Whatever the time of year, I do like a warm comforting soup. I got to share a bowl with my elderly neighbour today, while he put the world to rights.
Soup, bread and brexit. If only politicians could speak so lucidly with hot soup dribbling down their chins. Anyway, one free lunch later – politicians again – my neighbour thanked me then hobbled off for his afternoon nap.
I always get a warm feeling when I share home cooked food – even more so with a well seasoned soup. That warm feeling is always reciprocated and I can only put it down to the simple act of sharing or kindness. I know that acts of kindness can alter brain chemistry in a positive way with increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. But what I have found, when sharing food, is that it creates a bond between myself and the recipient. Oxytocin is a bonding hormone so my conclusion is that sharing soup is a great way to improve well being and personal mood, on every level.
‘Share a Soup Day’ sounds like a good idea.
Soup: (makes approx’ 2 litres.)
2 1/2 pints or 1.420 litres of chicken stock.
5 sticks of celery.
5g fresh parsley.
sprig of fresh thyme.
4 medium sized or 800g of potatoes. Peeled and cut into quarters.
Salt and white pepper for seasoning.
Small pot of Crème Friâche.
Fresh parsley for garnish.
Walnut Bread: (makes a 10″ x 5.5″ loaf)
300g strong flour.
1/2 tsp salt
150ml warm water.
2 tsps. dried active yeast or 5g of fresh yeast.
55g crushed walnuts.
1 egg for glazing.
3g grated parmesan (optional)
Veg’ Oil for greasing tray.
In a large pan melt the butter.
Sweat off the celery, leek and onion until soft.
Add the potatoes, parsley, thyme and chicken stock.
Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer.
Once simmering, place a lid on the pan, and cook for 20 minutes – or until the potatoes are cooked.
When the potatoes are cooked blend the contents of the pan with a hand blender until smooth.
Once blended, season with salt and pepper.
Serve with Crème Friâche and a sprig of parsley.
Set oven to gas 8 or 230°C /450°F
Mix active yeast with 150ml warm water – leave to ferment for 15 minutes.
Combine flour and walnuts into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
Add salt to the edge of the flour – not in the centre.
Once active yeast has begun to froth add to the flour and mix to a dough.
On a lightly floured work surface, need the dough for 10 minutes or until you have a smooth dough.
Once needed, place dough into a floured bowl.
Cover with a damp cloth or cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Once dough has doubled in size – need again for a further 2 minutes.
Shape dough into a slipper/sausage shape approx’ 8″ long.
Place shaped dough onto a greased and floured baking tray.
Brush with beaten egg, cover with a damp cloth or cling film, and leave to prove again until doubled in size.
Once doubled in size bake in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Tip: Before baking, grate parmesan cheese over the top of the risen dough.
Note: If using ‘easy cook yeast’ follow instructions on the packet.