Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Fresh and a bit wild looking this soup–adapted from a recipe in The New York Times–for the first day of March.


You build most winter vegetable soups from the inside out—i.e. making a “soffrito” of finely chopped vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot, cooked slowly in olive oil, before adding stock—the taste “engine room” for a big winter-warming blanket.

But it’s March 1st today, so I’m lightening up a little–starting with plain water, not stock, adding the ingredients in stages, building the taste and depth gradually.

The lemon zest topping—sprinkled just before serving— is a touch of Spring.

First stage:


Bring the water to the boil and add the first eight ingredients.

  • 2 pints water
  • 3 tsp salt–more to taste
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion–(for the taste)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 1 lb tinned (canned) chickpeas
  • a small piece of parmesan rind (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves–pulped

Bring back to a simmer and cook, covered, on a low heat for 30 minutes.



Second stage:


  • 3 carrots–peeled and sliced
  • 3 sticks celery–chopped
  • 1lb/450gm–tomatoes–chopped
  • 1/2 small cabbage–sliced and roughly chopped

Add the sliced vegetables and bring back to a simmer.





Cook, covered, for a further 30 minutes.

Third stage:

During this second half hour of simmering, prepare the parmesan mix for sprinkling.

  • 3 tbs grated parmesan
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp milled black pepperIMG_9808

 Mix the three topping ingredients and sprinkle over the soup before serving.





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Marmalade peered round the gate–he’d heard voices but wasn’t sure whose.

He walked into the courtyard and being a ginger, gingerly approached the house.

As he crossed the threshold he discovered it was his people, returned from somewhere after sometime.

“And I’m supposed to be pleased?– well, no doubt they’ll give me some extra food to curry favour which will be good”.

Meredith took him to the vet yesterday, he seemed so low.

Nothing wrong except a bit of a weeping eye.

Tender loving care will do it we’re hoping and a nudge or two from Beau.

Beau behaves as though we never went away and has grown into a young adult cat.

Life goes on fast.

He’s liking the outdoor life and cheerfully comes and goes–discovering strange new shapes…

Yesterday he caught a bird–in spite of the little bell round his neck– scattering the poor thing’s feathers hither and thither–just another toy.

Meredith told him off in no uncertain terms but he showed no shame.

Stalwart Pippa–head cat–was friendlier than is her custom when we return from journeys and freer with her head-butting hugs.

Lucien was nowhere to be seen–nothing new in that.

Dear thing turned up later though–to sleep on the bed.

The garden has suffered from another bout of extreme cold while we were absent.

Things have died or at least been challenged.

Our lemon tree–so prized–we thought was a goner; but cutting back the dead stuff this morning,

Meredith spotted some hopeful signs.

So maybe all is not lost and we arrived in time to catch the almond blossom.

The herald of Spring.

A month is a long time for a garden to be left but what a blessing this fleeting show of beauty always is.

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Nature’s first green is gold.

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.


Robert Frost

[The American poet much loved by my American wife, Meredith.]

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You might say “so what?”, cows are usually in fields. True–but these cows haven’t been in the field at the back since October; they’ve been cooped up in the barn all winter. Sorry to go on about it, but something’s up.

My father spent a year in Arizona in 1944 training to be a fighter pilot.

Dad is under the '2'- -far left

He  returned with a strong affection for America and a permanent tan. He used to delight us kids, about this time of the year, by quoting the so-called Brooklyn National Anthem “Ode to Spring”– which went:

Da spring is sprung
Da grass is riz
I wonder where dem boidies is?

Dem boids is on der wing.
Ain’t dat absoid?
Der little wings is on der boid!

There’s plenty of blue tit traffic to and from the bird table–which leans over the field where the cows are enjoying the fresh pasture.

The almond blossom is out–almost–enjoying the sunshine.

Lautrec market is buzzing–a smaller version of Realmont–and there’s a queue at the fish stall. Pots of daffodils are for sale at the épicerie [grocer] and people are talking in that animated fashion that indicates they know something’s up.

I pop into the tiny branch of the bank to do a transfer. Even the Manager is in a good mood.

No room for complacency though. He reminds me, with a bank manager’s useful caution, that things can change again and I remember that this time last year, there was snow on the ground.

Haiku from mid-March 2010:

A chill north wind–cuts,

And keeps the snow from melting,

In the midday sun.

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