So, following my ‘Good Life’ afternoon at the Community Garden, I triumphantly took my bag of vegetable goodies home, eager to dribble over the contents like Gollum over the ring. It was like having my own personal harvest festival on the kitchen table. My eyes feasted on the array of produce before me. Butternut squash, courgettes and broad beans; peppers, cucumbers and onions, to name but a few.
My mind raced with the choice of what I could create with such ingredients. I half expected Ainsley Harriott to pop up at any moment and ask me what dish I was going to make, Ready Steady Cook style. The possibilities seemed endless. Ratatouille, chunky pasta sauce, spicy curry, vegetable lasagne, I could go on.
However, the evenings were beginning to draw in and time was creeping towards the clocks turning back. Nights were becoming nippy and days were drizzly and dull. It was that time of year and there was one clear choice for me: roast vegetable soup.
Now, I will admit to having something of a fondness for soup. It may be a cliché, but it really is a comforting meal. A hot bowl of soup for lunch can revive energy levels in the middle of an autumnal day. Served with crusty bread smothered in old-fashioned fattening butter – you just can’t beat it. And it’s so easy to make, that’s the beauty of soup. As my vegetable ‘liquid gold’ demonstrated perfectly…
Out of my mixed bag of goodies, I chose the butternut squash, courgettes and red pepper to chop into chunky pieces. I scattered them on a baking tray, seasoned and drizzled over olive oil. Then into a hot oven the baking tray went, to roast for 20-30 minutes.
Once the vegetables were soft and beginning to char, I removed the tray from the oven to cool. In the meantime, I finely diced a red onion and two fat cloves of garlic. In a deep saucepan, these were sautéed gently in butter until glossy and translucent. Then in went the cooled roast veg, with 1 pint of stock to simmer for around 10 minutes. Again this was left to cool before I blitzed the ingredients in a blender to a smooth consistency.
When I decanted the glossy mixture back into the saucepan, the smell was wholesome and delicious. It struck me that with its vibrant yellow-orange colour, my soup looked not dissimilar to liquid gold…if with a little more texture and aroma!
Generous seasoning, a swirl of double cream and a scattering of chopped coriander completed my comforting creation. Another delicious food freebie, courtesy of the Community Garden.