Thrifty, lazy, tasty soup: my hunt for low wattage pottage
How Hard Can It Be To Make Soup?
I thought introducing a weekly soup-making habit was going to give me a bit of New-Thrifty-Habit-breathing space because, you know, soup is so easy. Soup is so easy but I really have struggled with this habit. I think I find it easier to put aside time to do a Big Task than find a few minutes to get on with a little veg-chopping. And January has been a busy month. And I have had all these other new habits to get into…
Anyway, I refuse to admit defeat and laugh in the face of laziness. (Laziness can’t be bothered to respond.) I might be too busy (or idle) to make soup properly, but we are still going to get into the habit of eating soup at least a couple of days a week because it really does
- taste good
- reduce the amount of other, pricier food we eat at the same meal
- get an extra portion of veg into us.
Jamie Oliver, in Save With Jamie, champions frozen veg because it is “great value, nutritious… and you can just grab a handful of what you need when you need it.” All true. It’s also true that frozen veg is often packed already chopped. Now that’s the kind of vegetable preparation I can get behind. Lentils and tinned beans are equally hands-free and highly nutritious. I am not going to pretend to you that a stock cube is highly nutritious. I am also not going to make a proper stock before I make soup, if I am honest. Tinned beans, frozen chopped veg and stock cubes are going to put soup on our table every few days for the next month. Here’s how.
- Cock-a-leekie: this is a traditional Scottish soup not an episode of Embarrassing Bodies. Ideally you start with a raw whole chicken and take it from there. I will be starting with a raw, whole chicken stock cube, adding it to boiling water, popping in a good handful of long-grain rice, a lot of frozen sliced leeks and another handful of ready-to-eat prunes and some dried mixed herbs. If I happen to have some leftover chicken that will be chopped and added at the end. Will it be authentic? No. Will it be tasty, thrifty and very very lazy? Och aye.
- Butterbean and bacon: smoked bacon bits and frozen onions sweated over a gentle heat for ten minutes; tinned butterbeans, a chicken stock cube, hot water and dried mixed herbs brought to the boil and simmered for another five minutes. The whole lot pureed with a hand-held blender. Eaten, ideally, with rosy cheeks after a Saturday morning’s sledging. I have tried this one already and can report that if you are too lazy (I was) to even sweat the bacon and onion you can put all the ingredients in a slow-cooker and forget about them. It is marginally less tasty. Marginally. Alas, no sledging in Glasgow this winter but who knows what surprises the summer may bring?
- Slightly spicy sweetcorn and pepper: it’s up to you how spicy you want it, but here in Tartan Towers we all have delicate little mouths so I go easy on the ginger and chilli. Start by sweating frozen onions and sliced frozen peppers for ten minutes. Add a little ground ginger, a squirt of pureed garlic from a tube and a few flakes of chilli and stir through. Barely cover with boiling water, add a stock cube, and half a can of coconut milk. Chuck in a stalk of lemon grass sliced lengthways and a couple of lime leaves. (I found fresh lemon grass and lime leaves in the fresh veg section of Morrisons: both freeze well. Coconut milk from their ‘ethnic foods’ aisle was thicker and cheaper than the stuff in their ‘foreign foods’ aisle.) Simmer for half an hour and then add frozen sweetcorn and simmer for another five minutes. Add lots of chopped fresh basil to serve Or a squirt of Very Lazy Basil from a tube. It is less thrifty than fresh basil but more thrifty than never making soup: take your pick.
- Smoky pepper, tomato and chickpea: frozen onions and sliced peppers, sweated for five minutes. Add a squirt of garlic puree and a generous heap of dulce pimenton, stir through and then add two cans of chopped tomatoes, a handful of dried oregano and the ubiquitous chicken stock cube. Or maybe beef – I have always made this with chicken but right now I am thinking that beef could be pretty tasty too… Chuck in a tin of chickpeas or a handful of red lentils and add water. Simmer it all for half an hour and then blend with a stick blender. Stir through some single cream. Done.