A really lovely looking cookbook landed on my door step recently. The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt is a beautiful compilation of recipes to inspire us all along vegetarian lines whether you want a purely vegetarian meal or perhaps you want to adapt it to be more meat/fish friendly.
The cover is simple and effective with a handprinted aubergine on the front. Pretty adorable don’t you agree? ‘Flexible’, because it will appeal to everyone whether you eat meat and fish or not. Whilst all the recipes are vegetarian there is a section at the bottom of the recipe giving you an alternative to include meat/fish. For example, one recipe that jumped out of the page at me was the ‘fennel, pumpkin and green olive tagine’ – I mean how delicious does that sound? If you follow the ‘flexible’ option then she tells you what to do to make it a chicken tagine. So simple and yet rather effective. There are some really lovely sounding recipes ‘aromatic tea-smoked mushroom ramen’, ‘courgette fritti with goat’s cheese and truffle honey’, ‘aubergine and green been laksa’, ‘Turkish pie with spinach and aubergine’ to name a few. The recipes all look very easy to follow and are perfect for lunches or dinners.
I was craving greens so was drawn to the spinach soup. I am big fan of all green vegetables and when I initially saw it it reminded me of my Forentine Lemongrass Soup that I put up on my blog when I started it over 6 year ago (excuse the dodgy photos back then) and my wild garlic, courgette and lemon soup with poached egg and crispy panko breadcrumbs I think the similarities probably start and end with the same colour. Anyway Jo’s spinach soup looked a perfect way to give my body a good dose of healthiness in one sitting. I like the fact that the crumb combined parmesan, crispy breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon zest – a bit of zing, salt and crunch rolled into one. YUM.
It took minutes to whizz together and provided a most satisfying lunch, but would work equally well as a starter. Her ‘flexible’ option was to combine anchovy fillets to the crumb, giving the soup a more salty depth.
Spinach Soup with Lemon and Garlic Crumbs (By Jo Pratt from ‘The Flexible Vegetarian’
1 leek sliced
1 bunch of spring onions (scallions), chopped
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 litre vegetable stock
500g fresh spinach leaves
flaked sea salt and freshly group black pepper
1 tsp of creme fraiche per serving, optional
For the crumbs
2 dry/stale piece white bread, whizzed in a food processor to create crumbs
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
25g finely grated parmesan cheese
- Heat the butter in a pan and gently sauté the leek, spring onion, celery, potato and bay leaf for a few minutes and then place a lid on the pan to allow to sweat and soften for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to prevent sticking at the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in the stock and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes so that the potato has softened.
- Remove the bay leaf and then add the spinach and gently stir.
- Using a hand blender blitz until smooth and vivid green. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
- In a frying pan add a glug of oil and then fry the crumbs so that they crisp slightly. Remove from the pan and mix with the lemon zest, parmesan and a little salt and pepper if required.
- Serve the soup in bowls with a scattering of crispy crumb mix and a dollop of creme fraiche if using.
The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt you can order here. It is published by Frances Lincoln.