I find food decisions in December to be a bit tricky sometimes. With Christmas and its culinary excesses on the horizon I want to eat lighter meals in preparation but when it is cold and grey I want something warming and substantial. The answer is soup.
It’s tasty and hot but also quick to prepare, leaving plenty of time for late night shopping or evening bouts of present wrapping.
I have to admit that I sometimes find a bowl of soup to be a bit one dimensional so I like to jazz it up a little with great bread, fresh herbs or a tasty topping like the one in the photo.
Celery soup is a bit of a favourite of mine. Strangely, Martin doesn’t like celery at all but he does like celery soup – weird huh? The flavour of this soup is entirely dependent on the quality of the stock. Mine was a roast chicken stock (which is why it is a little darker than most celery soup) and it had lots of flavour. If yours is a bit flat reach for the spices – fennel seeds will bring out aniseed notes or try adding paprika for a little high note. The honey I used adds a lovely sweet warmth.
You can serve it with crusty bread, cheese pastry or, as I did, topped with goats cheese and pancetta for a bit of indulgence before you reach for the wrapping paper and get on with the Christmas preparations.
1 Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic
400ml / 14 fl oz Chicken Stock
1 tbsp olive oil
A knob of Butter
1 tsp Honey
A small handful fresh Parsley
2 slices Goats Cheese (chevre style)
4 slices of Pancetta
Chop the onion, garlic and celery. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and cook the onion and garlic until beginning to soften. Add the celery and cook together over a low heat until softened but not coloured.
Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for around fifteen minutes.
Put the pancetta slices onto baking sheet and either grill or roast in a medium oven until crispy.
Add the honey to the soup and blend until smooth using a stick blender or liquidiser. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, pour the soup into a bowl, top with a round of goats cheese and some crispy pancetta and garnish with some chopped parsley.