At this time of year it’s tempting to retreat under the duvet and attempt to sleep through to spring. However instead of hiding from winter let’s tackle it head on with the help of some deliciously warming recipes courtesy of Maldon Sea Salt.
Slow-cooked tomato and basil soup
If you’re looking for a simple but delicious dish to warm your bones after a cold winter morning look no further than the humble tomato soup. This recipe is particularly delicious thanks to the 24hour marinade and long, slow roasting of the tomatoes.
- 900g plum tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves
- 50g basil leaves
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 150ml balsamic vinegar
- 150ml olive oil
- 225g shallots
- 50g butter
- 225g onions
- 3tbsp tomato puree
- 1.25litres vegetable or chicken stock
- Maldon sea salt and pepper
Cut the tomatoes and garlic cloves in half. Put them in a bowl with the thyme, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sliced shallots and half the fresh basil – season. Mix together then cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for 24 hours to marinate.
The next day preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2 and transfer the marinated tomatoes and shallots to a roasting tin to cook slowly for 2-3 hours.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions, cooking them slowly until softened. Add tomato puree and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the slow-cooked tomatoes. Mix together with the stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat, add the rest of the basil and liquidise.
Twice cooked Harlequin squash soup with Fourme D’Ambert croutons
If you’re looking for a soup with a little more substance this is a great option. It requires a bit more time but the result is magnificent, especially if served with the Fourme D’Ambert croutons. Other cheese can be used but a blue cheese; especially Fourme d’Ambert works particularly well, balancing its acidity with the sweetness of the squash.
- 4 Harlequin squash
- 25g butter
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 400ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 small baguette (one day old)
- 100g Fourme d’Ambert
- Maldon Sea Salt
- Black pepper
Preheat the oven to 130°C/250°F/gas½. Cut the tops off the squash and put to one side then scoop the seeds out and season with black pepper and Maldon Sea Salt. Place the squash, including tops, on an ovenproof tray and bake for 10-12 minutes (keep an eye on the tops as they may take less time.) Remove from the oven, allow to cool and scoop the flesh out.
Heat the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onions and garlic – sweat together for 3-4 minutes. Add the scooped-out squash, put a lid on the pan and cook until soft which will probably take around 5 minutes. Add the milk and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Use a hand blender to blitz the soup to your preferred consistency and season to taste.
Whilst the soup is cooking you can prepare the croutons. Increase the oven temperature to 160°C/320°F/gas2-3 and slice the baguette then place on a tray and drizzle with oil. Bake for 7-8 minutes until golden and crisp. Leave to cool slightly then crumble the cheese over the crouton and serve with the soup.
Braised venison with pomegranate
A cold winter’s weekend is the ideal time to indulge in the ultimate comfort food – a slow cooked casserole. This recipe opts for venison rather than beef and is best served with mashed potato and a garnish of pomegranate seeds – a real winter warmer for all the family.
- 1.2kg piece venison haunch (boned)
- 1 bottle full-bodied red wine
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large carrot
- 1 stick celery
- Half a medium onion
- 2 juniper berries
- 3 litres good quality brown veal stock
- Smoked Maldon Sea Salt
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate to serve
Dice the venison into 5cm cubes. Put the red wine in a large bowl with the garlic and chopped vegetables and add the venison. Cover and leave overnight to marinate.
The next day drain off the wine and transfer to a pan. Bring to the boil, reducing by two thirds then pass through a sieve lined with a cloth to ensure no sediment is in your sauce.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas 2. Separate the venison from the vegetables and pull out the garlic then roast the venison until golden brown. Add the vegetables and colour until brown. Now add the garlic, juniper berries, veal stock and strained wine marinade. Bring to the simmer and cover with greaseproof paper and a tightly fitting lid. Transfer to the oven for around 3 hours, until the meat is tender to the touch.
Pour off the stock into a pan and bring to the boil to reduce for a sauce. Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency pour the liquid over the meat and vegetables. Season with Smoked Maldon Sea Salt and serve with mashed potatoes and a garnish of pomegranate seeds.
All images courtesy of Maldon Sea Salt.