This week brought the exciting news that I have reached number six on the allotment waiting list and so should get my soft city hands on a plot in the next few months. Usually in London, to get an allotment you have to: a) wait for two decades; b) bump off the 73 people ahead of you on the list; or, c) sleep with at least seven senior figures from the borough council. Fortunately for me, one of my local allotments got funding a couple of years ago to regenerate some disused land to create about 70 new allotments and so the waiting list is short and the turnover relatively high.
Until I get ‘The Call’ though, I continue to do what I can in my minute garden. This year I built a raised bed, read lots of websites about square foot gardening and duly planted my plot with sorrel, chard, spinach, beetroot and a tiny courgette plant. For a couple of months the chard and spinach grew happily until one day the courgette plant rose up, engulfed half of my garden and began to spew forth an endless supply of courgettes. It’s still going, the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve eaten courgette every which way all summer (a baby courgette and courgette flower risotto was a particular favourite) but soup was one thing I hadn’t yet tried.
Blue cheese is always a winner in soups and so when I saw a variety I hadn’t tried before, Nottinghamshire Blue, it seemed like fate. Made by Stilton-makers Cropwell Bishop, it appears to be a Waitrose exclusive. A regional riff on Shropshire Blue (which as any fule kno was not invented in Shropshire) it’s made to a Stilton recipe but with the addition of the colourant annatto. Cropwell Bishop Stilton are among the best and this cheese didn’t disappoint with its balance of creamy and spicy.
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Half a tbsp. olive oil
800g courgettes, finely diced
250g potatoes, peeled and diced
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
150g Nottinghamshire Blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
A few chives, chopped
Add the butter and oil to the frying pan and when the butter has melted, fry the onions, courgettes and garlic for about 10-15 minutes until they are soft. Add the diced potatoes and fry for a few minutes until they are covered in oil and butter.
Pour the stock over and simmer the soup for about 20 minutes until the potato is falling apart. Mash the vegetables for a rough consistency or liquidize if you prefer a smooth soup. Crumble the cheese into the soup and stir until it melts through.
Garnish with the chopped chives and serve immediately with warm bread (it will feed about four greedy people or six as a starter).