Almost four weeks ago, I got on a plane with two very heavy suitcases, two packets of tissues and a heart full of excitement. After six absolutely wonderful years in Australia, I returned to Switzerland, my other home. It’s great to be back. This time round it’s a little easier getting used to my “new” home, because everything is familiar. Yet there are so many subtle differences I’m having to accustom myself to, such as not adding a “how are you?” after the initial “hello” when speaking to a stranger, having to look up when waiting for a green light when crossing the street because it doesn’t make a clicking noise when it’s okay to go and remembering that most of the shops are definitely not open on Sundays. And at the same time I can’t help but miss the smell of eucalyptus, the friendly cats everywhere, the affordable restaurant food, the lovely friends left behind. Sigh.
Before I get all mopey and nostalgic, let me share with you a recipe I used to make about once a week back in the Melbourne era. It’s not really a recipe per se, more an assembly of ingredients, one I’d fall back onto when my five a day count was near non-existent, when I felt that I needed to give myself and my suffering immune system some pampering. It’s a simple vegetable soup, with the addition of saffron, for a little special hint of sunny warmth. You can add pulses, pasta and any herb you like, but I usually like to keep it simple and stick to the veggies in my fridge. The actual star of this dish is the chipotle butter, which I used to have on toast, now on fresh, crunchy, chewy bread (gasp!). It’s spicy and wonderful and very very morish, so be sure to make more than you think you’ll need.
To cold days, to winter, to warm hugs and memories.
Saffron and Kale Soup with Chipotle Buttered Toast
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
1/6 celeriac, finely chopped
2 carrots, quartered, finely chopped
3 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
4-5 kale leaves, very thinly sliced
1.5 litres of vegetable stock
1 big pinch saffron threads
a dash of soy sauce
a few drops of lemon juice
In a large saucepan, fry the onion in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic, stir for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the vegetables, the stock and the saffron. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until all vegetables are cooked through. Brighten the soup with the lemon (you don’t need much) juice, add the soy sauce for a boost of umami, and season to taste. Serve with crusty bread or toast and chipotle butter (below).
100g butter, softened
2 tsp chipotle chilli powder
a tiny squeeze of lemon juice
In a bowl, beat the butter with a fork to loosen it up. Add one teaspoon of chipotle and a few pinches of salt, as well as the lemon. Give it a good stir. Have a taste, then add more or the rest of the chipotle. It will seem quite spicy at first, however it will soften as it rests.
If you really don’t like spicy, I suggest you only use ¼ tsp of chipotle and replace the rest with smoked paprika powder.