Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Allendale Courgette and Cheese Soup – a game of Farmers’ Market Roulette

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Some years ago, while hiking in Snowdonia in Wales, I shared a hostel kitchen with three girl guides as they prepared lunch for their troop. 
I speak Geordie... This is A bool a kyle ... apparently
The first girl guide slathered margarine on the bread...
the second girl guide filled the sandwiches with square ham and plastic cheese...
the third girl guide painstakingly nibbled away any filling that peeped over the edge of the crust, before wrapping the completed sandwiches... Bleaugh!
That memory popped into my head because my beloved was recently reunited with his scout troop - the 4th Ilford - after more years than they care to remember.  These former boy scouts assured me that their food prep was much more conscientious.

Our visit to Allendale, near Newcastle in Northumberland, coincided with the Allen Mill Farmers’ Market, run by our delightful hosts, Anne and Chris Bacon at Allen Mill.

Farmers' Market Roulette - some of the contributors

There, David Harris (aka The Cookery Coach and self-confessed “Diet Satan”) was conducting a demonstration of “Farmers’ Market Roulette”.  Farmers’ Market Roulette is when David arrives more or less empty-handed and charms the stall holders into swapping some of their produce for publicity. He then conjures a dish from the ingredients collected.
On the menu was a courgette soup with a mellow cheddar-style cheese from Birdoswald Organic Cheese. Birdoswald cheese has quite a pedigree - the recipe originally coming from Ireland in 1688.  

David Harris converting local produce into a feast!

The courgettes were grown by Bluebell Organics, who produce organic vegetables, fruit juices and chutneys.
David served the soup with a hunk of Sunday Bread from Allendale Bakery and Cafe

Also featuring in David’s food roulette were pork escallopes from Hallsford Farm – a rare-breeds farm producing Llanwenog Lamb (and Mutton in season), Shorthorn Beef and Saddleback Pig. The sauce for the pork contained mustard from Marilyn Avens and Geoff Cole at Cumberland Honey Mustard. I tasted the Seville – tangy with a hint of orange - and the wonderfully nutty Original Honey Mustard. Marilyn and Geoff also produce a range of relishes, vinegars and vinaigrettes, pickled fruits, and jams.

Cumberland Honey Mustard - it's hot stuff!
This is the soup David made from his Farmers’ Market bounty. (I've reduced the quantities to suit a family-sized pot)
For 3 - 4 servings you will need...
2 shallots (or 1 onion) roughly chopped
1 fat clove garlic, roughly chopped
50g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces (a kitchen scissors is great for this job)
500g courgettes, cut into large cubes
1 litre good chicken (or vegetable stock)
100g Birdoswald Organic Cheese (or any good cheddar-style cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste

1          Heat a tablespoon of oil (light olive oil or sunflower etc) in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the shallots, garlic and bacon. Fry gently for about 2 minutes until the bacon is cooked, then add the courgettes. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, giving the courgettes time to absorb the flavours from the other ingredients.
2          Add the stock to the saucepan. When it has come to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Blend to a smooth liquid – a stick blender is the perfect tool for this. Taste and add salt and pepper only if necessary.

A landscape made famous by Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Take a Farmers' Market picnic to this famous spot on nearby Hadrian's Wall

Allen Mill Farmers’ Market and Car Boot Sale runs on the 3rd Sunday of the Month, July – December, 10.30am to 3pm. Aside from the market, Allen Mill is open all week and offers a range of local North Pennines crafts and produce, micro brewery, art centre and printmaking studio with antique presses. The mill is in an area of outstanding natural beauty and archaeological importance. It is within striking distance of Hadrian’s Wall, and the medieval market town of Hexham.
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  1. farmers markets are so much fun and I am glad David gave you this wonderful recipe. This looks like it would be perfect for a chilly afternoon. I love good hearty soups like this- Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love the concept of the Farmer's Market Roulette! And I've found some of the best cheese at my local farm markets! This soup looks delicious! : )

  3. Certainly an improvement over plastic "cheese" and Mother's Pride..
    Courgette (or zucchini as I know have to say) Soup is so goo and the addition of a good Cheddar gives it an extra edge. Creating Meals from market finds is so good

  4. This soup looks gorgeous. We have a serious glut of summer squash and courgettes so this will be put to good use in our house. I have never had courgette soup! Thanks Hester. And yes. Farmers Markets are the place to shop - all year round.

  5. Farmer's market roulette - how clever! The soup is such a beautiful color and includes ingredients I've never used in a soup before.

  6. Awesome recipe and I so loved how you came across it! Farmer's Market Roulette- brilliant!

  7. I remember Hadrian’s Wall. Loving the photos - it is bringing me back to England. Your soup looks delish!

  8. The soup looks amazing and your pictures are lovely. The sandwiches...ewww!

  9. I could use some of this soup right NOW! I think I’m getting a cold :(…

  10. I have a huge problem with eating sandwiches from strange (as in not my or my nearesst and dearest's kitchens) - now I know why!!!!!!

    Delicious soup - and even better way to score the ingredients!

  11. Im always fascinated by what other people will eat. I've seen all sorts of things packed for lunch... Sad sad things. Buuut oh well. These are beautiful shots of the farmers market and I love the sound of that soup. Thank you for reducing the amount for us! Makes cooking so much easier. :D

  12. Maybe I can convert my hubby to a zucchini lover with this lovely soup. But there is a perk if he's not a fan...MORE for me! It looks fabulous...especially with the addition of cheddar...mmmmmm.

    PS...good tip to check your sandwiches for nibble marks before eating ;)

  13. ...girl scouts. You can never trust them.

    Awesome roulette tho! Very cool concept :)

  14. I love this roulette concept! It sounds like so much fun!

    And that soup looks awesome! Zucchini, bacon and cheese??? Yummm especially since you also used great quality ingredients! :-)

  15. Oh, I love the way you've served up the zucchini here and what gorgeous photos! The Farmer's Market Roulette sounds intriguing.

  16. I can almost taste this now, hearty and savoury. Farmers markets are just the best at this time of year.


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