Make Your Own Apple Syrup
Try James’s recipe in savoury dishes and salad dressings; use in place of jam or serve over yoghurt for breakfast.
Add 700ml apple juice, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1 star anise and ¼ tsp ground cinnamon in a heavy-based saucepan and simmer until the liquid has reduced to about a quarter of its quantity (about an hour). Check regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn. Remove the star anise and add the sugar, and boil until dissolved. The syrup will be ready when it has the consistency of honey. Pour into sterilised jars, seal, label and leave to cool, before storing in the fridge. The syrup may harden when cool, if it does, pop the jar in a pot of warm water to soften before use. The apple syrup keeps for a few weeks.
TIP Great in soups, apples add a base note of sweetness while enhancing the other flavours. Here, you have a balance of savoury, sweet and spicy.
APPLE, TURMERIC AND FENNEL SOUP – Serves: 4
- 2 tbsp 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 350g)
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 750ml vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
- Drizzle of apple syrup (see page 77) or runny honey To serve
- Chilli flakes
- Fennel leaves
1 Heat the olive oil in a large heavybased 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 anything to brown. Keep an eye on the mixture, as you don’t want it to burn or stick. Add the apples and thyme, and fry for a further 2-3 minutes to allow the apples to start to cook.
2 Add the turmeric and stir to evenly coat all the ingredients in the pan. Fry for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fruit and veg will start to stick and go slightly brown – that’s okay at this point, but you don’t want them to burn.
3 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.
4 While the soup is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and toast the walnuts for a couple minutes, ensuring they don’t burn. Add a little apple syrup or honey, shaking the pan until it begins to bubble and the walnuts are thoroughly coated. Turn them out onto a plate lined with baking parchment and leave to one side to cool.
5 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.