broth

My ver­sion of chicken soup for the soul. Serves two to four. For the broth 4 chicken thighs (550g), bone in, 2 skinned, the other 2 left skin-on 1 tbsp olive oil

3 car­rots, chopped into 4cm pieces (no need to peel or trim)

3 banana shal­lots, cut into quar­ters length­ways (no need to peel or trim) 4 gar­lic cloves, crushed with the back of a knife (no need to peel or trim) Finely shaved peel of 1 small lemon 1 sprig fresh rose­mary

500ml chicken stock

300ml white wine

850ml wa­ter

30g dried wild mush­rooms

1 tsp soft light brown sugar

Salt For the mush­rooms 10g un­salted but­ter

1 gar­lic clove, peeled and crushed 150g shimeji mush­rooms 180g enoki mush­rooms To serve 5g tar­ragon leaves, finely chopped 5g chervil leaves, finely chopped

Mix all the thighs in a bowl with the oil and an eighth of a tea­spoon of salt.

Heat a 30cm-wide, heavy-based casse­role pot for which you have a lid on a medium-high flame. Lay in all the thighs (skin-side down for the two that have some), and leave to fry for five min­utes, un­til golden brown. Turn down the heat to medium, flip over the thighs and fry for an­other two min­utes. Re­move the chicken from the pot, leav­ing the fat in the pot and the pot on the heat. Add the car­rots, shal­lots, gar­lic, lemon peel and rose­mary, and fry for four min­utes, stir­ring of­ten, then re­turn the chicken to the pot and add the stock, wine, wa­ter, dried mush­rooms, sugar and half a tea­spoon of salt. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and leave to sim­mer for an hour, un­til the chicken is soft enough to pull apart. Pour the con­tents of the pan through a sieve into a sec­ond pan that’s big enough for all the broth, then dis­card the con­tents of the sieve ex­cept for the chicken (if you don’t want to waste them, serve the mush­rooms and car­rots with the soup, or eat them as a cook’s treat). Re­move and dis­card the skin from the two skin-on thighs, then use two forks to shred all the flesh.

Just be­fore serv­ing, melt the but­ter with the gar­lic in a large, non­stick fry­ing pan on a medium-high heat. Leave to bub­ble for a minute, then add all the mush­rooms and a quar­ter-tea­spoon of salt, and fry for eight min­utes, stir­ring of­ten, un­til golden-brown. Stir in the shred­ded chicken and cook for three min­utes more, un­til warmed through.

Re­heat the broth, if need be, then di­vide be­tween four shal­low bowls. Pile the mush­rooms and chicken cken on top, scat­ter over the tar­ragon gon and chervil, and serve. Ch­est­nut, fen­nel seed and car­away soup

Serves four. 6 gar­lic cloves, 4 left whole withh skin on, 2 peeled and crushed

1 small but­ter­nut squash, peeled, ed, de­seeded and cut into 3cm chunks nks 1 tbsp maple syrup

60ml olive oil, plus a lit­tle ex­tra for serv­ing

4 tsp car­away seeds, lightly toasted 4 tsp fen­nel seeds, lightly toasted Salt

2 onions, peeled and finely diced 400g ready-cooked and peeled ch­est­nuts, roughly chopped 800ml veg­etable stock

225ml veg­etable oil

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Wrap the four un­skinned gar­lic cloves tightly in alu­minium foil and place in the cor­ner of a large oven tray lined with bak­ing pa­per – the tray needs to be big enough to hold all the pieces of squash.

Put the squash in a medium bowl and add the maple syrup, half the oil, half the car­away seeds, half the fen­nel seeds and three-quar­ters of a tea­spoon of salt. Mix to com­bine, then spread out the squash on the oven tray. Roast for 30 min­utes, un­til soft and golden-brown, then re­move and set aside.

Heat the re­main­ing two ta­ble­spoons of olive oil in a large, non­stick saute pan or saucepan on a medium-high flame. Add the onions, crushed gar­lic and three­quar­ters of a tea­spoon of salt, and fry for about seven min­utes, stir­ring of­ten, un­til the onions are soft and golden. Add three-quar­ters of the ch­est­nuts, leave them to cook for three to four min­utes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, then pour over the stock. Bring to a sim­mer, leave to bub­ble gen­tly for three min­utes, then turn off the heat.

