Nigel Slater’s spring soup recipes

Clear, light and gentle or packing a hearty punch, these spicy Asian soups make for a zesty spring lunchIt has been a week of spoon-and-bowl food, rather than knife, fork and plate stuff. Soups that double as vegetable stews, light yet sustaining enough to be considered lunch. We ate much of it in the garden, too, surrounded by new green growth fizzing from every branch and stem. There is often a southeast Asian accent to many of my spring soups, either in the form of a citrus and chilli spice paste, or by the inclusion of sweet white miso paste. Two or three tablespoons of the latter has the ability to transport a plain chicken stock into something altogether more interesting, and something to which I can introduce crisp greens such as shredded spring cabbage, peas or spring carrots. Sometimes all three. This fermented bean paste produces a sweet-tempered broth, mild and faintly uplifting. Big flavoured it is not. (For that, we need the dark miso, a more savoury beast.) I include a splash of soy sauce and a drop or two of warming sesame oil if needed.This has been something of a soup week. I started with a green coconut aubergine soup, using a spice paste, similar to the one I use for a laksa, but without the lime leaves. Two days later, a virtually clear miso soup, crisp with sugar snap peas and spring onions, then a light porcini herb broth with pea shoots, which you can find on the website. Soups that are full of the joys of spring. Continue...

Nigel Slater’s spring soup recipes

Clear, light and gentle or packing a hearty punch, these spicy Asian soups make for a zesty spring lunchIt has been a week of spoon-and-bowl food, rather than knife, fork and plate stuff. Soups that double as vegetable stews, light yet sustaining enough to be considered lunch. We ate much of it in the garden, too, surrounded by new green growth fizzing from every branch and stem. There is often a southeast Asian accent to many of my spring soups, either in the form of a citrus and chilli spice paste, or by the inclusion of sweet white miso paste. Two or three tablespoons of the latter has the ability to transport a plain chicken stock into something altogether more interesting, and something to which I can introduce crisp greens such as shredded spring cabbage, peas or spring carrots. Sometimes all three. This fermented bean paste produces a sweet-tempered broth, mild and faintly uplifting. Big flavoured it is not. (For that, we need the dark miso, a more savoury beast.) I include a splash of soy sauce and a drop or two of warming sesame oil if needed.This has been something of a soup week. I started with a green coconut aubergine soup, using a spice paste, similar to the one I use for a laksa, but without the lime leaves. Two days later, a virtually clear miso soup, crisp with sugar snap peas and spring onions, then a light porcini herb broth with pea shoots, which you can find on the website. Soups that are full of the joys of spring. Continue...

The pick of chenin blanc | David Williams

Chenin blanc has as many fans as it does foes. If its complexities have always passed you by, then try these three wines to get an idea of the variety the grape offersLes Andides Saumur Blanc, France 2015 (£7.99, Waitrose) Chenin blanc, like riesling, is as divisive as it is versatile. Both grapes can make every kind of white style, from fizzy to dry to super sweet; and both can make wines that will improve in bottle for many years to come. What puts some people off, I think, is the thing that makes both of them so appealing to the rest of us: extreme acidity. Basically, if you like the puckering tang of a lime wedge straight up, you’ll probably enjoy riesling; while chenin appeals to those who prefer their apples on the Cox’s Pippin side of tart. Certainly a touch of green apple sourness is the main part of the appeal in Les Andides, an invigoratingly dry and tangy long-term staple of the Waitrose range from chenin’s Loire homeland.Stellenrust Stellenbosch Manor Chenin Blanc, South Africa 2016 (£8, Sainsbury’s) Where chenin differs from riesling is in the way it works when fermented and aged in toasty oak barrels – although the full-on creamy oaked style of chenin is even more of a Marmite proposition than the squeaky clean fruit that comes with making the wine in stainless steel tanks. There’s a kind of beeswaxy, honeyed fullness to go with the baked apples and quince in South African producer Stellenrust’s Stellenbosch Manor Barrel-Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016 (£13, Sainsbury’s) that makes it very good with rich pork and chicken dishes....

The pick of chenin blanc | David Williams

Chenin blanc has as many fans as it does foes. If its complexities have always passed you by, then try these three wines to get an idea of the variety the grape offersLes Andides Saumur Blanc, France 2015 (£7.99, Waitrose) Chenin blanc, like riesling, is as divisive as it is versatile. Both grapes can make every kind of white style, from fizzy to dry to super sweet; and both can make wines that will improve in bottle for many years to come. What puts some people off, I think, is the thing that makes both of them so appealing to the rest of us: extreme acidity. Basically, if you like the puckering tang of a lime wedge straight up, you’ll probably enjoy riesling; while chenin appeals to those who prefer their apples on the Cox’s Pippin side of tart. Certainly a touch of green apple sourness is the main part of the appeal in Les Andides, an invigoratingly dry and tangy long-term staple of the Waitrose range from chenin’s Loire homeland.Stellenrust Stellenbosch Manor Chenin Blanc, South Africa 2016 (£8, Sainsbury’s) Where chenin differs from riesling is in the way it works when fermented and aged in toasty oak barrels – although the full-on creamy oaked style of chenin is even more of a Marmite proposition than the squeaky clean fruit that comes with making the wine in stainless steel tanks. There’s a kind of beeswaxy, honeyed fullness to go with the baked apples and quince in South African producer Stellenrust’s Stellenbosch Manor Barrel-Fermented Chenin Blanc 2016 (£13, Sainsbury’s) that makes it very good with rich pork and chicken dishes....

Koj, Cheltenham: restaurant review

Opening a restaurant is a MasterChef finalist’s dream. It’s taken Andrew Kojima five years. Has it been worth the wait?Koj, 3 Regent Street, Cheltenham GL50 1HE (01242 580 455). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £60As the current series of MasterChef roars along, full of shout and John Torode’s eye rolling and sauces spread with the backs of spoons, consider for a moment the lot of those who will make it to the final. For weeks, they will have been allowed to indulge in the one thing that makes them happy: cooking. What’s more, by making it to the last three, they will have been told they’re good at it. One of them wins. Two of them are runners-up and announce they couldn’t be happier for the one who beat them, because the narrative demands a quiet emotional lie or two. Continue...