There are obvious disadvantages to living in a climate where you have pronounced seasons such as we do: you don't get much sun throughout the year and you can't grow vegetables all year round. For most people this means that it's perfectly possible to live a healthy life throughout the warmer months when there's cheap vegetables and fruit in abundance, but in the colder months, fresh produce is neither cheap, nor has it much nutritional value as it has either been stored for months on end or picked way before its prime to be shipped to the other side of the globe.
So for half of the year, I am craving freshly picked courgettes and beans and apples and then all of a sudden, on a fine day in summer, I will be inundated with vegetables from my own (tiny) plantation at the back of my kitchen and well-meaning friends who decide to share their bounty with someone who actually shows a fair chance of using it. But even a six-people household struggles to get through 50 kg of apples from their own trees, a massive bag of runner beans, 6 enormous aubergines and 5 kilos of zucchini dumped by a cleaner whose friend was helping out with the harvest on a local farm!
To make matters worse, courgettes are not something that I use a lot in large quantities - I'll add some here and there, for example to vegetable skewers for a summer BBQ or as part of my famous vegetable lasagne... but FIVE kilos? What to do with them? Since I wanted to use them relatively quickly as they were occuppying a rather large part of my big American-sized fridge in the garage which at the moment is entirely dedicated to the rather large harvest from my apple trees, I decided to make soup - always a good strategy, no matter what the vegetable. A braai at the Cook Sister's house for which I was asked to contribute a starter was the perfect occasion... Jeanne didn't really jump for joy as I presented the idea over the phone (partly, I think, because she hadn't seen or chose to ignore, the weather report), but I think in the end everybody loved the soup. The watercress adds a nice little zing to it and the broad beans make the soup very creamy despite being completely lactose-free, always a bonus in my book. And the chorizo, what can I say - crispy cubes of spicy chorizo can transform any dish into something special, don't you think?
This post is dedicated to the Grow Your Own event created by the lovely Andrea Meyers and hosted this month by Mowgli Chic. It's the type of event I always read about and think, God, did I just miss that again?? Not this month, no!
Courgette soup with watercress & crispy chorizo
5 medium courgettes/zucchini (ca. 800 g)
1 tbsp ghee (or butter)
300 g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
1 litre vegetable stock
2 bunches spring onions
100 g watercress
200 g spicy chorizo
Clean the courgettes, quarter them lengthwise, then cut into rough chunks. Cut the spring onions (including as much of the greens as you can) into 1 cm pieces. Fry the courgettes and onions in 1 tbsp ghee/butter in a large pot until starting to soften and brown.
Add the vegetable stock and half of the watercress, cook until the courgettes are very mushy. Meanwhile, cook the broad beans in water for about 10 minutes, remove the tough outer shells. Reserve some for decoration, then add the remaining beans to the pot and process everything to a thick soup with a hand-held blender. Season to taste.
Peel the chorizo and cut into 1 cm cubes. Fry in a non-stick pan without the addition of any oil - the chorizo will release quite a lot of its own, deeply orange oil which you will want to retain for serving. Fry until crispy, lift the chorizo pieces with a slotted spoon.
Serve the soup with the crispy chorizo, some broad beans, some watercress and a drizzle of the oil remaining from the chorizo.