South Leigh Seasonal Recipes

I planted four courgette plants this year as I thought at least a couple of them would succumb to slugs. Needless to say all four survived and so I needed a new recipe that used more than one courgette at a time. The addition of mint and roasted hazelnuts gives this soup a lovely delicate flavour that you can enjoy either hot or cold. It freezes well.

These lightly pickled vegetables are also a great way to use some of your courgette harvest, or indeed any seasonal vegetables. They are delicious and really popular. The batch I made disappeared in no time! E.L.
Courgette, Mint and Hazelnut Soup (Serves 6)

This soup can be served hot or chilled - depending on the weather! If you are lucky enough to have a cob or hazel nut tree, and you can harvest them before the squirrels and mice do it for you, you can shell, roast and grind your own. Alternatively, roasted ground hazelnuts are available from Sainsbury’s.
500g firm courgettes, cut into 2cm slices
vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1-2 tblsps fresh mint, finely chopped
or, 1-2 tsps dried mint
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
freshly ground black pepper
40g ground, roasted hazelnuts
Crème fraîche, to serve
hazelnut or olive oil, to finish (optional)

Heat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6. Drizzle the courgettes with a little oil then spread them in a roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes, giving the pan a good shake after about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a little more of the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, carrot and celery over a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes or until tender but not brown. Add the roasted courgettes, the ground hazelnuts and mint and cook for a few more minutes, stirring well. Crumble over the stock cube, season with pepper, then cover the vegetables with water and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blitz in a food processor, liquidiser or with a hand blender. Add more stock, or water, to thin the soup if it is too thick and check seasoning. Serve hot or cold with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a drizzle of hazelnut or olive oil.

Lightly Pickled Summer Vegetables

This is a different sort of pickle. It is ready to eat in less than an hour, rather than months, and has a delicate and fresh taste that goes brilliantly with just about anything, but especially with oily fish, smoked fish and meat, cold meats, pâtés and hard cheeses. It is nice to use young or baby summer vegetables but you can also use vegetables available all year round such as cauliflower and cabbage.

Approx. 750g summer vegetables, eg. carrots, cauliflower, fennel, courgettes, patty-pan squash, spring onions, baby cucumbers and radishes
15g sea salt
250 ml white wine vinegar
250ml water
125g sugar
Spices and herbs, for flavouring - see note below

Peel and trim the vegetables and, where necessary, cut into smallish, manageable pieces. Sprinkle over half the salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Arrange the vegetables in a large (850ml) screw top or Kilner jar.

Heat the vinegar, water, sugar and remaining salt in a saucepan. Add whichever spices or herbs you choose to use (see note below) and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the hot liquid over the vegetables. Seal the jar and leave for 2 hours before serving. Store for up to one month in the fridge.

Choosing flavour combinations:

You can use whatever spices and herbs you like. I used ½ tsp dill seed, ½ tsp mustard seed, 3 dried red chillies, a few peppercorns and allspice berries, and the chopped fennel fronds from the fennel bulb.

Other combinations might include: fennel seeds, bay leaves, juniper berries, coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, fresh thinly sliced ginger, whole garlic cloves, fresh chillies, dill leaves, lemon grass, orange or lemon zest.