Divisive as they are, to be honest I was pretty neutral on the subject of brussel sprouts until one Christmas I challenged myself to cook them in a way that my husband Pete would like. I decided to just treat them like I would a cabbage and so I shredded them up with the slicing disk in my food processor, although now I quite enjoy cutting them into slices by hand - weird I know but I find it kind of relaxing as they have a satisfying texture that's nicer to slice than a carrot or my most hated veggies to chop, a butternut squash or a celeriac. Am I rambling? I'm definitely rambling. 

Anyway... my foolproof way of cooking any type of cabbage to create the most delicious side dish is to shred it, fry it with a small sliced onion, a few rashers of bacon and some garlic n a mix of oil and butter, season with salt and pepper and a good few splashes of Hendersons Relish (or Worcester sauce) and then stir through a splash of cream right before serving. The most important thing is to let the mix fry for a good few minutes without letting it scorch so it sort of caramelises together as it deepens the flavour and makes that all important layer of burnished tastiness on the bottom of the pan that the Hendo's will pick up when its added. Without fail I make this for every Christmas dinner because I don't want a family riot on my hands, but I think it's too good for just one day out of the year so like to whip it up regularly throughout sprout season.

This year I had a had some of this magical mixture left even after several leftover sandwiches and dinners but was craving something a little less stodgy, so the thought came to me to add it to a broth to create a soup. It just so happened that when I was putting this together and wishing I had some parmesan to throw over the top I spotted a bag of teeny dried cheese tortellini I had grabbed at my wonderful local Italian shop Vincenzo Pasquale so I threw a few handfuls into the broth too to add that important cheesy element that I felt it was missing. Feel free to add a drizzle of cream when serving if you wish, I do!

Brussel Sprout and Tortellini Soup
Serves 2

small knob of butter and a few drops of olive oil for frying
2-3 rashers bacon, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly diced
large clove of garlic, crushed
300g brussel sprouts, sliced
1 tbsp Hendersons Relish or Worcestershire Sauce
750ml good chicken or vegetable stock
100g mini tortellini or cappaletti
2 tbsp double cream
2 spring onions, finely chopped

Fry the bacon in the oil and butter until crisp, then add the onion and garlic and fry for a few more minutes until they've started to soften. Now add the shredded sprouts and stir well, letting it all fry over a medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring every now and again. 
The sprouts will have wilted down some, so now splash in the Henderson's or Worcester sauce with a few tablespoons of the stock and clamp on a lid, leaving it to cook down for another minute or so before giving it another good stir making sure you scrape as much of the richness from the bottom of the pan as possible.
Pour in the rest of the stock and bring to a gentle rolling boil, then add your pasta and cook as directed - dried will take longer than the vacuum packed kind. When the pasta is done spoon the soup into two bowls and sprinkle over the spring onions for a fresh zing, then drizzle over the cream if you're using it.


This has become a quick and filling lunch for us and I'll be sad when sprout season is over. Do let me know what you think if you give it a try yourself!

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