Broad Bean and Mint Soup

Broad bean and mint soup

Today's soup making process was not an unqualified success but I learned from it.  I chose to make broad bean and mint soup and yesterday the spouse duly tracked down and bought the broad bean pods as instructed.  I got out two pints of home made chicken stock to defrost, noting that the supplies were running low. This morning the spouse brought the younger offspring out for a walk in Dun Laoghaire and I got up after Sunday Miscellany to start on the soup preparations. My mistake was to interpret the the instructions to mean that I was to use the pods, not the beans themselves. The recipe (one of Sophie Grigson's) says: "...Skin each bean by slitting the tough outer skin with a fingernail or a small sharp knife ..." For some reason I pictured runner beans and the way you have to remove the "thread" from them. So, having blanched the pods, I pushed out the beans, discarded them and prepared the pods for cooking. I then prepared onions and celery before going back to bed to phone my sister. Incidentally, her broad beans are just ready for cutting. 

At about midday I came back downstairs to start getting the soup ready for lunch.  The spouse - now back from the walk - said something which made me realise that I was using the wrong part of the broad beans. By this time I had the onions and celery sweating in a sauce pan, so I decided quickly to rescue the discarded beans and skin them. When I weighed them, I saw I had only a quarter of the required amount. This meant I would need to reduce the amount of stock and other ingredients (namely, Greek yoghurt and mint) and not keep some of the beans in reserve for chopping and adding just before serving. I added a lot of thyme just in case the soup needed more flavour. In the end, we had about half a bowl of soup each and it was very tasty. 

Broad beans are funny creatures - I quite like them but only in small quantities. I will try this soup again. That said, the second broad bean soup in The Soup Book looks interesting. Baby broad bean soup contains onions, leeks, garlic, chives, potatoes and radish leaves, and is served with croutons. 

P.S. I saved the broad bean pods and used them when making a fresh batch of stock after lunch. 

Bee brief 

  • A few items of interest. Last Sunday morning (25th July), the first item on Sunday Miscellany was a poem entitled Summer of Bees. From what I can remember about it one week later, it was about trying to eat ice cream while being pestered by bees, then not accepting a defence of bees. I think the author was mistaking bees for wasps in this instance.
  • That afternoon the spouse, the younger offspring and I went to see the film Colony at the Irish Film Institute. It is a beautifully photographed film, telling the story of the decline in the number of bees in the USA and the implications for the business side of bee keeping. The main possible causes of the decline were outlined, but the viewer was left to decide for herself. 
  • On Thursday the spouse spotted an illustration called Bee Box in the window of a shop in Ranelagh. 
  • Arrangements are in train for attending the course on getting bees ready for winter down in Scariff. The older offspring has agreed to give me a hand with making bee boxes.
  • Earlier today I finished reading Solar by Ian McEwan. It's not about bees, but it does mention beeswax twice and the protagonist's partner is called Melissa, a name from the Greek for honey bee. 
  • I have made chocolate mousse for our pudding this evening. The accompaniment is yoghurt with honey and vanilla seeds mixed in.
  • Einstein once remarked that "if bees were to disappear, man would only have a  few years to live." Should we be really worried about the death of bees? This is a story the spouse found a link to.

 That's it for this week.


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