Monday, 1 December 2008

A frugal weekend’s eating

Off to visit my mother-in-law in France this week so we spent the weekend using up odds and ends from the fridge and freezer. On Saturday night I made a pea and lettuce soup which sounds pretty unseasonal but I like salad even in winter and this is a good way to use up the outside leaves

You simply trim and chop up a bunch of spring onions and soften them in a little oil and butter, chuck in a handful of lettuce leaves and some chopped parsley stalks, let them wilt then add about 200g of frozen peas, a cooked, sliced potato, a handful of parsley leaves and about 500ml of vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 minutes until the peas are cooked. (You need to cook the potato first otherwise the soup will take too long and the peas will lose their fresh green colour). Cool for 5 minutes then whizz in a blender or food processor, return the soup to the pan then add another 200ml or so of stock or milk and heat through. You can sieve the soup if you want a smoother texture or whisk in a bit of soft butter or cream for a more luxurious taste. A squeeze of lemon juice doesn't go amiss.

With it we had some crostini topped with fromage fort, a brilliant French way of using the assorted odds and ends of cheese from the fridge. No exact quantities. I used a bit of leftover goats cheese log and Brie (both with the rinds removed and a rather sad bit of Appenzeller which had seen better days. You simply blitz a clove of garlic in a food processor, add the cheese (sliced or crumbled) and whizz till you have a smooth paste then add just enough white wine to give a spreadable consistency. Season with cayenne pepper, chilli powder or hot paprika.

There was enough soup left over for a couple of extra little cupfuls last night before a main course of a shepherds pie-like dish salvaged from the remains of last week’s braised beef topped with celeriac mash which I’d stashed away in the freezer. I must say it felt good not to be chucking out food this morning.

Communication may be spasmodic this week. Back next weekend, if not before . . .


Anonymous said...

What a good idea to use lying-around salad leaves in a soup!

Fiona Beckett said...

Well, they weren't quite lying around realfoodlover (!) but simply those rather coarse leaves you find on the outside of a lettuce. If you tear off any particularly ratty bits they're perfectly useable. Very good in the classic petits pois a la française too where peas are braised with onions, lettuce and stock. (The French also use bacon but you can use a pinch of sweet smoked paprika if you're vegetarian.)

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous post - thank you; that cheesy bread sound absolutely delicious and I love the idea of the salad leaves in soup.
Thank you for sharing your inspirational ideas :)

Anonymous said...

I love small portions of soup in a tea cup too :-)

Fiona Beckett said...

Amazing how classy it makes it look (even though that's a terrible photo taken in the very gloomy light in our kitchen!)If you tried to put that amount of soup in a bowl it would look mean in the extreme ;-)

Sunny said...

Found your blog whilst researching a Traditional Christmas Dinner in UK.
My hubby moved to America to marry me and since we've been married five years now- I wanted to do a Traditional Turkey Dinner for him on Christmas since we usually do Turkey on Thanksgiving day here in the states and Christmas Brunch on Christmas Day(at least that's my family's traditions). This year I wanted to make it all about him and HIS traditions because he hasn't once made a complaint about the lack of HIS traditional X-Mas Dinner- (but he does reminisce about His family Dinners)...My question to you is.....can you give me an American Substitute for chipolata Sausages for the bacon wrapped Chipolatas? And is that an appetizer- or a side dish?
I'm so confused and will MOST appreciate your help!!!!!!

Fiona Beckett said...

Hi Sunny and good to hear from you! Not too well up on sausage availability in the states but I found this link when I Googled 'chipolata sausages US' -
Doesn't seem to be working but that may be the speed of my connection here in France.

What I can tell you is that they're served as a side to the turkey rather than as an appetizer though not everyone does this. IMO a good stuffing is more important. At a pinch you could use small bratwurst which are probably more widely available and wrap them in bacon.

Can any of the rest of you help?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sunny,

Chipolatas are just small thin fairly plain link sausages, about the size and thickness of your finger. I looked at the wisegeek write up, it was quite misleading and I am not sure if they really correlate to US Italian sausage as that's usually a coarser grind and spicier than your average chipolata.

You would be better off looking for smallish thin breakfast links. As Fiona says, they are usually served as an accompaniment to the main roast, either by themselves or bacon wrapped - although there has been a trend in the last few years to add them to general party type appetiser platters.

Hope this helps :)

Sunny said...

Thanks so much Ladies!!
I tried out both the regular breakfast sausage links and the coctail sausages for this recipe and both turned out GREAT!! Thank you SO much for your help!!