It was bound to happen. I spent two whole posts bragging about our fabulous weather – heady heights of 23.6C – only for the heavens to split with sleet, hail and snow, all horizontal. And because we are also being teased with flashes of brilliant sunshine I am getting dizzy running around letting the hens in and out of their pens while the weather makes up its mind.
But it’s better here than up north. Today in beautiful Aboyne, near Aberdeen, which last week set a record for warmest day in March, ‘Aboynians’ woke to six inches of snow, with more falling. That’s got to be a shock, especially for the tender plants just peeking through, and to the early spring lambs dotting the hillsides. And to anyone still in a bikini. Well, they are in Cornwall, apparently. Jammy so and sos.
Luckily I adhere to the old English saying “ne’er cast a clout till May be out.” Translation: don’t put away your winter clothes until May finishes, and even then have it near to hand if you live in Scotland (that last bit is my translation).
This morning I added to my standard hen-releasing outfit of pajamas and furry Crocs a goose down jacket, gloves, ski socks and a hat. You might think my hens are kept down a farm track, but no, they are all of 40 feet from my back door. I tell you, that Florida blood has a lot to answer for.
And so this reawakening of winter means a lit fire, hot tea, restorative bars of chocolate, and soup. This soup. I know I swore off stews and deliberately rib-sticking stuff two posts ago when I was prematurely onto summery dips (Pea and Coriander Dip: Mock Guac), but today’s Caldo Gallego is a transitional soup, featuring spring vegetables, in a light but hearty tasting broth. So it will be perfect for any weather. Hopefully you are basking in the sun, maybe digging in your garden, perhaps eating your lunch on a sunny bench. Or at the very least not rescuing hens from sudden down-pourings of pea-sized hail. And so it continues. Tune in next time for a plague of locusts. I wonder what I will wear for that?
Is your local weather crazier and more unpredictable than Scotland’s? Have you been breaking out the crockpot? Or, are you stoking up the barbeque? Amuse us/make us jealous/elicit our pity (and maybe a touch of schaudenfraude) with how your spring (or autumn for my Antipodean friends) is faring. I love your comments so don’t be shy.
And so to chat about the soup.
Last year: Chocolate Beetroot Cake (with gorgeous edible flowers)
Miss R’s Cooking Track of the Week: El Sol de la Noche, by Cuban-Scottish fusion band, Salsa Celtica. Also check out this short documentary about Salsa Celtica. Outstanding, can’t-sit-still kind of music.
Not in any way, shape or form authentic, but this vegan version of the meat-tastic soup that is caldo gallego, should warm a few cockles with its savoury, smoky notes. Use any greens that you like – turnip greens are most authentic – but try and use what we over in the UK call ‘new’ potatoes: waxy, small potatoes that hold together when cooked. And maybe splash out on a small amount of best quality dried chorizo, for a sizzling and spicy garnish. Makes six generous servings – perfect for leftovers.
Optional garnish: finely chopped, pan-fried dried chorizo (pork or vegan), 1 tbsp per serving
Have a look at your greens and if they have thick ribs, remove these and dice quite small before slicing the leaves into long ribbons and then across to make pieces about 1-2 cm. You can really do it how you like but I find smaller pieces easier to manage, chewing-wise.
Heat the oil gently in a soup pot and then saute the leeks/onions, garlic and green pepper, bay leaves, herbs, nutmeg and smoked paprika, until the onion and pepper are soft. Pour in the vinegar, followed by the chopped ‘ribs’ and leaves, turnip and potatoes. Let this cook in the vinegar for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender. Season to taste with white pepper and salt then, if you like, lightly mash the soup with a potato masher so that some of the beans and potatoes are smooshed into the soup. This soup is best the following day, but is of course delicious straight away too. Garnish with little cooked cubes of best quality dried chorizo. We like it with a good dash of hot sauce (Cholula for preference)