Here in the East Midlands you wouldn’t know we’re halfway through summer already. So much anticipation of balmy weather, so many disappointingly grey days. As a cook, I look forward to an abundance of seasonal summer produce that can be simply prepared and eaten outside. As part of team Mirror Imaging, we look to the skies for our most epic wedding shots and, as someone who hasn’t been on holiday for more than sixteen years, I am feeling bereft of summer sun this year. There’s no point in complaining, when summer doesn't deliver on its promise, it’s time to cook up the sunshine yourself.
For most people, yellow is a happy colour so it’s no accident that this bright, cheerful, sunshine-yellow, lemony broth has been entitled Happiness Soup. The inspiration and indeed its name is borrowed from Nigella’s recipe as featured in her book Nigella Summer. All I had to do was tweak the original version to make it grain-free and low-carbohydrate as well as something beautiful to behold.
Easy to make and as gloriously golden-yellow as the midday sun, this light and lovely soup not only raises the spirits, it’s clean, fresh, citrus and anise flavour perks up the appetite too.
If it doesn’t give you something to smile about on a dismal summer’s day, I don’t know what will!
Happiness Soup (Serves 4)
1 small organic onion, finely chopped
500 grams yellow courgette
zest & juice of 1 organic lemon
40g organic butter (or for vegans 3 tbsp olive oil)
1 tsp turmeric
800 ml vegetable stock (or for non-vegetarians chicken stock) - see note below
1 small cauliflower, florets only
Celtic sea salt
3-4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves only, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
The courgettes do not need to be peeled. Simply wash and trim the ends off before slicing them into 5mm (⅛ of an inch) rounds and then finely dicing them into very small confetti-like cubes.
To make cauliflower ‘rice’, cut off the florets - you don’t need any of the stem - then blitz the florets in a food processor for about 30 seconds until it comes together into a powdery cauliflower ‘snow’.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium/low heat. With the pan lid on, gently sweat the finely chopped onion in the butter for 8 minutes until soft and translucent but not coloured.
Add the diced courgettes and the lemon zest to the pan and stir to coat. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper (cut to fit the pan), put the pan lid back on, then cook on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they've slightly softened.
Stir in the turmeric, the stock and 40ml of the lemon juice and then drop in the cauliflower ‘rice’. Cook, uncovered, for 6 minutes, or just until the courgettes and cauliflower ‘rice’ are tender. Taste for seasoning. Add a little more salt and lemon juice if it needs it.
Leave to cool slightly before serving, then ladle into 4 pre-warmed soup bowls before adding a generous sprinkling of chopped tarragon on top of each bowl and a grinding of black pepper, if liked.
This soup is best eaten warm rather than hot.
For vegetable stock, I generally make up some Marigold vegetable bouillon concentrate with freshly filtered water. I then strain it - as I did here- to remove any re-hydrated bits of veg that would otherwise spoil the clean, good looks of my finished sauce or soup. Use homemade vegetable stock, if you prefer.
For non-vegetarians, a chicken stock made from freshly filtered water and the concentrated juices leftover from roasting a chicken will add extra depth and flavour to the soup.
Carbohydrate 12g Protein 5g - per serving