Leek and Potato Soup with Truffle Cream

Leek and Potato Soup with Truffle CreamI hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year (apologies if you are reading this in June – I posted it in January!)

We had a fabulous time with a house full of family and love and one very entertaining toddler whose favourite new words are “presents” and “chocolate”; the latter of which is a new experience for her.

But, as lovely as Christmas was, Martin and I were very happy to sneak off for a little bit of time to ourselves at the beginning of this month. We had been promising ourselves a visit to the Gurnard’s Head for some time and we finally got around to it by making the most of one of their Dinner, Bed & Breakfast deals (even though it is less than 30 miles from home).

We had heard good things about the food at this pub/restaurant and were feeling very hopeful. We arrived late in the afternoon and, as we got out of the car, bumped into John Torode. Two thoughts arrived in my head simultaneously:

1. If John Torode eats here the food is probably every bit as good as we hoped.

2. Should I say “hello”?

Question 2 is always a dilemma – what are you supposed to do when you meet someone famous? Is it rude to disturb their peace? After all, when they are out with their family in the wilds of West Cornwall they are probably seeking peace rather than the attention of their adoring fans. But then again, is it also rude to pretend you don’t know who they are?

I settled for a quick smile and a polite “hello” as we passed him and then we booked into our room. Fifteen minutes later we headed out for a walk to the Head before we lost the last of the afternoon light. Once again we bumped into the Masterchef presenter, and then again as we scrambled over the same rocks up onto the point.

“Not speaking” was now becoming an issue for me. I would talk to any random stranger if we were scrambling over rocks together and sharing the same stunning coastal views. Having agonised for ever I finally said something wonderfully inane like; “This blows the cobwebs away doesn’t it?” All my normal wit and charm evaporated as I spoke and I cringed at myself. To his credit he replied politely with a comment on how beautiful it was and we went our separate ways.

Only to bump into each other again on the way back to the hotel.

For goodness sake what is wrong with me? I wasn’t star struck, I just wanted to afford the man some privacy but in doing so I behaved like an idiot, grinning inanely one minute and pretending not to see him the next.

Mr. Torode, if you should ever read this I apologise.

We returned to the pub for mulled wine and the Torode family left. The pub was chilled and laid back, dinner was delicious, the service was friendly, our room was cosy, the bed was comfortable and we had ringside seats for the dramatic thunder and lightning which woke us from our slumbers. What more can I say? All in all The Gurnard’s Head provided a wonderful hideaway for Martin and I and neither of us wanted to leave next morning so we lingered for as long as possible over breakfast by the fire.  Meanwhile, the storm raged outside.

One dish on the menu was Leek and Potato Soup with Truffle Cream. Neither of us ordered it but it did stick in my mind.  I make Leek and Potato Soup a lot and I could only imagine that it would be much improved by the addition of truffle cream. So I made it at home and I was right.  Thank you Gurnard’s Head.

If you are the sort of person who has fresh truffles in the larder then feel free to use them but I used truffle sauce instead which is cheaper but still packed full of flavour. Please note, this recipe is inspired by a line in the menu at The Gurnard’s Head and it is not their recipe. It is just my way of perking up an everyday soup and I hope you like it. If you want to try the original you will have to head down to Zennor and order it for yourself.

Ingredients

Serves 4

A knob of Butter

1 Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic

225g / 8oz Potatoes

2 Leeks

1.2 litres / 2 pints Vegetable Stock

150ml / 5fl oz Double Cream

2 tsp Truffle Sauce

Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Method

Slice the onions. Peel and dice the potatoes. Slice the leeks – this is one of those occasions when you really only want to use the white – keep the green part for making stock.

Heat the butter in a large pan and add the onions, garlic and leeks, cook until softened but not coloured. Add the diced potato and cook for a minute or two more.

Add the vegetable stock, turn up the heat and bring it to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Whizz with a stick blender until smooth, taste and season with salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt if you have used bouillon powder or a stock cube as they can be quite salty to begin with.

Mix one or two teaspoons of truffle sauce with the cream.

Reheat the soup, pour into warm bowls and swirl through the truffle cream. Serve with crusty bread and butter.

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Make More Soup and Save the World

Celery Soup

I was saddened this week to read that, throughout Europe, we waste around 50% of the food we produce. Apparently in Britain we throw away around 25% of the food we buy but, before we even buy it, all the mis-shapen or ugly fruit and veg have been discarded before they even reach the shops. The impact of this waste has a profound effect on our finances, the environment and personal guilt when half the world is starving.

The newspapers have been full of stories and statistics not to mention stern lectures about avoiding BOGOFs and ready meals (if not avoiding supermarkets altogether).

I have no intention of adding to the lectures, life isn’t always simple. Most of the time I shop locally and buy just what I want for that evening’s meal but sometimes, after a long day at work, I run into a supermarket feeling tired and hungry and buy random ingredients that don’t quite add up to a meal. Like most people I usually have a lone carrot deteriorating in the bottom of the salad drawer or some herbs wilting sadly on the window sill.

I tend to treat sell buy dates with some scepticism and use my eyes and nose to decide if something is still edible – food usually lasts much longer than indicated on the packet. But I confess to being a bit fussy about milk and can detect the slightest change in flavour even when the label says it is still in date so there’s no way that’s going in my tea.

That does not mean that they have to be thrown away – milk which is just on the turn can happily be used in soda bread or scones and less than perfect vegetables can always be used up in a soup.

Soup for me is a thing of wonder. It is usually low fat, full of fibre, contributes to your five a day, tastes great and is quick to make. Now you can add “helps to save the world” to that list as well as (and this is important to a good catholic girl) “alleviates guilt”.

There are of course some really elegant soup recipes around and you might want to buy ingredients especially for them but that’s not what I am talking about here. I am talking about everyday soup, soup you can take to work for lunch or just pour into a mug for a warming mid-morning snack.

Vegetable soup is brilliant because you can just throw in whatever random veg you have lurking in the fridge. Perk it up with some judiciously chosen herbs and spices and you have a simple tasty lunch.

I was prompted to write this piece by some slightly wilted celery. I love celery soup and so does Martin – which is odd because he doesn’t like celery.

Celery Soup Recipe

I fried a chopped onion, some garlic and a lonely leek in a little olive oil until softened. Then I added the celery (leaves and root and all) and some stock. Chicken stock works well but if you don’t have any just use some bouillon powder and hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft then blitz with a stick blender until smooth.

Serve with a little drizzle of left over natural yoghurt or cream, a good grinding of black pepper and some chopped herbs – I used thyme. Alternatively it tastes great topped with a few scraps of stilton or goats cheese if you have bits left at the back of the fridge.

If you want more ideas on how to reduce waste in your house take a look at the tips on Love Food Hate Waste but in the meantime – make more soup!

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