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Strong to the finish


GREEN LIGHT  Spinach soup, thickened with potato, is somehow hearty and light at the same time.

Redmond Cabot

As I write, there’s a storm roaring and debris is flying around the place, and we’re nearly in June. And sometimes you think, ‘For the love of God, enough already’. Enough of the rant and the First World problems. But we all have bad days, especially now. And by the time you read this, the storm will have passed and a calm (of sorts) restored.
The Brunette says there are days she’d rather starve than cook. But we still have to feed the kids. Who these days are always hungry – but they never know what for!
Strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me spinach. Remember Popeye?
The homegrown goodies are yielding many blessings in our house. The spinach and kale plants the kids set in pots are thriving. The broad beans are flourishing – though I’m fearful for them in tonight’s storm (not to mention the pet lambs…).
With the greens, we just pick for each meal and hope they will grow back again, and so far this is working nicely. A breakfast may be gently fried tomatoes and finely chopped chili, a small handful of spinach and kale – wilted – salt, pepper and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Add in two eggs per person and form into two little omelettes. Flip and cook the underside then serve on sesame bagels or whatever bread you have to hand.
If you want to make a meal out of something quick like a soup, get a load of good-quality sourdough bread to dip in. You could do an austere but very healthy spinach broth with water and whatever stock you have to hand (use nettles if you prefer), or push the boat out with a creamy, velvety concoction. If you’re in Westport, for the most moreish bread, contact Westport bakers Patrick at Cornrue Bakery or Becky at Becca’s Bakery.

Decadent spinach soup

What you need

  • 50g butter
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped  
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 medium potato, chopped into small cubes
  • 450ml veg or chicken stock
  • 600ml full fat milk
  • 450g washed and chopped spinach (or young nettles)
  • Zest of half a lemon, finely grated
  • Small pinch ground nutmeg
  • Tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 3 tbsp double cream to serve

What you do
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion, sauté gently for five to six minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a further one minute. Throw in the cubed potatoes, cover in oil and cook for another minute or so.
Pour in the milk and half the spinach and simmer for ten to 15 minutes. Cool for about five minutes. Then add the rest of the spinach and whizz with a hand blender or in a processor ’til smooth and sheeny. Reheat, season with sea salt, pepper and nutmeg. Easy as you go with the nutmeg; less is more.
Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of double cream in each and a sprinkling of chives.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.