There’s nothing better on a cool autumn evening than a warming bowl of spicy soup. Apples are great in soups, especially Bramleys. They break down adding a base note of sweetness while enhancing the other flavours in the dish. I love this recipe; in my mind it’s the perfect balance of savoury, sweet and spicy. If you want to take the heat up a notch, you can add more chilli (hot pepper) flakes at the end, but don’t go over the top with the turmeric. It’s a bold and confident flavour that can easily overpower, but used correctly will provide a golden warmth.
Prep 20 mins
Cook 45 mins
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped, reserving any leaves to garnish
2 cooking apples, such as Bramleys, cored and chopped (about 350 g/12 oz)
2 sprigs of thyme
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
750 ml (25 fl oz/3 cups) vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of walnuts, very roughly chopped
chilli (hot pepper) flakes
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the leeks, onion and fennel and fry for 5–7 minutes until everything starts to become translucent but without allowing it to brown. Keep an eye on the mixture as you don’t want anything to burn or stick at all.
Add the apples and thyme and fry for a further 2–3 minutes to allow the apples to start to cook.
Then add the turmeric and give everything a good stir to coat all the ingredients in the pan equally. Fry for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fruit and vegetables will start to stick and go slightly brown – that’s okay at this point, but you don’t want them to burn.
Add the vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring the pan to the boil for a minute and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. The fruit and vegetables need to be nice and soft and thoroughly cooked. You might need a little more or less time here, so keep watch.
While the soup is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat and toast the walnuts for a couple minutes, ensuring they don’t burn.
Add a little apple syrup or honey to the nuts, shaking the pan, until it begins to bubble and the walnuts are thoroughly coated. Turn the walnuts out onto a plate lined with baking parchment and leave to one side to cool.
Once the soup is cooked, leave to cool slightly before whizzing in a food processor in batches or blitz with a hand-held blender in the pan. You need to get it really smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little water or more stock.
Serve by filling bowls with soup and topping with the caramelised walnuts, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, some fennel leaves and a drizzle of olive oil – or any combination you like.