Somewhere around the end of October I switch to my winter lunch – soup, preferably homemade, with a chunk of interesting bread. And carrot and coriander soup with lime and ginger is one of my favourites.
There’s something very soothing about the process of soup-making, and I recommend it if you’re feeling frazzled.
ngredients plus left-handed scissors and peeler
Here is my recipe. Ingredients:
2 large carrots, 1large onion, 2 cloves of garlic,1 knob of ginger, 3 tablespoonsful of lentils, 1 medium potato, ½ a teaspoonful of black mustard seeds, 2 vegetarian stock cubes, 1 lime, a knob of butter and a handful of coriander (or ½ a teaspoonful of ground coriander).
1st step. the onions, garlic, ginger and lentils in the saucepan
You will need:
A large (2 litre) saucepan, a large 2 litre bowl, a kettleful of boiling water, a liquidizer, and a lemon squeezer.
Utensils, including my spoon from Tanzania and measuring spoons
The great thing about the ingredients is that they are adjustable. I have no idea how big a ‘knob’ of ginger or butter, or a handful of coriander is, for example, but it doesn’t matter. Soup-making is very forgiving about such things. I buy a large bunch of coriander from a stall in Chapel Market. I wash it, put any fresh coriander I want in a glass of water on the kitchen windowsill until needed, and I divide the rest into ‘handfuls’ and freeze each handful in a small plastic bag.
Carrots chopped and ready to go. The lime is somewhere I can see it
I like to get what I can ready before I start, so I chop the onion, garlic and ginger and put them on a plate; chop the carrots and potatoes, ditto, and get out the lime, the lemon squeezer, the jar of lentils, the mustard seeds and various spoons, knives and my lovely left-handed scissors (useful for cutting up the sliced ginger), and the two stock cubes.
Potatoes chopped and ready to go into saucepan. Lime still visible
All this makes me feel efficient. This doesn’t happen nearly enough in my life, so I have a complacent moment enjoying the feeling of being in control of my materials.
I’m ready to go. I fill the kettle and turn it on (giving myself a tick for remembering) before melting the butter in saucepan, adding the chopped garlic, onion and ginger and cooking it gently until the onion is transparent. Then I add the lentils and fold in, followed by half the now boiled water.
The soup is simmering in the background. The liquidizer, bowl and ladle are waiting – as is the lime.
Next, I add the chopped carrots and potatoes, the mustard seeds and the stock cubes. Then I take out the frozen block of coriander from its bag and add that, too. I add the rest of the water in the kettle which more or less reaches the top of the saucepan and let it all simmer.
Portmeirion spoon holder
It’s ready when the carrots, potatoes and ginger are cooked – twenty minutes to half an hour. Again, the joy of making soup is that you don’t have to time it to the dot. While I’m waiting, I squeeze the juice of out the lime. It doesn’t need to go in until the end. I try to keep the lime juice visible, it’s all too easy to forget to add it.
Half-way through the liquidizing process
Lastly, I add the lime juice (another mental tick) and salt to taste, and then liquidize the soup and pour it into my large blue bowl. It’s ready, and I sit down to my winter lunch of a bowl of soup and some bread. Later, when the rest of the soup has cooled, I freeze about four portions and put the rest in the fridge. In total, it makes about seven three-ladlesful helpings.
This soup is a variation on an original theme. The original recipe had two limes which I thought sounded too much, and it didn’t include the potatoes. However, I like my winter soup to be thick and warming, and potatoes do that very well, as do lentils.
Mission accomplished. My soup is ready.
The other thing I enjoy, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, is using utensils which remind me of friends, or loved ones who once owned them, or places I acquired them. My wooden spoon, for example, is one of a pair which a friend brought me back from Tanzania. I bought the spoon rest many years ago when I visited that extraordinary place, Portmeirion, in Wales. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was for but I’ve found it very useful to rest spoons on whilst cooking; or to hold eggs, or anything which might roll, safely; and it looks after knobs of ginger and stock cubes until I want them.
My saucepan’s stamp. Does the factory still exist, I wonder?
I bought my large saucepan (one of two) from Woolworth’s many years ago and underneath it, it says Made in Yugoslavia. It’s given me excellent service over the years and it’s bright and cheerful to have about the place, too. And, I suppose, it’s practically an antique!
All photographs by Elizabeth Hawksley
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