Surprises. My Mum can’t stand them – from who’s left Strictly Come Dancing to a surprise birthday present, she just needs to be in the know. But I think there can be good surprises: finding £5 in your pocket, a day forecast to be rainy turning out sunny, a botched up recipe turning out well after all! My good surprise today was a gift in the post… This book was destined to give good results – the recipes are from the WI after all! As with all cookbooks, I flicked straight to the dessert/puddings/baking section (or in this case, all four of them – the book is organised by seasons!) and of course found plenty of gorgeous things I look forward to trying. But what also struck me about this book was the fabulous collections of soups that came at the start of each season. So many varieties of and new twists on tomato soup, but also dozens of vegetable, fish, bean and meat soups. Plus, with our summer weather slowly slipping away and the rain creeping in I thought I better get practising a truly delicious winter repertoire! I forgot that I had already made a carrot soup, but this version was different in every way: taste, appearance, texture, cooking style and the flavours involved. This soup also taught me the important message of seasoning, something I knew I need to learn more about. After taking the first spoonful, I was concerned that the soup was a bit bland and the carrot goodness wasn’t coming through. The trick? After pureeing, hit this soup with A LOT of black pepper. There is no point being shy here, just taste as you go along and slowly the flavours appear! Gorgeous. I was a big fan of this soup. Because of the true carrot flavour, you just know this soup is good for you. A large amount of coriander adds heat and the amount of work required from you is minimal. How could you not be a fan? This soup is from the Spring section of the book, which is a couple of seasons away for me, but I found it just perfect for a rainy Autumn afternoon. Enjoy!
Carrot and Coriander Soup from Best-kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute
Ingredients: 25g (1oz) butter
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
25g (1oz) plain flour
1 litre (1.25pints) chicken or vegetable stock
450g (1lb) carrots, grated
2tsp chopped fresh coriander (I probably used double this)
salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper
cream or yoghurt, to serve
1. Melt the butter in a pan and soften the onion and garlic slowly.
2. Blend in the flour and then add the stock gradually, stirring all the time over a low heat.
3. Add the carrots and coriander. Bring the soup to the boil and then let it simmer for 15minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and adjust seasoning. Pour into a food processor and blend until smooth.
5. Divide between four bowls and add a swirl of yoghurt/cream to serve.