Sprouts have a bad reputation, but I personally love them. I think they only taste bad when they have been overcooked and start of give off the musty damp smell of old socks. Anything that smells of stinky socks and is graying in colour is never going to taste good. Cooked so they are only just soft and still green in colour they are delicious. I even love them cold, yes I know people are probably reeling back in horror now, but trust me, try them sliced and eaten with some warm crusty bread with houmous, or in a cheese and mustardy sandwich and they’re delicious!
As I went home to my parents for Christmas when I returned to my flat I was sadly sproutless. A quick visit to the shops to stock up on supplies and I came away with a huge bag of sprouts that had been reduced to 30p. There was no way I could eat through such a big bag myself so sprout soup it was to be. I know some people are already turning their noses up in disgust, but if I’d said leek soup or even broccoli or spinach, no one would have batted an eyelid. This is not just a sprout soup, it is a sprout and almond soup. The nuts added the same creamy nuttiness that chestnuts do and sprouts and chestnuts are often a classic (and much loved) Christmas side dish.
In this case the almonds come in the form of almond milk, added just before blitzing and also from a splash of almond liqueur. The alcohol itself gets burnt off during simmering, but the flavour remains and it just gives it that little something extra. I’ve seen Brandy used in soups before, so I decided to try Amaretto for an almondy touch and I loved the results.
If you have lots of leftover sprouts, or someone who insists they ‘hate’ sprouts, give them a bowl of this soup and I bet it will change their minds. Just don’t add carrots to the mix, orange carrots and green sprouts = murky brown soup and murky brown sprout soup is never going to convince anyone!
If you’re not much of a soup eater use them in place of cabbage to make bubble & squeak or how about trying some creamy blue cheese & sprout pasta that I made last year?
Sprout & Almond Soup
3 medium or 2 large potatoes
1 red onion
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp dried thyme
1 litre vegetable stock
250ml almond milk (or regular milk)
1 tbsp Amaretto (optional)
Double cream, crème fraiche or yoghurt
Bread for dipping
Heat the oil and butter together in a large saucepan until the butter is melted, then turn to a low heat.
Peel and roughly dice the potatoes and red onion. Add to the pan, stir briefly and then place the lid on the pan and leave them to sweat for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove any dirty of damaged outer leaves from the sprouts, but don’t be too fastidious as the more you remove the less you add to the soup. Cut the sprouts in half from root to top.
Stir the potato and onion mixture in the pan and add the sprouts, don’t worry if a bit of the veg has stuck to the base of the pan, this adds flavour later. Add the herbs; replace the lid and leave to sweat for 3-4 minutes longer.
Add the vegetable stock and Amaretto if using. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, replace the lid and leave to bubble away for 15 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir the soup mix well, scraping any stuck on bits from the base of the pan. Test a potato chunk for tenderness. If it is soft, then remove the pan from the heat. If not, then leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes longer.
Once the veg is soft, stir in the almond milk (or regular milk) and blitz until smooth using a liquidizer or hand blender.
Serve the soup in bowls topped with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chopped almonds.
Makes approximately 6 servings