There was no intention of going with a Parsley and Cheddar Cheese Soup right now, as my little plant, regardless of how well it’s thrived, positively shivers when I go near it. However, I couldn’t quite believe my luck when I noticed new products in one of the local stores – fresh coriander (cilantro) and flat leaf parsley. At last! Although I think the staff must’ve forgotten to display them as most of the coriander was nearly composting itself.
As for the parsley I managed to find a pack that was fresh enough to go with last night as there were only a couple of small leaves beginning to turn pale yellow. I’m so hoping it’s going to be a case of being able to buy them fresh from now on. Especially as I adore both herbs. And I’m so glad I’ve gone with this soup. Even I wouldn’t have guessed something this simple could be that good in flavour. As for the smell of it, after I’d blended the ingredients and prior to adding the cheese, the smell really was of freshly mown grass – not that I go around mowing lawns with knashing teeth, but most of us know of that spring-like fragrance. Don’t let the suggestion put you off, though. It’s just how parsley smells. And as soon as I’d tasted it freshly shelled peas screamed at me. Well, I’d scream too if I could find them. Just as well I don’t know of any allotments nearby as I’d be in there rummaging around. Not that I condole theft of any sort, mind.
When the Cheddar cheese was combined with the parsley that’s when wedding bells rang out loud. Who would’ve thought those two ingredients would make such a great pairing. I’m not kidding, this soup is going straight into my top five favourite list – even though it may have to share equal fourth or fifth place. Still, not bad for a British soup that seems to be off the radar these days. As for the rice and hard-boiled egg, as this was for my lunch I wanted to up the intake of carbs and all. Especially as I’ve ran out of home-made bread. The salad couldn’t have been much simpler, thinly sliced cucumber seasoned with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, strawberries drizzled with lime and crunchy little cornichons, the latter I just love. Oh, and a very gentle squeeze of lime over the soup with a grind or two of black pepper. There wasn’t even the need of freshly ground sea salt the soup was that good.
Parsley and Cheddar Cheese Soup, with hard-boiled eggs and rice
FOR THE STOCK:
- 120g (4.23 oz) x onions, halved, peeled, trimmed and quartered
- 150g (5.29 oz) x carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunks
- 100g (3.52 oz) x leek, darker green only, split in half lengthways and thoroughly rinsed OR
- 2 x celery stalks/ribs, washed, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
- 4 x garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed and kept whole
- 25g (0.88 oz) x flat leaf parsley, stems only (reserve the leaves for the soup), rinsed
- 5 x whole black peppercorns
- 2 x dried bay leaves, split
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
FOR THE SOUP:
- reserved parsley leaves
- 1 x green finger chilli (Scoville rating 50,000), washed and split in half
- cooked garlic and parsley stalks/stems, kept from the stock
- 1 x tablespoon plain (AP) flour
- 1 x tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 – 2 x hard-boiled eggs, to serve
- 80g (2.82 oz) or more x long grain rice, cooked to the pack’s instructions
- 100g (3.52 oz) or more x mature Cheddar cheese, grated
- seasoning, both sea salt and black pepper
- lime, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Add all of the stock ingredients to a large heavy-based saucepan with a lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I do the stock the night before, switch off heat and when it’s cool enough it’s then stored overnight.
- The following day (or same day) it’s put back on heat on No 2 just to heat it through again. The parsley stalks/stems are retrieved as well as the bay leaf pieces and garlic cloves. Those are set aside. When warmed through I then pour the stock through a metal colander into a suitable bowl underneath. The remaining veg are then squished with the back of a large metal serving spoon to extract as much of their juice as possible. The pulp is then discarded. The stock is then poured through a fine wire metal sieve into a measuring jug, with any remaining pulp in the sieve discarded. 500ml is needed so top up with cold water to get that amount of stock if necessary.
- Add the strained stock plus the garlic cloves and parsley stalks retrieved from the stock and the fresh parsley leaves (no need to chop them) to a blender and blitz until absolutely smooth. Pour back into a large saucepan and put on heat No 2 to heat through. Add a couple of the bay leaf pieces and the chopped in half chilli.
- In the meantime put a small saucepan on heat No 1 and add the sunflower oil and plain flour. Allow at least 5 minutes to cook out the flour. If any bubbling occurs take off heat and allow to cool. Pout back on heat and stir through to prevent any lumps. Do this several times, without allowing the flour to turn brown. if that happens start again. Once the flour has cooked out add a ladle or two of the soup and stir through. Then transfer the flour mixture to the soup and stir constantly to prevent lumps from forming. It’s imperative to do this flour mixture as otherwise the soup will separate when served.
- To serve the Cheddar, especially as mine wasn’t really sharp enough, I grated the cheese and then put some of it on a baking sheet in circles and put it under a preheated grill/broiler until the cheese melted. That was allowed to cool and then scraped off and added to the soup just before serving. It’s not absolutely necessary to do this stage, but the cheese tasted really cheesy and gave a slight crunch. The remaining grated cheese could be served separately.
- Serve with lime wedges.
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