…when we first bought Belleau Cottage we didn’t really know how our lives would change but over the past 10 years the cottage has gone from occasional weekend retreat to permanent dwelling and back again as work down in London threw us a curveball or two… we’re currently spending less time at the cottage with work going so well and whilst I really can’t complain I have to say I do miss the cottage, particularly heading towards Christmas. You see whilst the summer is gorgeous with those long lazy days walking by the river, in winter the landscape takes on its own majesty and waking up on a frosty winter morning with the fields covered in a frozen blanket of ice and the sun gleaming down creating prisms of technicolour over the view is simply breathtaking. The knowledge that we’ll be toasty and warm with the fire raging in the living room warms the soul as well as cold hands.
…one of the teeny drawbacks of the cottage is the fact that we never had oil-central-heating installed. We simply thought we’d never need it as we wouldn’t be here enough. This means that the only source of heat comes from the wood-burning stove. We do have radiators throughout the cottage and once the fire is roaring there is a clever pump that shoots the hot water around to all the rooms but if you want to be warm at Belleau Cottage you have to start a fire. This means many things but one thing in particular is that we are obsessed with wood. Wood we buy, wood we ‘forage’ and wood we already own that can be broken up to burn… you will often find us out on walks or rides in the car coveting large logs and wondering how we can get them back to the cottage without rising suspicion…
spinach, watercress, celery and pea pottage
this last weekend we had a particularly miserable cold snap and The Viking was determined to go ‘logging’ which meant hours of cold, wet and frozen hands, ears and noses… I love the hard work because it means we’ll have warmth but there is nothing sweeter than getting in from the cold and eating a warm bowl of something glorious. The Viking was grumbling about needing soup and using up veg in the fridge so I whipped this up… 30 minutes from nothing to bowl is pretty good going if you ask me…
…fortuitously I was sent some incredible Fenland Celery this week. Fenland celery has become the first English vegetable to earn Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status from the European Commission, joining an exclusive club of quality British food products. To receive PGI status, an entire product must be traditionally and at least partially produced within a specific region to acquire qualities unique to the outputs of that region. In this instance, Fenland Celery gets its unique taste and texture from both the traditional production methods and the deep peaty Fenland soil it is grown in.
The celery really made this soup special and whilst I would have normally blended the finished ingredients I wanted to taste the quality of the individual ingredients it was actually quite lovely having something a little more substantial to eat… it felt like a proper meal and we were both suitably full and comforted after this…
1 small onion – finely chopped
2 sticks of celery – finely chopped
2 small potatoes – diced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 bag of baby spinach
1 bag of watercress
150g frozen garden peas
1 litre good quality vegetable stock
a dash of white wine
salt and pepper
in a large, heavy bottomed pan gently heat some butter and olive oil and sauté the onions and celery for a few minutes, then add the potatoes and fennel seeds, stir well and let them sauté for another 5 minutes, add the spinach and watercress and some salt and pepper, place the lid on and let is all sweat for about 8 minutes
add the stock and the frozen peas and let it gently bubble away for 20 minutes then serve with some crusty bread and butter
as we drive through the Fenlands every time we travel back and forth to the cottage I am entering this soup in the Shop Local bloggers challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary… I am also sending this vegetarian soup off to Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen and Jac from Tined Tomatoes who host the No Crouton’s Required challenge
eat and of course, enjoy!
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Dom, I'm sure I'd miss the cottage, but glad work is going well! That soup is gorgeous, and a meal in 30 minutes is always a good thing!
Mark Willis says
Dom, your writing is becoming more like Nigel Slater's by the day! Very atmospheric. You really do need that cat.
Sally Sellwood says
I've never cooked anything I've given the moniker 'pottage' to before, but this fits the bill perfectly. I love the winter – our new home was wonderful in the summer but the fogs and the frosty mornings have brought a whole new dimension to it – and of course isolated beaches on cold crisp sunny mornings with the dog are just magical. I can totally see how you miss the cottage at this time of year
belleau kitchen says
thank you… I do miss the cottage but I know it's always there…
belleau kitchen says
oh wow, thanks Mark, that's such a lovely comment, I will have that cat one day!
belleau kitchen says
oh The Viking constantly bangs on about pottage so I simply had to name it thusly!
You have the best of both worlds Dom! I'm so glad work is going well for you – and just think what you save on gym membership with a log pile to chop and stack!
Karen S Booth says
I KNOW all about foraging for wood!! This soup is JUST amazing, I LOVE it, the ingredients and colour,everything! GREAT recipe and post Dom,and fab photos too. Karen
Shu Han says
Celery is one of this vegetables that's just so comforting and simple. People don't scream in joy over it but it's such an important and versatile one in the kitchen- I'm glad it's finally got it's deserved status! Great looking soup- warming, hearty but light, fits the weather these days perfectly. And wa hey! Have got all the ingredients in fridge.
Your photo of the celery is majestic Dom…as is your description of winter at the cottage. I'm going to ask my husband for a country bolt hole in Lincolnshire for Christmas!
What a glorious bowlful of fabulous food!
Thanks for reminding me how quickly a warming and nutritious meal can be rustled up with a little imagination. The next time I am contemplating beans on toast I shall head for the vegetable drawer in the fridge instead!
Lisa Turner says
I'm craving a bowl of this warming and comforting soup right now! Thanks for sharing with NCR,
SavoringTime in the Kitchen says
The cottage must be wonderful with the fire roaring and a warm bowl of soup sitting in front of you! Your recipe sounds simple but so full of flavor.