Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fashioni girl's Spinach, chick pea & paneer winter-warming soup

Part of the quid pro quo of bed hopping is that I do cooking for my hosts. Fortunately I have been dossing down in Highbury, where Miss P (a trained chef), has a kitchen full of the toys with which this cook loves to play. No blunt knives or bashed up saucepans here.

I had been itching to make a spinach-y, meal in a bowl soup, the kind of food that keeps you warm from the inside out. Cruising the aisles in my local independent supermarket on Queens Crescent for interesting ingredients, I hovered indecisively over the Bangladeshi, Somali, & Chinese sections before filling my basket with a bag of fresh cubed paneer (Indian cheese), frozen spinach (fine for soup), chick peas, naan, and fresh curry pastes, whilst the Halal corner shop furnished me with long, budded mild green garlic shoots,(known as suen sum or suantai in China).* garlic shoots, suen sum, suantaiWhat I came up with by trial & error was inspired partly by a random magazine recipe, and partly by, well, hunger. It's healthy, utterly delicious & very filling, with a kick of chili to aid the central heating effect. I'm not very good at exact proportions, but the soup goes something like this:

Sweat a chopped or sliced onion in oil for about ten minutes 'til translucent & golden. Add & fry off for a minute or so a couple of tablespoons of curry paste (I used one with a lot of coriander & cumin). Pour in a can of full fat coconut milk (the light stuff is a waste of time & taste) and double the amount of vegetable stock - I use Marigold bouillon powder. Add a tin of drained chickpeas. Simmer for five minutes. Whilst simmering, take a frying pan & fry tiny cubes of paneer in vegetable oil until browned. (You can use haloumi in place of paneer - delicious!)

Then add about 300gms/half a pound of frozen spinach to the coconut milk pan and cook till fully heated through. Then add pre-fried paneer. In a separate pan fry thin slices of the garlic shoots. Use to garnish as the slightly crunchy texture adds a fabulous contrast to the silky smooth soup, with its nuggets of melty, chewy cheese and meaty chick peas. Serve with warmed naan bread, brushed with melted butter. Feeds four people. Even nicer if eaten next day. (Add more water or stock as it thickens overnight.)

Kattebelletje's food blog has more on garlic shoots for food obsessed people like me

Picture: By me.