Another day of snow, freezing cold winds and a frozen garden, winter isn’t done with us yet. Today we had alternate sunny spells with blue skies, and blizzard-like conditions as the snow blew in.
In the greenhouse, the seed trays I sowed a couple of weeks ago, in the hope of getting some early salad leaves, are tucked up in a layer of fleece to try to keep the worst of the cold off the emerging seedlings. The autumn-sown sweet peas are toughing it out on the greenhouse bench – they’ve seen snow before.
Out in the garden, the garlic was just starting to put on some growth but is now dusted with the white stuff. And the lovely crocus flowers that were opening wide to embrace last week’s sunshine, have remained firmly shut and are huddling down into the grass.
And so it was another day for something warming and filling for lunch – yup, another soup day. There seem to have been an awful lot of soup days this winter. This time the soup was inspired by March’s Recipes for Life challenge. The challenge is hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash and run in conjunction with Swallow, a charity helping adults with learning difficulties to lead more independent lives.
The idea is to use three ingredients to create a tasty, easy to make recipe – this month the three are beetroot, carrots and cheese. And these three ingredients ended up as a bowl of carrot and beetroot soup, with cheesy croutons for dunking.
Just right to help keep the winter blues at bay… How is winter where you are?
Carrot & beetroot soup with cheesy croutons
(makes enough for 4 hearty bowlfuls)
For the soup –
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, cleaned, roots and green parts removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 medium sized carrots
2 tsp ground cumin
500ml vegetable stock
3 cooked beetroot
salt and pepper
For the croutons –
2 or 3 slices of French stick per person
a little extra virgin olive oil
a small amount of crumbled Wensleydale cheese
freshly ground black pepper
Put the oil and butter into a medium sized saucepan and heat over a medium heat until the butter has melted. While the oil and butter are heating, slice the leeks in half lengthways, then chop them into small pieces. Add the leeks to the pan and cook gently for about five minutes, until they start to soften. Add the garlic, stir and cook for another two minutes.
Peel the carrots and cut off the top and bottom of each one. Chop the carrots into chunks about 1cm thick. Add the carrots and ground cumin to the leeks in the pan, and stir so that everything is mixed and coated in oil. Leave to cook for two minutes, then add the stock. Bring the soup to the boil, turn down the heat and cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
Cut each beetroot into quarters and add them to the pan. Cook for another few minutes. Take the pan off the heat, and blend it to a nice smooth consistency using either a blender or stick blender.
Put the soup back in the pan and taste it to check the flavour – and add some salt and pepper to get it just right. If the soup is too thick, add some more stock to thin it out a little. On a gentle heat, warm the soup through again before serving.
While the soup is warming, make the croutons. Put the slices of French stick onto a baking sheet and toast one side under the grill. Turn each slice over and drip a little olive oil onto the untoasted side. Top each slice with some crumbled Wensleydale and a grinding of black pepper and put the baking sheet back under the grill for a couple of minutes to warm the cheese through.
Spoon the warm soup into bowls. Add a spoonful of Greek yoghurt or soured cream to the top if you like, and serve with the croutons.
A perfect soup to warm the cockles on a wintery spring day! And a perfect recipe for this month’s Recipes for Life challenge. Thanks so much for entering it Sarah. I think I’ll be making some of this very soon, and those cheesey croutons look particularly tasty!
Thanks Vanesther – I don’t often cook with beetroot because only two of us in the family will eat it, so your challenge was a great excuse to indulge!
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I particularly like the sound of those croutons Sarah! We’ve also had a lot of soup days this winter, and despite the taster we had last week, it seems spring is not yet here – more snow forecast for tonight, and we’re bracing ourselves for some very cold temperatures…
The croutons are really just small slices of cheese on toast – but they were good for with the soup!
Brrr! It’s really cold isn’t it. The poor old gardens are really suffering – when will it ever end this interminable winter. Soup is still definitely the order of the day.
I’ve stopped looking at the long term forecast – too depressing! Can’t wait to start sowing seed in the garden, but it doesn’t look like the soil will be warm enough any time soon.
Lovely description of the garden in the crazy weather we’re having, Sarah. I’m enjoying woodburner as usual but my emerging purple beans aren’t quite as cosy. Another wonderfully warming soup I’m keen to try.
Thanks Andrea – I bet you’re making full use of your woodburner at the moment!
Chez Foti said:
It was 18 degrees and sunny here yesterday……cold today and a forecast for minus 5 tomorrow!. What’s going on?. This looks like a gorgeous soup to banish those late winter blues.
18 degrees would seem positively tropical after the weather we’ve been having here. Freezing cold again, and the garden birds are so hungry it’s costing me a fortune in bird seed!
Anne ~ Uni Homemaker said:
Yum, I love a good soup! We had a few warm weather days last week but now it’s cold again! This is perfect for those cold days. Thanks for posting Sarah!
Thanks Anne! The soup was very welcome over the last couple of snowy days.
Yup. Winter keeps pounding back here too. 🙂
Crazy weather – I know it is still winter really, but it would be nice to see the days starting to get a bit warmer!
I love all your tasty seasonal recipes, thank you
Thanks Andrea! I’m lucky to have a garden big enough to let me enjoy growing food and flowers – helps keep me in touch with the seasons.
This sounds like a great soup. When it cools down a bit here I will definitely give it a go.
Yes, this must be complelely unseasonal for you Liz – while you’re writing about hot summer weather, I’m whinging about the snow!
Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand said:
Love the contrast of the snow against the yellow crocus flowers. Hopefully the temperature is picking up where you are now. Quite a hard challenge to come up with a dish using only 3 ingredients. You’ve done really well with such a nourishing soup. And well, who wouldn’t love a cheesy crouton?
The weather has warmed slightly – and now it’s started raining! There have been some great recipes entered for this month’s Recipes for Life – all using the three ingredients.
that looks like a lovely hearty soup, I love beetroot so will definitely try this!
Thanks Helen – it’s great to see all the different ideas coming from just 3 ingredients for the Recipes for Life
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