It’s Tuesday, but to save me having to go all the way through this updating the timeline, assume that …
It’s Saturday night, and I’d intended to make this during the day, but the pain in my leg has been truly terrifying, so I’ve stayed off my feet as much as I could. Didn’t improve matters but at least it stopped it getting worse.
This is an old favourite recipe which, for some reason, I’ve never written up. Today, though, this is the simplified version. It still uses my home-cooked Judion de la Granja butter beans, and their stock, but to reduce the time I spend on prep, and on my feet, I’m using Aunt Bessie’s frozen carrot and swede mash.
It works very well as a soup base, with the addition of a little flour to keep it in suspension rather than have it sink to the bottom of the bowl (mainly cosmetic), and I can toss in some frozen diced celeriac too. When I have a good day (ha!), I really must buckle down, fire up the food processor, and prep and freeze soup base veg. It’ll make life much easier.
You probably know how unsightly and brown celeriac can be, right? Well, it needn’t be. If you peel and trim a decent-sized whole one – about a kilo, as it comes – dice it, put it in a plastic bag (or two), with a few tablespoons of cider vinegar, slosh it around so it’s all well coated, let it sit for 10-15 minutes or so then drain and freeze, it’ll be nice and white (well, OK, more cream, but not brown!). And once cooked you won’t taste the vinegar.
Again, it’s cosmetic, but a lot of people do find the brown mottling that runs through celeriac unappetising. Even though it’s harmless and there’s nothing actually wrong with it, it’s reminiscent of decay. And, of course, if you’re the sort of person to let it sit in the bottom of the fridge for too long, it’s hard to tell that from genuine decay. Better all round if it’s gone.
The sausages are Sainsbury’s “Toulouse Inspired”. They used to be simply Toulouse Sausages, so I assumed that they now have protected status. The English-language Toulouse tourism website says:-
“Toulouse sausage is a speciality of the South-West (their emphasis), and carries a prestigious red label. It must now meet a strict list of specifications at the time it is made, guaranteeing its exceptional quality and flavour.”
Which suggests that this is the case. However, others – Tesco, for example, and The Ginger Pig – just label theirs Toulouse Sausages, which suggests it’s not the case. Buggered if I know, but a look at Sainsbury’s ingredients shows they don’t meet the specification for Toulouse sausages (not enough meat, and the wrong type – bacon instead of pork breast). Whether Tesco’s are any more authentic I have no idea, as they don’t publish the ingredients on their website. Though they do, perversely, express the hope that the entirely missing information is accurate, before saying you shouldn’t rely on it but should read the pack info (impossible online). Thanks a bunch, guys.
Ingredients (makes about 3 litres, as ever):-
4 large Echalion shallots, finely chopped
1 medium cooking onion, ditto (or use all shallots or all onions)
250g Aunt Bessie’s frozen Carrot and Swede Mash (thawed)
200g diced celeriac
2 tablespoons Sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon celery salt (my own)
½ teaspoon fine black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 Kallo organic veg stock cube
2 tablespoons Knorr Touch of Taste Chicken**
1 tablespoon Knorr Touch of Taste Beef**
1tablespoon Knorr Touch of Taste Vegetable**
830ml Stock from cooking the beans
1 red pepper (long, pointed, Romano type, not a bell pepper), deseeded and cut into postage-stamp-sized pieces
1 pack Toulouse Sausages, poached in 500ml water, in which the stock cube has been dissolved, for about 20 minutes, then removed, cooled, sliced about as thick as a pound coin, and returned to the pot. I used to fry them first, but any colour they take on leaches away in subsequent cooking, so now I just poach them whole until they’re firm enough to slice. Cut them up on a plate so any juice that escapes isn’t lost.
700g Cooked Judion de la Granja butter beans (or three cans of Napolina butter beans, drained and rinsed)
Good knob of butter, clarified if possible
A splash of olive oil
Maldon Sea Salt and Schwarz fine black pepper, if needed
**Feel free to add more to taste. I find a combination of vegetable, chicken and beef stock products, either concentrate, like this, or cubes, works well with pork or lamb, when the meat-specific stock cubes actually don’t. Juggle the proportions to suit your own palate.
There’s no reason why, if you want a meatier, more casserole than soup, dish, you can’t add more sausages and some chicken thighs and/or drumsticks** – a sort of downmarket cassoulet. Remove the bones and skin before serving (few things are more repellent than stewed chicken skin). And, if you’re doing that, you could leave the sausages whole and reduce the amount of liquid.
**I added about a third of a Quorn Family Roast (pretend chicken), that I had in the freezer, and that works well so I’m sure proper chicken will, too.
Sweat off the shallots and/or onions in the butter and oil until soft, stir in the paprika and coriander and cook off for a few minutes. Then add everything down to and including 830ml Stock from cooking the beans, boiled, plus enough boiling water to cover, if needed. Stir well.
Bring back to the boil, reduce to simmering point and leave alone until the celeriac is soft.
While you’re waiting, in a small pan poach the sausages as described, remove to a plate to drain and, when cool enough to handle, slice, and set aside. Retain the poaching liquor to add to the soup – no point in wasting all that flavour.
When the celeriac is soft(ish), add the red pepper and the sliced sausage, which needs to finish cooking, then, after 20 minutes or so (the sausage will hold its shape well but be noticeably softer when fully cooked), add the beans, top up the water to 3 litres with the boiling poaching liquor plus any additional water needed, bring back to the boil, reduce to a simmer and leave to heat through and exchange flavourings with the stock, for half an hour, and you’re done.
Allow to cool, then taste and adjust the seasoning (apart from a little salt and some white pepper when served, mine was fine).
At this point, if you want to thicken it strain off a pint or so of the stock into another pan, whisk in 3 tablespoons of plain flour and cook off for 10 minutes, whisking more or less constantly as it thickens, paying attention to the bottom of the pan.
After 10 minutes, return to the bulk of the stew, stir well and leave to go cold.
Not only does this give it a better texture, it also amalgamates the floating slick of scarlet paprika with the mud-coloured stock, making the whole thing look far more attractive.
Refrigerate overnight so allow the various components to snuggle up to each other in the dark, and serve the following day with, as ever, some good bread. My recent Rye Bloomer would be good.
A caveat: While this is a perfectly good soup, tasty, comforting and gently spicy, I’m sure it would be improved with better, more authentic, Toulouse sausages, as Sainsbury’s “Toulouse Inspired” aren’t as good as they used to be when simply “Toulouse”.