There are foods that bring me back, that transport me instantly to a time and a place.
There’s a certain type of soup that brings me to the Fort Conan Hotel, a few metres from the house I grew up in. At every communion, confirmation and funeral I attended there in this vegetable soup was served in stainless steel bowls with a blob of cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley by local ladies in white blouses, black skirts and comfortable shoes.
I’d never managed to recreate it myself, nor had I asked anyone for the recipe, but one day we were in my friend Anne-Marie’s house for lunch and she served us the exact soup. The kids gobbled it up. I marvelled. I texted her for the recipe as soon as I got home and here it is. I call it “hotel soup” but my kids call it “Katie and Conor’s Granny’s soup” as that’s where the recipe came from.
2 cloves garlic
5 carrots (diced)
2 leeks (finely sliced)
2 potatoes (diced)
Chicken stock (1.5 litres- with a stock cube is fine)
Salt and Pepper to season
Peel and chop all the vegetables and mince the garlic.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and sauté the leeks and garlic in it until the leeks are tender. Next, add the rest of the vegetables and sauté for about 10 minutes on a low heat to soften them.
Then, add the chicken stock, I use at least 1.5 litres, use more if you want a runnier soup or less if you want a really thick one (much will depend on the exact size of your vegetables but I’m not going to start telling you to weigh vegetables now).
Simmer until the vegetables are all cooked, then blitz with a hand blender so that despite it being called vegetable soup there is no evidence of any vegetable lumps in the pot.
Add a spoon of cream and some finely chopped parsley and serve with a white roll to transport yourself back to an Irish country hotel of the 1980’s.