Inspired by rustic Italian cookery, this polenta soup is a truly seasonal, hearty staple through the winter months. The polenta is thick and unctuous, so it makes for a perfect lunch or supper dish; if you are serving as a dinner party starter you might want to reduce the quantities slightly … it is very filling. How you chop your Cavolo nero is personal taste, roughly torn or finely sliced, it is delicious either way and as it cooks in the soup, you won’t lose any of its nutritional value or colour. Always add salt at the start of cooking, a little goes a long way and develops all the flavours.
This is a quick recipe to make, about 10 minutes from start to finish, but you need to be organised and cook it ready to go straight to the table. So if you are making your stock, do so the night before, put onions, celery, veg trimmings and a bouquet garni into a pan of water, bring to the boil, set aside and leave to steep overnight. There are lots of really good vegetable stocks in the supermarket, so if you don’t have time, simply pick the best quality you can find.
It is easier to poach your eggs beforehand; break each into a ramekin, add a tsp vinegar to boiling water, swirl with a spoon and drop the egg into the vortex created. Cook one at a time for 3-4 minutes and remove to a kitchen towel. While you plate the soup, plunge the eggs into boiling water for ten seconds to bring back to temperature.
If this is a soup for a special occasion grate with fresh truffle, or drizzle with truffle oil; alternatively finish with a dash of really good quality olive oil.
- 120 g polenta
- 300 ml white wine
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- 100 g butter
- 2 small English white onions, diced
- 30g chopped rosemary
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 300 g Cavolo nero, picked, washed, chopped
- 200 g parmesan, grated
- 1 lemon, juice
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 4 hen’s eggs, poached
- Truffle oil, good quality olive oil or fresh truffle to finish
- Cook the onions, garlic and butter in a large pan over a medium heat for 5 mins, adding the rosemary and a pinch of salt.
- Once it is translucent and soft, turn the heat up, add the wine and reduce by half.
- Maintain the heat and add the veg stock, then bring to the boil.
- Once boiling slowly add the polenta, whisking all the time to avoid lumps.
- Once all the polenta is in, turn the heat down and simmer until it starts to thicken, continue stirring.
- Add the Cavolo nero and fold in with a wooden spoon to wilt. Cook for a few minutes until the leaf is soft but still retains colour.
- Add the grated parmesan, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Top with a poached egg and finish with oil or grated truffle.