Nothing helps gladden the heart and soothes the soul like a well made soup

The America novelist and food writer Lawrie Colvin wrote that: “To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.”

I’d add “good soup” to that quote. Nothing gladdens the heart and soothes the soul like a well made soup.

The essence of making this complete meal a success should start with a good stock. The first thing we were ever taught at college was to make these aromatic liquids – roasted bones, simmering with vegetable trimmings and herb stalks. They were cooked gently for hours – only bad chefs boiled their stocks, we were told. Once strained they were used to make stocks, sauces, stews, cook vegetables and anything you needed to add flavour to. Much emphasis is placed on the value of beef stock or bone broth. Having been raised on a good shin soup this isn’t news to me. Beetroot is another ingredient whose health virtues are extolled. In the recipe here they are combined in a soup with beef stock, aromatics and coconut. A dramatic looking winter warmer to brighten up a chilly, grey day.

New season rhubarb is available now for a limited period and worth cherishing while it’s here. It’s one of life’s blessings that a Yorkshire grower decided to place a bucket on early rhubarb shoots and trick them into coming up months earlier than they should.

The resulting perfectly pert, pink stems would brighten the darkest heart. There’s an area in the county of Yorkshire known as the rhubarb triangle, that straddles the towns of Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell.

Nowadays, with growing demand, the bucket has been replaced with dark or candlelit sheds, within this area, where the rhubarb grows prolifically. This treasure isn’t around for long.

You can buy forced rhubarb from a Dutch hot house, all year round but it doesn’t have the same mystique and charm. In the recipe here it’s lightly poached and suspended in a brown butter tart. Serve this buttery, zingy, sweet confection warm with a generous dollop of cream.

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