Walnut and Onion Soup with Chilli

In this creamy, sweet soup the emphatic flavour of walnuts is tempered beautifully with a dash of fire. It is excellent for a light lunch or supper, accompanied by fresh crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • 100 g/4 oz walnut pieces
  • 1 level tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 25 g/1 oz plain flour
  • 600 ml/1 pint chicken or vegetable stock
  • 750 ml/ pints milk
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 300 ml/½ pint creamed smatana or soured cream
  • sea salt

Method

Peel the onion, cut it in half and slice as thinly as possible. Put the olive oil and butter into a large, heavy-based saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and slightly brown. Remove from the heat.

Cut the chillies open lengthways under running water, discard the seeds and stem and slice the halves across as thinly as you can. Put the walnut pieces into a food processor and whizz briefly to grind finely — don’t leave the machine on too long or the nuts will become sticky and oily.

Stir the caster sugar, ground mace, sliced chillies and ground walnuts into the onion and then stir in the flour. Gradually stir in the stock and milk. Put the saucepan back on the heat and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Allow to bubble for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time, then cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer very gently for 20 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, trim the spring onions and slice across at 5 mm/¼ in intervals, using as much of the green part as possible. When the soup is ready, add salt to taste and stir in the spring onions. Ladle the soup into bowls and spoon a dollop of creamed smatana or soured cream on to each.

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