Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Thyme - Swede and Apple Soup GF SCD

I used to live near Cottingley in West Yorkshire, a stone's throw away from the garden where Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright fascinated the world with their beautiful photographs of fairies in 1917. Growing up, I searched for fairies at the bottom of our garden and had I known to wear a sprig of thyme then, who knows, I may have caught a glimpse of them!
"I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania some time of the night...."
 From Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare.

Thyme has long been associated with folk magic and was thought to have attracted fairies! A recipe for a magical oil allegedly enabling people to see fairies was found in a 17th century manuscript in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and states "the thyme must be gathered near the side of a hill where fairies used to be".

Thyme can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. Supposedly, it was created by a tear from Helen of Troy as it dropped on the ground and throughout the ancient world and in the Middle Ages, it was considered to be a symbol of courage and sacrifice.

There are over 300 species of thyme but the most well known varieties are :
  • Garden Thyme - the principal culinary thyme
  • Lemon Thyme - also used in cooking because of it's mild citrus flavour
  • Wild Thyme - mainly used in herbal medicine

Medicinal Uses

Thymol, the primary volatile oil of Thyme and named after the plant itself, has wonderful antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Thyme is also considered to be one of the top anti-oxidant foods because of its unique combination of flavonoids. Both the leaves and the oil have been widely used in medicine for thousands of years in the treatment of :

My Garden Thyme
  • respiratory diseases
  • coughs
  • colds
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • indigestion
  • colic
  • muscle spasms
  • rheumatism
  • athletes foot
  • skin parasites
  • gout
  • warts
  • tooth decay
  • thinning hair

Nutritional Benefits
The tiny leaves of the thyme plant are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals including:

  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Thyme is also a good source of one of the ten essential amino acids, tryptophan, which some believe can help treat depression and anxiety.

Cooking with Thyme

Most vegetable dishes can benefit from the addition of thyme. It especially compliments root vegetable, asparagus, broccoli, salad, tomato and bean dishes.

To easily remove the thyme leaves from the stalk, grasp the stalk at the top with your left hand and with the thumb and finger of your right hand pinch the stem at the top and pull downwards toward the bottom of the stem. The leaves are easily removed.

Swede and Apple Soup GF SCD

1 medium swede (rutabaga) about 700-800g
2 dessert apples
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
800 ml (1½ pints) vegetable stock
5 - 8 sprigs of thyme
large pinch of nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • Heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a pan then chop the onions and cook gently for 5 minutes.
  •  Chop the carrots and swede and add to the pan. Cook gently for a further couple of minutes.
  • Wash, peel, chop and core the apple and add to the pan with the sprigs of thyme.
  • Add enough stock to cover the vegetables and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the swede is soft. 
  • The thyme leaves will have separated themselves from the stalks. Remove the stalks from the pan.
  • Sprinkle the nutmeg on top then blend the soup, adding more stock if necessary.
  • Serve garnished with some thyme leaves.