Oh my goodness it’s the new year! I don’t know where the bloody time has gone! One minute I was counting down the days until Christmas and the next it has been and gone and 2016 has arrived.
Christmas was everything it should be. We enjoyed a long lazy lie in, indulged in breakfast and opened our presents from each other. P got me those long lusted after pair of Hunter wellies I’ve been wanting for absolute ever! and the latest Alison Weir book to add to my never ending interest in the Tudor era. I was a happy little bunny tucking into my pressies whilst P got acquainted with the old monk. A fabulous little tipple with an even more fabulous bottle!
Having opened all our goodies, we popped round next door with a bag full of gifts and joined the family for more unwrapping and then got cooking. A feast of 8 hour slow cooked roast beef, duck, Tewkesbury sage and onion sausage meat shaped into sausages and wrapped in bacon, honey glazed pork and chestnut stuffing, goose fat roast potatoes, Vichy carrots, the ultimate cauliflower cheese, Brussels sprouts and beans.
Needless to say..there were leftovers. As there should be. Plenty more to tuck into later!
With bellies full of food and wine we all headed back to ours to play games..in the form of Game of Thrones Monopoly..just brilliant! I was giddy with excitement when I spotted it and just had to buy it. And boy did it go down well! The game lasted into the night.
The remainder of the Christmas/New Years season passed by quickly and uneventfully. I took the liberty of enjoying a few days of doing NOTHING. It was complete and utter bliss. I lounged around the house wrapped up in cosy pyjamas and slippers, nibbling away on winter treats on the sofa and watching a spot of telly. I didn’t feel guilty one jot! Although, after a couple of days I was itching to get outdoors for a walk to stretch my legs and Christen my new wellies so we headed up to Staunton Harold reservoir and ended up on a longer walk than we bargained for..a 8.5 mile walk to be exact. After two such lazy days my muscles felt it! But the fresh air did us good. And we got to meet lots of little friends along the way..I’ll introduce you in another post.
After a long indulgent Christmas the desire for a lighter meals has reared it’s head and soup fits the bill perfectly. Warm, filling, satisfying..everything you want in a meal. And, it’s an excellent way to get extra vegetables into your diet, which after such a rich meaty diet, I am readily in need of. It’s also great for using up any leftover chicken bones you may have from your numerous dinners and turning into stock. You want to make the most of Mr. Chicken after all.
50g salted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 large potato, cubed
1 large cauliflower
1.5 pints water
1.5 pints of chicken stock
200ml double cream
1 sprig of thyme
Maldon salt and pepper
Ciabatta bread, cut into small strips or dice
4-6 slices of smoked streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
Extra virgin olive oil
Start off preparing your cauliflower. Cut off all the leaves and big chunky stalks. Chop these down into smaller bits, place into a saucepan and cover with a pint and a half of water. Place over a high heat, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat so the water is simmering away slowly. Now crack on with the remainder of your cauliflower and cut into small groups of florets.
In another saucepan melt the butter over a low heat, then add the onion and garlic, season with a hefty pinch of Maldon salt, give it all a stir and place a lid on. Leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
Then add the potato, cauliflower and thyme to the onion mixture. Give everything a good stir, replace the lid and leave for 10 minutes.
Strain the water from the leaves and stalks which have been simmering away slowly and pour this cauliflower stock into the vegetable mixture along with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and allow to simmer until everything is very tender.
Whilst this is happening get a frying pan out and cook your bacon until golden and crisp. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan and add the ciabatta bread. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil for extra flavour and allow to cook until starting to turn golden. Make sure to stir and turn the bread regularly, you don’t want any getting burnt! When done, add the bacon back to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, give it all a good stir and leave until you are ready to use this gorgeously tasty crumb mix.
When the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, take off the heat and remove the thyme stalks. Then blend everything until you have a smooth, thick velvety soup. Add the cream to your soup and check the seasoning. Pour into bowls, sprinkle over some of the ciabatta and bacon crumb and serve!
N.B. Once you’ve added the cream make sure not to allow your soup to boil again. If you are going to reheat, then reheat slowly until piping hot but not bubbling.