Ah Autumn. Here at last. Blustery gales; big fat rain drops sputtering out of the sky; chilly mornings with a dusting of mist. And soup. Oh yes, one of the many delights of autumn is the excuse to eat lots and lots of soup. Not that you can’t make it at other times of the year, it just seems somehow fitting to warm up inside after getting drenched, or buffeted about by winds that can’t make up their mind, with a nice, steaming bowl of soup.
And what better way to mark the start of autumn than with the first bowl of soup of the season. Warming and hearty this one is (two words which in my opinion are overused with regards to autumnal eating but in this case are indeed fitting). Fortunately I have not yet suffered the first lurgy (cold/flu/general disgusting debilitating virus) of the season so I don’t yet have to resort to I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself-and-am-too-ill-to-even-chew-properly chicken consommé. No, this is a meal in a bowl. A big meal, in a big bowl. I realise many people have issues with soup because they don’t see it as a proper meal, it’s just a starter. To which I can only say they have been choosing the wrong recipes. Look at this. You’ve got your potatoes, meat, lots of veg, but it’s plumped up by the added bonus of lots of hot, salty broth that’s full of flavour. Waaaay more interesting than just meat and two veg.
Ok, next issue, stock. Yes you really should make it yourself, it’s so easy there is no excuse not to. However, it does take time, if not very much brain power, and you do need space in your fridge/freezer to store it. So if you happen not to have eaten an entire chicken recently, and saved its bones for stock, or you have run out and been remiss in making more to keep in the freezer (cough, guilty) then ready-made stock is just fine. I won’t tell. The big tubs of liquid stock you can buy from the fresh aisle at the supermarket, close to the ready-made gravy are the best. But if you’re a really, really terrible person who hasn’t had the foresight to even buy one of these (cough, guilty again) then a stock cube will work too. The flavour of the stock is less important in this recipe, as the sausages impart quite a lot of flavour themselves.
Sausage and spinach soup
Adapted from Pinch My Salt
You can add any combination of vegetables, or indeed meat to this soup. The original recipe used barley – well obviously that’s not going to work* – but another grain such as some cooked rice could bulk it up, or alternatively some lentils or beans.
1 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 large carrot
2 medium white potatoes
2 sausages, cooked and cooled
2 large handfuls (100g) spinach
Salt, pepper and herbs of your choice to season
1. Finely slice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute gently over a medium heat in a splash of vegetable oil in a large saucepan for 5-8 minutes, or until translucent.
2. Wash and chop the potatoes into 2″ cubes and add them to the saucepan. And the sliced carrot too, and stir for a minute or so, until all very lightly coated in oil.
3. Add the stock (you may want more depending on how soupy you want your soup to be) and bring soup up to a simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the sausages into small chunks (you can remove the casings if you prefer, though I didn’t bother). Add to the soup and stir.
4. Taste the soup and season well. After the soup has been bubbling gently for about 20 minutes check the potatoes are done, and mash a few of them lightly into the soup with a fork, to give it a slightly thicker texture.
5. Add the spinach to the soup and stir for a minute or two, just until the spinach is starting to wilt. Then serve immediately.
6. Garnish bowls with fresh herbs if you like (I used a handful of chopped chives) and serve with hot bread smothered with butter.
Serves 2. Although they were quite big bowls. Could definitely feed 3 if you’re not greedy like me
*If you’re scratching your head at this comment, barley contains gluten and is on the verboten list. Boo.