Spicy soup and pussy willow perfect for a cold March day

Spicy soup perfect for a cold March day

A March morning and my garden is covered with snow. A few scattered flakes still glide down reluctantly, in slow motion, settling on young bulb leaves ready for spring. The cherry tree is tempted to blossom; a few pink flowers have already opened to the cold day.

Simon has taken the morning off, which is unusual. He has a bad cold which he has been fighting for days, but today the cold has won and he is staying in bed. I offer cups of tea to which he says no. Then I offer soup, to which he says yes.

Soup has restorative powers. It can be the best embrace when you feel ill and in discomfort. My kids always ask for it, in Spanish,“Sopita” or little soup, as they curl on a sofa for recuperation. For them I make a very light broth with cubed vegetables and tiny pasta shapes, but this morning I feel that a spicy warming soup can help clear Simon’s clogged up airways.

I am busy and I still have to walk the dog, so I don’t feel much like going out to get ingredients. I will make a soup with whatever I have already. I used to teach cooking to a group of teenagers at the local Steiner school and we used to cook our lunch completely improvised. For the stone soup lesson each had to bring a vegetable and from it, we built a delicious soup full of surprise.

Remedial Soup.

1 big onion, chopped.
3 organic carrots, peeled and chopped.
4 or 5 small celery sticks, slice, leaves included.
a thumb size piece of ginger, grated.
1/3 of a red chilli , sliced with some seeds.
1 sweet potato, sliced.
½ a butternut squash (this one is a Coquina), peeled and cubed.
Dash of Tamari sauce
Salt and pepper
2 vegetable stock cubes
teaspoon of olive oil.
A few strands of dried thyme.
Healing wishes.

Heat up the olive oil in a heavy based pan. Cook until translucent, then add the celery and carrots and sweat for five minutes under low heat. Add seasoning. Stir and add the rest of the ingredients. Sweat for five minutes. Add a splash of tamari and a few minutes later add 1 ½ pints of boiling water. Check the seasoning and add stock cubes. Place lid on and simmer for 25 minutes. Blitz with a hand held blender.
Check seasoning.

Serve once the soup has cooled down slightly. Soup served too hot is difficult to taste and it can burn your mouth, which will prevent you from enjoying it.

By the time we shared the soup, the sun came out. The snow has begun to melt and I am off to enjoy a river walk with Mr P.