It’s cold again. More than once this year, I’ve declared Spring had arrived, only to be rudely shouted down by the weather. Flowers and showers alone don’t change the season, just as one warm day doesn’t mean the snow won’t follow. For example: London doesn’t see much snow, but it has had a few flurries since Easter – i.e., since the arrival of Spring. Luckily I still get a bit of a thrill from each snow-fall, especially since the London kind arrives with large snowflakey clumps and melts within hours. While it’s down, the blanketed quiet is such a peaceful cocoon from the normal background hubbub that you only realize the previous noise by its absence. The snow a couple of weeks back combined with our winter veg box glut of celery, and we found ourselves again facing the idea of celery soup. Unlike the previous celery soup (who knew there could be so many celery soups?), we used celery rather than celeriac this time around, and tempered the flavor with white beans and tomato. Since I’m a sucker for a nice sausage, I also couldn’t resist fry up some fresh chorizo and throwing those chunks on top.
Universal opinion among our guests was that the soup was wonderful for the wintery day, and that the chorizo was (naturally) the favorite part. The celery wasn’t overly strong and the tomato did threaten to take nudge aside the taste of the celery a bit. I thought the soup was pleasant but unspectacular, a good winter warmer and an excellent use of celery, but without the chorizo or extra paprika we threw in that it would have been a bit dull.
Everyone's love of the chorizo got me musing on why the world couldn't be more perfect by there existing there a chorizo tree, in which all of God’s creatures could enjoy fresh sausage and eat to their heart’s content without fear of chorizo shortage or animal welfare. Surely this would be the route to peace love and harmony among all creatures, great and small. With a bit more thinking, I realized that however perfect this chorizo tree sounds on first description, God would never allow it since it would turn the world into a Land of the Lotus eaters, with doped-up chorizo fiends doing nothing productive other than sitting in our gardens and nibbling. But if there’s a Garden of Eden, I now know what mine will be stocked with.
Finally, I will introduce to you one of Ambrosia and Nectar's more recent readers, Murphy Moore, who came around to enjoy the snow and the soup. Son of faithful eating companion Amanda, he's not yet old enough to be fed his own meals here so he'll have to live vicariously through Mama's dining in the mean time. He is of course welcome around whenever he likes.
Celery and White Bean Soup with Tomato, adapted from Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark Serves 4-6
- 250g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight, or 650g drained tinned beans
- 5 Tbs olive oil
- 1 large head celery with leaves - celery sliced into 1 inch pieces, leaves set aside
- 8 spring onions with green tops, sliced into 1 cm rounds
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 500g good quality tomatoes
- 1 Tbs sweet paprika
- 2-3 fresh chorizo sausages (about 1/2 sausage per person)
- Make some celery salt by laying out the celery leaves on a baking tray and heating in a medium-low oven. Move them around every so oft to keep them from burning.
- When leaves are quite dry and crumbly, remove from oven and crumble with equal parts of sea salt. Set aside.
- Drain the soaked beans and add to a saucepan, and cover with plenty of fresh water.
- Boil for about an hour, skimming off any scum that arises during the cooking. Add any extra water needed if it boils away too quickly. Season with a bit of salt and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and add in the celery. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the spring onions, garlic, and a good pinch of salt.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should be soft and beginning to caramelize.
- Add the tomatoes and half the celery salt, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Drain the beans, keeping back 250 ml of the cooking liquid, and add both to the pot with the vegetable mixture.
- Add in the paprika.
- Bring to a low boil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
- Heat a frying pan up with a small amount of olive oil to prevent the sausage from sticking.
- Slice the fresh chorizo into half-inch thick disks, then quarter them.
- Fry the chorizo pieces for about 5 minutes or until cooked. They usually give off a good amount of oil - fatty, but tasty.
- Serve the soup in bowls with the chorizo and some of its oil spooned on top.