All new meals in minutes, 192pp.
by Ainsley Harriott
BBC Books, London, 2003
Cooking on page 32
I’d never heard of Ainsley Harriott until I moved to Australia.
Turns out he is a well-known UK chef and rather famous as the host of that country’s series of Ready, Steady, Cook. This weekday program challenges two chefs (assisted by two home chefs) to create four or five dishes from five core ingredients (plus what’s in the pantry). It all has to be done in 20 minutes. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy watching the Aussie version, although I miss having Peter Everett as the host.
Anyway, a couple of years ago I bought two of Ainsley’s cookbooks and have used them a lot (watch for more page-32 recipes from him), so I was quick to buy this book as well.
I almost never buy a cookbook at full price, so I’m guessing I got this for half price or less. It may have been a second-hand, but there is no price noted in pencil on the inside front cover.
Mushroom, almond and garlic soup
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
250 g (9 oz) button mushrooms, sliced
150 ml (1/4 pint) white wine
300 ml (1/2 pint) vegetable stock
50 g (2 oz) ground almonds
50 g (2 oz) flaked almonds, toasted
120 ml (4 fl oz) double cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
granary bread chunks, to serve (optional)
Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based pan. Tip in the onion and garlic and fry gently over a medium heat for 3 minutes until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Pour in the wine, increase the heat and allow the wine to bubble down and reduce for 1 minute.
Add the stock to the pan with the ground almonds and half the flaked almonds, reserving the remainder to use as a garnish. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Transfer the soup into a food processor and blend to a purée, or use a hand blender, then gradually pour in the cream. Pour the soup back into the pan, season to taste and re-heat gently.
Ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls and scatter over the reserved almonds. Drizzle over a teaspoon of olive oil and add a parsley spring to each bowl. Serve at once with chunks of granary bread on the side, if liked.
How it played out
Actually made as written with double cream and mushrooms that were almost at their use-by dates. I used four cloves of garlic because two were quite small.
I used the stick blender to buzz it all up. Nice shortcut.
I didn’t bother to drizzle extra olive oil into the finished dish. Some things are overkill. I did, however, slice some lovely bread that didn’t make it into the pics.
As an aside, you may have noticed the reference to pints. Ainsley has used the British pint which is 600 ml, unlike the US pint which is 2 cups (or about 500 ml).
Great soup and one worth making again—especially when mushrooms are on special.