Friday, 12 September 2008
Two thrifty soups
This week has been dominated by the produce I bought from the Organic Food Festival. Cooking it hasn’t quite gone to plan as I had to go to London for two days but earlier in the week I used the beets to make a favourite soup which my daughter Jo invented - carrot borscht. The addition of carrots - and a skinned tomato - is an inspiration. It sweetens the soup and rounds out the flavours.
I used the chicken stock I’d made from the carcass of the organic chicken I bought which wasn’t quite as strongly flavoured as the game or beef stock I’d normally use so added a scant teaspoon of Bovril stirred into three tablespoonfuls of stock. (Eurrrgh, you may think but Bovril makes perfectly decent beef stock - far better than most stock cubes.)
The original version also had bacon in it. No bacon, so I added a couple of slices of some smoked Manx Loaghtan lamb I’d been given to try. A reckless extravagance in a way but a) it was free and b) had the requisite smoky flavour I was looking for. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Speaking of which, last night’s soup was even thriftier if anything. Got back early evening from London and couldn’t face sploshing (it was raining of course) down to Tesco. So I rooted around in the storecupboard and fridge and came up with the recipe below.
The starting point was a packet of chard which I’d forgotten and was on the verge of going off. I thought of combining that with cannelini beans (happily found a can in the cupboard) then remembered there was still some chicken stock, a couple of slightly squishy tomatoes, some really pungent basil and those fabulous parmesan rinds. Voila, an Italian-style bean soup. Hope you enjoy it!
Bean, chard and tomato soup
2 tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
A small handful of basil leaves (optional)
A piece of parmesan rind (optional)
About 300ml chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 x 400g can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
A handful of chard or spinach leaves, stripped from their stems
Shaved or coarsely grated parmesan to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the onions and garlic. Stir, cover the pan and leave over a low heat for about 5 minutes until the onion has started to soften. Add the chopped tomatoes, replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomato starts to break down. Roughly chop the basil leaves and stir them in then add the parmesan rind and stock and bring to the boil. Add the beans and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Finely slice the chard or spinach and add to the pan. Cook another few minutes then remove the parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve the soup with some shaved or grated parmesan or with a drizzle of olive oil.