Festival season is here, and thanks to my wonderful friends who bought me a ticket as a graduation gift, I could join a bunch of hippies, Vikings and contemporary pagans for a local hippie festival: Castlefest, a Dutch 4-day festival that caters to the spiritually elevated, goths, reincarnated Vikings and anyone who likes to dress up or get intoxicated to dance to mediaeval tunes. I loved it. I had been to the festival before, but that was years ago, when it was still just a single field with a stage in it. By now it’s the biggest of its kind in the country, a mediaeval pagan extravaganza with three stages and more than 20.000 visitors.
The music was a relatively eclectic mix of traditional mediaeval folklore songs, Polish Balkanesque tunes, modern Icelandic folk music and anything and everything in between. It’s a fascinating scene, filled with sounds and instruments you never even knew existed in this day and age. I daresay that during the Castlefest weekend, the festival grounds had the highest concentration of hurdy-gurdies and nyckelharpor in the country.
One of the biggest attractions of the festival is the food. Where many other festivals might offer mostly fast-food (burgers, chips, deep-fried anything), obviously this just wouldn’t do, what with all the hippies attending Castlefest. Most of the food there was vegan and vegetarian, and the meat that was available was generally pure-bred, free-range, outdoor-reared, acorn-fed meat of kings.
My friend, who hasn’t missed an edition of the festival for years, took me to the soup stand. Her weekend wasn’t complete, so she told me, without courgette soup. These soup people had been selling their delicious soups at the festival for the past few years, and my mate had to have some every year. I tried some, and it was delicious. Better than mine, I have to admit, with no cream, and lots of garlic. But that’s OK, because I can just start making it like they do, and then I can have delicious courgette soup whenever I want.
- 600-700 gr of courgettes – it’s essential you get the little ones, as they are more flavoursome. Your soup will lack in depth of flavour if you get the big ones.
- an entire bulb of garlic, plus a few extra cloves for garnishing if you fancy
- 2 potatoes
- 1 small onion
- some fresh basil, stick and all, about 3 twigs
- 1,5 litres of vegetable stock
- enough salt and pepper
- some crispy fried onions (bawang goreng), to serve
Peel the garlic, all the cloves in a bulb, peel them all, cut them in half and remove the planty bit. On low heat, fry them ever so gently, lid on pan, for quite a lot of time – 10 or 15 minutes is not exaggerating it. You absolutely shouldn’t let them go brown, so keep the heat low and stir occasionally. After a while, add in the basil, completely chopped up. Wash the courgettes, chop them up and add them, as well as the potatoes, peeled, and the onion, peeled and chopped. Now add about 300 cl of the stock, or enough to cover 3/4 of the veg. Put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for half an hour. Stir occasionally.
When all the veg is super soft, purée it with a hand blender. Then add the rest of the stock, or as much as you want until the soup has the right consistency. I like mine quite thick, the one I had at Castlefest was a bit thinner. Add enough salt and pepper. Serve with some good crusty bread, some crispy fried onions (bawang goreng). If you really want to live on the edge, chop up some more garlic, fry until slightly crispy and top the soup with some of that as well. Only for bad-asses.