If like me you were traumatized by school dinner boiled to death, mushy, rancid and a curious shade of muddy pink Brussel sprouts it might be time to revisit them on adult terms. I have recently been experimenting with them (almonds, pancetta and even chorizo thrown into a wok and stir fried) and am becoming a fan.
The trick is I think to stir fry them just until they are browning and caramelizing and this gives an amazing sweet taste that offsets the slightly sulphury compounds found in all brassicas and most importantly it cooks them so they retain their crunch. The addition of cream and parmesan to Brussel sprouts seems to be one of those food “holy trinities” – they go just brilliantly (also good is a gratin of Brussel sprouts with parmesanned breadcrumbs), and this soup uses that to great effect.
This recipe is one of those recipes that is more a guide than a list of quantities to be followed religiously. In these abstemious times it is good to have recipes that seem to be made for using up leftovers and in fact the version I made on Boxing Day this Christmas made full use of the left over gravy and bread sauce…in to the soup pan they went! I think I garnished with crispy bacon but it might have been a parsley drizzle. So here is a recipe with suitable improvs and substitutions thrown in:
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 or 3 roast potatoes or parsnips would be fine to add
1 liter of stock or left over gravy made up with water to 1 litre1.2l vegetable stock , made from a stock cube
600g pan fried until caramelized a little Brussel Sprouts (if using leftover sprouts then also do try and fry them to obtain this caramel taste)
Some cream, milk or leftover bread sauce – approx. 500ml
A little nutmeg and fresh thyme and a bay leaf
100g freshly grated parmesan (other strong cheese does work but I like the parmesan)
Fry the sprouts in a wok until caramelized (helps to halve them) with the chopped onion. Add any other vegetables you are using when the Brussels are done.
Pour into a larger saucepan that is big enough to contain all the liquids. Add the stock/gravy and cream, a pinch of nutmeg, a bay leaf and two or three sprigs of fresh thyme.
Bring to the boil and when boiling switch off and add the parmesan. Now blitz with a hand blender. Add milk until you have the consistency that you require.
Note: it is worth making sure you use stock – a stock cube in a hurry never hurt anybody – as it deepens the flavor and help makes the dish taste like soup and not pureed vegetables.
By Rachel Sargent, Guest Writer
Rachel Sargent is owner of The London Street Atelier, which organizes cookery classes, private dinners and offers catering. More about it here.
(photo credits: Rachel Sargent)