Heat all the veg­etable oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high flame and, once hot, fry the re­main­ing 100g ch­est­nuts and a tea­spoon each of fen­nel and car­away seeds for four min­utes, un­til the ch­est­nuts rise to the sur­face. Us­ing a tea strainer, trans­fer the ch­est­nuts and seeds to a plate l li lined d with i h kitchen ki h towel, l sprin­kle gen­er­ously with salt and pep­per, then set aside. (Don’t throw away the oil: it can be reused for deep-fry­ing some­thing else.)

Put the squash into a blender, and scrape in all the seeds and oil from the tray. Un­wrap the roast gar­lic and squeeze the cloves out of their skins di­rectly into the blender. Add the onion, ch­est­nut and stock mix­ture, and the re­main­ing tea­spoon each of fen­nel and car­away seeds, and blitz smooth (de­pend­ing on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches).

Heat up the soup, if need be, then di­vide be­tween four bowls. Sprin­kle the fried ch­est­nuts and seeds on top, driz­zle with olive oil and serve.

Thai pork dumplings and noo­dles in broth

Pic­tured over­leaf. Fresh kaf­fir lime leaves, galan­gal, le­mon­grass, shrimp paste, fish sauce: these are all very good rea­sons to seek out your lo­cal Thai shop. All keep well (you can even freeze the lime leaves and le­mon­grass), so stock up. Pork fat you can buy from any de­cent butcher: ask them to mince it finely. Serves six as a main course. For the broth 1.5 litres chicken stock

700ml wa­ter

70g galan­gal, thinly sliced

2 stalks le­mon­grass, pounded with a rolling pin to break the tough fi­bres 10 fresh kaf­fir lime leaves, roughly torn 30 whole white pep­per­corns (or ⅛ tsp ground white pep­per)

60g co­rian­der (leaves and stems) 60ml fish sauce For the dumplings 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes, soaked for a few min­utes in 3 tbsp boil­ing wa­ter 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped 5 fresh kaf­fir lime leaves, finely chopped 1 stalk le­mon­grass, finely chopped →

30g galan­gal, finely chopped 2 bird’s-eye chill­ies, finely chopped 10g dark brown soft sugar

15g shrimp paste

1 tbsp fish sauce

1½ tsp ground cumin

10g Thai basil, roughly chopped 15g co­rian­der leaves, roughly chopped 500g pork mince (20% fat)

100g pork fat, finely minced (see in­tro­duc­tion)

Salt and ground white pep­per To serve 500g cooked thin rice noo­dles 2 tbsp lime juice

20g picked small co­rian­der stems

Put all the broth in­gre­di­ents in a big pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave to in­fuse while you get on with mak­ing the dumplings.

Tip the chilli flakes and soak­ing wa­ter into the large bowl of a food pro­ces­sor, and add the onion, lime leaves, le­mon­grass, galan­gal, chilli, sugar, shrimp paste, fish sauce, cumin, basil, co­rian­der and a quar­tertea­spoon each of ground white pep­per and salt. Blitz to a smooth paste, then scrape into a large bowl. Us­ing your hands, mix in the pork and pork fat un­til well com­bined, then form into 30 dumplings.

Strain the broth into a clean pot, then squeeze out the aro­mat­ics to ex­tract as much flavour from them as you can. Bring the broth to a boil, add the dumplings, bring back to a boil, then turn down the heat and sim­mer for seven min­utes.

Mean­while, warm the rice noo­dles by pour­ing boil­ing wa­ter over them (if you’re start­ing with un­cooked noo­dles, cook them ac­cord­ing to the packet in­struc­tions) and leav­ing them to sit for three min­utes. Drain the noo­dles, then di­vide be­tween six soup bowls and put five dumplings on top of each por­tion. Stir the lime juice into the broth, la­dle it into the bowls, gar­nish with co­rian­der stems and serve • @ot­tolenghi

Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi is chef/pa­tron of Ot­tolenghi and Nopi in Lon­don.


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