Thursday, October 9, 2008

Soup - basic adaptable recipe

I have spent my entire life watching my mother, known throughout the land as Soup Queen (by friends, family members, my father in particular, ex-boyfriends, and even strangers), producing delicious, nutritious, steaming great bowls of soupy goodness. It is a rare talent and, frankly, she’s spoilt me for life. None of those cartons of Covent Garden soups, or particularly those tins of Heinz, will ever, ever quite cut it (bar Heinz tomato soup, which, for nostalgia’s sake, will always hold a special place in my heart). I have ordered soups from fancy restaurants – they’ve disappointed. I’ve ordered soups from little cafes – let’s not even talk about it. Suffice to say that as a result of her heavenly concoctions, the humble soup will always remain on a lofty, and practically unattainable, pedestal.

It is therefore about time I learnt her secrets for myself (after all, it is hardly a secret that dad married her for her soups…). I have made soups before, but I think that learning the adaptable basics from mum is a lesson well overdue.

Drumroll, then, for….our first soup lesson together. Lacking in pictures, en ce moment, but rest assured I will be rectifying this situation shortly.

Chickpea & Bacon Soup
Makes 8-10 hearty helpings of slurpy wonderment

Olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
4-5 rashers smoky bacon, chopped small
2 small onions, diced
3 small carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
generous quantity of parsley, chopped fine
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 chicken/ham/vegetable stock cube
1 tin chickpeas, drained
salt, pepper

In a large saucepan sweat the bacon with the garlic and a couple tablespoons olive oil, until lightly browned, remove into a bowl.
Again in a couple tablespoons olive oil sweat the onions, and add the carrot and celery to soften.
Stir the bacon back in and add the tin of chopped tomatoes, plus one tin of water (using the empty tomato tin), and the tin of chickpeas. Crumble in a stock cube and, if still lacking for liquid, add a little extra water. Add in a couple of handfuls of chopped parsley, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Whiz 2-3 ladlefuls of the mixture up in a blender to thicken, and stir back into the soup. Taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper accordingly (bearing in mind that the stock cube and the bacon will automatically make the soup quite salty).
Serve with a generous amount of parsley.

Honestly, this soup was to die for. In fact, I’m just about to have some of the leftovers for lunch! Dead cheap to make and very economical as it goes such a long way, packed with taste, high in protein – with the pulses and the bacon – and with a hefty whack of your daily five. What more could you want?!

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