Rocket Soup and Vegan Garlic Bread

I am a soup fanatic. I can't go a week without having it at least once but I usually eat (drink? slurp?) it for lunch because I guess I feel it isn't substantial enough for a dinner dish. Now and again though it can be nice to have something a little lighter for an evening meal and it certainly helps that homemade soups are super quick and easy. The bonus being they also happen to be much tastier and healthier than shop bought soups, which tend to be full of additives, preservatives and salt - too much of which can play havoc with my water retention, NOT good. Ah, the joys of turning 30. Did I mention I was rapidly leaving behind my twenties? Well I am - 3 weeks left and then it's hello thirties! I'm not sad, just more despairing and confused as to where the time actually went. If you have any ideas, do let me know. I kinda defeated the purpose of this soup by pairing it with a large garlic baguette but, y'know, I ain't perfect. I mentioned the amazing garlic bulb I roasted in a previous thread so I had a lot of garlic to use up and I hadn't had garlic bread in forever so eating it was heavenly, if not hugely calorific - hey ho.

I adore peppery rocket but I'm always disappointed that it's mostly used as a salad leaf. There are dozens of ways these potent greens can be integrated into your cooking and I especially like it in hot dishes - like this soup. There's nothing to it really so even though rocket can be a bit pricey, if you think about it, it's forming the main part of the dish, which means it's actually quite reasonable.

I reckon this would make for a really impressive but simple starter to a dinner party. If you're anything like me you'll like to do as much prep in advance so you can spend the maximum amount of time with your guests - there's nothing worse than being invited over to someone's house for dinner and they spend the entire time stressing over a stove. I like to be relaxed at my dinner parties and soup is a great way to ensure I can greet my guests properly without worrying about pulling lots of different complex elements together for the starter.

Or......just do what we did and enjoy it as your main meal in the evening. Simples.

rocket soup

6 shallots

10 salad potatoes

6 heaped cups of rocket (arugula)

1 vegan vegetable stock cube

olive oil

salt and pepper

Thinly slice the shallots. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan, add shallots, season and gently soften for 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally ensuring the shallots don't brown.

Wash, peel and slice the potatoes. Add to the pan, season and stir. Add the stock cube and top with 4 cups of freshly boiled water. Simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes have softened.

Add the rocket (reserving a few leaves for garnish) and allow to wilt. Transfer to a blender, food processor or use a hand blender. Blend well until completely smooths. Return liquid to pan and gently heat - do not allow to boil.

Taste, season if necessary and serve.

garlic bread

1 small wholemeal baguette

1/2 cup vegan butter/spread

1 small bunch flat leaf parsley

3 very large roasted garlic cloves or 6-8  normal sized ones

salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.

Partially slice the baguette, i.e. leaving it attached at the bottom with enough room to stuff the butter in the crevices.

Finely chop the garlic and the flat leaf parsley. In a bowl mix the butter, minced garlic and parsley. Season to taste, ensuring it is thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture and stuff/spread it between each of the crevices. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cut and serve alongside the soup.