As mid November approaches there’s no denying that Autumn is well and truly upon us. All around the estate at Cragside the deciduous trees have turned an array of strikingly beautiful jewel colours which look stunning in the late afternoon sun. The recent Indian Summer has meant the weather has been perfect for a meandering ramble around the estate. There are a number of fantastic walks around Cragside and when I’m not working, my dog and I love to explore the the paths that twist and turn through the Crags. The gun walk is my favourite, its has some challenging climbs and descents but the views are amazing! I always find the perfect end to a long walk is a steaming hot bowl of soup, and luckily soup is always on the menu at the tea room.
Warm,comforting and cosy, a bowl full of thick velvety soup with a chunk of crusty bread is an absolute pleasure. It’s also a quick, healthy and versatile meal which can be made with only a few ingredients. With endless combinations there’s a soup recipe to suit any occasion whether its a traditional blend like lentil and bacon, a spicy mulligatawny or a light refreshing Chinese broth.
As soup is a big seller in the tearoom we tend to change the recipes quite often but one of my favourites combines split peas and celeriac; an underrated and under used root vegetable packed with flavour. Celeriac is currently bang in season so should be available in green grocers and supermarkets everywhere.
Celeriac & split pea soup. Serves 4 – 6
200g yellow split peas, soaked overnight
1 Celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large or 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
1.5 litre of vegetable stock
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt & pepper to taste.
4 tbsp crème fraiche
A few chives
Soak the split peas in enough water to cover them the night before you want to make the soup.
Put most of the oil (reserving a little for garnish) into a heavy based large sauce pan and add the chopped onions, cooking for 3 – 4 mins on a medium heat until translucent in colour, add the crushed garlic, stir and continue to cook for a 2 more minutes.
Add the celeriac and potato to the pan and stir thoroughly.
Pour over 1 litre of the stock and add the split peas to the pan. Bring the stock to the boil and then reduce the heat until the soup is simmering. Continue to cook the soup for at least 2 and a half – 3 hours until the split peas are tender, you will need to add the rest of the stock during this time (and possibly a little more water as the split peas tend to soak up a little of the liquid.)
Once the soup is cooked, blend to a smooth consistency and season to taste.
Garnish with a tbsp of crème fraiche, a drizzle of the oil and a sprinkle of chopped chives.
Serve with a huge hunk or crusty bread or a cheese scone.