This is a bit of an odd post to be honest, I don’t think I have to-date, written about any savoury foods that I have cooked, even though I can be found in my kitchen most afternoons preparing the food for our evening meal. Also it is the middle of the summer and soup is generally more a wintry meal.
As those of you who follow my blog may know I am a bit of an experimenter in the kitchen and have a habit of finding a recipe that looks nice then changing it. Usually with good results but occasionally I do worry if my offerings will get a good reception, especially with the kids. The reason why I want to write about this recipe is that it can be changed in so many ways, I know I have made it before and never once followed the recipe but it is always very tasty (Adapted from the Chunky Minestrone recipe in BBC Books – 101 Recipes for Kids).
This time I was looking for a very frugal meal as we are trying to cut our spending slightly as we have just bought a house. We had only been properly looking for two weeks so it is a bit of a big step, but hey! Anyway, I also knew that there were all sorts of veg in various states sitting in the bottom of the fridge so those needed using up too and I am desperate to get more veg in the kids. Quite often I will make ‘fridge soup’ (from anything I can find in the fridge) but this one is more of a minestrone hence the name:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- knob of butter
- 2 large carrots (they don’t have to be wobbly but those taste fine in soup)
- 1 onion (take out the sprouting part)
- 2 celery sticks (or equivalent once you’ve chopped off the saggy parts)
- 1/4 green pepper (cut off the icky edges, smell it, yep it’s ok)
- 3 rashers of smokey bacon
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 5 cherry tomatoes (super squidgy so squeeze out of skin)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 pints vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 400g tin kidney beans
- mug full of pasta (I only had fusilli and took great delight in bashing it in a bag to make it smaller; spaghetti is more usual)
- 12 cubes of frozen spinach
In a food processor, whiz the carrots, onion, celery and pepper into small pieces (I over did this but the kids don’t like big lumps, so chop to your prefered size). Heat the oil and butter in a big pan, add the processed vegetables with the bacon then cook over a medium heat until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, stock and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Tip in the beans, pasta and spinach, bring back to a gently simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread. Serves 4 generously.
This recipe is somewhat tongue-in-cheek about the random ingredients I used but I was so pleased that I had managed to use up so much veg that was past it’s best and the recipe actually makes a fantastic soup which was even better the next day. The point about this is to use up what is in your fridge, I think the onion, garlic, stock, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and pasta are essential but you could add all sorts of other veg. I’ve added normal potato and sweet potatoes before; any bits of red, yellow or green pepper; cabbage or even salad, shredded into thin strips; try a tin of mixed beans, cannellini or butter beans or even a handful of frozen peas for the last 5 minutes.
Do you often improvise with ingredients when you are cooking? Or, do you stick to a recipe? Do you have any fantastic frugal meal ideas?