Here’s a delicious root vegetable soup recipe from our mutant kitchen. Enjoy it.
In early February, I paid a routine visit to my doctor and in the course of that visit, he trailed the word obese. This remark had an electrifying effect on me and, for the first time in my life, I went on a diet. For a man who loves his food, this decision was to generate a degree of misery but it did deliver. Over eight weeks, I lost ten kilos.
And so what is my secret? I did nothing that could be described as sophisticated and neither did I go hungry. I always ate enough. I just did not eat everything I wanted. Thus, full fat milk was replaced by the low fat variety and butter and cheese were forsaken. All bread, pasta, rice and potatoes were banished, and in their place I ate mounds of vegetables and crisp breads. Fortunately, I do not have a sweet tooth and so in accordance with my normal diet, I also did without, for example, all cakes and chocolate. I cut out beer and thereafter reduced my alcohol intake to two glasses of red wine a day. Finally, I stepped up my exercise and even resumed a little gentle running for a few minutes every morning. About once a week, I confess I broke out. I allowed myself a steamed potato or a small portion of rice or pasta. On occasion, if I felt really low, I even savoured a sliver of good cheese.
One of the problems I faced while dieting was lunch, a meal which for me and many others is centred on a sandwich. Bread was verboten. A partial solution lay in large bowls of nourishing soup carefully selected to avoid fattening ingredients like potatoes. In this context, my favourite was a root vegetable soup, which I stumbled across in a Delia Smith recipe book. The only objection for me was the inclusion of swede amongst the ingredients. I have never much liked turnip in any shape. I accordingly replaced it by simply increasing the weight of the other vegetables proportionately. However, I reproduce the recipe below more or less in its original form.
Slow-Cooked Root Vegetable Soup
Vegetable quantities are prepared weights
225g peeled carrots, cut into 5cm lengths
225g peeled celeriac, cut into 5cm pieces
225g trimmed and washed leeks, halved and cut into 5cm lengths
225g peeled swede, cut into 5cm pieces
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1.5 litres vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly milled pepper
A few chives, snipped (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 140°C
Place all the ingredients in a lidded flameproof casserole and bring gently to a simmer. Put the lid on and place it in the lowest part of the oven for 3 hours, by which time they vegetables will be meltingly tender. Remove the bay leaves and liquidise in a processor. Reheat and serve garnished with the chopped chives.
My diet is long since over but this soup is now an entrenched item in my food repertoire and will remain there summer and winter.
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