There are few things more comforting than a hearty bowl of soup. Eaten on one’s knees by the fire. With warm crusty bread and too much butter. I always make enough to last a few meals. Spinach is a personal favourite; I love the green injection of irony goodness. Spiced with a little nutmeg for added warmth. It’s a great vehicle for some extra protein and quite often I’ll add a poached egg or even fillet of pan fried fish. But it’s just as good on its own with a spoonful of crème fraiche and drizzle of olive oil. Do try this recipe in spring with replacing the spinach with young nettles and some sorrel.
Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
• 2 onions finely sliced
• 1 leek cut in half and chopped
• A decent knob of butter
• 400g Spinach
• 2 heaped tablespoons of crème fraiche
• 1 kernel of nutmeg
• Salt & Pepper
• Olive oil
• A pouch of Chicken broth
1. Melt the better in a heavy based saucepan with a tight fitting lid. As soon it starts to foam add the leek and onion.
2. Cook gently until sweet and tender with a hefty pinch of sea salt;this draws out the moisture and helps stop things browning. Once meltingly tender add the spinach with a generous splash (1/2 cup) of water and put a tight fitting lid on the pan.
3. On a low heat braise the spinach for a few minutes turning every now and then, ensuring it cooks evenly. As soon as the leaves have slightly wilted and gone a darker shade of green add the cold chicken broth and take the pan off the heat. This stops the spinach cooking and ensures a vibrant colour
4. Blend the mixture to your desired consistency. If having with just bread and butter, I like a coarser texture but not stringy. If having with an egg or fish, I often blend to almost velvety texture.
5. Add the crème fraiche and blitz again so it emulsifies (cream cheese or double cream also work, just go with what’s in the fridge). Then grate in roughly half a clove of nutmeg, season generously and blend again. Keep tasting and adding salt little by little until you’ve brought out the best flavour; soups need a surprising amount of seasoning.
6. Serve hot being careful not to discolour if re-heating. A scattering of herbs on top is always welcome. Chervil or a gremolata work particularly well.