Nigel Slater’s Summer Soup Recipes with Shrimp Cookies, Asparagus and Fava Bean Soup | Food

lunch was in the garden, with jam jar flowers on the table and an odd assortment of chairs. A relaxed affair with a thick bean soup, bowls of salad – tomato and basil, potato and arugula, soft lettuce with primrose-colored heart leaves – and a wicker tray with young goat’s cheeses.

The bean soup was made with lean leeks that I had initially taken for scallions, flageolet and fava beans, and a cheap bunch of asparagus. I spiced things up with lemon zest, parsley and Parmesan, then squeezed a lemon into the hot green stock.

Later in the week I made another summery soup, this time with thick cakes of shrimp, ginger and lemongrass in the bottom of the bowl, like a sunken treasure. Both were light yet satisfying – a perfect addition to an outdoor midsummer lunch.

A clear summer soup with prawns

I like to keep the cakes small – barely bigger than a spoon or two. They’re easy to flip in the pan when they’re small, and less likely to crumble when flipped over in the sizzling oil. They’re also worth serving as a sandwich, wrapped in crispy lettuce leaves instead of the more common bread, the folds of lettuce stuffed with snap peas or watercress, and a swipe of wasabi paste. Serves 4

For the shrimp cakes:
fresh white breadcrumbs 100g
coriander 20g (leaves and stems)
Thai fish sauce 2 teaspoons
mirin 2 tablespoons
lemongrass 2 stems
garlic 1 clove
ginger 35g
raw, peeled shrimp 250g
peanut oil 2 tablespoons

For the soup:
shrimp with shell 8-12, small to medium
red chili 1
ginger a lump of 40 g
garlic 1 clove
peanut oil 1 tbsp
fish sauce 2 tbsp, or to taste
lime 1

Place the breadcrumbs and coriander leaves and stalks in the bowl of a food processor. Add the fish sauce and mirin. Thinly slice the lemongrass and add to the crumbs. Peel the garlic and peel and grate the ginger and add to the bowl, then process for a few seconds. Add the shrimp and process briefly. Be careful not to overwork the mixture: you should still see small pieces of shrimp.

Roll the mixture into 12 small balls, flatten slightly, place on a baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Heat the oil in a shallow pan over medium heat. Place the shrimp cakes in the hot oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until lightly browned.

Make the soup: peel the prawns and place the shells and heads in a deep pan, add 1 liters of water and bring to the boil, skim and remove the foam and simmer for 25 minutes. Top up the liquid if necessary.

Cut the chilli in half lengthwise, scrape out and discard the seeds. Peel and cut the ginger into fine matches. Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Heat the oil in a wok or high frying pan, then add the finely chopped garlic and fry briefly. Add the chili and ginger and cook for a minute or two before adding the shrimp. When they start to turn from gray to pink, pour over the strained stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, then stir in the fish sauce and lime juice. Place 2 or 3 of the cooked shrimp cakes in deep bowls and ladle the hot soup and shrimp over them.

Asparagus and broad bean soup

Green and summery: asparagus and broad bean soup.
Green and summery: asparagus and broad bean soup. Photo: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

I find soup enough for a summer lunch when it’s made with all sorts of veggies and beans jostling for each other, ladled into your bowl with generosity, and there’s good bread and cheese to follow. I keep the soup green and summery with asparagus, broad beans and courgettes, but you can also add tomatoes. If desired, the recipe can be made vegan by removing the Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4

broad beans 400 g, weighed in the pod
young, thin leeks 200g
olive oil
asparagus 250g
small courgettes 200g
vegetable stock 1 litre
flageolet beans 1 can of 400 g
parsley a handfull
lemon 1
grated Parmesan cheese 4 tablespoons

Peel the broad beans, boil them in lightly salted water, drain and let them cool under running water. If they are small and very tender, leave the skin on; if they are bigger than a small fingernail, I suggest removing them from their skin. It doesn’t take long once you get into the rhythm of it.

Cut the leek into thick slices. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat, then add the leeks. Let them cook for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, so they soften without browning. (You can prevent them from browning by covering them with a lid or a piece of parchment paper so that they partially cook on their own steam.)

Peel and cut the asparagus into short pieces and stir them through the leeks, do the same with the courgettes. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Drain and stir in the flageolet beans and a little salt, then reduce the heat and cook for about 15 minutes. Finely chop the parsley. Finely grate the zest of the lemon and mix with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Check the soup for spices – it may require salt or black pepper. Ladle into bowls, halve the lemon and squeeze a little juice into each bowl and sprinkle over the Parmesan, lemon and parsley.

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