Two of Everything Soup

It’s intriguing how a pinch of an unexpected seasoning can lift quite ordinary ingredients. That’s the case with this thick and chunky vegetable soup that sprang into life when the caraway carton fell off the herb rack and scattered its black seed everywhere. Lightly pounded it combined with fresh ginger, garlic and chilli to give a whoosh of heat and anise interest to leek and onion with a hint of chilli and thickening of cous cous. A few leftover peas brought a pleasant sweetness and diced tomato and coriander bought colour. Flour, incidentally, isn’t essential in the success of this soup but I find it stops everything sinking to the bottom of the pan.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 35 min

2 onions

25g butter

1 tbsp olive oil

2 trimmed leeks

2 garlic cloves

½ tsp caraway seeds

½ tsp finely sliced ginger

½ tsp chilli flakes

½ tbsp flour

1.2 litre chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp cous cous

2 tomatoes

150g tinned or frozen peas

few sprigs coriander, flat leaf parsley or mint

     Halve, peel and finely chop the onions. Stir into 25g butter softened in 1 tbsp olive oil in a spacious lidded pan. Cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, while you slice the leeks in thickish pennies and agitate in a bowl of water to loosen any dirt. Drain. Peel and slice the garlic in thin rounds. Pound the caraway seeds briefly. Stir garlic, ginger, chilli and caraway into the softening, lightly coloured onion. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes then stir in the leeks with a generous pinch salt. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour until disappeared. Add the stock and bring to simmer, giving regular stirs, so the flour thickens the liquid. Add the cous cous and simmer for 10 minutes while your place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Count to 30, remove skin and chop. Tip tomatoes and peas into the soup, reheat and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Chop the herbs and add to the soup just before serving.