Mini food processor or brute strength/memories of crappy ex-boyfriend and a big Ziploc bag.
I am one of those girls who doesn’t manage money very well. I used to try and allocate my food budget out per week but it didn’t work, so now I do a big shop at the start of the month and then cook and freeze accordingly. At this time of year I am a massive fan of soup, because I tend to get sick and I need all the vitamins and minerals I can get.
So I buy those Covent Garden soups when they are on offer. They are a bit hit and miss but I find that they are often good and filling with a bread roll, and relatively healthy when you have dreams of booking a holiday at the forefront of your mind and don’t want to be mistaken for a floundering whale in the shallow water.
Last week I bought one of their winter ones called ‘Souper Greens’ on the basis that I thought it would be really healthy and the calorie count was pretty low. It was delicious, but at £2 for a small carton I thought that I would have a bash at trying it out myself.
The playlist when I cooked it: Bruno Mars, Do Wops and Hooligans
The shopping list:
500g bag peas. £0.70
500g bag brussel sprouts £0.65
500g bag broccoli. £0.65
Packet of fresh spinach. £1.50
Small jar of basil pesto. £1.19
1 onion. £0.28
1 stick of celery £0.35
1kg carrots £0.62
2 cloves garlic – £0.30 per bulb.
Pot cream (284ml) I use a cream substitute called Elmlea.£0.55
Purse impact: When we make this a serving is a good bowlful, and the above quantities usually produces eight servings. This will differ depending on how thick you like your soup, but we make it around £0.85 per serving. If you want to make some additions or serve with chorizo and crème fraiche it will cost a little more.
The sentence: this one takes about forty minutes with chopping, simmering, whizzing and licking the spoon all taken into consideration!
Great big soup pan.
Heat some oil in a large soup pan or stock pot (you know, the ones with two little handles on the side and a lid rather than one with a long handle) and gently fry the onion and garlic together. Don’t worry too much about chopping them into regular bits as these will boil down anyway, and who wants to waste time measuring onions? If you are particularly sensitive then you might want to put your swimming goggles on for this to avoid disruption to mascara. Also, if you are cooking this for a date, you should probably lose one of the cloves of garlic. Especially if your date is a vampire from Twilight (we can only dream).
Once the onion has softened, chop the celery and carrot and soften them too. I don’t like celery, but honestly you can’t taste it when it’s in there and it provides a great base. The fancy pants name for this basis is a mirepoix, and it’s a great start to any recipe. Or so my grandfather says!
While the vegetables are softening, boil the kettle and make some stock. I use one called bouillon as mu housemate has a wheat intolerance, but any old stock will do. If you are a food snob you could make it, but I prefer the cubes!
Add the stock to the pan and keep boiling, and add all the veg. We use frozen vegetables as in such a busy household there is nothing worse than buying fresh veg with the intention of eating it and then finding it mouldy in the salad crisper a month later. Vegetable casualties happen, and for this reason, frozen wins me over. Whichever you prefer is fine.
Add a good sprinkle of basil, mint, parsley and any other green looking dried herbs that you have around. Whatever tickles your pickle! Simmer for twenty minutes and then take a bowlful of the veg out of the pan and put to one side.
Stir in the jar of basil pesto and a small carton of single cream. Yum! Using a food processor, whizz the vegetables up until you have a smooth mix; I like my soup to be quite thick but if you prefer a thinner mis then by all means add some more stock. When you are happy with the consistency, return the veg that you have put aside to the mix.
Serve with a dash of crème fraiche if you wish, and I often add a few slices of chopped up chorizo to the top to make it look a little fancier!
When my housemate cooks this she adds a teaspoon of Tabasco, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of paprika. She also shakes some chilli flakes in there; the amount depends on how quickly I catch and stop her. If you like your food with a bit of a kick then this adds a great twist.
Next time I promise to take pictures!
As a diabetic, I have a lot more to do with what makes up the food we eat on a day to day basis. It’s a bit of a minefield knowing what is in our food, and you would be surprised to learn about the composition of some of those quick and easy foods that you eat on a weekly basis.
When I was first diagnosed I was your typical teenager; I ate crisps and drank coke to get me through long study periods and stressful times. But once diagnosed I was thrown into a world of sugar content and complex carbohydrates, and as a result it has made me more savvy with my food knowledge and a lot trimmer!
To this day I’m amazed by what people are prepared to put into their bodies. Ready meals that conceal massive amounts of sugar and salt, and cakes and biscuits jam packed full of trans fats, designed to increase the shelf life of our food but with a side effect of clogging our arteries. Even cereal bars that purport to be healthy are stuck together with sugar syrup proving that sometimes what you see really isn’t what you get.
Don’t get me wrong though; I’m not some skinny Minnie health freak. I love baking and I can often be found on the sofa chowing down on a chocolate orange and a glass of red wine. I mean come on, they are two of your five a day aren’t they?
I just want to take it back a bit and return to a time when it was common to do your cooking from scratch. Sure, a fresh soup won’t last as long as a tin, but it will taste better, give you tons more of the vitamins and minerals that your body craves (especially in the winter) and make you feel all rustic and warm.
Care to join me?
I love to cook. I love the diffusion of the aromas through the air, the sound of the timer on the oven pinging to tell me my food is ready and above all, the licking of the spoon. Simple pleasures are what makes life fantastic, and cooking is something that anyone, old or young and from any walk of life can gain pleasure from. Some of my happiest moments have been sitting round a dinner table with friends or family and catching up, and food is central to this.
But although food can give us joy, it can be stressful and often cause us anxiety. Whether you have emotional problems with food, or haven’t the time to cook after a busy day at work, food can sometimes be another stress that we don’t need. As a girl living in a flatshare I know that we work hard and when we get home the last thing we want to do is try out new recipes. We stick to the food we know, and don’t get the chance to experience new tastes and flavours. Plus, getting into this kind of rut causes you to eat more unhealthily, and as we all know, you get out of your body what you put in.
Discussing this with my friends I have found some common problems. Young Mums haven’t the time to experiment with new dishes, career girls haven’t the money to splash out on all the ingredients they need, and some people just don’t know how to take the ingredients that they have and turn it into something delicious and hassle free. But not being able to cook and enjoy food is a travesty, so this blog aims to take the hard work out of it for you, leaving you able to try out new recipes knowing that guinea pigs have already ironed out all the creases for you. Fantastic!
We aim to try the old favourites, create some new taste sensations and trial some recipes from chef’s books that you always wanted to try out but never did. We will do healthy, we will do yummy and we will try downright decadent all in the name of good food. So sit back and let us take the reins as we make those dishes dirty, one recipe at a time.