Supremely Satisfying Creamy Courgette and Cheese Soup

Due to lack of attention on my part when food purchasing there is currently a courgette glut in our fridge.  I have no idea how I managed it, but I ordered nearly 2 kilos…quite a lot for two people!

Somewhat fortuitously, the cucurbit invasion coincided with the need to make something really quick to eat before succumbing to exhaustion, so we made inroads into the courgette mountain and whizzed up this feel-good soup.

Courgette & cheese soupParmesan was eschewed at the last minute in favour of a chunk of Comté left over from Big Sis’s Birthday.  The nutty, slightly sweet flavour was superb – I thoroughly recommend it (in this soup or on its own).  Don’t get hung up on it though, just use what you’ve got.

A small word of caution: really strong cheeses will overwhelm the flavour of the courgettes, making it more of a cheese soup – which could be just as good, but perhaps it’s a shame to abuse the courgettes in order to get there? 😉

To serve two (big portions)

Olive oil
A good handful of soffritto
1 small clove garlic, minced
A small handful of fresh basil leaves
Approx. 500g courgettes, cut into chunks
250-300ml chicken stock
2 glasses of white wine
4-6 tablespoons crème fraîche
50-75g (ish) grated Comté, or parmesan or other grated cheese of your choice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Ok, this won’t take very long…but don’t do it in a rush…use the prep and cooking time to slow down the tempo and let go of the day.

Immerse yourself in the rhythms of chopping and stirring…feel yourself unwind as you coax out flavours to meet and mingle…let your tensions drift away in curls of aromatic steam as the stock simmers…remember the caress of sun on your face as you breathe in the sweet peppery scent of the basil…

When making your soup is a whole body experience the eating is so much more satisfying 🙂

Soffritto - cookedHeat olive oil and cook soffritto over a medium to low heat until veg starts to soften.

CourgettesTurn up heat a little, add minced garlic and chopped courgettes, continue to cook until courgettes are just starting to colour.
You may notice they are not at all browned in this picture.  That’s because they’re raw.  I forgot to take a picture at the cooked stage.

Glass of wineAdd one glass of wine and simmer until reduced by about half.

The other glass of wine is for you – cheers!

Chicken stockpotAdd chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes (make sure the carrots in the soffritto are soft).

Carefully transfer to food processor or blender.

Creme fraicheAdd crème fraîche…

Fresh basil…and add all but two or three of the basil leaves.

Blend to your preferred consistency.

ComteReturn to pan and add most of the grated cheese (keep some back for sprinkling on the top).

Warm gently, stirring, until cheese has melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Courgette & cheese soupSprinkle with remaining cheese and shred those last few basil leaves over the top. Serve with hot, buttered toast.

Feel better.

Quick and Easy Creamy Seafood Stew

Much as I want to forge ahead with posting recipes from the birthday banquet, I really should finish up the Cupboard Challenge recipes first.  After all, one purpose of this blog is to help me practice discipline, to learn to see one project through before flitting off to another 😉

This seafood stew, from day eight of the challenge, used up some odds ‘n’ sods of fishy things from the freezer – a hot-smoked salmon fillet, a handful of king prawns and a bake-in-the-bag cod thing bought by Barn on an occasion when he’d been left to fend for himself.  You can easily amend the recipe according to what you have available.

To serve two

A glug of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
A small portion of frozen peas
A really good slug of white wine. In fact, make it two.
300ml chicken stock (or even better, fish stock)
2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed to a paste with cold water
Approx. 400g mixed seafood (if frozen, defrosted; if fillets or large pieces, cut into chunks)
Approx. 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
A pinch of fresh thyme leaves
About half a tub of crème fraîche
Lots of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt

Ready to make an easy, satisfying dinner?  Ok then, let’s get cracking…

Carrot, celery, onionHeat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion, carrot and celery on a low heat, for 10-15 minutes, until soft but not brown.

GarlicAdd the crushed garlic and cook for another minute or so.

Frosty peas

Toss in the frozen peas.  They don’t have to be as frosty as these ones.White wineGlug in the wine and simmer on a high heat until reduced to about half.

Pour in the stock, add the cornflour mix, turn up the heat slightly and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened.

SeafoodSeason, then add the seafood…

Chopped herbs…and thyme, and most of the parsley.

creme fraicheSimmer for a few more minutes, until fish is piping hot, then stir in the crème fraîche.

Creamy Seafood StewHeat gently for a another minute, just to bring the temperature back up, then scatter with the remaining parsley.  Add more black pepper.  Serve with buttered, crusty bread.