Friday, 17 February 2012

Watercress Soup with Toasted Almonds

From The Meat Free Monday Cookbook, Kyle Books, 2011.

This book has a definite purpose: that of gradually making inroads into the meat-eaters, encouraging them to eat less meat. The introduction sets out the reasons behind the campaign. It is not only for reasons of health, though these are strong. It is also for the environment; livestock production is responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas around the planet. Of course, it is also a way to cut your weekly spend on food. These are only some of the reasons discussed, though possibly the predominant ones.

The campaign for the Meat Free Monday was launched by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney back in 2009. They have supplied a foreword to the book. And there is also the occasional recipe from Paul and Stella. Recipes are also included from a wide range of celebrities who support the campaign.

The book supplies complete menus for every Monday in the year, organised into spring, summer, autumn and winter. The lunch menu also includes one for a packed lunch. The mix of recipes is varied, for example for Week 01 breakfast is soft-boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers; lunch is sweet potato gnocchi with rocket pesto while the packed lunch is a Middle Eastern tabouleh salad; dinner is a spring vegetable tarte fine with a spring herb salad and dessert is pink rhubarb sorbet. This one day manages to range through several cuisines.

My first delve into the book had me making a watercress soup. This was simply made by frying onions and garlic until softened, then adding potatoes for a few minutes longer. Stock was now added and the vegetables cooked until the potatoes had softened.

The watercress was added and cooked for a couple of minutes more. This was puréed and cream was added with seasonings. All was then reheated and served with toasted flaked almonds—and a swirl of crème fraîche, that I did without. Both cream and crème fraîche seemed too much for me. The recipe included garlic toasts that I did not make.

This was a pleasant soup. I do enjoy the peppery flavour of watercress and do occasionally make a soup with this vegetable. This was not the best one I’ve had. I was a little unsure of using both potato and cream as a thickening agent. Potato by itself would by fine or cream but the use of both was overdoing it a little I felt.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

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