Celery soup, dare I say a la Simon Hopkinson?

It’s dreary outside and in, with little more than a bunch of celery – tired looking at that – in the fridge. But let’s see…

Take a roomy pot, sweat an onion in a generous quantity of butter. When softened add a bunch of chopped celery, leaves too. Stir and continue to cook gently for a while and then add water to cover. Bring to boil and simmer for half an hour or so. Puree.

Meanwhile you have made Simon Hopkinson’s ‘curry essence’ as he calls it.

Very gently fry finely chopped onion, maybe 50g or so, in oil not butter or ghee as you don’t want it to solidify after cooking. I used grapeseed oil. Add 2 heaped teaspoons of good curry powder, I use Julie Sahni’s Master Curry Powder and fry very gently, you don’t want this to burn. Add a heaped teasp of tomato puree, stir a minute to mix and then add bay leaf, 150ml red wine, 120ml water, 2 tblesps mango chutney or apricot jam. Bring this to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. Hopkinson now suggests putting it through a fine sieve, I don’t see any need for this, maybe it depends on one’s next intention….not to mention if you have a fine sieve. I don’t. It keeps in a jar for a few weeks and he suggests adding it to a salad dressing as well as an egg dish.

Now add this to the celery soup, maybe a couple of tablespoons, but obviously to taste. Salt and pepper. Cream if you wish – I did.

We had this with toast on which we lavished Gentleman’s Relish from Fortnum and Mason’s. I don’t know why they say to use it sparingly, having finished a jar over two sittings. Manny suggested it was to make you feel like it wasn’t so expensive. Cunning!

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