Mushroom Saffron Soup

The gift of a big phial of Iranian saffron had me itching to cook with it and this soup was my first foray. Saffron with mushroom isn’t an obvious choice but the bosky flavour of mushroom with gentle leek, a hint of chilli and lemon zest and juice, with cous cous to thicken is an awesome combination. The dark mottled soup is speckled with green; I like coriander but flat leaf parsley is good too. Do try it. Lovely with a poached egg added.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 30 min

50g cous cous

generous pinch saffron threads

150ml boiling water

1 trimmed leek

25g butter

1 tbsp olive oil

250g chestnut mushrooms

pinch dried chilli flakes

1 lemon

½ (half) tbsp flour

750ml chicken stock

25g coriander or flat leaf parsley

Place the cous cous in a bowl with the saffron and cover with 150ml boiling water. Leave to hydrate. Slice the leek into small scraps, rinse and shake dry. Soften with a pinch salt in butter melted in oil in a medium pan. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms, quarter and pulse in a food processor to finely chop. Do not overdo it or you will end up with a wet pulp. Stir the mush into the sloppy leek, adding the chilli and microplane zested lemon over the top. Cook, stirring a few times, for a few minutes until the mushroom is turning wet. Stir in the flour until disappeared cook for a couple of minutes then add the stock, stirring as it comes up to simmer. Add the cous cous. Adjust the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring as the flour thickens the soup. Add coarsely chopped coriander or parsley leaves and blitz smooth. Reheat, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice.