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French tarragon is one of my favourite herbs – although if pushed I could probably make a good case for most herbs being my favourite.  In its favour, tarragon has lovely elegant leaves - long and narrow with a gently warming, anise flavour.  Those leaves, finely chopped and added to egg mayonnaise, make a sandwich that’s just a bit more sophisticated.

Tarragon plants disappear underground in winter, so with the days getting shorter and cooler, the tarragon season is coming to an end.  My plants have survived some really cold and wet winters over the last few years, but I always like to have a ‘back up’ plant in a pot.  This back up is kept dry and cosy in the greenhouse through the coldest months, just in case the outdoor ones don’t reappear in the spring.

And while there are still fresh leaves to be used, I was inspired by this post at 101 cookbooks to have a go at making some tarragon oil.  Admittedly, mine was just a rough adaptation of the original recipe, but the result was really good.  I blended the fresh tarragon leaves with oil and some lime juice to get a zingy and fragrant green mix.  Then I just needed a good way to use the tarragon oil.

Being the first day of October, a bowl of soup seems like a good idea.  So here you have it – carrot and tarragon soup, a lovely and warming mixture of summer and autumn flavours.  Do you have a favourite autumn soup?

Carrot & Tarragon Soup

2 tbsp plus ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

5 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

1l vegetable stock

½ cup fresh French tarragon leaves

juice of ½ lime

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat.  Add the onions and cook gently for about 5 minutes, so that the onion starts to soften but not brown.  Add the carrots, sweet potato and chilli and stir so that everything is coated in oil.  Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes – until the vegetables are tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, blitz the tarragon leaves, ¼ cup olive oil and lime juice with a hand blender until the leaves are finely chopped.

Blend the soup in batches in a liquidiser, or with a hand blender.  Add the tarragon oil and stir through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  You can also add more stock at this stage to adjust the consistency of the soup if you prefer it thinner.

This makes enough soup for four good helpings – serve with some good crusty bread for a warming autumn lunch.

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