Saffron Mushroom Soup with Anchovy Bruschetta

What a glorious upturn in the weather, putting us all in the mood for salads rather than soup. I’m always in the mood for soup, usually following the seasons, a useful way of eating cheaply. Right now, in our strange times, I’m having a field day scrounging round our diminishing supplies for new ideas. A modest box of ordinary mushrooms turned into a light, fluffy yet satisfying soup enriched with leeks and saffron-flavoured cous cous.  Like many soups, it is particularly good with a soft-poached egg floated in each portion just as it’s served. I also smashed a 50g tin of anchovies with some of its oil and smeared it on garlic rubbed toast. Highly recommended.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 25 min

100g cous cous

generous pinch saffron

150ml boiling water

1 leek

25g butter

300g mushrooms

splash of white wine – up to 150ml

1 chicken stock cube

1.2 litre boiling water

for the anchovy bruschetta:

4 thin slices bread

50g can anchovy in olive oil

1 garlic clove

olive oil

     Place cous cous, saffron and 150ml boiling water in a bowl and leave to hydrate. Split the leek lengthways, hold the halves together and slice thinly. Agitate in cold water and drain. Melt the butter in a spacious, lidded pan, stir in the leeks with a generous pinch salt, cover and cook gently stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms clean and pulse in a food processor to chop finely taking care not to continue too long to avoid the mush turning to mush. When the leeks are soft, stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring every so often for several minutes until darkening in colour and creating a bit of liquid. Add the wine and let it bubble up for a couple of minutes then add forked up, hydrated cous cous, now golden in colour. Add the stock, bring up to simmer and simmer gently, semi-covered for 10 minutes. Liquidize in batches, not super smooth but bumpy. Reheat, season to taste, adding extra water if it seems too thick. Stir in the chives and serve. To make the anchovy bruschetta, toast the bread and while it toasts, chop the anchovy on a board, pour over most of the oil in the tin and use a fork to mash. Rub the toast vigorously with skinned garlic and spread with anchovy. Cut into triangles and serve with the soup, with or without a soft-poached egg slipped into the soup at the last moment.