You might not know it, but we have an understanding, you and I. Things work according to their own little logic. I don't call the shots, I follow them. You see, I don't just write, I write for you. I think about you. Not in the shower or while you're getting dressed. No. Nothing like that. I think about you as a collective. I put a lot of effort into keeping you interested. I use all the tricks I can muster through word and lens to tell you a little bit about this, and a little bit about that. As much as you think you might read blogs for the writing, well, a blog without pictures is like footy without the pies, like ice cream without the topping, like tea without the Bonsoy, like a person who doesn't like garlic. It's like the Bechara's having a normal, quiet, civilized family dinner...something just aint quite right about it. It's like an actress without cleavage...Okay, okay, i'll stop.
Well, there's a recipe i've been dying to share with you for a while now, but there's just been one recurring, little snag: I don't like to cook and take pictures - at the same time. I know, I know. Women are meant to be multitaskers, but I always was a bit of a tomboy - it was only this year I started wearing pink in public! But cooking and snapping, nuh-uh. Add to the loss of focus the fact that oily fingers on an SLR is the bane of the modern day blogger clutz, and you might begin to understand where i'm coming from. That's why this piece has been kept from you for so long. I decided it was just time to bite the proverbial bullet and do it despite lacking perfect photos of the preparation and the finished product...Come on...don't be like that...this is Australia! Land of fudging it, this is a patriotic act i'm doing here - preserving our cultural ethos and heritage at absolutely any cost for generations of unborn brethren.
Anyway, i've decided to distract with you some very half assed generic kitchen pictures of some of the key ingredients. To fool you even further I used a macro lens so they'd appear more deep, profound and mysterious - like an average, happy-go-lucky 20 something guy in a philosophical frown, woolen vest and fedora - trying to create an existential demeanour to pull in the babes. You're going to look the other way, we're going to let this incident slide by, you're going to forgive me - and we're never gonna talk about it again. Deal? Pinky Promise?
Okay, Now for The Bus-i-ness.
Soup. Bliss. Simple. Warm. Brothy and Frothy. Soup for my mind and soup for my mouth and soup for my heart. Soup is love. It's gentle. Simmering. Rustic. Biblical. Bowl to Spoon, Mouth to Soul. Pendulums back and forth and softly, again and again. A rhythm. A beat and Flushed cheeks from a steamy swirl. Infusion Transfusion, Transcendence.
Soup should always be kept to just a few thoughtful ingredients. It's a little like matchmaking, think about just 3 or 4 main ingredients that go together, introduce them in a bubbling pot and let them get to know each other for a while. The Golden Rule with Soup is to never make it too complicated. Put everything in and you often end up tasting nothing much at all, some people can pull off the complicated, but I prefer it all pared down to essence. Soup is so effortlessly elegant, such a beautiful way to explore a few select flavours in a different way. It fills you up, leaves you warmed and loved and happy.
What's in a name? A fair bit, Shakey. Which is why I give you The Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption Soup. Why MF in Shawshank? Because this dish is entirely pleasing, good for your soul...but sooo bloody corny you're permitted the occasional eye roll. This soup is my own creation, come up with on Pyrmont Bridge Rd en route to Harris Farm with Dan. I love feeding it to all my friends. It's a bit like a mother with her first born, I can't seem to stop telling everyone about this soup and wanting them to know how amazing it is. It's just as good vegan as it is with a little goat's cheese, and it is simple and simply wonderful!
Get thee the following:
2 Brown Onions/1 Onion + 1 Leek
Fresh Ginger Root
2 Cloves of Lebanese Gold (Garlic)
3 Bunches of Curious Coriander
1 Red Chili (if you'd like)
Shitloads of Cracked Pepper
Chicken Style/Vegetable Stock (Massel's great)
9 Cobs of Fresh Corn
2 Bunches of Asparagus (White is ideal, Green'll do)
Goast Chevre - only if Desired
Marjoram - necessay!
This should serve 8, or 4 realistically, never had anyone who didn't want seconds. Ready to rock n roll?
True love starts with a little olive oil warming in a pan. To this you add the diced onion/leek and let it brown a little (like the teenage dreams of aging spinsters). You peel about a good 2-3 cm of ginger root - look for a fresh young and golden yellow root. We're not going to pun that last sentence. But we are going to extract 2-3 tablespoons of gingerella (depending on how much zing gets you going) by rubbing the peeled root over a good quality zester (not a grater).
Add this and 2 gloves of crushed garlic and the chili to the onion mix, followed by the finely diced and very well washed roots of the coriander. Coriander root is so much of the reason that Thai food tastes amazing, it adds a lot of dimension to the final flavour but so few people even use it. Don't throw away good roots, people!
Let all this sautee a while. Add a generous amount of cracked pepper in at this stage. Soup is always about stages, you take it slowly, the fried element adds a unique heat and flavour to the simmering, it's like layers, slowly, slowly and one at a time.
Take 9 cobs of sheared corn, put them perpendicularly in a bowl (don't get out a protractor or anything) run a knife along the kernels and cut them free from the cob - doing this in a bowl saves grenades of kernels ending up all over the kitchen.
As soon as the mix is smelling sensuously of garlic and coriander and warmed, gingered onion, add the corn and cover with just enough water to submerge the corn kernels. Let this approach a boil. Add 3-4 massel chicken style cubes - go heavy on the stock, it adds so much glorious body. About ten minutes after you've added the corn, add the chopped up asparagus. The smell should be divine.
Boil for a tiny while then reduce to a cool, rolling simmer. Let it all become soupy. Then add all the chopped coriander leaves. Green Crack. Coriander contains all of the earthly joys of this life, don't hold back! Puree either with a hand held mixer, or, by the slightly messier route of taking ladle fulls out and blending them. Blend the soup so it becomes smooth, but not so smooth there's no texture. It starts to look wonderfully dreamy, pale and ivory-gold if with the white asparagus.
Return to the pot and let it readjust on a low heat. You should have a thick, puree type consistency that is absolutely bursting with vegetal goodliness. After assaulting it with a pepper cracker, it's edible at this stage - absolutely divine in vegan form. No, seriously! For extra flavour and creaminess, add 2-4 tablespoons of a good, deep, sharp goats chevre - it doesn't need any more cooking, it just melts in. Alternatively, a tablespoon of butter or some yoghurt or sour cream can add that extra dimension and some more luxurious thickness.
I've also added some well washed red quinoa once or twice, in with the corn and white asparagus, it looks beautifully golden pale in the end with little red flecks like floating seeds in the soup.
Anyway you have it, add a sprinkle of sea salt, even more pepper, fresh coriander and fresh marjoram. Marjoram added to the mix is like lighting petrol, it sets the entire gingered, garlicked, chillied craze ablaze - and takes you down with it.
This is soup is transient and eternal. It is full and fresh and alive. The flavours meld so perfectly and profoundly. Jesus. You feel as satiated as you do light after a calming bowl of this with a good solid wedge of buttered and toasted miche. It is luxurious but so cheap, elegant but so easy - like a jilted blonde socialite.
Everyone I have tried it on has fallen in love. Mick Howled. Hela Sighed. Danny Nodded in Approval. Even Howie who doesn't like soup managed 2 big bowls - and when he wasn't even hungry! It's wonderful that it's almost pure vegetables, so many soups you eat out are lamentable little concoctions. Thin and Frail. Using milk and cream to hide the absence of any true flavour - like a Cow with noticeable self esteem issues. Soup can be a healthy, hearty, easy and cheap way to eat so many good things for you all at once, and to end up wriggling your toes as you do.
It's also such a good and ready thing to share with friends. Often when we're cooking for others we tend to do too much and go over top (especially if we're Lebanese). Soup, real home made soup, is not something many people have often, they always appreciate it when they do.
Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Soup, it's worth escaping to. And I promise...it will set you free.
It's been a pleasure spooning with you, I hope we can do it again sometime.