Every now and again, the stories pop up in the tabloids. The image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich or in a piece of watermelon. The image of Mother Theresa on a cinnamon bun. The image of Jesus on a tortilla.
I tend to do a bit of eye-rolling and turn the page, never thinking that I'd one day be caught up in an unexplained sighting of my own.
You see, with the weather being cold and grey, my natural instinct is to make soup and lots of it. Our Sunday night routine when I was a child invariably included soup and I have seen no reason to discontinue the trend here in London: Sunday night is soup night.
I have never cared much for soup from a can or a packet. The latter might be OK for a quick warm snack, but it's not really a meal. And besides, I want to know what's going into my soup! So you'd think if I made it myself, this should present no problems.
I decided on roasting the vegetables before turning them into soup for two reasons:
1. Roasting them imparts far more flavour than steaming or boiling.
2. Roasting means the vegetables absorb no moisture during the cooking, meaning that the flavours are not diluted.
And once they were roasted, it was quick and easy to mash them and add stock and milk until I reached the consistency I wanted. The taste was fabulous – all the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, carrots and onions balanced by the earthy Jerusalem artichokes. Marvellous on a wintry evening. A quick drizzle of cream to garnish and we're good to go.
But wait – what's that? An image of a seahorse has mysteriously appeared in my 100% vegetable soup! I double check my ingredient list but nope, no seahorse there. Cue spooky Twilight Zone music.
So I guess there's nothing for me to do but call the tabloids, publish my amazing story and then wait for the tour busses full of curious tourists to show up on my doorstep.
ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP (serves 2-3)
1 large potato
2 sweet potatoes
2 Jerusalem artichokes
3 large carrots
1 large onion
extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp dried thyme
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk
salt and freshly milled black pepper
cream to garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and the onion, and thoroughly scrub the other vegetables. Chop them all into rough chunks.
Toss them all in olive oil, rosemary and thyme and arrange in a large shallow dish in a single layer. Roasted them at 200C for an hour.
Transfer the vegetables to a large pot and mashed with a potato masher. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and a cup of milk and mix well. (You can vary the amount of liquid, depending on how thick/runny/creamy you want your soup).
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup untilk smooth, then return the pot to the stove to heat through. Season to taste and serve with a swirl of cream.
PS – no seahorses were harmed in the making of this soup