Sunday, 21 July 2013

Soup Sunday: summer soup

Summer soup is a Finnish classic made of the vegetables of the new harvest, traditionally cauliflower, carrots, potatos and peas. It's somewhat bland appearance (courtesy of watery, milky base) has made it fall out of favour among the new generations, me included.

Now, high on the offerings of the seasonal treats I had, however, no excuse not to give this seasonal classic a chance too. I realized that the only emotion it aroused in me was antipathy - in spite of the fact that I had never even eaten it. 

I don't know where my scepticism stems from. The cauliflower? That pale milky broth? Who can tell. But seeing how I love new potatos, peas and carrots, surely I could train my palate to like this, too? And anyway - after criticizing my own family's food phobias I really must try, right?

Summer soup is one of those foods that seem to divide people quicker than the issue of gay marriage. Most of the people I know fall into the "absolutely not! It's dreadful and totally against the nature!" school of thought.  When it comes to eating summer soup, that is. 

The conflict is made even more complex by the fact that there are two equally prominent thinktanks within it: the other advocating the use of flour-thickening and the other a very vocal supporter of the use of molten cheese.

Molten cheese (in the lack of a better translation) is another dairy speciality that doesn't exist outside Scandinavia. It's a spreadable cheese with consistency somewhere between mayonnaise and cream cheese. 

Molten cheese is good in that it makes the soup gluten-free. But since it's cheese, I stick to flour. And for the  milk I used the full-fat variety. For the first time in my life. My generation has been brainwashed into using fat-free dairy so successfully that my had actually trembled as I reached for the red carton in stead of my usual baby blue one. But the flavour is... well, richer - there's no denying that one.

4 portions

4 new potatos (mine were on the large side, so if yours are small, make it 5 or 6)
4 new carrots (these on the other hand were small, so 3 regular sized ones)
1 new onion + the green part
half of a cauliflower
100 g string beans
50 g spinach
100 g new peas
9 dl water
4 dl milk + heaped 1,5 tbsp flour OR 
3 dl milk + 2  heaped tbps of molten cheese
1 bay leaf
3 allspice peppers
salt, white pepper
fresh dill or parsley

Cut the cauliflower head into smaller florets. Brush and cut the potatos and carrots into smaller chunks. Cut the onion into slices. Trim the bean's and cut into the desired size. Chop the spinach leaves into thin strips.

Bring water to boil and add the bay leaf and all spice peppers. Then add the vegs starting from the ones that take longest to cook. 

First carrots, a couple of minutes from that the potatos, then cauliflower and then the onions and beans. Cook until the vegetables are nearly done but still firm. 

Mix flour with milk and add into the soup as a thin ribbon, continuing to stir. Keep cooking on moderate heat until the flour and vegetables have cooked, a little under 10 minutes. A couple of minutes before this add peas and about a minute before everything's done the spinach. Season and sprinkle with lots of fresh herbs and the chopped up green stalks of the spring onion. 

I think I can say this is never going to be my favourite soup in the world, but its gentle summeriness was a pleasant surprise. But I couldn't put to rest an idea that had been cooking in my head: a slightly modern take on this soup with Asian twist and coconut milk!

4 portions

4 new potatos (mine were on the large side, so if yours are small, make it 5 or 6)
4 new carrots (these on the other hand were small, so 3 regular sized ones)
1 new onion + the green part
half of a cauliflower
100 g string beans (or mangetout cut diagonally into thin strips)
100 g new peas 
8 dl water
1 vegetable stock cube
1 can (400 ml ) coconut milk (not the watery low-fat kind as it's too thin!)
2 cloves of garlic
1 chilli
1 tsp grated ginger
1 lime, juice and grated zest
salt, white pepper
fresh coriander leaves

Process the veg as before but cut the potatos and carrots into long slices and then into sticks. Finely chop chilli and garlic. Heat some oil in a pan. Sauté garlic, lime zest, ginger and chilli for a while. Then add boiling water and the stock cube.

Then add the veg in the cooking order - first carrot, then potatos, then cauliflower and then beans (remember that cut like this carrots and potatos will cook faster). Add the coconut milk (if it's not very thick, you can add some flour into it). To finish off add peas, chopped up spring onion stalks and plenty of chopped coriander leaves. Season, squeeze lime juice on top and serve.

I have to admit - the latter one was my personal favourite. I'm not much of a guardian of culinary traditions...

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